Statistics can be boring and they can be confusing, but there is plenty of clarity in the most recent numbers revolving around real estate websites. For example, according to comScore, traffic to U.S. real estate sites grew 23% from April 2005 to April 2006, representing an increase from roughly 34 million to 42 million unique monthly users. That’s right, monthly users.
The NAR (National Association of Realtors) reports that the percentage of potential U.S. home buyers using the Internet as part of their housing search process went from 2% in 1995 to 77% in 2005.
Our Real Estate clients should realize that their sector of business has become tremendously competitive in the past 18 months and it looks like that won’t slow down in the future. With the advantage of putting an address into a search function, querying housing prices, being able to see color photographs of the properties and more, an Internet presence is mandatory to stay up with the competition.
Speaking of competition, there are some websites out there to help Realtors bring traffic to their website. For example, Google Base will let a Realtor list a property, give its address and description and it might show up in the main search results. But the fact is, search engines have trouble with framesets, they want unique tags on every page (not globally implemented tags) and certainly don’t want the duplicated page content that is so prevalent in templated solutions. Natural Search optimization needs these problems to be solved for it to work.
Beating the competition can be as simple as having a non-templated website that will allow each page to receive its own title and meta tags as well as staying (far) away from duplicated content that is showing up on every Realtor’s page that uses any given service. I wonder about those services that offer Realtors templates that don’t stand up to common sense. Why have duplicate content and apply tags globally when it flies in the face of the major search engines guidelines? The providers are offering solutions that are at least 5 years behind the times.
In the meantime, I strongly recommend Realtors get their own unique IP address, have a website with unique content and good optimization on each web page. Because people are now searching the Internet for new homes and it is the well-optimized web page that gets the crowd.
Warren Taylor – Senior Account Executive