A new breed of Single Property Websites for Real Estate

iphone A new breed of Single Property Websites for Real Estate

Single Property Websites and the iPhone

From the very first time I read about using single property websites on a dedicated domain to market real estate, I thought the idea was absolutely brilliant. Today, I think single property websites can revolutionize the real estate business. The overwhelming majority of real estate agents reading that previous sentence are nodding their heads in agreement – for all the wrong reasons. “Sellers love ‘em” – is the reason they often cite for shelling out ten bucks on a subpar pre-packaged solution. Which is to say that the tool itself doesn’t do much, but it’s shiny enough to make a Seller reward your “cutting-edge” marketing with a listing.

They are shortsighted. Single property websites look good but they generate too little traffic too late. By the time the brand new site starts to climb Google rankings, the home has either sold or it has been pulled off the market. Even if the site contributed to the Buyer picking your listing over others, it is rendered useless after the transaction closes. But as negative as all this sounds, they are revolutionary in much the same way the iPhone was to the smart phone sphere. Two words: User interface. Think about this with me for a second: Every other marketing method an agent may use, leaves a prospective buyer unsatisfied and wanting more. See real estate sign on the yard? Call the number to get more info. Picked up a flyer from that finicky box? Three little pictures and a paragraph – call or click for details. Called a 1-800 property hotline? Descriptions sound great but I can’ t see any photos. Real estate agents have the brass balls to call this information squeeze, “lead generation” but it’s nothing but inadequate marketing. Enter a well built, seo optimized,  single property website. Think about it from the perspective of a prospective buyer looking in the neighborhood and the price range of your listing. In this one website, they can get every piece of information they need to make a decision on whether they’d like to see that home in person. Thirty high-quality photos? Check. Custom Google Map? Check. Property Specs and Descriptive copy? Check. Extensive School system info? Check. Neighborhood market stats? Check. Embedded Virtual tour? Check. It’s the only marketing medium that puts the consumer in control and you control the medium. You can make sure that those photographs are professional quality shots. You can ensure that the copy sheds a light on every selling feature of the home. You can “set the mood” for the consumer by defining their user interface and that my friends is huge!



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Next: I’ll show you how to build a single property website that’s a powerful asset.

Houston Real Estate Rainmaker and Uberproud Father/Husband (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not skinning cats or changing diapers you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I blog about marketing, social media and real estate. I might not always be in agreement, but you can rest assured I'll be honest. Oh, and I can cook a mean breakfast...


  • http://www.Kens411.com Ken Brand

    Boom. Can’t wait to see how you build the Killer Bat Signal. Bring it Bro!

  • http://www.marchantteam.com CindyinIndy

    I am still puzzled by “finding” that killer website. How many people type in the address of “that house”. I think a blog on the neighborhood might be a better answer and then a specific IDX for active listings in that neighborhood.

  • http://erionshehaj.com Erion Shehaj

    Cindy

    In my next post in this series, I’ll go over how to build a killer site for that property to get it sold. But that’s just part of the story. I don’t blame you for feeling puzzled – I have felt the same way for quite some time. But I think I’m on to something here. So next, I’ll make a case for how to eat everybody’s lunch in the long term/strong> using SPW as part of a long term marketing strategy.

  • http://www.teamtowler.com Mark Towler

    I have been looking at SPW lately. There is a huge price difference in the providers. I am also interested in any new concepts.

  • Leslie

    I’ve been making single-property sites for a couple of years now. They take time to create but I think engaging the buyer with information I control in one location is advantageous. A beautifully-presented site results in multiple buyer views and quicker emotional attachment to the showcased property. However, other than winning the listing, I don’t think it’s much of a lead generation tool and you are right about the poor Google rankings. I am interested in your ideas to improve this and how you see these sites contributing to the big picture.

  • http://www.MaineHomeConnection.com Michael Sosnowski

    I agree that most buyers do not type into G the property address. However, we have been building individual websites for properties – right within our own site. The URL includes the property address and the individual page includes all important info about the property. Why pay yet another outside company to do this for us??? And best still, if you do a G search for the street and state (no need for actual street number) the URL is normally included in the top 5 or 6 returns. Normally you will also see a result from Trulia as well, and the unfortunate thing is we as realtors have created our own competition, like Trulia, which is really to bad. How crazy is this – I’m competing with Trulia (or realtor.com or zillow.com) with information I gave them. Yikes!

    I am looking forward to the post about “building” the killer individual website.

  • http://www.joelane.com Joe

    We love single property websites, however, we usually use previously done sites then add the new property to the site, thus allowing for quicker ranking for the search engines. I have not considered their impact on mobile phones.

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  • http://thecircagroup.com Jeremy Isaac

    We’ve used single listing websites with significant success. A few key points to consider:
    1. Host the “single listing site” on your main website to generate search results much quicker since you main site should already have the trust of google.
    2. The do a redirect from the vanity domain of 1234streetname.com so you can use this in other marketing.
    3. Most importantly, use all your other online marketing to drive traffic to the single listing site. We typically use the “virtual tour” link provided by our MLS and most of our online syndication partners to direct that traffic to our single listing site.

  • http://www.MaineHomeConnection.com Michael Sosnowski

    Just to follow-up on Jeremy’s comments. As I mentioned above we host the single sites right on our own server and in many case do redirect. As an example go to G and type in Anchorage Place (you don’t even need a town name or state) and our own single site is first. If you really want to get fancy, begin to post these in FB or on your blog and Y-Tube and if you do it right these posts will appear in G at the top of searches. Why pay more cottage industry businesses who are trying to make money on the backs of individual agents when you can do these types of things yourself?

  • http://www.realzi.com Brian Rutledge

    Instead of expending all that effort on a dedicated site for one property, why not build a website with a search optimized IDX? If you do it right, you’ll effectively have the SEO power of a single property website for every listing in the MLS.

  • http://realestatemarketingresults.com/489/realestatemarketingrealestatewebsites/ real estate marketing results

    Awersome post I love your comment on ” I think single property websites can revolutionize the real estate business.”

    thanks for the great info above.

  • http://erionshehaj.com Erion Shehaj

    Getting found on the search engines is an important thing – but not everything.

    My focus is on what happens after a prospective buyer lands on your site – Will you keep them glued to the screen, page after page or will they leave unsatisfied in search of what you could have offered them?

    That’s the question.

  • http://www.MaineHomeConnection.com Michael Sosnowski

    Not all states allow for customized IDX, unfortunately. I am sensing, however, some kind of attitude that we cannot build a good custom site (and know what to do with that). Obviously you do, so why not share?

  • http://www.realzi.com Brian Rutledge

    @ Michael Sosnowski – You are right, not all boards are receptive to the idea of you optimizing the data you pay for :)

    Sorry if I you sensed any attitude, I didn’t mean to imply any. Some of the best SEO’s I know are Realtors. I do have quite a bit of experience in this area. I’ve owned an SEO company since 1998, and I now own a software as a service company that sells, no surprise here, a search optimized IDX, but I didn’t want to come on here and hawk it. I simply wanted to say if you are going to spend time, money and effort on something, do it on your own domain. There are many (well, a few, anyway :) good indexable IDX systems to choose from with varying price ranges and features. Choose one of those, and build long term SEO value on your own site, not on a disposable domain.

  • http://AnnArborRealEstateTalk.com Missy Caulk

    I look forward to your follow up post on how to build them .

  • http://www.rerockstar.com Matt Stigliano

    Erion – How can you tempt me with knowledge and then make me wait until next post to get it? Looking forward to seeing what you propose. I have been thinking about designing a template to work around to make adding a single property site easy and efficient (of course, not every site will have the same exact content, so it’s not quite a template site in that sense).

  • http://MoCoRealEstate.com Bruce Lemieux

    I’ve struggled to optimize my single-property web sites for some time. I’ve concluded (for now) that Jeremy’s approach is absolutely the way to go (create page in your site, setup single propery URL and redirect, and reference property address in all marketing).

    The challenge, as I see it, is to effectively reference the page in all MLS-driven listings and syndicated listings. I can add my page to some sources like Trulia, but can’t figure out how to do this from the MLS listing. Ideally, my page would be the virtual tour in my MLS which would then be pushed out to the zillions of IDX-based sites (and syndication in the case of my MLS). But, since my listing page has personal branding, this isn’t allowed by my MLS (which makes sense, I suppose).

    One help would be to utilitize a syndication service that pushes your page out to Zillow, Trulia, Googlebase, etc in one click. ListingHub does this for MLSs and many single website providers do their product. Anyone know how to “mass self-syndicate”?

    • Martin Dorgan

      Bruce,
      I may be way off base here, and you may already know about Point2NLS. But they are the website provider I have utilized for my websites. One of the key reasons is that they syndicate my listings, and other agents(member) to many, many Real Estate portals and sites. And they offer single site domains for listings as part of their service. I haven’t tried it yet but fully intend to soon. And I’ll be waiting to read part 2 of this blog to enhance the single address sites, and anything else I find beneficial within the responses found to the article.

  • http://www.MaineHomeConnection.com Michael Sosnowski

    The hair on my neck stands up (a little) when I get into discussions about Trullia, Zillow, Yahoo Real Estate and the rest. They are the competition for online traffic! No matter how you try to rationalize, that is just the way it is. When it comes to syndication services, I personally try to avoid them for the simple reason it is all about them and not about you. As much as we hate to do it, we post listings on these other sites, but try to do so where we can control the data – after all, it is ours!

    Okay, I am not off my soap box.

  • http://erionshehaj.com Erion Shehaj

    @Matt
    Kinda liking this teasing thing :-)

    @Michael
    I don’t see syndication to Zillow or Trulia as feeding the competition at all. I just think they’re highly ineffective – Most of the time, listings on these sites get negligible “clickbacks to the source site” which is the whole purpose of syndication after all. That said, (a little) more exposure is always better than less for our clients in the end.

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  • http://www.MaineHomeConnection.com Michael Sosnowski

    This has been an interesting post. What I mean about competition is this. If you do searches at your local level for real estate, Zillow, Trulia, etc take up space in the SERPS that local real estate websites should be in. Why is this? First and foremost we have “given” these websites 2 things. First of course are our listings and second, with agents spending time blogging and whatnot on them, we are giving them authority – authority we should be focusing on ourselves at the local level. Most agents are not really honest with themselves with how much business they get from these national sites, let alone what they get from their own sites. Since they really, in most cases, don’t know how to do real estate online at the local level, they have “grabbed” at the hope that these national companies would give their listings “exposure”. But the sad fact is that these companies are all about generating revenue. Once Trulia gets sold to Yahoo, that will be interesting to see what happens to their search results. This sale is going to happen because we as agent put Trulia in business.

  • http://MoCoRealEstate.com Bruce Lemieux

    Your right Michael – The sites with syndicated listings collect tons of listing data to draw visitors and then generate revenue by selling ad space and products to agents. They know that the data quality is horrible, but they don’t care.

    I think they all have a very dishonest business model since they proclaim to be consumer advocates. If they were truly out for the consumer, they would do a much better job of keeping their data current (which is impossible since it’s not MLS sourced), and put disclaimers on their sites saying “consumer beware – our listing data is incomplete, inaccurate and not a great place to find a home”.

    Still – it’s a disservice to your clients to hold back your listings since consumers still go there. And as far as SEO, individual agent websites are like grains of sand on a huge beach. We can’t possibly compete with these guys for SEO. We must accept that fact.

    I think that the best we can do is to incorporate listing information into our sites to make the best use of the content, get links from these sites when possible, and understand that others (many others) will look to profit from our clients listing data as well.

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  • http://www.realzi.com Brian Rutledge

    Bruce, great points, but you should know that individual agent sites can absolutely compete SEO-wise with large national sites. If you have a reasonably search friendly indexable IDX and are willing to do a little legwork building a few links to that site, you will easily compete for property addresses, mls numbers, neighborhoods and zip codes. Even if you look at “short tail” keyphrases such as city+real+estate you often don’t see the Trulia’s and Zillows there.

    As an SEO for (non-real estate) companies that compete with local based websites, I can tell you that small, local sites are a huge problem for national sites. Google loves local sites, and wants to show local sites in the search results…you just have to provide relevant content (MLS listings) to index and point a few links there so Googlebot can find it.

    That said, if you have the time and money, there’s no reason not to syndicate the content to the national sites and, as Erion discusses above, create single property sites. It’s a pretty big kick to see that you control the top 2, 3 or even 5 results in Google for one of your listings.

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  • http://erionshehaj.com Erion Shehaj

    Bruce

    The success of Zillow and Trulia in and of itself is proof that it’s not just about raw data but what is done with the data that matters. Instead of complaining that aggregators are enriching themselves through our listings, we should ask ourselves “why are they winning the traffic in the first place?”. If it’s all about the sheer data, local MLS(s) and their data feeds should win every time. The answer lies in the comparison between the way Zillow and Trulia render the data and “feed” it to the consumer and the way local MLSs do. It all comes back to the user interface. And when it comes to that there’s just no comparison right now (with few exceptions).

    • http://MoCoRealEstate.com Bruce Lemieux

      (My last comment is in moderation due to a weblink – so this is a repost)

      Erion,

      I agree – Trulia and Zillow do a superior job of presenting data to consumers. And, since they do a great job of presenting listings, I do what I can to make sure my listings look good there. Anything to help my clients sell their home.

      My gripe with them is different. The *quality* of the data they present is really, really bad. Here’s one analysis of their data that I completed a few months ago – bit.ly/6SYIw8

      These companies present themselves as a consumer advocates, yet they knowingly mislead consumers by presenting listing data that isn’t close to being accurate. They knowingly do this so they can sell ads and products to Realtors. It’s dishonest and I don’t think much of them as a result.

      But – back to the purpose of your topic – I’m a big fan of single property websites am working to maximize the mileage of these for my clients and for me to attract leads. I look forward to your ideas. Here’s my latest iteration – www dot CoralGablesWay.com. I welcome any/all feedback.

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  • http://www.wheretolive.com Ed Kohler

    While a single property website may generate traffic through Google, by far the most valuable traffic you can get to a site like that (during the sales cycle) is from people who are standing in front of the property with a smartphone, or those who write down the address of the property and later type it into their browser. At least, that’s the type of traffic that seems to convert to leads at the highest rate among the sites I track.

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  • http://www.lesleylambert.com LesleyLambert

    I use SPS for all of my listings. I like them for a number of reasons, but am very intrigued by what you have to offer by way of added service to the buyer’s landing on these pages.

    I am also interested in learning what companies you are using for your SPS? I see above several have them integrated into their own site…can anyone elaborate on that?

    Good stuff!

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  • Martin Dorgan

    Very informative! Thank You! I will follow this discussion, I believe a few of the comments have provided real insight(Sorry, it’s too time consuming to back track and keep acknowledging everyone)
    I hope when the new part 2 comes out that specific providers are mentioned, to help cut down on the research to find them?
    Like how to make your website/Listings or singlesite viewable on cell phones? Who are the recommended or cheapest providers of the services?

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