When I reviewed the latest Hitwise results it reminded me again of a phenomenon that continues to amaze me – Realtor.com. According to Compete.com REALTOR.com had over 6.4 million unique visitors last month and in the peak season will likely repeat last year’s performance with over 9 million unique visitors.
That is an amazing amount of traffic – enviable by every major brand in America. Just for perspective, Ford.com receives only 1.3 million unique visitors. Coca-Cola.com receives less than 500,000 unique visitors per month according to compete.com and Fisher-Price, one of the top ten most trusted brands in the world receives just 3.1 million unique visitors – at Christmastime!
As the former VP of Marketing for Fisher-Price, I marvel at this success. I wrote the first Internet strategy for Fisher-Price and launched their first website back in 1998. We worked REALLY hard and poured a lot of money into our online effort before we achieved that level of online dominance for the toy sector. It is nearly impossible to capture that much market share in any Internet category, never mind real estate, one of the most highly trafficked and most competitive industries on the Internet today.
REALTOR.com has maintained a SIGNIFICANT leadership position in the search engine rankings despite a host of formidable competitors with deep pockets coming after them. They have nearly twice as much traffic as their next closest competitor, Zillow.com with 6.51% of all real estate traffic on the Internet.
How have they done it? I asked Curt Beardsley, VP Business Development of Move, Inc. at a recent MLS Advisory Group I was lucky enough to attend. He attributes their success to a few things.
Best, most frequently Updated Data
First, the site has the most comprehensive and highest quality repository of listing data available anywhere on the Internet due in large part to the site’s deep and rich partnership with MLSs around the country. The MLSs feed Realtor.com as often as every 15 minutes keeping the data fresh and up to date.
Consumers recognize good quality property data when they see it. They know REALTOR’s have the inside edge on property information and they respond by going to the site fueled by REALTORS first.
Second, the site has been fairly consistent in its functionality and look and feel. While the content changes every few minutes, the site registers as a stable and well-established which helps it with search engines. Its relevance to consumers has done nothing but increase over time, especially now with the additional intuitive search functionality being added.
Because just about every MLS and Association links to REALTOR.com, the number and quality of inbound links is very high. This helps maintains its content relevance with Google and other search engines, not to mention drive click-throughs from the real estate sites where it is promoted.
Many of the most successful Internet sites are based on really successful and powerful brands. REALTOR.com is no exception. The REALTOR brand is well-known and accepted by consumers. They want to go to a site sponsored by REALTORS because they believe(rightly so) that it will have the best quality listing data available. REALTOR.com has been able to create leads for its clients by leveraging the power of this ubiquitous brand.
Partnership with MSN Real Estate
Realtor.com is framed on the MSN Real Estate site giving the site even more exposure.
Using all of these tactics along with some “secret sauce”, Realtor.com has been successful in creating and maintaining an enviable leadership position in the real estate advertising world.
Hats off to a marketing job well done.