Brokers pulling out of IDX

by Victor Lund on July 25, 2012

Game changers happen when businesses test radical strategies. When a company breaks from the pack they learn things that none of their competitors learn. They understand a strategy that nobody else as any experience with. They grow their business wisdom and often find new ways to edge out the competition. By studying the impacts of strategies like withdrawing from listing syndication; launching single listing websites or virtual tours; and, withdrawing from IDX, marketers can learn volumes about how these strategies impact their online strategy.

Listing Syndication Strategies that work

WAV Group has been studying listing syndication strategies for more than 7 years. The depth of the data that we have aggregated and the case studies that we have modeled has informed performance increases for brokerages nationwide. There are three strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness: Scarcity, Abundance, Data Variance. We have clients using every one of these and they all work. Using the correct strategy for your marketplace is key to success.

How does the syndication strategy impact SEO

This year, WAV Group is extending our research methodology to understand the impact that syndication strategy has on search engine optimization. The methodology is rather simple. Take a broker’s listing and check the first 4 pages of popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Record the website domains and the order in which they appear. Address search is known as “long tail search” and it is important for two reasons. First, the searcher is presumably more valuable because they are highly focused and already partially informed (they know the address). Secondly, the volume of these searches is immense. The findings are impressive. Once thing to remember is that many third party websites have every property in America on their website – active or off market. Why aren’t brokers doing this? Why aren’t MLSs helping?

How do single listing websites and virtual tours impact SEO

Nothing is more powerful for search engine optimization than purchasing the address domain name and launching a single listing website. Beyond that, a virtual tour done correctly does an excellent job of enhancing search engine optimization. Virtual Tours done right means that the tour is built in HTML, not flash. Virtual tours are dynamically created using MLS data on every listing and updated with IDX. Non-branded virtual tours are posted to the MLS and distributed through the IDX feed. All virtual tours are hosted on the broker domain name.

What is the impact of opting out of IDX?

Unfortunately, we have no data on this. We know that certain listings are opted out of IDX based upon seller requests. This happens frequently in California with hyper luxury real estate. If the seller is a celebrity, opting the listing out of IDX has little effectiveness because the media typically runs a story and everyone blogs about the property anyway. It would be truly interesting to see what would happen for a broker with 25% market share to pull out of IDX.  25% market share is important because there would need to be a significant impact to the availability of listing information for anyone to notice.

Case Study on the 25% rule: We learned that market share is critical if you want to disrupt online marketing.  We learned this when Edina and Shorewest pulled out of listing syndication. They took so many listings off third party websites that consumers in those markets quickly learned that they could not use those sites to see all of the listings. As a consequence, both Edina and Shorewest saw between 20% and 40% increase in web traffic to their own site along with commensurate increases in lead generation. When smaller brokers removed their listings, nobody noticed and the brokerage did not see much in the way of significant shifts in traffic or lead generation. Brokers need 25% market share for consumers to notice.

We know for a fact that leads come from listings. Without listings, there are no leads. In theory, if a broker with 25% or more market share pulled out of IDX and only marketed their homes for sale online, they could create a spiral effect that would be disruptive and potentially impact market share. This is an untested theory.

How would opting out of IDX work?

We have no case studies to refer to. There is no way to contrast the increase of traffic and leads on company listings with the loss of leads on IDX listings. Remember, if a broker opts out of IDX, they are not allowed to display the listings of other brokers either, hence the notion of broker reciprocity. I will share mine if you share yours. The strategy would involve a virtual office website since that would allow brokers not participating in IDX to display all listings in the MLS to customers. When consumers perform a property search on the broker website, only broker listings would appear in search results to unregistered users, but all listings would appear to registered users.

When the search results are presented to unregistered users, an on screen notification would pop up with a call to action that indicates that all listings are available to registered users.

For example, “Howard Hanna represents 25 listings that match your search criteria, 75 additional listings are represented by other area brokers. Register now to view them all.”

This is a proven and tested lead generation model. Those who remember the IDX/VOW chaos in Chicago 10 years ago will recall that sharing listings with other brokers was done on a broker-by-broker basis. During that time, consumers had to register to a broker’s virtual office website to see all listings in the MLS. It was an enormous lead generation vehicle that bumped registrations in that market by 25% over other markets where all brokers opted into IDX.

SEO impact of pulling out of IDX

If a broker pulled out of IDX and did not syndicate listings – the only place that could index the listing for search engine purposes would be the listing broker. The listing would only appear publically on the broker’s own website. The only other way to access the listing would be through the MLS when working with an agent; or behind a password wall on another broker’s VOW solution. In theory, you would win in two ways. First, you would dominate long tail search for your listings. Second, you would drive additional registrations on your broker website through your VOW. It is a solid thesis.

If you have 25% of listings in a market place and want to try something disruptive, give Victor Lund at WAV Group a call at 805-709-6696.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kevin July 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Victor, interesting perspectives. One point that should be clarified. If pulling out of IDX, you noted that “The listing would only appear publically on the broker’s own website.” Not true if the Broker is leveraging social media for marketing, e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. In particular, Previsite’s social media solution is specifically designed to take the Broker’s listing inventory and automatically converge that into multimedia formats which are then likewise automatically placed on the Broker’s FB, YT and TW social media sites. The backlinks embedded into the various multimedia formats drive organic SEO incredibly quickly and affordably. So a Broker opting out of IDX would be well served to leverage social media and through that medium, drive the consumer/prospect to their website and corresponding property listing through the use of backlinks. You should see our Unique Property URL solution, speaking of long tail searches. Good article!

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