Brokers Losing Agent SEO Battle to Portals

by Victor Lund on December 4, 2013

Years ago, when consumers searched for keywords like City Name + Real Estate, an actual real estate broker would appear in the search results. Those days are long gone for most cities in America. Unless a broker has invested richly in the goal to appear on page one, Zillow, Trulia,, and dominate. With the advent of mobile search and the consumer awareness of long tail search, the goal of SEO strategies by portals expanded to include property address. Again, four or five years ago, if you searched for a property by address, and that property was for sale, you would normally see a variety of broker websites with property detail pages appear in search. Today, Zillow, Trulia, and dominate the long tail SEO for property address search in most markets. Brokers align themselves with the portals in various ways, including premium advertising products to redirect that consumer back to the brokerage. When you look at the traffic to broker websites today – and how consumers use them – beyond property search, the most popular area of the website is the agent directory and agent detail pages. Property pages dominate, but the agent pages are a clear second place. From there, any other content on the site, including blog content, is less material. Brokers are about to lose the search battle for agent name, and soon, broker name. In 2013, WAV Group detected an interesting trend emerging. The efforts in 2011 and 2012 by portals to get agents to complete their profiles on portal sites began to pay off. The agent detail pages for portals began to appear on the first page of Google search for agent name. Google a few of your agent names and you will see what I am referring to. No doubt, if an agent wants to enhance their leads on their own listing, they absolutely must complete their agent profile page on portal websites. The ridiculous trade-off (conundrum) is that completing the agent profile serves the portal’s goal of enhancing their ability to drive more traffic to their site rather than the agent or broker website from search engines. In 2014, brokers should budget to begin buying advertising products from portals that are not property centric – but agent or broker profile centric. Based upon recent developments with, I doubt that they will have the stomach to productize this, but I […]


SEM and VTs

by Victor Lund on November 25, 2013

SEM and VTs, sounds a little more than conspicuous. Its code for using some Internet strategies to do a little more with online marketing. There is a gaping area of unexploited territory available to cleaver brokers who understand how to leverage unbranded virtual tours in real estate. As WAV Group has discussed before, the unbranded virtual tour allows a broker to publish a Virtual Tour to other broker and agent websites. If done correctly, that virtual tour provides a link back to the broker’s website. It is not a link that the consumer sees or can even touch, but search engine spiders follow the link. It has long been known that link backs are a big benefit in Search Engine Optimization. However, like every exploit – this strategy wanes in effectiveness as more brokers adopt the strategy and as search engines change their ranking algorithms. Moving on, some WAV Group clients have begun to try some new strategies that are proving to be pretty effective. The unbranded Virtual Tour can place a cookie on the consumer’s browser that can be used to target search engine marketing and online banner advertising to the consumer across the Internet. Obviously you cannot advertise to a consumer on a competing broker’s website, but you can track that consumer when they leave the competitor’s website and hit them with all kinds of advertising all over the web. This practice is commonly referred to as retargeting. Don’t get too excited. Many browsers are beginning to block cookies that do this sort of thing – making the strategy more difficult and the reach less effective. But when it works, it works really well. The cookie acts like a beacon that shines a light on consumers who are on broker or agent websites looking at IDX listings. That is a target rich audience for advertising. There is a little more to this story. It involves recruiting. As we learned in our 2013 Broker Website Effectiveness study, few brokers are deploying search engine marketing strategies. Remember that many of the visitors to agent and broker websites who are looking at virtual tours are agents. It may seem unprofitable to advertise to agents, but that is far from the truth. When an agent sees a broker’s online advertising they get the impression that the broker is doing more than their current broker to market online. That is a powerful recruiting […]