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Can A New Real Estate Site Actually Compete?


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11 replies to this topic

#1 InfoSponge

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 11:14 AM

Hi People,

 

I would like to help my son (new Realtor) with a creating a local site, and have a few questions:

 

1) It seems Google page 1 and 2 at least are dominated by established companies. Is there any way a "little guy" can get his real estate site to place well enough to be seen. In other words, is there any point to trying to compete in this market? If yes, any basic tips appreciated.

 

2) Realtors use an IDX data feed to show live housing data on their site. Wordpress.com seems to offer a free plugin for this. Does anyone know what kind of domain name you get (any control) with a free Wordpress.com account, and more importantly, can free Wordpress.com actually compete for top spots in a commercial field?

 

3) If anyone in Real Estate knows of an economic or free IDX solution for general websites and are willing to post it, many thanks. We're in the S.F. Bay Area if it helps to know were not competing with you :-)

 

Thank a ton in advance



#2 Jill

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 11:29 AM

 

1) It seems Google page 1 and 2 at least are dominated by established companies. Is there any way a "little guy" can get his real estate site to place well enough to be seen. In other words, is there any point to trying to compete in this market? 

 

 

 

I would say no. But you have to start somewhere. Just know that it will likely take a year or two of very hard work to make the site have its own unique selling proposition (USP). And if the site is just the same as everyone else's with no USP, then it's highly unlikely it will ever gain traction, which is as it should be.

 

 

can free Wordpress.com actually compete for top spots in a commercial field?

 

 

 

Absolutely not! But you can freely download Wordpress and use it on your own domain name which should be perfectly fine.



#3 InfoSponge

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 11:43 AM

oh gawd  :sick:

 

Well thank you for the hard truth, it probably will save me a lot of pain.



#4 chrishirst

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 01:18 PM

1) It seems Google page 1 and 2 at least are dominated by established companies. Is there any way a "little guy" can get his real estate site to place well enough to be seen. In other words, is there any point to trying to compete in this market?

 

But the URLs on the site you are interested in being found, do NOT have to appear in YOUR result set, .... They need to appear in the results set of other searchers, and being found from Search is not the only game in town.



#5 zephyr

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 10:39 PM

There are other ways for a local Realtor to "compete" online. Although SF is more than typical "local". But I assume that he specializes in either a type of RE, or a specific area. Concentrate the site on that. You should do a complete look at all other sites that are his competition. You may find that they are not really doing a good job of providing useful, easy to read information. Then he can. Also, there are many sites IE: Zillow, Trulia, that have local Q&A areas. If he monitors those, and gives honest, helpful, "non-advertising" answers, he will start to be seen as a local authority in RE.



Oh, and forget about IDX integration. What's the point of that these days? Only possible alternative is Top Producer, which gives additional functionality.



#6 Michael Martinez

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 01:14 AM

can free Wordpress.com actually compete for top spots in a commercial field?

 
Absolutely not! But you can freely download Wordpress and use it on your own domain name which should be perfectly fine.


I am curious about why you feel this way. Most websites are published on the free blogging services and there are many that do quite well in competitive queries.

#7 chrishirst

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 05:40 AM

I would guess it is because Automattic can terminate the account and use of their services with no notice given, and if that happens your site and any time, money and effort spent on marketing and promotion has just gone.


Edited by chrishirst, 05 January 2014 - 05:41 AM.


#8 Michael Martinez

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 08:46 AM

I understand that concern and agree that it's not as stable an environment as having your own domain. Even so, I do see free-hosted accounts for many businesses ranking just fine in entertainment-related queries (music, movies, and TV). I see tons of Facebook and Twitter accounts and a smattering of Blogger accounts. Businesses don't seem to favor Wordpress.com as much as those services but I see no reason why they could not be as successful with that platform as with the others.

I think online marketing is outgrowing the single point of presentation model. And it makes sense to have a secondary site on a different platform, in a different data center.

Can't really type any more as my back is hurting (I was injured in a fall a couple of weeks ago).

#9 Jill

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 04:39 PM

 

I am curious about why you feel this way. Most websites are published on the free blogging services and there are many that do quite well in competitive queries. 

 

 

To me, it would be the ultimate lack of professionalism to host a real estate business website on a free hosting platform. And with all the spam that is put on those same platforms, I would imagine that Google would treat them accordingly and make it even harder and take longer to gain traction.



#10 torka

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:10 AM

It isn't necessary for their website to show up in the first or second page of search results for general real-estate related terms for a business to be successful. And these days you pretty much need to have a website if you want to be taken seriously as a business.

 

As others have said, there are plenty of other marketing channels that don't involve the "free" organic search results. Explore those. If budget is a real issue, try frugalmarketing.com; you'll find a lot of ideas/tips for free and low-cost marketing.

 

Slightly off topic, but here's my take on why you should host your own business website instead of going with one of the "free" hosted alternatives (like wordpress.com). I think those are fine for personal use, but I would always put my business site on a domain I own, on hosting I pay for. (I don't have a problem using free Wordpress software for the site; I just thing the underlying server space/domain name should be "mine".) Here's why:

 

As cheap as decent shared hosting is these days, and given that the WP software is free -- along with tons of free themes and plugins -- you don't save that much by hosting on those "free" services, and you give up a lot of control. I never forget that any "free" service out there is not there to help promote me. Their primary focus is (as it should be) on making themselves successful. If their path to success happens to coincide with my interests, that's good for me -- but it might not always be so. They will always, always make decisions about their service with their own survival and growth first in mind, and I might not always like what they decide.

 

It's not always about account cancellation, either (although that is an issue -- and one that I've experienced myself in the past). My concerns include things like placing ads along side hosted content (can I eliminate the ads? whose ads will show up on my site? etc. etc.), changes in privacy policies that I (and my visitors) might not like, limited ability to customize my pages, restrictions on the type and amount of content I can post, etc.

 

Call me a control freak, but when I own the domain and I host the software, I get to be the one to make those decisions, and that's the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) I like it (uh-huh, uh-huh). :thumbup:

 

--Torka :oldfogey:



#11 Michael Martinez

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 12:53 PM

To me, it would be the ultimate lack of professionalism to host a real estate business website on a free hosting platform. And with all the spam that is put on those same platforms, I would imagine that Google would treat them accordingly and make it even harder and take longer to gain traction.


Actually, Google does not penalize the other subdomains for the bad behavior of a few. Wordpress.com is actually very well-policed by its user community. So there is no algorithmic reason not to use a free-hosted subdomain. (ON EDIT: Yes, Google has in the past penalized a few large providers for allowing egregious spam but that is quite rare.)

I understand what you mean by professionalism. Obviously I have been hosting my own domains for years.

And yet, there are online services, so-called "platforms", that have catered to various industries by offering Web accounts on their own domains. The real estate industry, for example, has at least one such community (Active Rain). I have no opinion on how good or bad an impression that makes on searchers.

But look at how realtors have to leverage their visibility in online listing services. Some of the services allow you to click on the realtor's name and bring you to a profile page.

I would say that the day of the standalone Website never really caught on in certain business models, realty included. Even though there are advantages to hosting your own domain for an industry like that they cannot get away from the platform vendors and allowing others to control their data.

I think there should be a compromise between two distinct and pragmatic points of view, because neither approach works well enough to cover all the bases.

Edited by Michael Martinez, 06 January 2014 - 01:00 PM.


#12 Michael Martinez

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 12:58 PM

Slightly off topic, but here's my take on why you should host your own business website instead of going with one of the "free" hosted alternatives (like wordpress.com). I think those are fine for personal use, but I would always put my business site on a domain I own, on hosting I pay for. (I don't have a problem using free Wordpress software for the site; I just thing the underlying server space/domain name should be "mine".) Here's why:
 
As cheap as decent shared hosting is these days, and given that the WP software is free -- along with tons of free themes and plugins -- you don't save that much by hosting on those "free" services, and you give up a lot of control. I never forget that any "free" service out there is not there to help promote me. Their primary focus is (as it should be) on making themselves successful. If their path to success happens to coincide with my interests, that's good for me -- but it might not always be so. They will always, always make decisions about their service with their own survival and growth first in mind, and I might not always like what they decide.


Quite true, and well said. But hosting one's own Website entails more costs than just paying for the hosting and (sometimes) software. "Free" Wordpress, for example, still requires some work to shape a Website that the owner is happy with. And then it must be maintained, although the latest versions of Wordpress will automatically install incremental security updates now.

Not every business owner has the time and proficiency (or will/desire) to be their own Web hosting provider. There is a huge cost in time for developing and managing a Website, but even more time must be invested in learning how to handle all the under-the-hood technical administrative details that the free-hosting services provide.

One option that may be a suitable alternative is to look at the "Managed Hosting" services, where they install the blog for you and keep it up-to-date. I have not worked with any of these services so I don't have any experience to share on how that goes. But at least the business owner can have their own domain and just write the content (or pay someone else to) without having to worry about security updates and hacking and all that.

I don't believe there is a single best solution for everyone. People do well to solicit opinions and advice but they need to make sure those opinions and advice match their own circumstances, resources, and proclivities.




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