One common thing I hear from brokers is that they want to have more Zillow-like functionality on their websites. While there is nothing wrong with that, the reason for this is often based on an attempt to be more Zillow-like in order to achieve Zillow-like traffic stats.
Unfortunately, mimicking the gadgets and gizmos on Zillow.com is no guarantee of additional traffic. The site is far from a case study in “if you build it, they will come”. In fact, they do some of the best online marketing I see today.
One particular tactic Zillow uses extraordinarily effectively deserves more attention. But before getting to that, keep in mind that the online marketing ecosystem is largely link driven. Every link to your website brings in additional traffic both directly through that link and also through the impact it has on your website’s search engine rankings. So tactics that get more people to link to you are sure-fire ways to increase your traffic both short and long term.
So, what is this tactic that Zillow uses so well: Blogging about celebrity homes.
People love talking about real estate. And they really love talking about celebrities. Zillow has successfully combined the two to create a tremendous volume of conversation around a small portion of the content on their website.
By simply letting people know through a blog post that a particular listing is a celebrity’s home (and which celebrity), they set of a firestorm of conversations on online forums, Twitter, Facebook, and other blogs. This drives traffic short-term, and generates links that lead to higher search engine rankings long-term.
Zillow is smart about putting this type of content out as blog posts, which are easy to link to and – unlike listings – can stick around long after the home goes off the market. So if people, years from now, want to find out what Britney’s home or the Ferris Bueller home were listed for, they can Google for appropriate terms and go directly, again, to Zillow.
Zillow plays this game at a national level, but it can work just as well locally by featuring homes of prominent members of your community. Sure, you may need to be a bit more careful than Zillow in how you present this type of data (you wouldn’t want to lose a client over it) but I think it can be done with some creative thinking. Give it a try.