Looking back at 2010, it looks like we’ve seen a pretty consistent performance from national real estate websites, with top national brand sites slipping, while aggregators continue to grow. Among brands, here is a sample of five from Compete:
According to Compete.com, RE/MAX, Century 21, and Coldwell Banker each have ~20% fewer visitors, year over year. Keller Williams and Weichert, while considerably smaller, did grow in 2010. In fact, if the rates of loss and growth continue in 2011, Weichert may pass Century 21 and Coldwell Banker by this time next year.
Weichert and Keller Williams didn’t pick up as much traffic and the three biggest brands lost, so where did that traffic go? If I replace Keller Williams and Weichert in the above chart with Trulia and Zillow, it becomes obvious:
Zillow and Trulia were already bigger than the biggest real estate industry brands at the start of the year. Year over year, they managed to grow by 6% and 33% respectively.
How are Zillow and Trulia able to grow while the big brands are not? As I see it, the best thing that ever happened to Zillow and Trulia was gaining access to listings from the big brands. Once that was done, the playing field of listing content was leveled, which turned the competition to other variables. Those include:
- Who has the best site architecture, so reaps SEO benefits?
- Who is best at online PR, to drive traffic and increase search engine rankings?
- Who merchandises properties the best?
- Who makes listings easiest to share among a prospect’s friends & family?
- Who is creating the highest quality and quantity of traffic beyond listings?
#5 is particularly critical. If every site has all the listings, and two sites create huge volumes of compelling content beyond what’s available for active listings, it’s pretty clear who’s going to win. Among the sites mentioned above, only Trulia and Zillow have both technology in place, and systems to generate, compelling real estate content beyond the specs associated with active listings.
We at WhereToLive.com understand this challenge, so have built a variety of content management systems into our broker and franchise platforms. They include enhanced listing capabilities, agent blogs, blogs for every community in a client’s market, company blogs, community & neighborhood wikis. With the right tools, systems, and training, it really is possible to compete with the largest websites in real estate.