Yesterday, Google announced that they are getting out of the real estate listings syndication business. As they explained it on their Lat/Long blog, they are going to stop taking data feeds of listings from agents and brokers, and will no longer be providing a real estate listings layer on Google Maps.
For WhereToLive.com clients, this will have little to no impact. Some of you were syndicating listings to Google, others were not. Among those who were, the traffic generated from Google Maps to your websites generated ~1% of traffic and leads. Clearly, that traffic hasn’t gone away. Consumers will simply find another path to the content they’re looking for.
Since WhereToLive.com clients have high quality sites, with top of the line search interfaces and well merchandised listings, it benefits our clients to have prospective home buyers and sellers using their sites rather than 3rd party websites like Google Maps to conduct their real estate research.
Who may be hurt?
The people who may be hurt by this are agents and brokers who have been using websites that rely upon a pseudo-IDX via the Google Base API for listings. In a nutshell, if your site’s inventory was being served by Google, you may want to talk to your vendor soon to see what impact this is going to have on their service.
Google Base, Google Maps, Organic, Places and AdWords
Here is a quick overview of some of the different services Google offers that impact real estate, and how you can use them to your advantage:
Google Base: this is the service where you could upload your listings for display on Google Maps and other websites through the Google Base API. This is what’s going away.
Google Maps: It’s critical to make sure your business shows up when someone searches for terms like “Madison, WI real estate broker” on a computer, or if they’re using a Smartphone that detects location, terms like “real estate broker”. To do this, make sure your information in Google Places is up accurate and complete.
Google Organic results: Make sure that you’re working with a website provider that has built a search engine friendly platform for your businesses. If Google can’t see your site’s content, you’re missing out on a ton of extraordinarily qualified buyers in your market. We recently witnessed this at WhereToLive.com when we turned on a new site for a client who had a non-SEO friendly site before working with us. The first month after the switch, their site’s visitors doubled, with the majority of the new traffic coming from people who were searching for specific listings on Google. Prospective clients had been running those searches all along. They just weren’t finding this particularly broker’s website (but were finding competitor’s sites).
Google Places: Places is Google’s directory of businesses, and a critical place for your company’s offices to be featured. As mentioned above, Places data is used to feed business information onto Google Maps. It’s also a place where people can leave reviews about your business, which may impact how prominently your business is displayed on Google Maps when someone searches for your services in your market. Google also tracks and syndicates in reviews from other ratings services, such as Yelp and Citysearch onto Places pages, so be sure that your information is complete and accurate on those types of sites as well.
Google AdWords: This is Google’s advertising platform. The ads served near the top of search results, along the right column of search results, and on millions of newspapers, blogs, and other types of sites across the web are purchased through this program. AdWords can be an extremely powerful advertising medium (if used well) or a gigantic waste of money (if used poorly). It largely depends on the advertising and bidding strategies you use, together with the quality of the content you send visitors to from your ads.