Posts Tagged ‘MLS’

Joomla isn’t for Real Estate

Let’s get something clear here. Joomla is not the right platform for building real estate websites.

For our readers who aren’t familiar with the system, Joomla is an open source content management platform. It was built to make building a generic website easier. It was not built for real estate offices or agents.

If you’re going to build a real estate website, you need to use something that was designed for the real estate industry.  At Boston Logic, we’ve developed the ONE System Real Estate Website Platform, but I’m not going to write about that today. Before we invested the thousands of hours that we’ve put into building this system, we did use Joomla to build some sites. So, I’m speaking (writing) from experience here. Let me tell you about some of what we learned:joomla-logo

  1. Joomla is not built to integrate with an MLS. This is critical. Your real estate website should be built with an integrated MLS search. The search should not be on another website or in an iFrame. You should be building on a platform that has the search, search results, and property details pages right on your site. In addition the interactive user tools should be part of the site and so should your lead management system. Obviously, joomla doesn’t have a real estate lead management system for you to leverage.
  2. Joomla’s content management system is overcomplicated for real estate. When you design software, you start with requirements. Joomla was built to do a lot of things. Most of these things, real estate agents and offices will never ever do. Advanced content management requires a lot of user access levels and controls. Realtors require a simple and easy to use interface for managing their content. Joomla, we found, confused our clients more than it enabled them.
  3. magnifying glassJoomla is relatively laborious to style. Our team has worked with Joomla plenty of times. It’s still a bear to make the pages all look good. If you think you’re saving money, think again.
  4. Customization is harder. When you get down to it, working with open source systems can get you a lot of functionality for no money. That said, going beyond what the system includes and/or what the plugins you find can do is a challenge. So, if Joomla will do 80% of what you want for your real estate website and then you think it’ll be easy or cheap to hire a developer or web development shop to take you the rest of the way home, think again. Customizing Joomla gets expensive quickly. As a point of reference the last Joomla site that we worked on required about $75,000 in work to get to what the client wanted.
  5. Joomla is hard to turn into an effective real estate website. Great real estate websites have lots of features that are not part of the Joomla platform. I’ve already mentioned the MLS search above. Agent profiles linked to their listings. Pages on developments and/or buildings with available listings right on the pages. Live Chat. Lead distribution and management. Featured property pages. Maps. And many of the other features that make for a great real estate website are missing.

Here’s the all important conclusion. Joomla should not be used for real estate websites. It’s unlikely that the cost benefit will outweigh the poor end product that you’re going to see.

Real Estate SEO and IDX how to make it work

Let’s start with this, your site should have a property search on it. Many of you out there refer to this is an IDX. At Boston Logic, we simply call this a property search. Your search should include all of the properties in your MLS, if the bylaws allow this. This is because you want to show a user as many listings as you possibly can.

Now, the problem is that most “IDX” solutions don’t help your real estate seo. This is because lots of these search interfaces are placed into an iframe on your site. This means that the search is actually hosted on the vendor’s website and the search engines will not give your site the credit for this content. This will hurt your real estate SEO.

The other poor way of implementing a property search on your real estate website is to have the search be an external link. This happens as either a popup or a link to another site altogether. I’ve seen some real estate searches that create a “customized” page for you with the search underneath a header. This is all hosted at a sub domain such as yourcompanyname.vendorwebsite.com. The problem here is that again, the content is all on the vendor’s site and not yours. This isn’t helping your SEO.

The proper way to implement a property search on your real estate website is to have the data right on your site, in your pages, and implemented in a unique, effective, interactive way. You should also make sure that your site has an SEO friendly linking structure so that the search engines can spider the search results and property details pages. This is critical for good real estate SEO.

Even if you don’t have an IDX search on your site, you should make sure that the search engines are able to spider all of your pages. If you’re not sure whether or not the spiders are getting to your pages, look at the Google webmaster tools for your site. That’ll tell you how many unique pages Google has spidered on your site.

Your Real Estate SEO campaign will be vastly improved by investing in a real property search right on your site. If you’re unsure whether or not your property search is helping your seo, just post a comment and we’ll respond shortly. If you have any other questions about Real Estate SEO, send them along too. We love getting your questions and they make it easy for us to come up with tomorrow’s post!

Thanks.

Pyramid Structure – It’s easier in real estate

It’s no secret that linking is very important for good SEO. This is true whether you’re in real estate or not.

2 types of linking are important:

  1. Internal link structures – these are the links that are a part of your site. I’m talking about the links from one page of your site to another.
  2. Inbound linking – These are links from other sites on the web to your website.

The internal links on your website are often referred to as your internal linking structure. In other words, if you draw a schematic of the pages of your site and how they link to one another. The pages should start to form some kind of a logical structure. That’s your website’s internal linking structure.

Now, most of us are SEOing around multiple terms. We’ve written before about the fact that good SEO usually focuses on many terms, not just a few. In order for your site to rank well for a term, the search engines need to know that your site has information that is relevant to that term. So, your site needs to contain pages with information on that term. In other words, the content on those pages needs to be about the search term of interest.

Now, let’s say you do have a number of pages on your real estate website and they are all about the real estate market in a specific town. You might have a page that lists all of the currently available real estate listings in that town. You would also have a details page for each listing. You might also have a page of market data and another page of recent sales and details pages for each of those recently sold properties.

What you really want to do is create a pyramid structure using your internal links. So, first make sure that all of these many pages which all contain some content related to the town in question are well constructed and optimized pages. Pick the page that is the most important or the best for your business and make sure that all of these pages with unique content on listings, the market, sold data, etc, all point back to that one page that is your main page for the term.

Now, your linking structure, were you to draw it out on a piece of paper, should probably look like a pyramid. All of these many pages with great content are all pointing to the top of the pyramid. This sends a strong message to the search engines that this is the very important page with information that is relevant to your SEO term.

To conclude, I’ll tell you why this is easier for real estate seo campaigns. If your real estate website is built well, you should have lots of great dynamic pages that are generated from your MLS database. These pages, if they are optimized, should include relevant content and links back to that page at the top of the pyramid. In other words, much of the work will be done for you, simply by having a site that is constructed properly for real estate SEO.

Thanks for reading. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to submit a comment.

Real Estate SEO – Where you start matters

I have a request for you. Please stop and think for one moment. I want you to think about your real estate website. I’m talking about the site that you are trying to optimize.

Please ask yourself the following: When you set out on your Real Estate SEO campaign, those many moons ago, what was your starting point? How did you judge your SEO at that point? What metrics did you use to measure your real estate seo? Was your site built only to represent your real estate practice or was it built with SEO as a requirement? OK, maybe that’s more than one question.

Let’s investigate:

  • To judge your SEO progress and effectiveness, you need to know how well you rank for the right terms. Notice that I said terms. We’re not talking about 1 term. You should pick 20 or 50 or 100 search terms that are going to be right for your business. Picking these terms is a topic for another post. Read on.
  • Since you have your list of target terms, you need to know where you rank currently for those terms. This will be the benchmark that you measure against.

Ok, now that we have our quantitative SEO facts established, we need to look at the technology and how your site was built. Here are some very helpful features that every real estate website should have in order to achieve good SEO.

  • Of course, your site needs to be built for SEO. I’m not going to delve into SEO basics here. I want to focus on Real Estate Specific SEO. Still, as a very fundamental reality, your pages need titles, descriptions, H1s, keyword rich content, few images, little flash, a sitemap, and all of the other basics. Don’t overlook these SEO fundamentals. You will only do this at your own peril. Oh yeah, and having a blog on your site helps a lot too. Just don’t forget to post regularly.
  • It’s important for every real estate website to include a property search. Unfortunately, too many sites just toss all that great information into an iFrame. Iframes are BAD for SEO. The search engines do not count this content as part of your site. Also, if the search is on a page that is not part of your site, but part of another site or a subdomain on another site, this is not going to help either.
  • So, you need to have the mls information in your site and on your pages. This information will be presented as listings. Each listing should have it’s own page. Now, these listing pages should all be optimized. This is not all that hard to do. Every listing page is generated from the database of MLS listings. So, the optimization of these real estate listings should be automatic. There are so many of these real estate listing pages, that your site, if properly constructed will automatically have thousands of SEOed pages for the search engines to spider.
  • OK, let’s assume that your site includes lots of SEO ready, MLS driven real estate listing pages. Next, you need to have a linking structure that allows the search engine spiders to reach these pages. We recommend a pyramid structure. We’ll have to cover the SEO pyramid linking structure in another post.
  • One more thing you really should do is create some dynamic pages about each of the towns that you work with. If you have an MLS database behind the site, creating some dynamic market data isn’t too much work for a good development team. Write about what’s going on in the market and what you’re seeing. You’ll need to keep these pages updated, but that’s a good thing. The more current the content is, the better off your Real Estate SEO will be.

OK, that’s about it for today. We’re blogging a lot these days. So, come back often to read more about Real Estate SEO.

Thanks.

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