Realtors: Are You Using the New RETS Technology?

Compare RETS vs FTP IDX Feeds

The first thing visiting homebuyers want to see on your real estate website are home listings.  But when they arrive, they may get a troublesome map widget to frustrate them, or mls listing pages with uninteresting and non-engaging pics and descriptions.

Add to that an ugly slow website with a poor unclear value proposition and wow, you’ve got a lead killing wonder.

What’s worse, is that your current listings aren’t indexable by Google so you’re getting no free Google referrals.  That old technology called ftp IDX is ruining your impact and engagement with your prospects and eliminating your Google search engine rankings and referrals.

Let them search quick, and then enjoy what they find. Oh and Google needs to find all the mls listings too!

What you Don’t Know Can Hurt You

The MLS Property Listings are a valuable Marketing asset — people love to view the homes. This blog post gives you a look at a resource you probably have little knowlege of — the new RETS IDX standard.  Realtors who are technical whizzes do know about the MLS database feed, and they like to keep it to themselves.

If you’re a professional Realtor hoping to keep pace in the digital era, you need to know about the new standard. You can leverage it for a serious advantage online.

Do you know another Realtor who has no website or one that’s ineffective? Please pass this on to them.




You may have heard some talk about the IDX feed at your meetings, conventions, or conversations with other agents. But there’s a distinction that’s rarely mentioned, because it’s technical and no one understands it. I want to make that clearer in this post. Not only does RETS make a technical difference, it also enables tremendous content creativity — and this is where Google traffic and improved content engagement can pull in prospects for you. Choosing the right IDX RETS provider is very important and I want to lead you to the right one.

One simple change could open the floodgates for traffic to your site.

Graphic Courtesy of cloutsoft.com

 

The Big Trend for Agents is RETS Adoption

It’s time to take a look at the RETS IDX framework and maybe decide to start using it.

What is your MLS’ IDX? IDX is the Internet Data Exchange. It’s simply a format that allows the visitor’s web browser to load the MLS listing info into the page for viewing. Yet FTP or file transfer protocol is an outdated technique which has some substantial setbacks. In today’s competitive marketplace (Google) using FTP could mean your SEO and content strategy may fail. RETS is the new solution.

Does your MLS support RETS? Find out here.

Does NAR and Realtor.com Promote RETS? Take a look at their pdf that elaborates on the many benefits of RETS.

Screen Capture Courtesy of Realtor.com

How Much Traffic can the RETS Framework Produce?

How much traffic could you expect by using the new RETS framework? With 10,000 home listings and more unique pages generated, you could have 15k to 20k pages indexed in Google.   One very successful agent I know of has 90,000 pages indexed in Google. That’s what you call a formidable Google presence.

This video from SEO RETS gives a good introduction and is one potential solution that can increase your visibility and leads using RETS.

Typical FTP based IDX data fed home listing on a Realtor’s Website

FTP IDX was the Standard

I’ve worked on quite a few Realtor web sites which used the FTP IDX standard. It required mental gymnastics to get the pages to perform in Google or Yahoo. There are hundreds of millions of MLS pages live online, but they’re barely visible, slow loading and not indexed by Google.

Sometimes Google can’t even reach them!  And I’ve worked with the iframe solution you may also be familiar with. That was the worst solution ever and agents are still using it.

While working with one client who was using the IDX FTP Framework with Real Estate Webmasters, I actually did some custom optimization, a workaround, that allowed me customize those pages. It was a powerful SEO technique, and one that Real Estate Webmasters began utilizing themselves.

But the FTP method doesn’t work well enough to compete today. The new RETS system I want to introduce you to has the full power you need to dominate the Google results and improve impact and engagement with your visitors.

Take a good look at your current content and assess whether it has awesome impact and engagement. Visitors love home listings, but they’re usually very dull.




Yes, you can use it with your WordPress site.  The end result could be career changing for any agent or broker just learning about this stuff. I’ve listed some RETS IDX site providers below. You can ask them your questions on cost and functionality.

There are web design and real estate site development companies that sell RETS based websites and this likely is the best route to go. However, don’t hire them to do your marketing. They’re programmers and web designers, not Internet content and SEO experts.

Open Up the Full Power of the MLS™ Listings

The MLS™ listings are extremely powerful if you use them right.  Combine them with blogs and your Facebook posts and you’re giving homebuyers precisely what they want.

RETS and FTP are the two formats of data that your IDX uses. FTP has no flexibility and is impossible to use creatively. RETS on the other hand offers flexibility to utilize whatever data you want to include from the MLS property listing feed.

The MLS feed is just a big spreadsheet database and you pluck whatever you like out of it into your pages. So your pages don’t have to be copies of 4000 other realtors using the same data. Your site must be unique. Google loves unique and so do your human prospects.

Most agent IDX platforms use FTP to access the listing IDX feed. This feed as it’s called is actually a simple spreadsheet or .csv file with all the listing details of the homes for sale. The data is held on your MLS server. When a visitor views a page of mls listings on your site, the page data comes from the csv file on the mls server (and you can have a copy of this file located on your server).

Pass this post on to other agents in your office.

With ftp feeds, the whole listing is downloaded rather than the bits and pieces that have been updated.  Considering the MLS feed is many hundreds of gigagbytes, the servers get bogged down. That slowness is not appreciated by your visitors who might be viewing on a mobile device. And Google and Bing don’t like the slowness either, so they’ll lower your search engine rankings.

Your MLS server too, may actually be very slow, something you can’t control, unless you get the idx feed placed on your own hosting platform.  Then you can get superfast hosting and be Google friendly!

Test Your Page Speed and Mobile Friendliness

You can check your listings mobile friendliness and load speed here: First, cut out the url of one of the mls home listings on your site. It will likely be very long. Make sure you get it all, and then paste in the PageSpeed Insights box:

Duplicate Content is Considered Spam By Google

Your MLS listing page is the same as thousands of other agent’s listing pages Google has indexed. So Google’s spam team and anti-spam filters will seek to reduce that glut of duplicate pages (duplicate content) in the search results by focusing on the top real estate domains.

Thousands of other agents may have the same listing on their site, but Google’s not going to show their pages in the search results. If they did rank at all, it might be ranked 945th. Most often now, Google won’t let searchers go down that far into the results. They’ll force the searcher to do another search using different keywords.

Duplicate content isn’t subject to a penalty, unless there’s lots of it. Most times, Google will just ignore your duplicate content and only show the top 20 or so sites with that particular “syndicated” content. Your site needs to be optimized so it’s considered the premium website by everyone.

Remember too, that with social media sharing, people won’t share something that’s not valuable and unique, looks good, and loads fast.

Does Your Site Use the FTP IDX Feed?

It almost certainly does. And worse, it does it in a plain, mediocre way that loads all the MLS data into your page. Sort of like getting your food at the mess hall kitchen. It’s slopped onto your plate, good or bad, same as all the others. It is what it is.

Why is This RETS Stuff Getting So Much Attention?

RETS has so many advantages: customization, speed, fast updates and more.

  • For developers, RETS is written in XML which provides more standardization so it can be used in endless applications.
  • RETS data can be loaded in pieces which allows you to present what you want about the listing in the way you want. The result is a listing page that reads better, is more interesting and engaging (please note that your MLS compliance board will want to approve your pages according to their compliance standards).
  • RETS data updates only the changes in the listing, not the whole database over again which saves time
  • RETS fits nicely with a customized content strategy where you can place your own optimized content into the page.

Realtyna Organic MLS Listings Optimization

RETS and SEO

Besides the page load time advantage, we can creatively select the listing information and create more pages using that data. And we can bring in unique, well optimized engaging content into the page. This increases the page’s uniqueness, something Google likes and generates more impact and user engagement.

If people stay on that listing page longer, Google sees this. Google will raise the ranking of pages that people are engaged with and return to again.

This only makes sense. Google wants good content, not duplicate content. When I optimize pages, Google considers them unique and will give the page a shot at a high ranking.

More Experty Optimized Pages! — This Just Isn’t Fair

I can create more pages and much more well-optimized pages. Some agents have as many as 90,000 pages indexed in Google. How about that army of pages competing to gather as many homebuyers as possible via Google or via social media shares?

Because RETS data can be sliced and diced to a certain degree, you can create a much more engaging and persuasive experience for visitors. You’ve worked hard or spent a lot of money on Facebook or Adwords ads so you need to increase your visitors to subscriptions and phone calls rate.

RETS gives us Content/SEO Strategists a lot of tools and flexibility to win the ranking wars, and to maximize visitor engagement. Those are 2 key goals in our quest to build Realtor leads and commissions.

If you’re still using the framed IDX solution or the standard FTP service, you should look into the RETS solution. Your website is an asset if you treat it like one.

What are the Issues you’ll face when Examining RETS IDX solutions?

  1. is the solution hosted on your website (not theirs)?
  2. who will help you customize the layout and content of your pages?
  3. do they include a high converting CRM system with it?
  4. is it WordPress compatible?
  5. can you use any WordPress template or only theirs?
  6. what limitations does their system create?

There are issues to face when you’re shopping for the best solution. Of course, you want it all and you want it right now, but I know the choices are tough and you’ll need to compare a lot and make decisions. It’s never easy to be the best!

RETS IDX Resources:

RETS Programmers/Websites: (I have one more that’s excellent, but you’ll have to become my client to find out).

Simply RETS:  https://simplyrets.com/services – WordPress plug-in and a marketing analytics add on.

Agent Evolution/IDX Broker:  https://www.idxbroker.com/compare-idx  — Geo-specific content delivery add on

RetsPro:  http://retspro.com

SEO Rets:  http://seorets.com

Ultimate IDX:   https://www.ultimateidx.com/agent/

Ultimate IDX Rets Solution — The CRM is Important Too

There’s a lot to learn about RETS IDX and how to plan, otpimize and implement.

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Is Your Website Generating Leads? Here’s a Website that Does That

Realtors Biggest Pain: A Website that Creates no Leads

reset
Time to Think about the Damage your website is Doing to your Realtor Brand Image and choose a new mls idx wordpress website to build leads and sales.

From Dallas to New York and San Francisco CA, Big Picture realtors hate technical details. You want easy to understand, tangible, measurable deliverables such as guaranteed leads yet the legit real estate marketing world has little to offer.

Success is complicated and not everything comes in neat packages. SEO and social media and websites are 3 key pillars of lead generation yet guarantees cant happen. You can guarantee results through smart strategic integration and not have pay $5 to $30 per click. Let go of your security blanket, cause I want to help you discover a key asset your many competitors arent aware of — a great real estate Website.

A new website and your real estate marketing consultant  are your workhorses and here’s why you need to get going on this.

Are the experts forecasting a housing boom in San Francisco, San Diego housing crash or Los Angeles real estate bust? California has enjoyed strong growth but the picture ahead or 2017 to 2020 may be very good.  The US may be headed to a super period of economic growth and the world will learn to follow.


Few realtors know why some real estate websites work or fail. Why does your site fail?

  • it offers no compelling value proposition
  • it makes visitors jump through hoops
  • it tries to force visitors to register when you’ve done nothing to earn that trust and privilege
  • you have no house or condo listings
  • your site is not Google friendly
  • your site has no ranking power
  • your site’s content creates no fans
  • your site’s content is boring and uncompelling and hard to read
  • it isn’t social media friendly and no one shares your stuff
  • your brand isn’t meaningful or desirable

Okay, so your site’s awful. That shouldn’t stop you, because you know that with a plan and persistence, success will happen. A fully loaded, IDX MLS functional, Google friendly website for realtors, with plenty of interesting, exciting and sharable content is one that will generate traffic, leads and sales and commissions.

What Makes a Great Realtor Website?

  1. it is Google friendly – with thousands of idx mls listing pages indexed
  2. it offers a great customer experience enabling searchers to find what they want fast
  3. it makes your realtor brand and unique value proposition clear and concise
  4. it offers interesting, personalized and truly relevant content that makes the visitors experience even better
  5. interesting real estate videos,
  6. the appearance is clean
  7. the content is laid out in a way that insipires curiosity and hope
  8. searchers feel they will successfully find what they’re looking for – confidence
  9. its content is expertly optimized by a real SEO expert
  10. its content scrolls, uses big text, is easy to navigate on a smartphone, may use video background with hi res photos

Here’s an expensive but very nicely custom-designed modern website that raises the bar in real estate web design. It’s for a new construction development that has great photography, layout, and the homepage functionality that reduces clicking for a simple scrolling experience. There’s no idx mls listings of course but the homepage experience is worth noting because the goal of every visitor is to feel good. If you were buying a new condo in an urban area, you might like these condos in Brooklyn, New York.

50north50

A great website like this is a sales weapon. It converts traffic because it adds value and makes the customer journey a great experience.

If your website is sad and lame looking and offers a bad visitor experience, you should take if offline. Realtors with awful websites do extensive brand image and reputation damage with a lame website. They associate you with what happens on their website. If you have no unique, compelling content, or content that’s copied from some source, they will never see you as a leading agent, but rather someone who might be desperate for  a sale.

“It’s better not to be online than let your clients and prospects experience a crappy website”

The Fully Loaded, Hosted, MLS IDX Website that Google Loves

seattletemplate
Seattle Real Estate Web Sites

Why do I offer the websites I do? Because they’re powerful. They make searching a breeze and Google loves these sites. Getting thousands and thousands of pages indexed in Google and interlinked with new, original and engaging content that makes visitors feel great. They can feel they’re on the right path to find what they’re looking for. There’s lots of value for Facebook users, and exciting news for Twitter people.

Since visitors enjoy their great search experience, they will gladly submit their contact info and return later to search further.

An IDX website for realtors built in WordPress makes it easy for you to manage. You won’t need an expense web designer to update and edit. Many of you already blog with WordPress and you’re getting the same nice interface to work with.

What Does IDX Mean?

IDX for real estate agents is the Internet data exchange system where REALTORS® allow each other to show MLS property listings on their websites.  It’s a system of sharing, via a datafeed from our MLS association or others, so that all the listings on your MLS (e.g., Toronto MLS Listings) can be displayed on your website.

It is a powerful advantage that most realtors know about but yet still don’t leverage very well. This is where expertise in SEO and content optimization comes in very handy. Some IDX systems don’t work well, yet the realtors who use them are fooled into believing it is working. If you’re not getting leads, it is likely not working. However, you do need an expert SEO real estate consultant to optimize it.

WordPress sites and all their components update easily so you don’t have be concerned about all this new disruptive technology that’s racing in. You’ll be current with the new features and capabilities. And you could also have $600+ of premium plugins and other valuable bonuses.

When we do a search for Los Angeles homes for sale, one of the top ranking sites is theagencyre.com.  They have almost 9,000 pages indexed in Google. Not great, but not bad either. Theagencyre.com website is easy to understand and doesn’t oppress you with their “stuff” upon entry to their Los Angeles home listings page. You can get right to your search here and if you like what you see, then you’re ready to hear theagencyre’s sales pitch and enjoy all their stuff. This is just one reason why they’re the top Realtors in Los Angeles

theagencyre

theagencyre-homes-for-sale

I spoke about this firm and their director Santiago Arana previously. A great website is all part of the package of the Millionaire real estate agent.

If you’re a Toronto broker or Los Angeles broker or Vancouver broker, get prepared to hand over web marketing to me. Using the best mls ids website for real estate agents possible, combined with expert SEO, and compelling, sharable content for social media, we’re going to make you into a millionaire. If Merrily Hackett and Santiago Arana can start from scratch and do it, why not you?

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Gord Collins — Real Estate SEO Consultant for realtors in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Sacramento, San Jose, Long Beach, Anaheim, Fresno, Oakland, Bakersfield, Santa Ana, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Palm Springs, Beverly Hills, Chula Vista, Irvine, and many more cities in California. Call now and let’s get started!

Free Lead Generation for Real Estate Brokers

What’s Wrong with My Real Estate Site?

Why doesn’t my site produce traffic or leads?

3 Reasons:

  1. it doesn’t have reach via Google, Ads, Facebook, or Linkedin
  2. it doesn’t create value or appears you offer no satisfaction
  3. it doesn’t engage and generate emotion
  4. it doesn’t persuade or convince

Let’s Take the First Issue: Google

A good chunk of a realtors traffic and leads should be coming from Google. If your pages aren’t accessible to Google or strategically optimized, visibility in Google’s search listings will be low. Creating Google traffic is the most critical problem to solve.

Here’s a common example:

Re/Max Tropical Sands is the typical broker site. The coding in it makes it inaccessible to Google’s Googlebot, thus this site has no mls listings in Google’s indexed pages. Only 27 information pages are indexed. There are a number of technical reasons for an SEO unfriendly site. Javascript is usually the culprit, however these types of websites often have other issues too, that extend from their programming architecture.

remax1

The bottom line is that this type of site will never produce for them. They need a whole new IDX site provider. There are plenty of them such as Real Estate Webmasters, who have excellent realtor websites. You would never rely on REW for your digital marketing, but their websites are very search engine friendly. They provide the basics and it’s up to you to be competitive.

A good portion of real estate agents have what Amy Strand of Century21 has. It’s an agent subdirectory on the broker’s site.  But on these sites, Google won’t index mls listings on it, and the agent’s section is cookie-cut pages that make all the agents look the same. It doesn’t appeal to visitors nor Google.

amystrand

Calgary Home Boys uses an REW website. These search results shown in the graphic below reveal the site has 8200 pages indexed in Google. The listings are segmented by neighbourhood, condo name, and price. This is good for visitors and Google rankings. There’s plenty of creativity possible in a REW site for SEO. A site like this, with good content writing and link outreach, can dominate a city market.

A closer look at the listings though show the title tags and meta descriptions aren’t optimized. The listing really doesn’t tell the homebuyer viewing it, much about the home. And there’s no info or attention building other than the street address. It also doesn’t contain much that would help Google understand what the page is about.

googlelistings

If you click through to one of the listings, you’ll see there is some text and property data. In order for this page to rank well and draw visitors, it needs search engine optimization. It’s not enough to get pages indexed. That’s just the start. And all the pages work as a team to boost each other’s rankings. What’s amazing about premium REW sites is that they enable optimization if you have someone like me to do it for you.

There are other excellent IDX site providers available who cover your MLS district. Just takes a little research and you can set up a site as good as calgaryhomeboys.com.

Remember that you’re competing with other agents, brokers and entrepreneurs who want all that Google traffic.  You’ll see REW.ca in the listings a lot. They’re new to the scene but are grabbing up a good chunk of traffic.  Alexa’s data shows keywords they’re ranking for and how long visitors are staying on their site.

rew

Here are the basics of a SEO friendly realtor website:

  • all pages are easily accessible to Googlebot (not just through a sitemap; sitemaps are a very poor way to get your pages indexed)
  • all title tags and meta description tags are editable
  • all pages are interlinkable
  • all pages have editable text sections above and below the property data
  • site has a blog which links to specific property listings and to your Twitter and Pinterest pages.
  • pictures use correct text in alt tags
  • copy in pages uses keywords, synonyms, related words and stemmed variations
  • use links in your text since this is what Google pays attention to
  • create high value content since Google is watching how people use your site
  • don’t use your brokers content; you need unique content throughout your site

Read more SEO tips and the context regarding search engine optimization. SEO is an art. Please ignore the thousands of brand new SEO peddlers trying to sell you a story about SEO friendly and technical SEO. As the algo increases in complexity, so does the optimization techniques.

When you create your main pages, you should choose a special page, well SEO’d, as your main goto keyword optimized page (e.g., homes for sale San Diego, or Vancouver Condos for sale). This is because homepages aren’t particularly good for being the center of your SEO efforts.

SEO has changed and key pages aren’t as important anymore. Google began considering them as “honey pots” and they discounted them. Now the focus is on individual pages, which makes it more challenging for SEOs to make internal SEO work. On a trusted website, it still does work.  Believe me, over 18 years you see techniques come and go. It’s a matter of constantly adapting to Google’s algorithm.

Integrate your Social Presence

Ensure you have your social feeds place directly into your listing pages and your regular web pages whatever topic they’re about. It’s more important for visitors to meet your personally, rather than them view a listing and just disappear.

View your digital marketing assets as a team. Your FB, Twitter and even Linkedin pages are vitally important to capturing prospect’s attention, interest and respect.

Choosing digital marketing is a big decision and investment. Yet without it, you’re not present in the dominant medium of real estate marketing. A strong presence on Google is just one more way to add value to your personal prospecting efforts, and to keep you top of mind with home sellers and buyers.

Good luck with your marketing campaign in 2016. If you have any questions, get in touch with me at gord@gordcollins.com or call me at 416 998 6246. I’m looking forward to speaking with you.

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