Real Estate Group Blocks Syndication to National Property Portals

Could you cancel your realestate.com.au and domain.com.au subscriptions in 2012?

You would be forgiven for thinking real estate is all online these days  it dominates the landscape that much and online the search engines are the first port of call for property related traffic.  Just after leaving Simon Baker confirmed that even realestate.com.au received massive traffic, somewhere over 30% from Google which is just one search engine.

Portals and particularly the top two paid portals absolutely saturate the search engine results by investing heavilly in SEO teams. They take the listings data of real estate agents and combine it with questionable tactics to create millions and millions of pages across multiple domains. This tactic effectively blocks real estate agent websites from search engine results thus starving us from direct enquiry.

These tactics by the portals is highly questionable and is evidence of the power they have developed in our industry. We are charged to display our listings on the portals and in return we are restricted to what we can display. We are not allowed to link back to our own website on each listing. We cant put contact details or phone numbers in the body text of the ad. Breach the rules and they will remove the property, do it too many times and they threaten to kick you off.  Any links they do give you and the portals insert ‘no-follow tags’ on the links back to the agent websites which tells the search engines to ignore our websites and that they have no value.

They justify that enquiry by charging higher and higher monthly fees but the problem in this relationships are more than the monthly subscription charges. also a death of thousand cuts it goes further than that with the portals undertaking lead generation schemes whereby they intercept sellers on the site and sell those leads back to agents at inflated rates. The traffic that agents have helped create is being used to promote private listings on Domain and now even realestate.com.au.

I believe that Realestate.com.au would generate more traffic than all the large national real estate groups combined. Agents have effectively given control of their listing enquiries to the portals and now seller leads to two large media companies who have taken every opportunity and they will not give up that control easily.

Real estate groups are also suffering as agents around the country have rather cut their ties with head office rather than their realestate.com.au and/or domain.com.au subscriptions. Joining a large real estate franchise or marketing group once respresented a great differentiator from other agencies in your area. If you listen to the portal sales team the only way to differentiate your agency now is to pay more and more for feature properties, feature all, brochure all and all the other add on products. Real Estate groups are seen to be providing an ever diminishing value to their franchisees and members.

As real estate agents we have given them our listing data and our money willingly for years but the level of antipathy from agents seems to rise year on year at pace equal to the price rise.

With the 2012 realestate.com.au price rise just about to be released rumours are rife that its going to be the biggest one yet. So more and more real estate agents are going to be asking themselves the magical question more than ever – Can I survive without a realestate.com.au subscription?

Cutting the umbilical cord to the subscription based portals is always going to be difficult especially since we have essentially been starved of enquiry on our own websites by the SEO teams at the portals. Cutting that link would be extremely difficult and disasterous without an extremely effective e-marketing strategy in place covering SEO, PPC, Social Media and Email Marketing.

Australian real estate agents are not alone in asking if they can survive without syndicating their content to a national portal. In the USA agents have been cutting that cord from syndicating to their national portals. Edina Realty and Shorewest Realty in Wisconsin were among the first but the one group that has recently got the USA market buzzing is ARG. Abbott Realty Group (ARG) recently announced that they will no longer syndicate listings to third-party aggregators like Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com.

Watch this video from ARG as they justify their decision to cut the umbilical cord. I think they do a great job in explaining their decision.

 

 

Agents, after watching the video ask yourself – Can I survive without a realestate.com.au/Domain subscription? and if the answer is no, what do you have to do to be able to answer yes?

Actually the real question you should be asking yourself is can you afford not to be working towards this goal?

Domain.com.au, portal, Realestate.com.au, subscription

SEO For Real Estate
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Agentpoint Real estate

About Glenn Batten

Glenn Batten is the General Manager at First National Real Estate Nerang and Principal at the First National Real Estate Upper Coomera office and has over 20 years real estate experience and a passion for technology. Glenn has been writing from an agents perspective on industry issues and covering a range of topics on Business2 since 2007.

84 Responses to Real Estate Group Blocks Syndication to National Property Portals

  1. Peter Ricci January 31, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Hi Glenn, individually this tactic would only hurt real estate agents, however, if there were a national push for this and a national site that not one person or entity owned (a collective open source listing system) then this would be possible and would gain steam very quickly. But here is the key, franchise group owners are short sighted, they would need to come together immediately to do this.

    Problem number two would require all groups / individual agencies to pool money together for a national media campaign, obviously this would not get much press from incumbents with interest to be hurt.

    The second thing for marketing would be that all agencies would be required by this group to hand out cards promoting the new site.

    The new site/system would need to be:
    A Constitution written up that favors no agency or party in ownership of systems or websites, has strict rules for publishing content.
    100% property driven (no advertising from 3rd parties) each listing could contain one link back to agents property page.
    Work on any number of devices

    If the systems were built well, then you would require around 500k per annum for costs (servers, developers, webmasters) This would equate to around $50 per agent per year. However I would suggest a cost of $100 per annum per agency. The initial cost would need to be footed by franchise groups and they would recoup these costs on revenue.

    A group that has 500 agents would save them a minimum $11k per annum , thats 5.5 million per annum!

  2. Luke Woollard January 31, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    Hi Glenn,

    I read the first two paragraphs… and would like to point out this to your readers:

    Search these (property addresses) terms in google
    3 stefans court, skye
    110 prince st mornington
    7b allambi ave rosebud

    Our website consistently ranks above the portals we subscribe to, for these properties we’re selling

    http://www.thepilots.com.au

    Will read the rest of your article now 🙂

  3. Greg Vincent January 31, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Great post Glenn.

    I totally agree that the portals are too restrictive on what they allow agents to do with their own data and the impact that realestate.com.au and domain.com.au are having on the franchise groups. (referrals and territories are fast becoming a thing of the past as agents now list properties well outside of their traditional service areas).

    I remember a few years back when LJH said that their agents weren’t to upload to REA. It was a decision that hurt their agencies and arguably cost their network the #1 spot. USA is a very different ball game and whilst I support the industry based initiatives, I wouldn’t recommend anyone follow the ARG over here anytime soon.

    Who knows what will come to pass in the future but for now my 2 recommendations are:-

    1. Milk the portals for everything you can get out of them by learning how to market more effectively via these sites and use their reporting, services, support + consumer database to get the best results for you and your clients (it doesn’t have to cost extra $$$).

    2. If you’re going to withhold listings do it in a way that helps you. Google always rates original content better than duplicated content. Across the real estate portals via multi-uploaders, feeds, etc, your listings get duplicated across the web and they become recognised by Google as duplicated content. To get the most out of the Google Juice to your site, make sure that your listings are uploaded onto your website/blog first so that your site can have a better chance of being recognised for providing original content.

    I also agree with you Glenn that the agent’s goal should be to look for solutions which by-pass the reliance on portals and create a real point of difference.

    The whole thing has become Agent Lotto for consumers as the major portals become Agent Cloning Sites. It’s like Agent Smith v’s Agent Smith. (ever seen this scene in The Matrix Reloaded? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyNyHark4xk ) 🙂

  4. Nick January 31, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    I’m not understanding why no aggregation at all. That’s a bit weird.
    Free portals aren’t really ever bad and a good paid portal does give properties additional exposure.

    Search engines like Google will never replace a good portal simply because a portal is more useful to users. A agent’s site will never have the full range of available properties.

  5. Nick January 31, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    Except no one will ever search for those addresses, unless they’ve been told to which means you already have the person’s attention.

    Now if the body of the property description got in Google for different terms non-specific to the property then that would be a big benefit.

  6. Peter Ricci January 31, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Hi Luke, just about any website can rank well based on a very specific keyword, but generally the natural searches from human beings are more general, real estate for sale rosebud victoria, 3 bedroom homes for sale rosebud Victoria etc

  7. Property Now January 31, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    You raise an interesting topic Glenn.

    It ties in very strongly with the other recent thread about whether realestate.com.au will be challenged or replaced. I made the point in that thread, that any company which abuses or neglects it’s clients for a long enough period and in a strong enough manner…..must eventually falter and then fail.I think it is obvious that realestate.com.au have done this for a decade.

    As to whether real estate agents will have the stones ( apologies to female agents ) to jettison REA and other subscriptions, yes they will, because there will always be a cutoff point based on an individuals economics. The cutoff point for many will simply be anger or cost or both.

    The dilemna as many will post in here, is that the first real estate agencies to do so will always heavily ( very heavily) advantage thir competition. In our own instance PropertyNow will be forced to lose Domain within a month or so because of a 30,000 per cent increase, so that decision will be out of our hands. Guy Robinson made excellent points about how our treatment is just a precursor to how they will be treating agents broadly and soon (he was talking about Domain) A pay per list model will come as soon as they figure out the best mathematical modelling which increases their revenue overall without losing agents.

    I think agents will not only be prepared to cut ties but they are actively looking for ways to do so.Interesting thread Glenn.

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

  8. Glenn Batten January 31, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Luke,

    Searching “Skye Real Estate” in Google returns 9 of the top 10 positions to be portals. The only non portal result was number 6.

    Searching “Mornington Real Estate” in Google returns 7 of the top 10 positions to be portals and they were the first 7.

    Searching “Rosebud Real Estate” in Google returns 6 of the top 10 positions to be portals including the top 3

    So using just these three terms the portals return 22 out of the top 30 and realestate.com.au have 11 of those and they are all the highest positions.

    Thats saturation to me 🙂

  9. Property Now January 31, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Peter Ricci that is an excellent observation. Totally agree with your metrics of what it would take monetarily for a group like what you described to succeed.

    To Luke Woolard, well done on those results Luke and you have an excellent website. However Nick and Peter are both correct in saying that no one is searching for those phrases at all…and so there is little point in ranking for them. Try instead searching – real estate anytown – and you will find that realestate.com.au genereally own the first 4 positions in Google for even those moderately long tail phrases.

    Andrew Blachut

    PropertyNow

  10. Glenn Batten January 31, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    I think we are going to see agencies actually turning them off very soon because of the sheer increase in costs and affordability. Whether we see agents turning them off en masse or because they can go it alone with their own emarketing initiatives is a completely different story.

    There is some serious discussion out there to delay feeds to the top two portals. Delaying feeds to realestate.com.au and domain may force the buyers to start checking agent websites. Staggering the release is IMHO a great tactic especially with days on market so high at the moment. Agents can get the initial hit from their own website direct and then followup in 2 weeks with a release to the portals.

    It would be a very bold move for a group to cut the feed to the portals. It’s bold for the Australia and it’s bold for the USA as well.

    Unfortunatley the rolling contracts put in place by realestate.com.au would cancel out any shock drop in revenues but the bad press and drop in available stock and traffic would be enough to make them stand up and take notice.

    Imagine if First National, Ray White, LJ Hooker, Professionals, Harcourts and a few other national groups all stopped the feeds overnight. Even if it was boycotted for just one week the fallout would be massive.

  11. Glenn Rogers January 31, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    REA and Domain get to the top by virtue of the massive content they have, SEO for those 2 is easy, it’s done for them by the agents.

    This is very similar to the recent article on how the holiday letting sites in the US have been taken over by the portals and it’s sending them broke.

    Dominate the search results then up the fees.

    We’ve been down this track a million times and I can only assume that agents are stupid (I’m an agent too)

    They have the Institutes there ready to help but they don’t support them, don’t like the way the Institutes are doing it ? then get in there and change it, they are YOUR Institutes.

    Stop putting your finger in the power-point and being surprised at the result, like Homer Simpson, get with the program change something or shut up.

    If you’re serious start today and join your Institutes web site and watch the results, give input and give them the content that has made YOU the slave on the majors.

  12. Glenn Rogers January 31, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    correction – and give them the content that has made YOU the slave of the majors.

  13. Luke Woollard January 31, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Hi Nick,

    Actually we had 25 searches originating from a search engine to our website in January just searching for the property at 3 Stefans Court using various derivations of the property address.

    My point is that our buyers are finding the PILOT website first when they are looking for our properties for sale.

  14. Luke Woollard January 31, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Searching “real estate prince street mornington” shows our website in #4 position.

    Not bad considering we only have 1 property for sale on this street at the moment however there are more than 4 others up for sale and various others for lease.

  15. Rowena Gupta January 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Great article Glenn. No where else in the world do portals have so much dominance. We also operate int he US, and the agents are astounded how much control has been given to REA and Domain in this market. I guess it’s up to the industry to hold back some of the information on properties when feeding to the portals (eg, video, floor plans, extra pictures, etc) – to give users a reason to go direct to the site.

    We are also working with a number of national real estate groups on a social media strategy (utilising some great technology from the USA) – as this audience is much bigger than all of the portals – and we believe will very soon be the gateway to the internet for consumers to manage all aspects of their life.

  16. Robert Simeon January 31, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Great topic Glenn – although I see Domain and REA safe for the moment although I can in over five years time see them dissolving. The vast majority of agents simply don’t understand the machinations of what makes online work – they are too lazy and stupid!

    Franchises are the business models that face a greater upheaval given they are struggling to define their relevance in the modern world – more particularly their fees. Eventually the franchise owners will be left charging an flat fee not a performance generated fee. Ask a salesperson how much the franchise contributed to their last sale? The answer is zero!

    I was amazed to recently be told that some franchises are double dipping by charging their offices a monthly internet fee (up to $500.00 a month), even when that office runs their own website. That is fraud! I’m sure the franchise does not reimburse the third party advertising they receive to the offices.

    We pay a flat fee, no Head Office internet charges and I have a free reign of what I want to do with our online business – works brilliantly. For the record I rate Domain and REA as back up to our own online business where we don’t rely on them the one bit. It would not bother me one bit if we weren’t there.

  17. Brett January 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Couldnt agree more Glenn. The institutes are trying to ramp up the fight against the big portals, but we, as agents, will load straight to rea and domain, bypassing the institutes websites.

    Why?

    Because right now we arent getting any leads off it. Clients are going to where they know and don’t look elsewhere, yet. But if, as agents, started to generate the lag effect on the main portals, with the lag starting at 24 hours and then slowly moving out, then motivated buyers will start going their first.

    However, because the industry is so fractured in this, we will keep going down the same path. We looked for a cost effective alternative from the papers, and moved towards online. Now that they are no long cost effective, we start looking elsewhere. But where to now? Why not towards a truly industry controlled website, looked after by the REI’s?

  18. Matt January 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Glenn,

    Great post! At its core there is plenty of food for thought and underlying messages for all agents to think about, but frankly, content wise the US online property landscape is a mess. Comparatively, ours is not (yet?).

    The gentleman in the ad mentions that “in San Diego “they” routinely post 30-40 thousand more homes than the number actually for sale”. He goes on to refer to the potential for calling 3rd party call centres, possibly out of area, selling against the listing agent without any real knowledge of the area. No wonder he’s upset!

    None of that could happen with REA or Domain, given they are fed by agents, rather than scraped from your individual websites. I know you’re not happy with the fees, but the accuracy of the data serves the consumer well.

    Like it or not, consumers legitimately like using REA and Domain (personal preference notwithstanding) because of the simple fact they can browse everyone’s listings, by price and internal criteria, in Suburb X without hopping between 45 individual agent websites that may contain listings within the area. I am sure you won’t argue this.

    Searching via Google often gives you expired listings, or a re-direct if the listing has been deleted by the host. Without a property interface of its own, it is much more accurate to go straight to your favourite national portal.

    Now, If I want to find a local agent, I’d be much more inclined to use Google than REA or Domain, which is where SEO, ranking and great pages like yours Glenn, and Robert, ensure you stand out from the crowd.

    But when it comes to getting your listings in front of buyers – and I say this as a buyer – REA and Domain are the best way for us to browse, compare and qualify all of your listings.

    Matt.

  19. Glenn Rogers January 31, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    REA and Domain should not use every opportunity to screw the agents for more every time they turn around they should use the existing cash flow to expand their businesses laterally to service agents and their clients in different ways, increase cash flow that way, protect their core business and expand their businesses as a whole.

    To hard………guess so.

    They will eventually lose out as loyalty diminishes and an alternative comes on the horizon.

  20. Glenn Batten January 31, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Matt,

    For the record, I think it would be very brave to cut that umbilical cord especially here in Queensland since there is no effective competition here at all. They have become the bridge from agents to buyers and for many agents they would represent 70 to 80% of all buyer enquiries.

    I think agents should always be looking for more eggs to add to that basket so they don’t just rely on the paid subscription portals when that economic tipping point has been reached that Andrew speaks of. Even if that day never comes, it’s just good business not to rely on one company to be your primary source of buyers.

    For a few agents I think that tipping point will arrive sooner rather than later with the next price rise but it will be interesting if some of the groups decide to take charge in this. I think some of the groups are only just realising what a strong REA and Domain places on their own value proposition. Some groups have responded well to the challenge providing more services, direction, support and training, but other groups take a lot and provide very little other than a banner above the door. This is what Robert was raising.

  21. Glenn Batten January 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    There is some interesting news to come out soon about much of what you are discussing as some “hurdles” are being overcome but it’s always going to be a challenge when each institute only represents one state and interests dont fully align.

  22. Jezza January 31, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    If the institutes had people with brains running their web businesses that might be a start.

  23. Jezza January 31, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Glenn Batten – delay listings to the main portals? make it harder for potentials to find property? not with my house you wont be.

  24. Glenn Batten January 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Jezza,

    Scheduling marketing over time is nothing new. Realestate.com.au does it themselves with the default sort order by date and then you have property alerts and brochures all getting sent at particular intervals. What rule is that it has to be listed on Realestate.com.au and Domain on day 1?

    In fact with days on market so high and often original list prices so high it could be easily argued that a strategy of holding back for a couple of weeks could have some real benefit.

    But lets all be honest here.. I have openly declared my bias as an agent so people can understand my perspective when they read my comments and posts. Care to share your bias in this and other discussions on realestate.com.au.??

  25. Glenn Batten January 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Just so it’s clear, I am not asking you to identify yourself if you dont want to.. But disclosing your perspective might help people understand your comments better because everything you have posted so far on this blog is in defence of Big Red or attacking their competitors. Don’t worry, I appreciate your loyalty and your opinion..

    Maybe you do now or have in the past worked for them, or maybe you are shareholder… or maybe you work for another company in the REA group.. maybe even overseas.. Whatever the connection feel free to share it with the rest of us. 🙂

  26. Brian January 31, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Hi Glenn,

    I read with interest an article in BRW (Jan 27th –February 29th) see pg. 52 -PROPERTY –“Information is power”.

    Also reading your blog I see that there are many issues with the market power of the major portals and also around data loss to major portals –in your case Real Estate.com.au and others. For other property professionals sales data is largely controlled by RP Data who appears to have bought anything that challenges them. Valuation management companies appear also to be taking data prepared in valuation reports for further use to their financial benefit .(I think RP Data have an interest in a valuation management company also)

    It appears that fundamentally agents and valuers on masse do not dare resist or seek to retain the value of their data. The scenario is the same – the larger player is able to pressure the smaller group of individuals into handing over the fruits of their labour in perpetuity with no return or royalty.
    I have a passing interest only in this interplay not currently being in the industry .I am however interested in the principle of what appears to have played out with your Market Tracker enterprise (BRW article) –which I note is now no longer operating. Was the issue copyright is what I am interested in knowing – I was not aware that facts (i.e. a property address and asking price listed on a web site (s) could be copyrighted – listing properties on the web is hardly a creative work!
    I find it amusing that you as agents pay to be on the site- i.e. Real Estate .com.au take your money for advertising your properties – they don’t actually pay for all the actual data they have on the site and then seek to protect – BUT they close down your business for aggregating that data? (That you and your colleagues have collected through your own efforts- as much a creative exercise and equally subject to copyright as they may have claimed against you.)

    I have had the experience in business of being threatened by a major monopoly corporation – rather stressful given their threats to pursue me to the ends of the earth and their constant reminder as to the likely quantum of the order for costs etc. I am happy to say they called “a meeting”after 18mths of lawyers ,statements of claim , jousting and bluff – all they got me to do in the end was take a cheque and sign a confidentiality agreement –presumably to diminish their embarrassment– the common trait of these majors is that they are bullies and it is not “their money” or” immediate livelihood” they are dealing with – as it was with me and I suspect you and your colleagues as you face more price increases in your businesses with Real Estate.com.au.
    Any feedback you are able to give on the issue with MarketTracker would be of interest if only in principle rather than any specific issues relating to your personal business

    Anyway good luck to you .

    I will follow your site with interest

  27. Charlie January 31, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    Hey Jezza – I resemble that comment!

    I believe the Institutes have brains; having worked inside REIWA now for almost 2 years I can tell you there are some sharp people here, who has the foresight to establish reiwa.com (in 1995) well before realestate.com.au and all others and 17 years on it’s doing extremely well; but I suspect your comment is more about other States, although I’d like to applaud REIV’s efforts with realestateview (#3 site in the country) and REIQ getting their site up and running.

    Anyway, back to the original post. Jim Abbott makes some telling points in a slick manner, but it has to be in the context of the MLS system in the States. Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com (the NRA’s official site!) are not really like realestate.com.au and domain.com.au in that they are basically free, and they then try to upsell (freemium model). A good reply to Jim is from Jay Thompson (the Phoenix Real Estate Guy) who has respect for Jim;s position, but basically tears it down – http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/arg-abbott-realty-group-pulls-listings-from-zillow-trulia-and-realtor-com/

  28. Mike Hudson January 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    Glenn Batten, over the last few years I have held my tongue and have chosen not to comment on this site when I have seen statements and claims that are made as fact but contain nothing more than half-informed puffery.

    You see, as the recently former Web Strategy Lead for REA – responsible for all SEO and SEM activity conducted by the REA Group, I feel that you are casting dangerous and libellous claims when you state such things as “They take the listings data of real estate agents and combine it with questionable tactics to create millions and millions of pages across multiple domains. This tactic effectively blocks real estate agent websites from search engine results thus starving us from direct enquiry…These tactics by the portals is highly questionable and is evidence of the power they have developed in our industry.”

    “Questionable”? “Highly Questionable”? I think not. I know this because I have been responsible for the strategy and implementation of said tactics, and I can say with my hand on my heart that I, and the team that I led, and the hundreds of developers/site-Ops that we worked with, have operated in the most ethical, “white hat” manner possible during my 4 years with REA.

    You might be able to wrangle out of making such statements by claiming you were referring to the tactics of another of the major portals – but that is no excuse.

    It would be inconceivable to you or your sometime one-eyed “usual suspects” that the core team at REA really DO care about providing the best possible service to all involved – the consumer, our media partners AND the agents! All three are needed to make the healthy successful ecosphere.

    realestate.com.au, since it’s complete rebuild in 2010, intentionally provides naked (as in ‘followed’ or not ‘nofollowed’) links to websites for all agents who list. I can almost guarantee that realestate.com.au is the #1 provider of all back-links to almost every agency that provides it with listings. During my time at REA we spent an inordinate amount of time trying to educate agents on maximising their content and structure to benefit both REA and the agency website.

    Apart from dealing with enterprise SEO issues like ensuring that the compiled static content from multiple datacenters across multiple applications are served with the correct HTTP responses and URL mapping for millions of monthly visitors, viewing hundreds of millions of pageviews, and repressing duplicate content and unwanted indexation, 90% of what REA’s SEO team does is really ensuring that the ‘Google-101’ stuff – the basics – are adhered to, the rest being advising and internal training. Nothing questionable at all.

    Contrary to some of the speculation from some of your other commenters, it’s actually from partnerships like Ebay, Yahoo! and the News Ltd network that provides the majority of the search value (in terms of back links) to REA (and us, circularly back to them), which is then carefully filtered down to the listing level and out to agents/agencies. It goes without saying that Domain uses the Fairfax network in a similar fashion.

    Almost every agency website I have ever looked at – from the smallest 1-man shop to the biggest of franchises has a plethora of basic SEO failures and opportunities for significant improvement, yet hardly any are willing to invest the paltry sum on professional SEO advice or training, but rather flitter it away on egoist full-page advertising print-spreads for which they have no meaningful success tracking, only to complain that the portals prices are shocking. For shame.

  29. TomS January 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Robert,

    I’m glad to hear that R&W Mosman have finally cancelled their REA subscription after all these years. What a relief. After all, they don’t rely on them “the one bit”. Hopefully your example will lead the way for other tech savey agencies.

  30. Peter Ricci January 31, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    Hi Mike,

    Great to hear from you here on Business2, you offer some extremely valuable insights into how and why of SEO for REA.

    Just a couple of things. I think we can agree with Glenn that more could be done for real estate agents that provide the data to REA – possibly a link back to the original content on their own website (1 per listing) would be something of an olive branch, and not too damaging for REA.

    Agents and SEO, well most agents do not even have a system to deal with this (CMS) as many are just simple framed websites.

    Another problem is professional SEO companies. Agents still need to understand the3 basics to understand who to hire for this. Email inboxes are full of spam mail from these purported professional SEO companies.

    As for SEO for agents websites, original content is the most important thing here, you can spend all the $$ on SEO but if all you have is listings (that are everywhere) then its an uphill battle. That is why I always tell agents to blog blog blog on local issues.

    Anyway, thank you so much for your comments.

    Peter

  31. Glenn Batten February 1, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    Mike..

    It’s a pity that you had to leave them before you got to comment on here but I am glad you finally did.

    Firstly let me state that I actually appreciate your work…. Realestate.com.au’s SERP results are simply outstanding and I cant think of any other industry that is so dominated but I think you have taken too much personal offence with your claims that my comments are libellous.. I did not question your ethical position.. or white hat / black hat status.

    Because your seo strategy is so good and is applied consistently across all suburbs around the country it is a great benchmark for agents to assess themselves on. If they rank below the realestate.com.au results for a given “suburb real estate” keyword they need to drastically improve..

    I questioned the tactic of portals filling up SERP’s through the creation of millions of pages. If you dont like people questioning anything I would stop reading blogs if I was you 🙂

    Thats what we do here, discuss, comment and question. It’s boring if we all have the same opinion which is why it’s so good to have you commenting.

    The whole nofollow discussion in the article came afterwards but since you raised REA’s usage and recent non usage of nofollow lets discuss it now that you can answer a few questions for us..

    Matt Cutts at Google announced that the nofollow attribute could no longer be used for page rank sculpting any more sometime in late 2009 . So whilst nofollow could be used to influence Pagerank and tell a search engine that the link it points to is “spam”, REA used it on agent links but within months of it not counting any more the professional seo team at Realestate.com.au then removed its usage . Conincidence? Really?

    Nofollow now has no implication of spam and it is just the literal meaning telling google to not follow the link and index the site. So in effect your decision to remove the nofollow link in early 2010 told google that if they had not already found the website, they could now visit it….. but chances are google had already found all the agent sites don’t you think?

    Realestate.com.au has over 40,000 other domains linking back to it and I agree that valuable links like ebay, yahoo and news limited are amongst them….. but you are not going to deny are you that REA controlled domains have millions of one way linking to deep realestate.com.au pages???? eg. property.com.au and reastatic.com.

    Please share just what websites the Fairfax group runs that contains millions of links back to individual pages on domain.com.au with anchor or alt text based on the agent names, suburb names or individual property addresses in the same style that property.com.au does?

    Amongst other things many of those links allow realestate.com.au to rank quite well for real estate agency names as a search term and for many agents around australia rank higher in the SERP’s than the agents themselves. Again, since you were the strategy lead, was this just another coincidence or side effect of just a good overall seo strategy or a deliberate tactic to target the business names of your clients?

    I am sure you can understand why agents would think realestate.com.au are deliberately try and target their agency names. In fact over recent years some portals have blatantly targetted agency names in a massive adwords campaign and I am sure that the person responsible for it actually apologised on this blog.

    I am also sure you could understand that agents might be suspicious that realestate.com.au ranks so well for their agency names but still can suggest that they do care about providing them the “best possible service” ..

    I am interested in your comment that “During my time at REA we spent an inordinate amount of time trying to educate agents on maximising their content and structure to benefit both REA and the agency website.” I can certainly understand how you tried to educate agents to maximise the benefit to the REA site… but just what did you spend all that time doing that would have an agent benefiting their own website.

    I do however agree wholeheartedly with your last paragraph… !!! See we do have some common ground 🙂

    As an seo expert specialising in real estate I would love to see your top tips for individual agencies to increase their seo.

  32. Glenn Batten February 1, 2012 at 1:44 am #

    Charlie< I agree that zillow and trulia are not like our subscription portals but I dont think its because they are free... it really comes down to the MLS system The really different one though is redfin. Jim Abbot chose to restrict his syndcation to his local MLS. Whilst it is not an exact fit it is like an Australian agent only putting his listing on an re institute site. I thought you of all people would appreciate that part of his tactis 😉 He is running against the tide and most agents would disagree with him just like most agents would not agree with an agent doing it here in Australia. The real crux of this article is that agents should do more for themselves and have as many eggs in the basket as they can and stop relying on just the portals for their business as portals wll only do whats best for the portals.

  33. Jezza February 1, 2012 at 2:10 am #

    Hi Glenn,

    I’ve said many times before I used to work for one of the portals many years ago.

    I also used to be an agent.

    Now I am just a healthy watcher of the industry. I promise you I hold no stock and have nothing to do with it now.

    I’ve seen both sides of the fence and simply comment on things when I see you fellas getting wound up and making what I think are crazy suggestions.

    All this talk of industry sites really does my head in. Yes, keep the buggers honest at REA and Domain but dont play games with your VENDORS properties. That’s my main issue with some of the statements made here.

    Honestly, if you’d worked in both games like I have, you’d really just focus on selling houses….oh and I 100% back you that agents should drive their own online brand more…but dropping the big portals based on a notion that you can do it better or there is a change coming is just plain mad to me.

    I’m also willing to say, its highly likely I am wrong.

  34. John Rowles February 1, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    Wrong, at least in the USA.

    The majority of homebuyers in the US move within 10 miles of a place they have lived 10 years. They know their town and the towns around it and which streets or neighborhoods they like, they often know about specific properties that are for sale and they very often search accordingly via Google, because the property portals force people to search the way you describe, so they back out to Google and search for what they want.

    My company builds a natural language real estate search engine that is tuned to produce SEO results for “long tail” (specific) searches like addresses, street names, neighborhoods, and development names (like “del boca vista II”), all of our clients get well over half of their incoming traffic from specific searches used once or twice. Some of them get over 80% of their traffic from the long tail.

    Rigid forms that force user to pick a town, pick a property type, pick a price range, pick how many bathrooms you want are a cutting-edge technology straight from 1994. Ever hear of Google? They have demonstrated conclusively that people prefer an intelligent, full-text search that is capable of returning a specific result.

    The portals and people selling expensive SEO services want you to believe that most people use general search terms as you describe, because it is an easy way to separate the uninformed from their money.

  35. Peter Ricci February 1, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    Hi John

    You may be correct with some people that move within 10 miles of their current home, but your stated majority is actually not correct and it depends entirely on location.

    As an example tourist destinations in USA are being swamped with international buyers, mainly because it is very difficult for citizens to get the finance needed.

    I recently met with a number of agents in Miami and nearly all of their buyers are from overseas or interstate. In one discussion 3 of the 5 agents had not sold a property to a Florida resident in nearly 9 months, but are selling around 3 per month to international buyers.

    So yes, tools such as yours (if they work) may be valuable, Australia of course is an entirely different market with different selling conditions.

    So I maybe wrong in certain situations, but data in Australia shows that most buyers do not use Google for looking for properties, they use one of the major portals and unfortunately they do not have much of a choice!

  36. Robert Simeon February 1, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Tom S

    Obviously the stress of GFC has left your mind in a state of confusion – I said “For the record I rate Domain and REA as back up to our own online business where we don’t rely on them the one bit. It would not bother me one bit if we weren’t there.”

    Unlike many other real estate agencies our own online platform out performs the portals so if they were not there it would not bother me – now what part of that don’t you understand?

  37. Glenn Batten February 1, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    I thought maybe I missed it so I did a search in the back end and “jezza” has never revealed working for the portals. that I could find. I suggest you did it under another name.

    You dont actually see me suggesting that an agent should do this do you??? In fact I said quite the opposite. What i have said is that some agents will be forced to turn them off because of economics but most agents should work towards the goal of being able to switch them off by building other enquiry streams… this is just risk management.

  38. Glenn Rogers February 1, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Mike,

    “””””yet hardly any are willing to invest the paltry sum on professional SEO advice or training””””””

    I’ve been in this business for a number of years and I cannot find an SEO consultant who is good at anything but stating the bleeding obvious.

    Recently had a report done (umteenth one) must run to 60 pages, got almost nothing out of it.

    Agents who have no experience in this would have no hope.

  39. TomS February 1, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    You’re right Robert, I am confused. You pay $1200 per month for a service that doesn’t add any value to your business. Is this some form of reverse economics.

    Signed,

    “Confused”

  40. Mike Hudson February 1, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Thanks Peter,

    As i’m not one to shoot and run, I’ll try to elucidate on some of your points.

    1. The sheer number of listings being uploaded each day by the sheer number of methods (XML, manual, syndicated etc) means that it would have been extremely difficult to validate every listing URL provided as genuine. It would surprise you to learn how many malicious attempts are made to spam, trick, manipulate REA’s database everyday.

    2. I fully understand the weariness of the SEO industry – it can be almost as difficult as looking for a reputable real estate agent! (ok – that’s a joke)

    3. I somewhat disagree with your claim about listings being difficult as a source of content to rank. Any good portal or agency would ensure that listings are complete in *every* detail, supported with as much rich and relevant information as possible (data, maps, images, location info, related listings, rich snippets and meta data etc). That being said, blogging and other supporting activity can only but help.

    Disclaimer: all my comments are my own. They do not, and should not be inferred to be the opinions or statements of my previous or current employer(s).

  41. Mike Hudson February 1, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    Hi Glenn,

    Again, some further clarification is required:

    1. I could have commented much earlier, but *elected* not to (I was not directed not to). I didn’t want to have my position at the time be seen as having a biased position on any matter.

    2. In terms of taking personal offence – none offence really taken, I only answered hyperbole in kind. There was an assertion that needed to be addressed however.

    3. I support agents questioning the activity of others in the industry – portals included, but such questions should be based on matters of fact rather than opinion.

    4. It’s sad, but not surprising, that you slightly misunderstand the full concept of the rel=”nofollow” attribute with regards to links, as many in the SEO industry still don’t quite get it. Nofollow was never used to indicate a link just as “spam” per se, but just that the link “could not be vouched for” (More can be had from the horses mouth here: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=96569 ). While REA used “nofollow” extensively when I arrived at REA, it was mostly for crawl-budget management – not “sculpting”. Agent links were “nofollowed” due to the number of agents what were either breaking their links, not formatting them with http or www or the right TLD etc – to the point where we “couldn’t vouch” for those links. We addressed that (at a scalable level) with the rebuild – the timing was irrelevant.

    5. In terms of ranking for agency names, internal PageRank – or “link value” – can be just as strong as external link value with regards to getting pages to rank for any given term so the sheer volume of back-links that the homepage of a portal receives from it’s parent/partner sites can be redistributed internally without relying on direct external anchor-text links to lower-level pages. Of course a large enterprise site would be foolish not to leverage it’s network of associated online assets. BTW reastatic.com is a non-entity in terms of search value – used only for hosting static items that can be delivered without cookie overhead and allow for parallelising / domain sharding.

    6. Education was mostly centred around dispelling SEO myths or mis-understandings (like “nofollow”). In my position at the time I couldn’t play favourites (even though many agents claimed we deliberately favoured some over others in Google rankings – I wish I had that power), so through the sales network we passed on advice about ensuring all property data was fully completed, proper location information was included and most importantly that price was stipulated (it’s my opinion that agents believe that it’s more important to get a phone call/email enquiring about the price of a property to generate a lead than to actually allow a rich user experience).

    I’ll finish up by stating that Google has spent a lot of effort in building out their information base on SEO that provides pretty much all you need to know to get things right: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291

    Disclaimer: all my comments are my own. They do not, and should not be inferred to be the opinions or statements of my previous or current employer(s).

  42. Robert Simeon February 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Tom S

    Well if you run your real estate agency correctly the cost of annual subscriptions to REA and Domain should be at break even – so in economic terms (I will keep this simple so that you can understand) this is not a cost to our business.

    The fact on a ROI basis Domain outperforms REA comprehensively. This might explain why REA after a five year absence are rolling out a sales team in our area again. Although the horse has well and truly bolted!

  43. vic Del Vecchio February 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Portals in this country are here for ever. Whatever is being said here and in other forums at present seem to be wanting to ignore the reality that the US are operating on vastly different internet property advertising models. It is a little bit like trying to compare their banking system to ours here.

    Like our banking system,( the four pillars plus some second tier), the portal system here is the big two plus some second tier State models (subs based) and a number of niche sites (mixed free to list and subs).

    To try to set any strategy to diminish the power of the big two, and as someone earlier said, it would only hurt the vendor and ultimately your own pocket.

    After two years of being in this industry and reading all the same rhetoric (of how to beat them) it is getting a bit tiresome.

    There are choices we make in business and all are related to cost vs revenue. If you can’t make the right decision for your business, don’t go expecting an agent revolution to come along and do it for you.

    I certainly support the idea of owning your own niche area (geographic) but only one agent, maybe two, can actually do this per geographic area. (example R&W Mosman) . That doesn’t mean to say you don’t try. Of course you do, but only to the extent that the revenues exceed the costs to maintain this approach.

    I agree with an earlier comment that the franchises are letting a lot of agents down and would think that the first revolution should be aimed at the franchisor. Secondly the REI’s in some States have let their members down and this is another area that agents should be directing their efforts. What do you want them to represent you in, what agenda do you want them to run, what lobbying do you want them involved in and do you really want them to be portal owners themselves.

    In WA it seems their REI has the right approach and as Charlie G says they were one of the first to set a portal, but even to this day it is not 100% supported and not all WA agents are members. Why not? If agents can’t even see the good thing they have got going and give it 100% support, how can anyone expect to reach any sort of agreement to “combat” the big two portals.

    Peter Mericka’s prediction some time ago “that getting agents do do something together is like herding cats” is a truism.

    My recommendation for agents in these tough times is to Pay ONE major portal, Pay for one State portal, put onto one major free to list and as many niche portals that suit your style/category of listings. Then get yourself set up to communicate effectively to your data base.

    ps- disclosure: I am a niche free to list portal owner.

  44. Greg Vincent February 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    Here’s an Open Letter by Fred Glick where he addresses some of the different points made in the ARG Announcement

    http://agbeat.com/news-business/open-letter-to-brokers-on-ending-listing-syndication/

    During the video Fred shares a couple of the distinct differences between the US real estate market and the mindset around using Buyer’s Agents as opposed to buying through the Listing Agent, MLS/IDX etc.

    Gee wiz some of the negotiations must get very messy over there. 🙂

  45. Glenn Batten February 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Mike,

    Thanks for your reply.. I will cover each of your points in turn.

    1/ Thats a pity you did not get involved earlier as it would have great to have you involved in some of the discussion

    2 and 3/ No response required..

    4/ I think it might be safer if you don’t worry so much about what you think I know or dont know as you can only ever assume… and you are not always going to be right on that one.. It’s much easier just to discuss the issues rather than preface your opinion with “you dont understand but I do so I will tell you” espeically when you are sprouting opinion as facts.

    You provided a link to Google Webmasters page but that tells you what the policy is right now, not what it was. As I have said somewhere in late 2009 the usage of nofollow was changed by Google so giving me a link after that change is pretty pointless. You also said that nofollow was “never used to indicate a link just as “spam” per se.. the operative word their is just… So you admit that it was used to indicated spam?

    But since you like quoting from the horses mouth here is the original 2005 article from the Official Google Blog introducing the tag and it’s usage – http://googleblog.blogspot.com.au/2005/01/preventing-comment-spam.html. Even the article announcing the tag was called “preventing comment spam” but you reckon its me that it has it all wrong.. ??

    And just in case you think google has got it wrong here is the link showing it was two Google employees who came up with the concept http://microformats.org/wiki/rel-nofollow.

    SEO specialists around the world used the tag for page rank sculpting but you would have us believe that REA never had that in mind but nofollowed every agency link at the time because a few of them were broken or forgot the www in front.

    Your suggestion that REA did not use nofollow for SEO benefit purposes is a joke and reminds me of when Dave Platter tried to suggest on here that ***Consumers*** WANTED ads on the site because it was like offering chips and chocolate bars in the queue at the servo.

    You can suggest that it was all done on thousand of agents because a few mis formatted links, I just dont believe you. How long would have it taken to detect (and fix) those bad links?? A script could have been run to fix the links and every properly formatted links could have had the nofollow tag removed.

    5/ Using the assets at your disposal I can certainly understand but doing that at the direct expense of your clients that engage you is I believe the questionable part. Whilst I am sure you and REA have no problem with it and consider it part of the job I can assure you many agents do have a problem. Agents pay a lot of money to be listed and REA use that listing with their seo to out muscle them in the search engines but they also try and beat them for their own agency names. Why should rea try and rank for the agency names.. let me guess your response.. “its for the benefit of the agents”. You can’t just trot that line out expecting agents to believe REA’s actions are done for their benefit.

    You were good at what you did but lets be honest you did not do it for the benefit of the agents, you did it for the benefit of REA and it’s shareholders.

    6/ By misunderstandings you mean when agents did not agree with your version. I agree that many in the industry simply have no clue about SEO but your description of what you claimed to have educated them on has no connection with their SEO… only your seo!!!

  46. Mike Hudson February 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Glenn, its clear to me (and many others) that regardless of what I say in clarification or rebuttal that you’ll simply choose to ignore my key points, choose not to believe me and my sincerity and stick with your dogmatic myopia.

    However, lest others hold on to every word that you spin, I will entertain your flame-bait – for their benefit – and reiterate the following:
    – The link I gave about the current nofollow policy is a clarification on the changes that took place as you said circa 2009. It was then and remains today the way I personally approach the use of nofollow – regardless of what was in place before my time at REA.
    – I never said it wasn’t used to indicate spam – but since it’s first inception it grew to encapsulate the wider net that the phrase “sites/page you cannot vouch for” better describes – these aren’t my words but since you love quoting Matt Cutts so much – he uses the same phrase here: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/pagerank-sculpting/
    – Your own link to the micro formats specification for del=”nofollow” also states “Indicates that the referred resource was not necessarily linked to by the author of the page, and thus said reference should not afford the referred resource any additional weight or ranking by user agents.” – see any mention of the word there? No? Care to take issue with the authors on that? Thought not.
    – I’m well aware of the practice of PageRank sculpting that was prevalent prior to 2009. What you might not be aware of is that the practice mainly circulated around nofollowing *internal* links to “sculpt” the way PR was distributed internal to a site – so claiming it was related to nofollowing agent links doesn’t hold water.
    – Its also amusing having you criticise me about the old nofollow practice (which was part of the site which dates back to 2006) when I was the responsible for removing them 2 years ago during the rebuild (for which the planning and specification and build process goes back to early 2009).
    – Your rebuttal to point 5 is a classic case of the dogmatic myopia which i referred to at the beginning. You’re welcome to your opinion on that matter and I welcome others to take my original response as being mine. This will be my last last response to you.

    Disclaimer: all my comments are my own. They do not, and should not be inferred to be the opinions or statements of my previous or current employer(s).

  47. Glenn Rogers February 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Some of the best posts I’ve ever seen in here are from Mike Hudson in this thread.

    Good to see someone who really knows what they’re talking about, it really shows.

  48. Tatiana Mijalica February 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Hi Mike,
    I compile Analytics from agency websites on a monthly basis AUS wide for a large number of customers, independents and franchise groups.

    I have been doing this as part of my consultancy business for close to 2 years. I can categorically tell you that REA does not feature in the top 5 referrals sources, barely ever even in the top 10.
    For the spend per month on REA, the referral traffic to Agents websites is negligible.

    Property.com.au ranks well dependant on how the agency has its feed set up as these clicks can go directly through to the listing on the agency website and not the listing on REA.
    But even then, top 10 not top 5. These numbers are in low hundreds, for franchises groups low thousands. REA referrals are far less.

    Usual top 5 is: Google (free), bing (free), own email marketing (paid), Facebook (free), Yahoo (free).

  49. business February 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    With the sellers’ permission, a lockbox is placed on homes that are occupied and, after arranging an appointment with the home owner, agents can show the home. When a property is vacant or where a seller may be living elsewhere, a lockbox will generally be placed on the front door. The listing broker helps arrange showings of the property by various real estate agents from all companies associated with the MLS.

  50. Glenn Rogers February 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    Just doing a few searches on different locations, real estate (locality), REA certainly are looking good but by no means do they have it all to themselves.

    Domain shows first in a lot of searches and there’s a few niche’ sites first in their localities.

    Where Fairfax may have an advantage is when the search shifts from “real estate”” to “”accommodation”” Stayz take over.

    REA have been first for a very long time but perhaps the times are changing.

    Would need to do a lot more searches to be sure but at first glance it isn’t clear cut all REA’s way.

  51. Mike Hudson February 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    Thanks Tatiana,

    Back links for ranking purposes and links for referral traffic are (as I’m sure you’re aware) two different beasts. In my point earlier, I was referring to back-links for ranking purposes. I’d agree that direct to agent website traffic from REA wouldn’t be that large as it requires a consumer on REA’s website to click through to the agent profile page which then links through to the agent’s site. This was never the intended funnel as REA’s mission is to drive engagement via phone or email direct to the listing agents. I hope I explained that clearly.

    Property.com.au’s linking model is slightly different, but I’m not at liberty to explain how and why.

  52. Mike Hudson February 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    I wouldn’t disagree with your observation but would add cautionary note. Unless you have completely anonymised your identity before searching on Google, then your results are almost certainly tailored to you. They will be skewed on: ISP you’re using (geo), your browser (incl device specific), web history (if enabled), .com vs .com.au and whether you’ve selected “pages from australia”. If you’re logged in to Google then you can treble the personalisation signals. Regardless of all that, it’s a competitive space that is constantly changing and requires constant “optimization” for lack of a better term.

  53. Glenn Batten February 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    Mike

    *****”I never said it wasn’t used to indicate spam”..

    ummm I never said you did say that …. In fact I pointed our how you used the qualifer “just” which showed you knew exactly what it was for.

    *****” Its also amusing having you criticise me about the old nofollow practice”…

    There you go getting all personal again… Please show me where I criticised you personally for that practice.. You made it clear that that practice was in place before you started. What I said was that you claim that REA did not use the no follow practice before 2009 for seo practice was a joke. I criticised you for your comment, not the practice itself. It is vastly different.

    I don’t think you will find many agents believe that REA’s usage of nofollow was for anything but self interest.

    And I just love this quote…

    *****”Your own link to the micro formats specification for del=”nofollow” also states “Indicates that the referred resource was not necessarily linked to by the author of the page, and thus said reference should not afford the referred resource any additional weight or ranking by user agents.” – see any mention of the word there? No? Care to take issue with the authors on that? Thought not.”

    Really?? Why would I take issue with it, that reference is about applying nofollow to links in comments.

    Throwing this in is just a red herring and it has no relevance here unless you are going to suggest that rea pages at some time allowed visitor to comment on agent profile pages and you allowed embedded links. That simply did not happen and it therefore it has nothing to do with the agent link on the page which was put there which was put there by the autho.

    r and you bringing it up is misleading and trying to change the subject..

    *****”What you might not be aware of is that the practice mainly circulated”‘….

    might….. ahh you finally stopped assuming what I know and dont know… thank you.. 🙂

    *****”since you love quoting Matt Cutts so much”…

    actually I didn’t directly quote him. I did not have to.. The blog post Ilinked to did the job handsomely..

    *****The link I gave about the current nofollow policy is a clarification on the changes that took place as you said circa 2009″…

    The link you provided was misleading as it was about current nofollow policy and was out of context of how you were using it to support your argument.that no follow was never about spam prior to 2009. Not only was it about spam, but when it was first mooted it was only about spam.

    ******that you’ll simply choose to ignore my key points, choose not to believe me and my sincerity and stick with your dogmatic myopia.

    I did not ignore your key points, I did anything but… In fact I openly challenged you on them. Just because I disagree with you does not mean I ignored you. I head you and chose an opinion that differs from you and thats vastly a different thing.

    Your right, some of your claims I simply dont believe but I think I have been pretty clear about which ones.. Others I dont have a problem with.

    You can try and discount my opinions by calling me myopic all you want, that’s your choice, but I always find it funny when people’s arguments start falling apart they try and make it all personal. Calling me myopic is a pot and kettle story.

    **** This will be my last last response to you.

    Are you holding your hands over your ears too? 🙂

  54. Glenn Batten February 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    I know you have not done many.. but different locations in the same state??? and if so which state?

  55. Glenn Batten February 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Vic,

    I dont know if I could agree that portals will be here for ever, but they will be here for a long time.. The real purpose of the article is that agents need to ensure that they dont have just a single enquiry stream from the top two tier 1 subscription portals. Fill your basket with a stack of eggs!! One of those eggs should be the free and the niche portals but others are better traffic to their own website through seo and ppc, better database marketing, lead generation systems.

    Many agencies had two subscriptions with both of the ttier 1 portals. The second subscription has been cut for a lot of agencies. I think there are going to be some agencies that will be forced to cut the last subscription due to economic necessity.

    Other than those financially forced to I dont think their will be a rush of agents in Australia following ARG;s example, but a few more price rises might start to tempt a few especially in states that have other viable options.

  56. Glenn Rogers February 1, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    NSW mainly, I could sit here all day doing those searches, I havent done anything like that for a while, I was suprised REA wasn’t all dominant.

    I suspect Google shifts things round sometimes so as not to have all results locked in forever, hence propertynow being right up there above Domain at times.

  57. Jezza February 1, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Mike, you’re working under the assumption that Glenn wants to listen.

    I’ve been watching this site for years and only comment from time to time when i just cant hold my tongue.

    There is a chuck of guys on this site that actually believe there is some sort REA/Domain conspiracy against them. Glenn is one of the most vocal.

    What Glenn does do though is a lot of his own ground work and research. He knows a lot more than the average agent but like most conspiracy pundits, always ends up in the conclusion he wanted to from the get go…in this case ”REA are trying to screw us”

    Glenn, sorry if I misled you with my statement above. Maybe I was working under a different name prior…who knows. I have changed countries, jobs and PCs several times since leaving my portal employer 5 years ago. No conspiracy here! Like I said, i used to work for one of the main portals in Australia and was once an agent. Simple. But thanks for checking up on me…..

    Again, what I cant stomach is people getting on here beating up some semi conspiracy and whinging about products that, had they listened and utilized fully from day one, would have put them ahead of the game.

    Does REA and Domain offer me leads? yes
    Has it made marketing my VENDORS properties cheaper and easier? yes

    Am I missing something here?

  58. Jezza February 1, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Greg, I now live in a country where the american MLS is used. It’s an fing mess. Even more so here given there is very little law around agent conduct.

  59. George Savva February 1, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    I think if the the major franchise companies surveyed their members to see if there is a desire to delay the feeds to the major portals there would absolutely overwhelming support.

  60. Jezza February 1, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    What about is they surveyed their customers…Vendors?

  61. Glenn Batten February 1, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    Damn those people who know what they are talking about and do some research.. they get in the road all the bloody time dont they 🙂

    You did not mislead me… Your comments clearly displayed your bias, I just thought it fair for you to let everyone else know so your comments can be taken in context. In your head all your comments are coming from the one persona… but that is not how others see it.

    The REA Mafia of ex and current employees and associates that comes out to support any questioning of it’s business is always cute. I love you guys because you can be relied on so well to deliver and you get the comments section flying. 🙂

    Call it loyalty if you wish but some of the ex employees are often my favourites as it seems sometimes that they have to justify to everyone why they worked there.

    I also love how some of the anonymous ones think we dont know who they are just because they use their home computers and/or anonymous email accounts at hotmail and gmail.

    Isn’t it funny that if I can listen to or read about your position, appreciate and acknowledge that you have a different perspective but still decide that I don’t agree with you and offer why I dont agree….. that you always considers its my problem… I dont listen, I am myopic and dogmatic. and of course you always insist I am the one that has to change to your way of seeing things….

    I suggest you appreciate that different people will look at the same issue from different perspectives and expecting that we will have a similar opinion is next to crazy. Rarely is there a black and white… more likely shades of gray..

    Just out of interest how long did you work at the portal?

  62. Jezza February 1, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    Hi Glenn,

    Sorry to jump in here but it wouldn’t allow me to reply above.

    I guess I was there for 3 years. Something like that anyway. Are we playing a game of Guess Who with ip addresses and linkedin accounts? haha.

    To be honest I really agree with you, and a lot of the guys here on many accounts. But I just get frustrated when you talk about REA/Domain like they are the devil. When I was there all we wanted to do is help agents get more leads at a cheaper cost…I’m not just saying that. That’s really what got my generation there excited.

    The reality is, REA and Domain are ASX listed. The prices will go up and up. But its still a better service at a cheaper rate that what was the main stay before – in most cases.

    For the record, I would be paying more attention to Domain these days, they really seem to be chipping away…just my thoughts.

  63. Glenn Batten February 2, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    Jezza

    There is many way you can tell who is who in the zoo but I linkedin is not one of them… at least that I have used. Peter has a great policy here of allowing anonymous comments but does not allow people to be misleading about who they are. Essentially you can debate from the shadows if you want, just dont hide behind a mask.

    Some people push that to the very limit and there are a number of warnings over the years and most of the offenders have been staff members or ex staff members and direct associates of the tier 1 portals. They have pretended to be agents praising themselves and pretended to member of the public with no affiliation to the industry at all and just happened to wander past the articles. One of the senior management actually denied working for REA when openly challenged by an agent… technically he was right, he had recently left.

    I dont think REA/Domain are the devil and I certainly dont think their is a conspiracy going on and I definitely dont have a problem with the individuals involved. I have never met an REA staff member in person I did not like and I have regularly said that it would be impossible to operate today without them. I liked the new web design when others hated it.. But the REA Mafia never seem to worry about the good comments I have made about the portal, instead fixating on anything negative.

    REA and Domain are corporations and agents, the primary and targetted audience of this blog, which I am one are entitled to question their actions especially as they effect us their clients. REA in particular have tried to stop me writing articles. I have never written an article about that, nor have I written an article about another episode where they closed an investment I had that cost me substantially. The reason is that both issues effect me and not the industry.

    I have written a bunch of articles on REA covering the price rises, new website, email meltdown etc etc.. Some where positive, some were negative… but all where written from my perspective as an agent. It’s funny, the only negative feedback I get on an article featuring REA or Domain is from the companies themselves, their current or ex staff.

    To be fair it’s been nearly a decade since you could have operated as an agent in the industry and back then REA and real estate agents were in a honeymoon situation. Agent opinions on realestate.com.au have changed dramatically since then as you no doubt have noticed.

  64. Dave Platter February 2, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Hi, Glenn. I stand by my comments about the chips and chocolate. When you’re home hunting, you often also want it to be easy to find a mortgage. If you can find it right on the same page, all the better.

  65. Dave Platter February 2, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    Glenn, thanks for provoking a fascinating discussion. I have to say, this comment for me sums up the best advice. It’s the one I would print out and hang on the wall if I were an agent.

  66. Dave Platter February 2, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Agreed, Glenn Rogers. Well said.

  67. Dave Platter February 2, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Glenn, as someone who also posts on this blog and used to work at REA, I have to say I’ve always enjoyed hearing your point of view, even when I didn’t agree with it. Thanks again for this post.

  68. vic Del Vecchio February 2, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Glenn,

    My “forever” comment is not a stretch. Portals will be here for ever, maybe not the same ones but in some format or other there will always be a conduit for the public to see “all” or “most” in one single platform.

    The rest of what you said in response is fundamentally what I believe. But the reality is that only the best and most astute will do it and do it well.

  69. kane February 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    I am an agent and i don’t understand the big deal, the price increases are across the board?
    is it not the same for everyone? who cares if it costs 2,000 to put a home on a portal that works? the vendor will pay for it anyway?
    if agents are to useless to pass these cost onto our vendors then they deserve to go broke.

    my anaolgy is why would an agent pay 3 or 4 thousand to work their butt off for a vendor for six weeks and cover all costs out of a comission they may or may not get if the vendor who has no real vested interest in the sale decides not to sell at market value?

    better luck at the casino….

  70. Jezza February 2, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    All fair points.

  71. vic Del Vecchio February 2, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Hey Guys,

    REA share price hovering around $13 – must be doing something right. 🙂

  72. Glenn Batten February 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    Dave,

    I didn’t think you had changed your mind… besides we can all be misguided a little about chocolate sometimes!!! 🙂

  73. Glenn Batten February 2, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    Thanks Dave, I appreciate that, especially coming from you.

  74. Ryan O'Grady February 4, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Luke, maybe you can help with the stats here? But it would be interesting to see what percentage of users search:

    Real estate suburb vs real estate street name suburb

    In my opinion I would think real estate suburb would be more popular.

  75. Ryan O'Grady February 4, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Glenn, I had my first client disable all feeds to portals this week and part of that procees was to withdraw all stock from the portals. If he’s ok with it I’ll do a post about the results in a few months. His site has excellent seo so removing this duplicate content across the web should enhance this.

  76. Ryan O'Grady February 4, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    A little off topic but out of interest are there any other networks in Australia which use this flat fee model?

  77. Ryan O'Grady February 4, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    You don’t really have to delay sending your data to Rea as ive heard they are only processing data twice a day now. By processing I mean updating their front end to display changes. Other portal pushes will agree with this that they process our Xmls within 20 mins but the updates can take up to 12 hours to appear on the front end, it’s causing a major headache for clients but does mean your listings will appear on your own site hours before rea.

  78. Ryan O'Grady February 4, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Perhaps agents can have two versions of copy for their listings. One is a brief summary which is sent to the portals and the other is a full description about the property and features with all the juicy content and keywords, this copy is only displayed on their website making their property pages unique from the property pages on the other portals.

  79. PaulD February 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Jezza,
    What other product or service do you use, that has increased in price by 18% per year, on average over the last 9 years. In my case the enquiry rate has dropped to around 10% of what it was in those days.
    So lets have a look at the price of petrol. 9 years ago the price of petrol was about 95 cpl, the price today at the rate that a REA subscription has gone up would be about $3.50 cpl. Do you think there would be a bit of an outcry if the price of petrol was $3.50 per litre now – you can bet there would be. I guess the main thing would be that at least the car gets the same mileage. In my case REA gets 10% of the performance of those days. We get told all the bs about how many million people look at the properties, but when it all boils down to enquiry, there ARE so many other sources of enquiry. The fact is that I am a statistics driven person. One of the best sayings I ever heard, was that ” if you don’t know where you have been, how do you know where you are going?” I’ll bet that MOST agents out there wouldn’t know how many enquiries that had last year let alone more than 5 years ago — so — how do they know ??? The answer is – They DON’T. They believe the bs they are fed.

  80. Peter S February 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    Does anyone think this “industry” website will get any support or make inroads into the “big 2”? http://viewproperty.com.au/

  81. RMac February 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    I like that idea Ryan, it will address duplicate content issues and help SERP rankings.

    From what I understand, when listings are found as “duplicates”, Google and the other engines need to decide who is the owner or authority of the content, regardless of who first published it, and when, they will nearly always choose the most popular brand as authority. No guessing who that is. That’s part of the reason the top 10-15 positions are saturated and will continue to be!

  82. Ryan O'Grady February 9, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    As per this post http://www.business2.com.au/2011/10/viewproperty-com-au-the-new-industry-portal/ they were scheduled to launch 10th November 2011 so they have lost some creditability here. Lets hope the reason for their delay is that working on something which will “blow our socks off”!

  83. keneza February 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    I feel that it is a big concern there are only two main players and that the gouge the consumers on fees every year. Plus all the add ons such as Priority Placement or Feature Property. If Priority placement had only one spot and it had to be booked in advance by an agent it may be fair but now priority placement is just an extra $70pw cost for your listing to be on domain on page two or three as if its not priority placement of feature property.. well forget about it..
    My thoughts summarised..

    – Subscription costs are pushed up unfairly every year. They are not standard across the board (I believe there are franchise rates negotiated, independent rates, and also rates just negotiated) and further it is not a fair cost between small agents (one or two agents) and agencies with thirty to fifty staff.

    – Priority placement, feature properties etc make the sites even more costly and the amount of these availables is unfair as you get no bennefit for the extra money. There is already now feature property which is above priority placement, I would not be surprised if this becomes a multiple and there is soon platinum priorty feature properties beyond these in first place at once also..

    – There is an industry website homehound.com.au which functions reasonable well. The big agency players need to make a push for this to be the first listing point of call and exclusive for two weeks prior to listing on other sites to push its profile in the community. It wont take much for this to happen but they also need to change the domain name to something else as homehound is not the best name.

    – There is not reasonable scrutiny of dodgy or sold properties left listed which is against portal rules. Some suburbs have huge amounts on. Try Wentworth point or Ultimo. If all agents did this the site would be a shambles.

    – I believe any agency can cut to one of the major two portals at anytime and not see much difference in their enquiry level. They will also know which portal is dominant in their particular area. I would say 80% of property searches view both portals in their search anyway. Having both portals is purely a listing tool in my opinion as vendors want to know the property is listed on both sites.

    If all agencies drop to only one major website and utlise their marketing spend on that site rather than on two they will probably see better results for the same spend. (Ie using prioity placement, feature properties, ebrochures etc) rather than a standard listing on two sites. Further this would quickly make both companies come back to earth with their pricing and start competiting properly for business.

  84. Bud October 15, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    Actually, it keeps things from getting messy, IMO.

    I’d never buy a home in the US without my own buyer’s agent. The commission is split, so no cost to me. The benefit is that I have someone negotiating my interests (lowest price and best terms possible), which are inherently contrary to the seller’s interests (highest price and least-best terms possible).

    Splitting the difference isn’t in my best interest, since that will produce a higher price than the lowest price available.

    Recently, we bought a home in Montgomery, Alabama. Asking price was US$250,000, having settled from an original ask of $335,000. It had been stuck at 250 (and sat empty) for a year with no offers and declining traffic.

    Wildly hideous wallpaper was clearly plastered on every wall in photos offered on the MLS and other internet outlets. At considerable expense to the owners, the wallpaper had recently been removed and the place was entirely repainted (nicely).

    However, the photos had never been updated on the MLS or various search engines to show that eyesore had been elimiinated. The owners were unaware they weren’t getting new visits because there was nothing “new” to be seen, based on visual information available.

    Our agent was instructed that the acceptable price was 225k. It took several rounds of counter offers, but the owners finally agreed.

    It’s unlikely they ever realized their own agent was incompetent. It’s also unlikely that price would have been accepted by the owners if we had been dealing with their agent (or agency) directly.

    As a buyer, my objective isn’t to be “fair”. My objective is to pay the lowest possible price. I cannot speak to how it works Down Under, but I can tell you dual agency (even if technically split between two agents in the same office) doesn’t leave me with that warm, comfortable feeling I get when I know my representation isn’t watered down by dual loyalty.

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