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IDX: Think Outside the Box!

by | Apr 07, 2014

onboard_idx-outside-boxThese days IDX plug and play tools are everywhere. The vast majority of real estate websites I come across utilize framed IDX solutions. Sure, they are easy and cheap to install on a site and often times they offer more than just listings data. Some have begun to integrate neighborhood information as a new reason to buy their service. Some offer backend transaction management systems and entire website platforms to go along with their IDX services. Others have fancy map searches or other bells and whistles. All of this may sound great and surely seems like a great deal, especially for a low cost. That is until you understand what you are giving up by thinking inside the box.

A framed solution is viewed by Google and other major search engines as a blank box. Because of this, every plug and play tool is viewed in the same way. There are some issues with this. Real estate in the modern world relies on driving traffic to your website. What's more is keeping the users engaged with your site once there. If getting users to your website is the most important metric, than boosting your SEO is the best way to ensure your site will rank higher on major search engines. Unfortunately, since framed solutions are viewed as blank boxes by major search engines, they offer you no SEO benefit at all. Therefore, you might as well not have a plug and play on your website at all because users will not find your website's content while searching for it.

So think outside the box!

Some large companies have built their own custom Listings Search platforms. However, this typically requires a massive amount of effort, time, and resources. Think about it.

First you need a team that can plan out the product. Then they need to go out and collect the data from multiple MLSs. After this comes the standardization and normalization of the MLS data, which is quite a pain. The next step is building the platform and integrating the data into it (which is also no small feat). On top of all this, the platform needs functionalities built in such as commute time searches (among other modern ways homebuyers are searching for their homes).

At the end of the day, custom IDX search is highly beneficial to the companies that are large enough to build it out. It offers a major SEO boost. In fact, three items will have a sizeable impact on a company's SEO just from implementing custom IDX search.

First, the listings themselves are indexable. This allows a company to build separate listings pages for each property they are displaying which Google will individually recognize instead of seeing a blank box. This makes your website exponentially larger overnight by adding thousands and thousands of indexed listing pages.

Second, Google will now register the uniqueness of your IDX search options. Your layout and design will look like no other IDX on the market. So, while the SEO benefits of plug and play searches are lost in a blank box, your custom search implementation will go a long way to increase your SEO.

Third, Google will reward you for higher user retention and lower bounce rates. People will come to your website and stay there. They will interact with your new search functions like commute times, neighborhood search, or custom map search. All three of these items will improve your company's SEO and ultimately help grow the business of any company that is willing to think outside the box.

Not every company has the resources to gather all the MLS data themselves. They also might not want to deal with MLSs on a regular basis. If you find that thinking inside the box is hurting your SEO then perhaps it's time to think about having a custom solution with a fraction of the work.

To view the original article, visit the Onboard Informatics blog.

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