Digging For The Truth About Real Estate Search Portals

by Jeff Turner on October 26, 2007

The truth is worth digging for, even if the ground is hard and your shovel is dull.

Late last night I put up a post entitled, “Craigslist Delivers Viewers In Large Numbers.” It was based on server data that I collected over a week ago and I had been staring at ever since. The numbers indicated more incoming links from Craigslist than Realtor.com and Trulia and other Web 2.0 search portals. The numbers were so cartoonishly disproportionate that they left me scratching my head and asking a lot of questions.

So I decided to put the numbers up and ask the questions in public.

Referring Links Chart CraigslistThe answers, in part, were staring me right in the face and I was just too close to the data to see them. Jeff Weir, from Tour The Triad, pointed out what is now obvious about the numbers. The way Craiglsist displays information automatically generates a referring link, because all of the information is being pulled from our servers. This is not true of Realtor.com or Trulia. They provide a good deal of information about a home that is coming from their servers, not ours.

So I pulled the post down.

I’m not interested in sensationalism or jumping to conclusions based on opinions. And I’m definitely not interested in making false claims about anything. The numbers, interpreted incorrectly, could have cast a bad light on Realtor.com, Trulia and others. I’ve never pulled a post down before, but I want to be accurate. Even if I look stupid (like a dull shovel) in the process.

The way Craigslist pulls data from our servers doesn’t answer all of the questions, however. For example, why are the number of referring hits so low for Trulia and other Web 2.0 portals? But more importantly, the questions that need to be answered may never be answered by looking at anyone’s server logs, let alone ours. They can only be answered by you, the real estate agent.

If one website generates more traffic than another, what does that mean?

  • What are the likely effects on visits to the home?
  • What is the likely impact on contacts with the listing agent?
  • Does this increase the likelihood of sales or new client prospects?
  • Does this mean anything to the bottom line?

I’d love to find out. For that, I’m going to need some help.

If you post listings to all of the above, Realtor.com, Craigslist, Trulia, etc., I’d like to hear from you. Which sites are moving the needle for you? Tell us what is working and what is not working and why. I think the information is worth digging for.

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