real estate websites and listingsThe conventional wisdom is that more content on your website is better for your search engine optimization (SEO) and therefore is good for your website. This is true. As they say, content is king. In fact, recently there are those in the digital marketing world that are talking about the end of traditional SEO and a clearer focus on content driven SEO.

The big search companies, Google and Bing, have always placed a strong emphasis on content when deciding which websites to display in their search results. If your website is about cars and you have pages and pages and pages of content relating to cars, you’ll likely start to climb the search engine rankings very quickly. However, there has also been a focus on off-page SEO as well. Things like Title Tags and Meta Tags that are written in the back end of your website and are not visible to the average visitor.

Meta tags have traditionally been used to signal to the search giants what your website is all about, but these engines have gotten so sophisticated these days that they can analyze the content on the page without the need for off-page information to tell them what the site is about.

Enter the debate about hosting listings on your real estate website.

What does it mean to have listing hosted on your website?

There are two ways to get listings on your website. The first way is to have a hosted IDX feed from a vendor you hire who maintains the database of listings for you and only displays listing information to visitors of your site when they have run a search. Technically this is the easiest way to do things and is often the cheapest way to do it as well. Basically these IDX feeds act as a search engine for your website so that your visitors can find listings that they are interested in.

Setting up your website this way will not give you any credit for the listing information in the eyes of Google and Bing. This content is not hosted on your site, therefore it is not seen as part of your website.

The second way to get listings on your website is to host them on your server. That means that when someone comes to your site to find a listing they are doing a search through your site and the content is pulled and displayed directly on your site. At first glance, this seems like the better option, the search engines see this content on your site and give you credit for the 30,000+ listings that are in your MLS. Great right?

More content = better search results.

Right?

Not so fast. Where you run into problems with this method is that these listings are not only being displayed on your site, they are also being displayed on sites like Zillow and Trulia who have millions of visitors per day and are much stronger in the search rankings then your site is. Therefore, the search engines will give these sites the credit for having the content first and will see the listings on your site as duplicate content.

What is duplicate content?

When the search engines crawl the internet for information they look for the original source of content first and if there are websites that seem to have copied the exact content from the originator those websites will be docked credit. Therefore being a source of duplicate content can end up hurting your real estate website in the long run.

Hosting your listings on your website amounts to duplicate content in the eyes of search engines and therefore could end up hurting your website. It’s not a good idea.

While listing data seems like the best type of content you could provide on your site, in the end it could spell trouble. So what kind of content can you create instead that will be good quality and get you found in the search results?

  • A blog is great content – writing about your local market will get great results
  • Create pages about the home buying/selling process
  • How-to guides on getting pre-qualified, home inspections, etc.

This is just the start of a list. Just think about all of the things that most home buyers/sellers don’t know and how you can demonstrate your expertise to them all while creating great content for your website.

What do you think? Should your website host listings?

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