How is your real estate website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) affected by MLS listings? Many local real estate websites (your competitors) may be using the same MLS listings (IDX feed) as your website. Which website will show up first in the search results for those MLS real estate property listings? Here are some insights I shared with an online writer covering this subject. If you are a real estate agent or broker, you may find this information valuable! Please read on:
IDX Feeds & the Duplicate Content Issue
As a web designer, I’ve been building and optimizing real estate websites for my clients for nearly two decades. Generally, most real estate websites in any given territory will share the same IDX feed of MLS property listings. However, every real estate website will not benefit fully from those listings. Here's why:
Why duplicate content hurts your real estate website SEO
Whenever numerous websites use the same exact content, it is considered duplicate content by Google. Google defines duplicate content as: "Substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely matches other content or are appreciably similar." IDX services provide the same exact content to a large number of real estate websites using its MLS feed. Google will select one real estate website as the first search result for that MLS search result. The others will rank lower or not appear at all. Because of that, most real estate broker or agent websites using that MLS content will get little homebuyer search engine traffic from it.
What Your Real Estate Website Needs
What can be done about this? Well, the good news is this: If you have the strongest ranked real estate website in your territory with lots of fresh original content Google will show your MLS listings first in the search results! If you are consistently adding quality fresh original content to your real estate website you will generally rise in the search rankings above websites that are not. Here is a common problem I see in this regard:
Many broker/agent real estate websites will use the same articles issued by their headquarter real estate company (Re/Max, Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams, Century 21, etc.,) as blog content for their local real estate website without rewriting it. As a result, they will have lots of website content, but all of it is seen as duplicate content by Google. Why? Because it is used by every other Realtor or broker representing that real estate company. As a result, that content will do nothing to improve the search ranking of your real estate website. Now, let's put all of this together: You have duplicate MLS listings and duplicate blog post content in your real estate website. Can you see why your website is not doing well in Google search results?
A Simple Solution
I encourage my real estate clients to write their own blog content so that Google sees it as original. If they do use content that may be on other real estate websites, try to rewrite or reword it so that it will not be seen as duplicate content by Google. Secondly, have featured property listings on your website that you have personally written in addition to MLS search pages. Provide unique neighborhood information such as local attractions, favorite restaurants, travel tips, etc. Make your website a resource for original local information. The more unique content your real estate website contains, the more valuable it becomes to Google.
These two strategies have often moved my clients real estate websites to the top of search results in their local markets, (especially if their competitors are not paying attention to SEO). Google will make my clients real estate website the first link returned in a search result that involves MLS listings that may be featured on hundreds of other websites. This is because my client websites have more valuable unique content.
Are you a real estate professional? I hope you find this of value. If you have any additional questions, please contact Don Peterson, freelance real estate web designer .