You Can Beat Zillow, Trulia, and
by Eric Stegemann
on Feb 25, 2013
Listed in Websites and SEO

Outrank Competitors on GoogleAs countless Realtors discover the benefits of search engine optimization for their websites and coupled with the rise of the nationwide sites like Zillow and Trulia, and the franchise companies, the competitive abilities of the individual agent become diminished.

I’ve seen quite a few conversations lately in the real estate specific Facebook groups about whether agents should even try to compete with these guys.  Do they even have a chance?  There are some convinced they do not.  (If the Facebook link doesn’t work, let me know in the comments below and I’ll invite you to the Facebook Group.)

Agents: You can compete with Zillow, Trulia, and

It all starts with the basics of SEO.  Working regularly on these items alone will be a huge jump in what you are able to achieve since so few agents even know where to start.  The first steps are to setup sitemaps, regularly monitor your analytics, carefully figure out the keywords you want to concentrate on, set a strategy for you titles and descriptions, and then execute.  It’s about setting a calendar to write at least once a week, or hiring a team to write your real estate blog posts for you (PS: Make sure they are 100% custom and not “spun,” or pushed to hundreds of other sites.)

Great website vendors will handle most of this for you.

However, your vendor or your personally can only do so much on your website.  The next part of the strategy is the most important.  You need to build inbound links to your site.  This involves finding other sites that you can get link to you.  If you’re writing stories about the local Kiwanis club events ask them to link out to you.  More importantly, if you’re writing articles about the real estate market, get your local newspaper or other news sites (like Patch) to link back to you.  These inbound links are some of the most important signals that tell Google you have domain authority for the topic you’re discussing.

Alternatively, you can research sites on your own that allow you to place your content on their site with a link back to you.  As an example: your Trulia profile provides a follow’d backlink to your site -use it.

Be Local, Be Knowledgeable

What do you have that the big sites don’t?  Local knowledge.  There is no way that an automated valuation model (AVM) can ever compete with what you know about the area.  There is no way in the near future that these sites will begin to write about your local market.  But rolling over and saying that the big guys win, is not healthy to the market.  We need healthy competition from agents, brokers, franchisors, and nationwide sites to help us all up our game.  For now, that means you can show what you know by being that local knowledgeable resource.  Demonstrate what makes you different from some automated model.

Eric works with real estate technology companies and brokerages across the country to see what's next for the future of the industry and directs our internal development projects here at TRIBUS.

  1. John Kreiss

    Eric – Great post. SEO is marketing, and it’s about differentiation. Create great content, and differentiate from the big guys. It is possible to get noticed even when there is a big crowd.

    Posted on 2.25.13 at 12.11 pm
  2. Robert MacLean

    Is there a “follow’d backlink ” for Zillow and as well?

    Posted on 2.25.13 at 12.44 pm
    1. Eric Stegemann

      Good question Robert – Last time I looked – Zillow does allow a follow link if you pay them as part of their premier agent service. does not do follow links for any of their agents.

      Posted on 2.25.13 at 12.52 pm
      1. Robert MacLean

        Under the Trulia profile addresses in profile, is that what you are referring to as being follow’d back link?

        Posted on 2.25.13 at 1.04 pm
        1. Eric Stegemann

          It’s under the find me online section. The links you can control there: Look for Real Estate Agent Websites on that section. That’s a follow link.

          Posted on 2.25.13 at 1.14 pm
  3. Robert MacLean

    I have had that there for years. I wish they had a nice logo for my website like they do for my other links like facebook, twitter, linkedin etc that is right below the website link. I think people are more app to click those that my site.

    Posted on 2.25.13 at 1.21 pm
    1. Eric Stegemann

      I would remove the social media links from your Trulia profile. Lead them to somewhere you can convert them.

      Posted on 2.25.13 at 1.25 pm
      1. Robert MacLean

        So are you saying that you recommend to remove all the social media links on all the profile sites that I have and just have my website? Then they would have to click on my website to get to the social links.

        Posted on 2.25.13 at 5.37 pm
        1. Eric Stegemann

          Correct,. I’d minimize any chance of them getting out to FB, etc. Get them to your site looking for real estate instead of being distracted on FB. Although they might see your page, they see that scroll of all of their friends activities too. Help them focus on looking for a home.

          Posted on 2.25.13 at 5.47 pm
          1. Robert MacLean

            I am going to have to disagree with you on this one. People use what they are comfortable using. If someone likes Trulia to search for homes they are not going to start using a Diverse Solutions IDX search. The two don’t even compare. You can do so much more on Trulia, Zillow, etc. This they have the tools to find the home. The same is true for social media. If a consumer finds you they are going to have certain expectations and levels of familiarity. If they come across your profile and they do not see Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc profile they may just move on. They may think well he must not be that good if he doesn’t have “x” or their comfort level may be they like LinkedIn because it is more professional or Facebook because they like to follow people for awhile and see what they are all about. It’s not all about just looking for a home but about finding the right match for them.

            Posted on 2.26.13 at 9.13 am
          2. John Kreiss

            I think Robert makes a good point. Links to social media are important.

            Posted on 2.26.13 at 9.16 am
          3. Eric Stegemann

            Robert / John,
            I think a linked in profile page link would be fine, however, by allowing them out into FB / Twitter, you’re setting up the possibility for social media ADD. They will completely have forgotten why they went over to FB in the first place?
            But again, I think people can gain an idea about you if you have reputation metrics / testimonials on your site. Why lead them out to somewhere you can’t control? Put on your site testimonials from people. Use a rating service so it’s monitored to give them more certainty. But, again my suggestion is not to lead them away from your site. People bounce off Z/T etc all of the time to agent sites. I think if you show on that site that you’re a knowledgable resource for local information instead of some national player, they will definitely stay on your site instead of going back to the big guys.

            Posted on 2.26.13 at 9.55 am
          4. John Kreiss

            Eric – It depends on the page. If it’s a landing spot with a listing, I agree with your point. Keep the visitor focused.

            If it’s a blog page, however, I think having links to SM helps increase traffic back to your website(like the links below this comment section). If someone likes your article, then they can share it with their friends on FB, Twitter, etc. That gets your name out.

            Posted on 2.26.13 at 10.05 am
  4. Jeb Smith

    If we are a premier agent with Zillow then what do we need to do?

    Posted on 2.25.13 at 1.22 pm
    1. Eric Stegemann

      Jeb – If you have a link in your profile back to your site, then it should automatically be a follow link if you’re a premier agent.

      Posted on 2.25.13 at 1.26 pm
  5. Jay Valento

    I want to rank about Zillow for property addresses….how can I do that?

    Posted on 2.25.13 at 2.52 pm
    1. Jay Valento

      above instead of about

      Posted on 2.25.13 at 2.53 pm
    2. NickBastian

      Jay, I don’t really think it is too hard to do that for specific addresses.
      Make a page with the address as the url on your site
      add it a few days before it hits the mls,
      throw a link or two at it and you can do just fine.
      The addresses are not original content when done by Z, T and R.
      Write some good content, some property specifics, a few properly tagged photos and maybe a map or video or something.
      Not all agents can do it but I KNOW your site(s) can out rank them for addresses and subdivisions…

      Posted on 2.28.13 at 3.14 pm
  6. Bea

    Hi Eric,
    how can I find an seo expert that give to me some advise on how to move from 100,000 pageviews/month to 1’000,000 pageviews/month? I want to move my site to the next level. Right now I’m at the top of all other agencies in my area, and I will love to move to the top of Realtor, Viviun, etc. My site is about Real Estate in Mexico.
    Will love to have an expert that help me create an strategy to acomplish this… how can I know that an SEO expert has that “expertice”, I mean… I know the basics, I need the next step.

    Thanks a lot,

    Posted on 8.14.13 at 5.22 pm
  7. Eric Stegemann

    Hi Bea,
    Thanks for commenting. I think it’s great that you have 100,000 pageviews on your site per month, that’s certainly something most Realtors dream of. That being said, moving to 1,000,000 is a very lofty goal. Consider that there may not even be 1,000,000 unique visitors searching for real estate in Mexico in a month. According to my tool, if you’re looking for a local market, there probably isn’t anywhere around that much traffic.

    Additionally with regards to your SEO hunt, as a company TRIBUS doesn’t do just SEO for clients, we do their site, CRM, search and more. Also you’d want to find someone that specifically knows SEO in Mexico. Someone that doesn’t understand country and language based SEO may hurt you instead of helping you. Definitely do your research and look for people that have experience and results doing exactly what you’re looking for.

    Posted on 8.15.13 at 10.48 am
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