Trulia vs Zillow (A spirited Real Estate “SEO” discussion)

By Jim Marks on April 15, 2009

800px-steel_cage_match_-_angle_vs_cenaMy guess is that when Teresa Boardman posted this message to Twitter:

“O.K. if an agent could only use one, which should they use? Zillow or Trulia?”

She had very little idea (or did she?) what an inspired discussion would commence.

As it is with Twitter, both David Gibbons, Community Director of Zillow and Rudy Bachraty, Social Media Guru of Trulia were listening, and what transpired over the next hour or so was a spirited discussion on SOME of the merits of Zillow and Twitter.

Now, this discussion fell quite short of discussing the ENTIRE difference and benefits of the two (although consider this a formal offer for VR to host that discussion…  TokBox, maybe?) between the two sites and concentrated mostly on the Search benefits of both.

Having a passion for SEO, this is what caught my attention and this is what THIS post will concentrate on.  He

re is the transcript, best as I can assemble it…without any additional interjection..below I have included a video of the discussion as well…

Img_0230_normal123456_normal
davidgibbons: @TBoard LOL, do you really wanna see @trulia & me get into it or what? Ur listings should be on BOTH but Zillow offers more traffic, leads & SEO

davidgibbons: @trulia LOL, only if you let me lead … [you see @TBoard !!!]

And for those of you who are “Twitter Challenged, ” Jeff Turner put together this VERY cool video of the exchange…”


Zillow Vs. Trulia – David Vs. Rudy (The Movie)

Now, that you have read the tweetalogue, (just made that up) you probably understand why this is of interest to me…  SEO.

Within this spirited discussion, there where QUITE a few statements concerning the SEO of both sites.  I would like to first create a series of questions from these statements and hopefully provoke a discussion on the benefits of both.

1) Do temporary inbound links, help your website… (and why don’t BOTH companies just mark the property “SOLD” and let the link live, and grow old and VALUABLE.”

2) Do links from profile pages help your website and how can you best MAXIMIZE this feature. (Proper Anchor Text, Multiple links, Deep Links, etc)

3) Do links that do NOT have favorable anchor text matter.  In other words, If the anchor text is an address, and not a keyword you are trying to rank for.

4) Is the address search, a valuable search.  I believe David when he states that he has a few million searches a month by address. But WHO AND WHY is someone searching by address and this really a home buyer?

5) How valuable is the long tail in Real Estate.  I see analytics all the time showing the QUANTITY of long tail page views, but is a searcher searching “Restaurants in Laguna Beach” or “Laguna Beach Architecture” really a valuable page view? (Bloggers get involved here…)

6) And a little “pet peeve” non-SEO question.  I have always taught that Realtors should create listing pages for their websites, because the MLS descriptions should be written to help OTHER REALTORS sell the house.  Realtors should be able to edit ANY outward facing listing page to appeal to the consumer.  I am under the impression, that neither Trulia or ZIllow allow this.  Am I correct, and how come?

I absolutely have my opinions on ALL these questions…  and will back them up with analytics.  Lets here your answers and opinions…  Please forward this post to anyone you think is interested in the SEO value of these two popular websites, and be sure to subscribe below to keep up to date on the conversation…

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  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com JF.sellsius

    Zillow has done the better job of building their brand name recognition, in part, because they better understand mainstream media linkbaiting (Zindex Housing Reports, surveys, White House/celebrity valuations) but their ill-conceived zestimates continue to be an albatross, tarnishing their overall image. The solution is simple– kill the bird by allowing an owner to opt out of the zestimate when selling the home. It may seem counter-intuitive but this would help build consumer trust . But methinks successful guys like R Barton have a harder time admitting they made a mistake by forcing the zestimate down owners’ throats.

    IMO Zillow is in a better position to win the hearts of homeowners, a group no real estate website has gone after except the FSBOS. Once Zillow figures out how to make the homeowner a partner (the opt out would go a long way), e.g matching pros with consumers –how about an appraisal for 100 bucks– they will be a force to be reckoned with. Trulia has a better looking website and UI. More importantly, they have a leg up on agent acceptance (tolerance) because of calculated glad-handing and high-fiving agents (the smooze factor), who were threatened by Z’s home valuation.

    The nofollow is an issue and as an agent, I would resent it, knowing that the success of Trulia over my website in the SERPS (using MY content) will one day bite me in the ass, if not already, in me now being “forced” to buy a “featured” ad. That a sold house eliminates the nofollow issue is a red herring– who cares once the house is sold?– it’s what’s happening BEFORE the house is sold that matters and Trulia is siphoning the agents’ juice. Bad kitty.

    In the end, it’s ROI that matters– does being on TruZilla sell houses better than being on your local MLS? I highly doubt it. At best, the value is incremental and success stories are anecdotal. Heck, millions of Q&A on TVoices and 5 folks get a deal. How lovely.

    Just one fella’s opinion.

  • Jim Marks

    Joseph,

    As usual, a well thought out, EXTREMELY well written post. Thanks for your contribution…

  • http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com JF.sellsius

    Jim, your post had one of the best summaries of the mini-debate aka “Who can better jump agents in the SERPS, Trulia or Zillow?”. (kudos to Jeff Turner for the video)

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  • http://www.stpaulrealestateblog.com teresa

    You left out the tweet where I said I didn’t want any of my friends fighting. With that out of the way I would like to say that I did it on purpose and as soon as I sent it I realized that I was being beyond bad even for me. You are both saints by the way . . as for your products I was putting together a presentation. I cover both Trulia and Zillow. The presentation was for the members of the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors and worth 3.75 coninueing ed credits. Honestly the room was packed.

    I asked each of you for help. I wanted sucess stoires and you both stepped up to the plate. Proving once more how wonderful you both are and making me feel fortunate that I have the social capital to get such fast help from my friends.

    As I put together the presentation I started thinking about the positives and negatives of both of your products from my point of view and from a consumer point of view. I had too slides for each site and the title was Trulia, or zillow . . The Good, the bad and the ugly. I let the group know that what I said was opinion and I shared the sucess stories. You both know me well enough to know that I don’t have a hidden agenda and I say it like it is or more honestly like the way I see it.

    This all got me to wondering. If an agent only wanted to use one which one would he or she choose and why? it is best to use both but there are only so many hours in the day. So yes I was being bad but I was also thinking about it.

    I was insulted when you said my stage isn’t big enough for the dancing but I have decided that if my stage is small enough maybe you won’t mind a write up on the weenie?

    You really are both wonderful but I don’t feel that way about your products for several reasons. Not so much to do with SEO but that is important too. I don’t want to talk about which searches my bad old site beats either of yours out on when it comes to the local market. You are much bigger companies than I am and I hope you just figure I am too small to matter instead of deciding to mop the floor with me. LOL

    I will try to be good but like I said in my tweets it just doesn’t come all that easy.

    I wanna see you dance. LOL

  • http://prusantafe.com Brian Tercero

    Excellent debate! I love how far Realtors have come in the past year with learning SEO, the importance of backlinks, anchor text etc. A year ago, if you would have asked someone what dofollow and nofollow meant, their eyes would have glazed over! Im willing to bet those agents that use Twitter have advanced their knowledge and understanding of SEO for real estate simply by following some of the leading minds in the real estate arena, and dissecting conversations just like this Zillow vs Trulia discussion.

    Real estate is advancing so quickly, its awesome to see how proactive some agents have become.

    On a side note, I love your site Jim, love that you are using wordpress. I wish there was a way to integrate MLS listings into wordpress without having to iframe in a 3rd party solution, but Im sure you are working on that as well. All in good time I suppose. Keep up the good work!

  • Jim Marks

    Brian,

    You said…On a side note, I love your site Jim, love that you are using wordpress. I wish there was a way to integrate MLS listings into wordpress without having to iframe in a 3rd party solution, but Im sure you are working on that as well.

    Funny, you should say that… www,listingpress.com

    We will be one of Jasons very first test cases…

  • http://www.senasellsvegas.com Tony Sena

    “O.K. if an agent could only use one, which should they use? Zillow or Trulia?”

    The answer should be neither but that’s not reality. We as real estate agents are providing the content, listings and links for TruZilla. We are building a two headed monster that is charging real estate agents for featured spots and other ads. Does this sound familiar? Realtor.com….

    If you are going to use these sites to market your real estate business, that’s fine, just don’t place links to them from your real estate site as you are only strengthening your competitor. And yes they are your competitor as they usually rank in the top 10 for local real estate market searches.

  • http://success.ascendworks.com Jeff Payne

    In my experience with many real estate agents is they are focused on how little they can give for a dollar rather than on how much they can give. Nothing against Tony Sena who commented to this blog, but the focus shouldn’t be on how to dilute your competition so that maybe they will go away, it should be on how do you create so much value that the competition is irrelevant.

    This has been the problem with NAR and how they have focused on the wrong eight ball (self preservation) rather than recreating themselves and providing real value. Sadly, they have opted to be staus quo and nothing but a bureaucracy . Tulia, Zillow, as well as others have done what the NAR should have done years ago. They are asking themselves how much value can we provide that appeals to the customer.

    Realtors (NAR) for the most part do not ask themselves good questions in regards to the customer. They should be asking why do people buy, not how do I sell. If they focused on that one question behaviors would quickly change. It wouldn’t be about the Realtor it would be about advice. It wouldn’t be about selling it would be about getting permission. It wouldn’t be about working harder, it would be about positioning and making it easy to do business with when a customer is ready to do business.

    Generation Y gets it. They are not afraid of change. We live in a “new economy” that is changing fast. The problem for baby boomers is that Generation Y doesn’t know that they are supposed to wait in line until it is their turn. There are no rules. Zillow and Trulia are products of the new economy and both embrace change, not the status quo.

    Zillow and Trulia and bringing to the marketplace what a buyer is wanting. What is the buyer wanting? Give me information when I want it, how I want it, and make it easy for me to do business with you. The majority of Realtors are not easy to do business with, they do not provide the customer value up front, they are not experts therefore they resort to selling rather than giving sound advice, and they do not provide the customer anything that they haven’t already found on the Internet.

    Does anyone remember the travel agent? How about the stock broker? How about the mortgage broker? How about the insurance agent? The Realtor is next unless they start thinking in the “new economy” and provide value that is relevant, timely, and memorable. If not, the next step is irrelevance.

    This isn’t meant to be a knock against real estate agents this is happening to everyone. When you put on your consumer hat don’t you act differently? We all do, we turn into snobs. We get demanding. It we don’t like the service we get at a restaurant, we don’t go back. The game has changed but it takes courage to recognize that it’s changed and recreate yourself. Today it is a very fair game. You and I are compensated based on our talent or the lack thereof.

  • http://brookside.neighbortree.com Brookside Kansas City

    Thank you for this post, exactly the information we were looking for…started on Trulia, but looks like Zillow is more SEO friendly.

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