Resources for Realtors®
10 Questions You Must Ask Your IDX Provider
As a Realtor, the most critical component of your real estate website is the ability for your site visitors to search for homes (your IDX search). Unfortunately, the search feature is often a component that is simply crammed into a website almost as an afterthought or a necessary evil.
The reality is that an IDX search is an extremely powerful tool for both site visitors and search engines. Because of this, choosing the right approved IDX vendor is critical. Below are 10 questions every Realtor should ask their IDX vendor before signing up for their service.
How important are these questions?
Take a look at the graphic below that was pulled directly from Google Analytics. This increase was directly related to implementing these strategies outlined below.
Do you plan on framing in the IDX search with iframes?
Since content inside of an iframe doesn’t truly reside on the website, Google cannot “see” this content. As a result, all the great content is ignored by Google. That's a huge wasted opportunity to grow your site's search engine credibility.
But, it’s not just about search engines. Framing a search often results in multiple scroll bars which can be very confusing to your site visitor.
Tip: If they answer no, make sure they don’t fall short on the next question.
Will the IDX search reside entirely on my domain?
A good IDX can potentially add thousands of pages to a website! That can make a huge difference in your search engine placement. But, in order to receive all of the credit for that content, the IDX must reside on your domain! Don't let IDX vendors place the content on their domain where they receive the credit.
Tip: Ask to see examples and use our free IDX Optimization Analyzer. Some IDX companies mask the domain in a way that makes it appear the IDX is on your domain when in fact it's actually not.
Can my site visitors register to save their favorite properties, save searches and receive daily email updates?
If your IDX / MLS Search does not have strong interaction points then you can't expect to generate many leads. However, it's not about forcing a person to register. Instead, your IDX should offer compelling reasons for them to engage with you such as daily email updates, ability to save their favorite properties and more.
Can I setup one click “quick searches” of neighborhoods and price ranges?
Drilling down to a neighborhood level allows you to effectively target your audience and supplies your website with fresh, relevant content that Google loves! The ability to show listings from a specific neighborhood or condo building means more qualified leads in your inbox!
Can I add my own content and title tags to each saved "quick search" page?
Adding your own content (without iFrames) allows you to more effectively target your market and gives search engines unique content tied to your website. Insist that each quick search page can have a unique title tag!
Tip: Add in words such as first time, affordable and starter into your quick searches that link to lower priced homes. Use keywords like luxury, estate and executive when setting up quick searches based off of higher priced homes!
Are saved searches and quick searches available via RSS feeds?
It may sound technical but this is one of the most critical components of a well optimized IDX. These feeds will allow you to pull in listing data to almost any page of your website. You can also use these feeds to pull in always up-to-date content into your blog.
More tech savvy site visitors will value the flexibility of being able to "subscribe" to their saved searches via RSS instead of email as their inbox is probably already overwhelmed with email.
How often is the data updated?
Answer: 1 hour or less
Let's face it, we live in a world of instant. If your IDX doesn't have fresh, relevant data, the site visitor will go somewhere else. No longer is once a day acceptable. Ensure your listing information is updated at least on an hourly basis.
Can site visitors share their searches with a friend?
The web has become an extremely social place. Because of this, your IDX solution should allow your visitors to easily share their favorite properties and saved searches with their peers. Not only will this offer a value add to the user, it can also help your website be much more viral.
Do you offer a "smart" location search box?
Some IDX vendors will try to convince you it's all about adding more "features" to your IDX search. The reality is that this simply confuses site visitors. Instead, it should be all about simplifying the search for your site visitor. Take a look at realtor.com. There is one single "smart" location text box where a user can enter any type of location whether it be a zip, address, or city. The search is "smart" enough to translate what the visitor wants and delivers the results. Don't make your visitor fill out long and complicated forms to see homes. Offer a quick search with a "smart" location bar directly on the home page of your real estate website. Realtor.com, Trulia, Remax, and smart local agents already know that this is the secret to generating more business from your IDX.
How much will all this cost?
Answer: Under $200 setup and under $40/month
When looking at cost, make sure you compare apples to apples. If an IDX solution is low cost but doesn't have the critical components outlined above, then it may end up costing you much more in lost revenue. At the same time, these components should not drive up the cost of the IDX. You can secure an IDX search with these features for less than $200 setup and under $40 per month.