Who has the Best IDX System? Choosing an MLS IDX Developer

If you’re coming from Google to this page, you’re probably looking for a review of the best 3rd Party MLS IDX providers. However, although 3rd party MLS IDX providers often have a good product for the average agent, the market leading agent will often have a custom IDX developed for his/her own site. Custom developed IDX listings are far more expensive and therefore may not be a realistic choice for any but the most affluent real estate agents.

Even after you’ve hired one of hundreds of MLS IDX developers, there’s no real certainty as to whether you’re going to get an ideal listings display, or about how search engine friendly your navigation and url structure are going to be. On some systems for instance, the listing brokers name is prominently displayed, and that is going to cost you leads. That’s great for the listing broker to get their name on your site, but you end up losing the prospect. This example shows the listing without the listing broker appearing. 

Single MLS Listing - Listing Brokers Name doesn't appear on the listing

The listing broker’s name, not seen here, is subdued.

IDX Listing Example- MLS IDX Listing with Listing Broker Mentioned not see directly, but instead is shown at the bottom of the listing page

Why are MLS IDX Listings so Important?

If you don’t have an MLS IDX listing on your site, you’re cheating yourself of thousands of lead generating listings on your site. Listings are vital to create and capture leads so it’s imperative for you to utilize them.  They are an integral part of online real estate marketing. As a real estate seo professional specializing in real estate, the optimization of MLS IDX feeds and listings is very important. The listings are a key component of site development and search engine optimization strategy.

There are a number of 3rd party IDX providers and what they are actually do, is get access to your local MLS idx datafeed.  There is a often a free MLS feed and other times there may be a fee of more than a thousand dollars for the feed. There are apparently other political issues where some MLS associations may not provide feeds to third party providers. If this is the case, it can prevent economical access to the MLS listings.  In some cases, you may have to give up on custom mls development and use a 3rd party provider such as realestatewebmasters.

The data from the feed must be formatted according the MLS association’s rules which may vary region to region. Given MLS rules, anyone who uses the feed must meet their guidelines for displaying the listings. Certain information must be suppressed, and in some cases the real estate association may request that listings be not so easily accessible to search engine spiders. Other times, legal info must be shown that makes the listings appear unattractive.

The 3rd party providers such as Realestatewebmasters, point2point, realpagemaker, realwebsolutions, and moneymaker4agents will format the data for display differently. In some cases, a real estate association may not let them display too many listings at once, or will force them to display them in a way that makes it difficult for search engine spiders to find the pages.  Despite those impediments, I make it my specialty to make those listings exposed to search engines. Sometimes it’s not easy, but very necessary. Remember, that with SEO, it isn’t just about letting the spider get access to pages, it’s about making those pages rank high in Google.

Here’s how I would rate the best 3rd Party IDX providers:

  1. realestatewebmasters
  2. realpagemaker
  3. realwebsolutions
  4. moneymaker4agents
  5. point2point

These rankings are based on both quality of display and search engine optimizability. Each provider may offer custom IDX programming as part of an elite program. They may be more inflexible in how search engine friendly they’ll make your listings, however with a custom website, they will usually create a layout and lead registration system to suit you.

If you’d like to inquire about a new real estate website that integrates the MLS IDX listings, please contact me. I want you to have the best idx solution for your budget and goals.

 

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7 Responses to Who has the Best IDX System? Choosing an MLS IDX Developer

  1. Thanks for the candid review. Did you look at other companies such as Wolfnet or RealtySoft?

    • Gord says:

      Yes, I tried realtysoft and wasn’t too pleased with their system and SEO compatibility. Wolfnet has the same issues with SEO including spider access and crawlable urls. Not too many of the 3rd party hosts are very good with the exception perhaps of realestatewebmasters and realgeeks. You’ll find with any of them, that they promise a lot and the SEO performance isn’t good. In their defense though, Google has drawn back on spidering duplicate mls listings across realtor’s sites. That’s why some heavy duty SEO is required to compensate. You’re really swimming upstream if you want free referals from Google.

  2. Mike Payne says:

    @Gord – How do you know “…Google has drawn back on spidering duplicate MLS listings across realtors’ sites”? What testing have you done?

    If your testing is accurate, what sites get credit for the MLS on their sites?

    Add http://www.idxbroker.com and http://www.diversesolutions.com to your list. In no way am I affiliated with either (or any) IDX provider. Just to get “spiderable” links and a backoffice, Diverse Solutions forces users to pay $130/month.

    • Gord says:

      Mike,

      Good question. I should have explained that in more detail. What I really meant to state is that Google has cut back on ranking duplicate pages. This is based on what has happened to not only some of my clients, but other real estate agents sites who commented and complained on forums. It happened back in the summer when Google released an minor update.

      The truth is, Google will still spider duplicate pages but they won’t rank them well. I tested a number of indexed mls listing pages to see how many Google was indexing. The volume had dropped a lot and only those sites with the highest ranking power seemed to rank for the street address. And the number of the duplicated listing pages was much less. From that, I made an assumption that Google was limiting the number of duplicate agent pages. There’s still a lot of duplicate content out there and many of the mls pages you have on your site are undoubtedly contained in other sites using frames or directly listed on the site. That’s gotta look like a content farm to Google. Google (Matt Cutts, their senior engineer) has said repeatedly that they want to cull out useless duplication.

      To avoid losing rankings, an agent needs to do their SEO really well. Of course most 3rd party hosting services don’t allow much modification if any at all via their CMS system. That can make SEO ineffective. One of the reasons why you need your hosted CMS or blog customized.

      Yes, some of the 3rd party system providers do charge a lot. Realgeeks charges $150 month and realestatewebmasters has major sign up costs. However, if you’re a successful agent, those charges are a drop in the bucket compared to their new earnings. Investing in the best system is just plain smart.

  3. NedyB says:

    Hi Gord, where do you rank Realgeeks idx technology? I am under the impression that they were one of the major players too for SEO and lead capture.

    • Gord says:

      Their idx technology is pretty good. For the price they charge, it is excellent value. I believe they will customize, however I’m not sure of the extent their system can be customized or that they’re willing to do. Many of them are increasingly under pressure from competition from custom idx providers so they know they need to provide better service – not just what they want to sell. All of these providers are geared to bringing in new clientelle with cheap offerings yet they do it in a fashion where the client will need upgrades – custom work charged at $200 per hour. Some people will blow their budget on the custom work and have nothing left for search engine optimization. Nice site with no visitors.

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