Map Based IDX Search is Dead
October 16, 2011 Leave a comment
Map Based Home Listings are User and Search Engine Unfriendly
If you have your real estate website hosted with a number of hosting/IDX/VOW companies, yours may be based on map-based idx‘s. You may not know it but it is costing you web traffic, leads and ultimately a lot in lost commissions. Map based idx loads very slowly in PC and mobile browsers thus frustrating visitors and my informal stats show visitors only view about 1/3 of the number of pages that they do on table based systems. Maps are an app too, which means search engine spiders can’t spider the listings so realtors aren’t getting top notch exposure on search engines.
Years ago, there were no map based search systems. Then Google made map-based searches popular and it was new and exciting search and presentation format. Google local (now Google places, but should have stayed as Google local) was a key area of search market growth for Google. Google certainly wanted to allow searchers to find local businesses including realtors, property management companies, home inspectors, real estate lawyers, builders and service companies since local businesses then would begin advertising on Google. It worked and Google’s making many more billions because of it.
Map Based IDX
The idea that map-based idx systems would work for realtor’s homes for sale listings was didn’t pan out. In fact, the map based systems have responded too slowly since the idx map app was sending too much data to the visitors browser. Use a map based system and you’ll see how slow it is. It’s even worse on a cell phone. Another problem is that is not really a visual app. It just shows a map of your city. Map based developers and promoters assume that people have location as their primary concern and that the property itself isn’t the key issue. Homebuyers however want to see pictures of homes, not fiddle with a slow loading map.
Too many systems show too many homes shich slows response (sometimes freezing the browser) and confuses the home searcher – remember the visitor is the one it needs to serve. Map based IDX apps may lose that visitor and they may never come back because they remember the problem. If the user doesn’t know the neighbourhoods well, then what would the map based results really tell them? They don’t know the streets. It would be better if these systems displayed results from a neighbourhood yet few map based systems break it down into neighbourhoods.
According to my stats, visitors see 3 times as many listing pages on a table-based system than on a map-based system.
Example of map based idx home listings
The best way to present results from a search box is to show a good selection of homes in an easy to read format – a table layout as you can see in the graphic below is readable for humans and spiderable by Googlebot. The search features generally allow homebuyers to select key features and get reasonably good results. The results are good enough to provide a comfortable search experience. That search experience is very important and is one of the reasons realtors are hiring custom idx developers.
If you’re looking for a custom idx developer, you should be aware that customized idx programming can be done by popular idx/vow providers. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Please remember that complete custom idx development is very expensive. Unless you’re a top realtor or a major brokerage, you don’t really need full custom idx.
If your provider (realwebsolutions, realpagemaker, redman) uses a map based idx on your site, you need to consider a change.
Map based mls idx apps are not search engine friendly. The search engine spiders can’t get in and collect your listing pages and that means you’re not getting the maximum number of search engine leads. Further, unless you have an experienced SEO professional working on your mls listing pages, you won’t get good results either. That’s because with Google’s recent changes in its algorithm, it is prefering only those sites with the highest ranking power including trust factor. So while your site might be just as good as the best realtors in your city market, it is their websites that will show in the search results.
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