This is a follow up post to Does Yahoo’s BOSS Present a Challenge to Real Estate Sites?
Since Google is busy with the launch of Chrome, maybe now is the time to attempt to steal a little search queries away from them. Well, others are already working on that idea. After reviewing if I should proceed with Yahoo’s BOSS or Zillow’s API, I think that for the purposes of my goal Zillow offers a better solution, since it is already geared to a search for homes. However, I am busy with my job and other projects, so I have not been able to devote the time needed to that quest.
In the mean time, I opted for this search box in my sidebar. Remember, I am not a Realtor; I am the contractor who comes in towards the end of the transaction, so visitors to this site may not be looking to me for a real estate search. In fact, I think that this form of search may serve most real estate professionals well. This was a simple copy and paste job, which can be found on Zillow’s site where you will find the branding items. I checked the results, and they were not bad in comparison to other home search sites. For providing a bit of usefulness, this is an easy route to go.
Why pursue creating your own home search engine? For me, it is a matter of curiosity. I think for the savvy Realtor, it can be a great opportunity. Look, do web users go to a site like Remax to find a home? Does the national firm actually help promote your site? Well, this question may be open for debate, but my opinion is that Realtors are better off associating with Trulia, Realtor.com, and Zillow if they are looking to connect with the consumer. If you are creating a site that can be seen as a hub for real estate in your community, then offering an enhanced search is to your advantage. It sets you apart from the pack.
Going to an extreme by becoming an early adapter will carve out a niche for you on the web. I joked about Google being concerned with Chrome, but think about how Google monetizes its site: through ads. Google uses search to bring users to its ads, but their ads are all over. They may even end up on your own search engine. This may very well be the direction of search is taking. Internet users will be heading to several specialty sites to look for a home, a car, or that specific icon that they saw. No one start-up search engine will be the “Google killer”, but several small ones might. However, by that point, Google will not need to worry; it is already firmly established in internet marketing, and it is taking a lead in cloud computing.
Re-envisioning your site as a community hub is a way to create a loyal brand following. Recently I had some searches for finding a real estate forum in Houston. I go over to Chron.com to discover visitors commenting on real estate articles. There is a desire among consumers to have such a location to venture towards on the net. Part of becoming a community expert is finding ways to serve that community.
Think about it. Evolving your site into something more than a blog or a site that provides information on your services can bring you success.