Which real estate website will give you the most traffic to your listing? That depends on how good their SEO is. This report does not purport to tell you which company gives you a better service or value for money. There are thousands of localities not tested below – use a search engine and make up your own mind. All this report tries to convey is that some websites consistently rank in the top 10 and many more don’t.
The US real estate local search landscape is different from the Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) scene. Dedicated real estate classifieds sites such as Trulia and Zillow pop up in the search results, pushing down the static IYP entries from Yellowpages.com. They compete with affiliate marketer sites that are nipping at their heels.
I studied the performance of 26 nationwide real estate sites, including a small number of other sites that showed up in the SERPs. I was looking to find:
- Which cities are served well by the big real estate portals?
- Which search engine delivers high ranking real estate portals to a given city?
- Which portal delivers the highest ranks?
- Does the search term alter the ranks significantly?
- How much SEO appears to have been done?
I took the top 274 cities in the US with a population of 100,000 or more. All searches were conducted on Google.com and Bing.com from Australia, using the abbreviated state in the search term to eliminate any confusion for a similarly named locality elsewhere in the world. Sample searches were conducted using a proxy server in Chicago and the rankings were nearly identical. Yahoo search was not used.
The search terms were (one example):
- Akron OH homes for sale
- Akron OH real estate
- Akron OH homes for rent
General classifieds sites such as Craigslist and Oodle pop up now and then but they are not strong performers for top-10 rankings for all three keyword sets.
Every locality has its local contenders. Some are individual real estate agents; some are local aggregators. In the larger metros the local search sites had a strong presence.
Some sites appear to be well-known but don’t do well in the SERPs. Roost.com has been featured in major publications, which is just as well, because it was rarely seen on page 1 in this test. Remax.com is another well-known brand, but is not in the top rankings.
The search term also plays a big part when trying to find the best directory for real estate. To make it more interesting, Bing and Google also favour different directories (click the image below to enlarge).
When it comes to the most top-10 rankings on Bing, the best performer is Homes.com for all three keywords. We can’t compare the “rentals” keywords with the “homes for sale” kind, because different websites enter the mix.
Real Estate Rankings (Google)
It’s not possible to rank 6 – 10 because the two main keyword sets have different sites coming up. Only RealEstate.com and HomeGain.com are common to both but at different ranks.
Real Estate Rankings (Bing)
All the above ranked in the top-10 for both phrases in the 274-city test but two that appeared for only one keyword were AmericanHomeGuides.com and Rentals.com.
Rentals Rankings (Google)
Since I only tested one keyword here, all 10 made the grade.
Rentals Rankings (Bing)
(The rest of this 23-page report can be downloaded as a PDF file around 365 kB here. No registration is required.)