Browse Category by Tech trends
Tech trends

Be wary of tech-less tech firms

Recent events reminded us how important is to ask any technology firm or consultant one simple question:

Do you have in-house developers?

It seems odd — you probably wouldn’t ask your automobile service department if it had in-house mechanics. But we are finding it to be entirely too common in technology.

Two recent events illustrate this need:

  • One of our competitors, a national firm offering IDX service (one of the better ones, actually) was exploited by hackers.  Data was compromised, including buyer/seller leads.
  • Several of our clients reported that their WordPress sites (hosted in various places) were hacked in a variety of ways — including redirecting all inbound traffic to foreign sites.

Picture it.  You have one or more of these products, are compromised, and you need resolution.  You call your tech consultant.  But that person isn’t actually “technical” — they can’t look at code and deduce/fix a problem.  Sometimes they have a freelance developer they can ask for help, but that person doesn’t have a vested interest in the product, only in working a bunch of hours to bill the consultant (and eventually, you).

In the past several years, technology has changed to the point that non-technical people can do things like set up a website, create/edit content, and install “plug-ins” that add cool functionality.  And this technology is great!   But beneath all of that point-and-click stuff is code — and when the doo-doo hits the fan, it takes a coder to fix it.

To be clear – there are many, many great tech firms out there.  We have collaborated with several really good ones over the years.  We just do “data,” so it’s very common that we work with designers, developers, copywriters, etc, whom our clients have hired.  The message here is to be wary and ask questions before you commit time and money to a consultant.

Getting leads, Tech trends

The secret of high successful agents

Recently, we reminded you that the #1 rule of websites is that content is king. We will now take it 1 step further and share the secret of our most successful clients (the ones who get tons of Internet leads).

This is a secret so big that most web/marketing experts will almost certainly not mention it in casual conversation.


Wait for it…

The agents who get the most good Internet leads are the ones who work the hardest to post good content about their cities and neighborhoods.

Yep. The secret is there is no secret — it’s just a bunch of hard work.

We’ve been in the IDX business for almost 7 years, and we’ve seen countless approaches to getting Internet leads. We are obviously in a very different climate today than in 2005. There are fewer agents, but competition is stiffer to capture willing & able buyers. But the principle remains the same — those who work the hardest to post good content frequently will (usually) be the ones to get the leads.

If a web or marketing consultant tells you that simply by spending $X, you will be vaulted to the top of Google forever, be very, very skeptical. Our clients who get the most leads do all their own SEO work by posting good content frequently — in a variety of places.

Don’t be intimidated. If you’re one of our IDX clients, remember, we want you to be successful. Feel free to message or tweet us anytime for advice. We are happy to point you in the right direction!

Tech trends

The cold, hard facts on IDX & SEO

There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there about what IDX gives you the best search engine benefits.  The fact is, it’s a trick question, and we’ll explain why.

There are basically 2 types of IDX products on the market now:

  1. A service hosted/maintained separately from your “regular” website.  In other words, the provider harvests the MLS data and “hosts” a search site where your clients can search for homes.
  2. An “integrated” IDX that plugs directly into your website and grabs MLS data behind the scenes from an external provider and “imports” it to your website.
So you’re thinking to yourself, “well, #2 is better, because it’s integrated!”  Maybe.  The upside to an integrated system is that your site has a bunch of extra content (property listings) without having to send users to a separate site to search.  However, the drawback is that in order for these to work on ANY website, the interface & functionality has to be somewhat limited so it can be “plugged” into any website.  In other words, it’ll display listings, but it probably won’t have a ton of other features like neighborhood valuation & such.  The other downside to an integrated system is more “moving parts.”  You’ve got your site, your IDX provider’s system/data, and the MLS data.  If 1 of these fails, the whole system is down.

Conversely, a “separate” IDX site means users click away from your site to search, and it means all that listing data is technically not “on your site.”  But the upside is, if your site goes down, the IDX would still be fine.  Also, because it’s a separate system, it can be designed more freely, to have a lot more features.

Okay, so where are we going with this?

An IDX & your site’s SEO are 2 totally separate things.  You want a property search that entices buyers with cool features & keeps them coming back.  But you also want good SEO so you GET buyers!    The fact is, no IDX, in and of itself, will vault you to page 1 in Google.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is not being honest.

The agents who get the best search results are the ones who do the best job intertwining listing data (from IDX) with good, original content of their own.  And this is possible with a simple approach:

  1. Find an IDX that has good LOCAL features and information.  It’s fine if it’s on a separate site, because a good IDX provider should be able to install it on a “subdomain” on your regular domain.  In other words, if your website is at “,” your search can be at “” or “”  Google recognizes it as being your content because the main domain is the same.  Bear in mind, in order to do this, you will have to make a simple change at your domain registrar (i.e. GoDaddy,, etc).
  2. Many IDX providers these days, even ones that host it separately, offer solutions to allow you to also pull listing data directly into your site.  One such solution is a WordPress plugin, which are fairly common these days.  It’s not necessarily a full-blown “property search,” but it’s an easy way to pull listing data into your site, which is the main goal for SEO.

But don’t take our word for it.  In writing this post, we consulted with SEO and Cognitive Semantic Structuring expert Oliver Hoffmann, who owns his own SEO company: First Fold SEO. We’ve known Oliver for a few years, and we’ve seen him deliver results for several of our clients.  And Oliver would tell you that the takeaway from this blog entry is simple, and stated above – no IDX, in and of itself, will vault you to page 1 in Google.


Getting leads, Tech trends

The #1 rule of real estate websites (that most people forget)

You know those smooth-talking consultants who wanted to charge you thousands of dollars to “get you to the top of Google?” There’s one very important message that it seems they often fail to deliver:


I cannot understate how often we run into folks who spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about attracting visitors, but little to no time worrying about capturing/closing them.  SEO is important, for sure, but is it more important than content?

If you don’t have a property search that gives buyers a multitude of search options, along with metrics such as neighborhood values, distance to amenities, and comparable sales, then they will look elsewhere for that information, no matter how great your search engine placement is. And if your website is just a keyword-packed bunch of blog posts without content that is useful to your audience, you are similarly missing the boat.

Today’s buyers and sellers want information, and lots of it.  The agent that gets their business is not necessarily the one who is #1 in Google, but the one who does the best job of balancing being “found” and presenting great information and data to potential clients.  I would bet that if you looked at a list of the top producing agents in your area, a decent percentage of them are not at the top of Google!

We’ve been in the real estate technology business for 6 years, and the common thread among our most successful clients is a rabid commitment to producing good content.  In fact, the ones who sell the most are, in my cases, not even receiving the most leads!  They just do a great job with the leads they do get, and are diligent about continuing to add content to their sites and direct traffic to their property search, where they can capture leads.

SEO is important, but nothing beats good content. Ever.

Tech trends

Davis Farrell is a proud sponsor of REbarcampCLT 2010!

We are proud to announce that we are going to be a Platinum sponsor of REbarcampCLT 2010, which is the premier gathering of tech-savvy real estate professionals.

REbarcamp is an “un-conference” (to borrow a phrase). Instead of a bunch of booths and predetermined topics, the attendees set the agenda “on the fly” and then break into groups to discuss topics that interest them.

We look forward to not only sponsoring the event, but also participating, and meeting lots of current (and hopefully future) clients!

Getting leads, Tech trends

IDX WordPress plugin now available : instant SEO!

WordPress is one of the most popular publishing platforms on the Internet, and now our IDX clients can incorporate neighborhood listings into any WordPress site via our new WordPress plugin.

With this plugin, you can now create a neighborhood page, insert 1 line of special code, and voila… all listings from that neighborhood will appear. And better yet, they are clickable, so a home buyer can view more details on the property, and contact you if they are interested. We also provided links from each property to our most popular features : DealSniffer, Go Green, and Market Check — that way, a buyer can get all the “good stuff” in one place, and you are the expert who provides it!

This plugin also allows you to install a “widget” that displays 5 of your featured listings, which means even more exposure for your sellers.

The best benefit of all of this?… you guessed it : search engine optimization (SEO). Google will “see” all of this great text (street names, neighborhood names, school districts, property remarks, etc.), and your site relevance will improve!

We are providing this as a free goodie for the “office” version of our IDX. Those with the “agent” version can add it for only $5/month.

Tech trends

What buyers want : DEALS!

You are a real estate professional, and you probably know where the deals are.  But the question is … do your potential clients know that you know where the deals are?

Let’s say there’s a buyer out there looking for the best deal in a certain part of town.  You could probably point this buyer to several houses, but this is your typical 21st century buyer, and he/she is looking online.  If you’re lucky enough to be one of the sites the buyer finds, do you have adequate resources to allow him/her to find foreclosures, short sales, etc.?

Davis Farrell's "Deal Sniffer"

Foreclosures are a hot news topic, and will continue to be for at least a couple more years.  Even conventional, owner-occupant buyers want to shop for them these days.  So if you have no way for buyers to find deals on your website, you could be losing business.

Since 2007, Davis Farrell has offered a feature called “Deal Sniffer” in our IDX (click here for a screenshot).  Deal Sniffer allows a buyer to compare any house to the other houses listed within a radius (between 1/4 mile and 2 miles).  If a house is listed significantly lower per square foot than the average listing within the given area, that house might be a deal!

Buyers take notice of features like this, and they would be more likely to work with someone who provides good tools than someone who doesn’t.  Competition is stiff these days and the more information you can provide to potential clients, the better.