The Syndication Debate: Can We at Least Compromise?
Syndication has been a heated topic in our industry for quite some time now. There have been many perspectives and different reactions to the evolution of the syndication business model.
For the purpose of this post lets focus on two aspects. Firstly the ideal purpose of a syndication site, which we believe to be an outlet for extra exposure that leads more traffic to your site (similar to any advert). Secondly, the SEO race which syndication outlets are dominating since imposing the “no-follow” link structure back to our sites.
Since most searches start on Google, having syndication sites outrank us leads to the average user starting their real estate searches on a syndication site. This hardly seems fair, especially since this is our listing. It seems unfair not only to the professionals in the industry, but to the end user too, as instead of arriving at an area specialist site, they instead land on a nationwide diluted site.
The problem is that due to their size and efforts in outreach, they have garnished a very healthy link profile, which results in a high authority level with Google. They also don’t officially link back to your site to transfer any of the credit for your content. As such, if you compete over duplicate or like content, they are bound to win every time. With a focused local link profile this can be combated, but I will leave that for another post.
So they get the lion’s share of the traffic, so what? Surely if people are looking in your area they will see your listings (your “ad”) and make their way to your area specialist site. The problem is in reality users are already immersed in a search that they are comfortable with and being resistant to change, need a convincing value proposition.
The common scenario is that once landing on a property details page, your site link is often buried at the bottom of the page and if a user finds their way to your site, they often find the same exact content and bounce back quickly to their comfort zone. In 2012 our average network bounce rates from detail pages from the main syndication outlets was 70.2%. That is insanely high!
Through discussions with our members of The Enterprise Network, we came up with a solution that we hope will work for both sides. The compromise is that it is ok for these outlets to use our content to amass traffic, we just want to make sure that our specific content also leads that traffic to us eventually. Short of getting a true “follow” link, this is the best we can hope for.
Below are two screenshots (click to enlarge) highlighting an example of the implementation we executed forMcGuire Real Estate with a couple of the main syndication outlets:
You will notice that only three images are provided for this listing, with the third being instructions on finding more info on McGuire.com.
If you compare the remarks with the ones here: 65 Terrace Dr., San Francisco, you will see that McGuire put the effort into substantially beefing up their property detail page remarks. If you scroll further down you will see expandable categories that house a significant amount of additional data that is not provided on syndication sites. To top this off a total of 46 photos in better quality and size await the new user.
With all the above “extras” we are providing the user with the value proposition to learn a new site, one that specializes in the area they are looking for. I would encourage every independent real estate brokerage to do the same. Surely this is what the model should have evolved into in the first place.
Lastly, we updated the virtual tour links with our individual property website links (in this case,65terrace.mcguire.com/). The reason for doing so is two fold. Firstly it is typical for the site link to be buried low in the page, preventing users from finding the extra information, while virtual tours are provided front and center. Secondly as our dedicated property websites provide the user with an abundance of content and rich media along with a virtual tour.
With the syndication sites’ track record, I have a feeling that some rule will eventually surface that prohibits us from doing this, which in itself will highlight the nature of their model, but until then, I think this is a fair compromise, don’t you?