You can publish raw data on your website for the search engines and this has massive potential for brokers and agents who want to drive traffic directly to their websites, but brokers will have to tell google through their websites.
Schema.org is an RDF vocabulary created by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft that allows you to push raw data to the search engines through your website and express things like:
- I am a Real Estate Agent/Broker and this is my website.
- I am the selling agent for 123 Main street.
- Here are photos and videos for 123 Main street.
- I’m having an open house this Saturday from 10am to 2pm.
To get a sense for how this can lead to better search experiences for consumers and more leads for your business consider this. Say I’m looking for “Oakland homes for sale.” Here’s what I get today: 6 pages from aggregators, 3 from Realogy and 1 local independent (Congratulations Red Oak Realty for breaking the top 10!). It’s pretty clear that content aggregators have an advantage today.
Structured Data and Search
Now let’s try “Oakland real estate agents.” Now I get something different.
What is this? Because I searched a known business category “Real Estate Agent”, I’m getting a list of Places, instead of a list of Pages.
You’ve probably had this experience searching for restaurants, gas stations or grocery stores on your phone, and it’s coming to real estate searches.
Google already shows open houses data in search results – you can see that in the first two results from classic search above. But google can and has done a lot more with structured data search in other industries, for example food blogging.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I’m on the hook for dessert so I googled “Apple Pie Recipe.”
There’s a lot to talk about here. Notice photos and ratings are built-in, and google shows other questions it can answer from the data it has. This could easily be done with real estate listings.
To be clear, I’m not saying search will work this way the instant you put data on your site, but I am saying it can’t work this way until you do.
Schema.org and “My Listing, My Lead”
One thing you can declare to the search engines with schema.org vocabulary is your relationship or legal rights relative to content on the web such as a listing. If the real estate industry embraces this, it will be a game changer for brokers and agents by making it possible for brokers to show up first in search for their own listings.
I’m sure that statement will generate the usual controversy over who owns the listing, but regardless of your position on that matter, the fact remains: raw data on the web is going to have a major impact on everyone working with real estate data. It’s time we start taking about it.
MLS associations must understand how authorship works and create or clarify rules for the appropriate and fair use of structured data in their market.
Developers should learn about schema.org and contribute to the creation of RESO guidelines for structured data on the web. If you’re interested in contributing, you rock! Email email@example.com.
Brokers, here is your chance to reclaim a measure of control over your online content. Talk to your website developer about structured data on your website today.