Posted by: realestatewebtrainer | May 16, 2011

Let us talk about Subdomains and Real Estate again…

The Real Estate Business is now awash with Website Vendors of every stripe; a tiny few are wonderful – but the majority are mostly incompetent and near scammers. They indulge themselves to agents earnings simply because they use terms that are meant to confuse; the latest trend has been “SEO Ready Websites” – oh my. I have looked at many so-declared websites and they are not even close to understanding Search Engine Optimization or even the Real Estate Business.

In this effort I blog to demystify the jargon and reveal scams – I have taken it upon myself to do so in a non-controversial form; meaning Not pointing the scammers, the incompetents, or even the winners. It is the Real Estate Agents and Brokers who should learn to ask the right questions from their vendors; New Website Vendors are popping up daily and what matters is how you can tell whether their product is worth your investment.

Note: I will often use the term “Website Vendor” – these are companies who build, design, program, or offer Website Solutions to the Real Estate Industry – I am only focused on the Real Estate Industry in my blogs, trainings, and coaching.

You Must Understand SubDomains Today we will talk again about Subdomains – they are not always bad, but they are not websites.

Let’s define the term:

Official Definition: In the Domain Name System (DNS) hierarchy, a subdomain is a domain that is part of a larger domain.

Key’s Definition: It is a container that behaves and looks like a website which is contained in a larger container belonging to someone else.

Let’s look at an example: say your name is Angie Pinksmith, you can go today to WordPress.com, start an account – you will be given a place to blog that looks like: AngiePinksmith.wordpress.com – Cool huh…

Now Angie can add Pictures, Blogs, Widgets, Videos, Listings, etc… and Yes Angie maybe temped to think that she now has website – it sure behaves like one… Well she does not! She has a container that behaves like a website owned by WordPress.com – if WordPress gets bought out by a competitor and they decided to no longer offer their current services Angie loses this so-called website.

What you must understand is that her information is contained in a container she does not control…

Here is what is worse – Angie will not be able to generate long term “Link Juice” – some call it organic SEO, that will continue to help her assert her place when customers are searching for information.

This is not to say that Angie should NOT do this; I in fact have the highest respect for WordPress – what Angie must do is understand the ramification of her decision.

Now, let’s us talk about the Scams and other type of subdomains:

1. Vendor-driven Subdomains: These type of solutions are the worst! Let me explain what is happening here. A Website Vendor, let’s call it SillyDomainz.com, decide to develop web services for Real Estate Agents and sell them for say for $49/month. Angie decides to buy one and they give her a subdomain called: AngiePinksmith.SillyDomainz.com. The website is adequate and seem to offer what other vendors offer. They tell Angie in order for her to personalize her website she can go to GoDaddy.com, buy a domain AngiePinksmith.com, and forward it to this new subdomain.

Sounds good right!? No – Forwarding a domain, even if you mask it, is a marketing technique Not a true Organic Website. True Websites are driven by the owner’s domain name – Not that of the vendor.

These type of solutions MUST stop immediately or must be disclosed by Vendors – they know better.

Why do some vendors offer these types of solutions – simple: They are easy to build; easy to maintain; and they grow the link juice of the primary vendor not the agent.

2. Hidden-IDX Subdomains: These are essentially the same as the above example, except that they are hidden in plain sight. These type of vendors understand that the expense of integrating IDX Search is the reason Agents buy their products and so instead of being as flagrant as the above they take another technique.

Here is how they do it: They first take the IDX feed and place it in a domain they own, create a subdomain for the search function, create a full domain for the content section from free open source services, and integrate them. The result is that the user has now a domain that drives their website which is nice, but when you click on the Search command you are sent to the IDX subdomain – so if your website is AngiePinksmith.com, when you visit the search it will say something like AngiePinksmith.idx77.com – they are in essence redirecting traffic to another website.

These type of Websites rarely grow in Internet Scale and garner very little SEO Visibility. What agents must demand is a fully integrated Search within their domain, and there are some good vendors who offer such services.

3. Broker-driven Subdomains: These types of subdomains are not so bad in the grand scheme of things but they do carry some drawbacks. In these types of Websites the Broker goes to a Website Vendor and is built the proper website driven by the brokerage domain. The Broker is then offered the ability to give each one of her agents a subdomain as in: AngiePinksmith.BrokerWebsite.com.

Angie can still decide to buy a domain and forward it to this Subdomain, and although I prefer this solution to the above 2 she should be told that she does not have a Website in the full sense of the term; She has a subdomain with her brokerage that she cannot take with her years from now. I know many agents who are happy with such solutions but the lack of disclosure can cause friction when conflict arises.

Many Brokers charge their agents for these solutions and because of that may create a false sense of the Solution that is being offered.

In my Opinion Website Vendors who work in this realm should go a step further and fully integrate the domains of agents within the Broker Solution and then everyone is happy – I call this Inter-Dependence. There are a few vendors who get it and are offering such solutions.

I could keep going but let me end with this simple idea: Brokers and Agents are hungry for Real Information and Clarity of Solutions – I ask all Website Vendors to not only talk about the Benefits of their Solutions but to also disclose the Shortcomings; and go even further – Fix these Shortcomings; The Websites you are helping build are not yours – they belong to the Real Estate Agents and Brokers who pay for them.

Happy Blogging 🙂 – Key Yessaad, Real Estate SEO Trainer

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