There’s always something to howl about

The custom web site we built to sell your home might not Google well — but it doesn’t have to . . .

Free the Drones, a saving and investing weblog I read every day, has a post today discussing our practice of building a custom web site for every home we list. I’m thinking that I should write on that one topic at length, because the strategy is more intricate than it might seem at first glance. For now, I want to address the caveats raised by Free the Drones:

When I searched for 1102 West Culver St in Google, the website doesn’t come up in the top 50. In fact, the Bloodhound Realty Blog only comes up at number ten with a mention of the street address in the text. What’s the deal?

The problem is the word “St”, which Google might just as well throw away. Search these three for contrast.

It might be the Google Sandbox

I don’t think there is one. If there is, the penalty is measured in days, not months.

It would be a lot better for [that page’s title] to be “1102 West Culver St., Phoenix, AZ”

Absolutely right. We do it that way now. (This site was built in January.) We do each page within the site with the headline from that page, as well.

What would I do instead? I’d have a subpage about the house on the main Bloodhound Realty site, buy the domain “,” and then do a 301 Redirect, which is a way of sending anyone who types in that web site to the subpage you created. That way you can advertise the house as having its own site, and anyone who tries to go to it will be sent automatically to the place on your site that’s about the house.

This might make sense if you were selling your own home, and if you only had one page of content. We are building canonical web sites about the homes we sell. One of their very important purposes is to capture the listing for that one home again and again, every time it sells.

The caveat is that you’re going to have to do your own advertising – getting people to know about your site through something like Google is the hard part that can require a lot more technical knowledge.

When all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. These custom web sites search very well, but nobody is finding them that way. Why? Because search is either loosely-yellow-pages (vastly generic) or tightly-white-pages (highly specific). No one does a loosely-white-pages search: “Gee, I wonder what’s for sale on Culver Street?” We promote the names of these sites on the home’s custom signage, on the flyer, on our main web site, in the MLS listing, on Ebay and CraigsList, in our listings aggregator feeds and in thousands of target-marketed announcement cards. In fact, the web sites don’t get a huge amount of traffic. But some of the people who come stay for hours — and that’s the point.

It’s possible someone might remember the house from driving by it. If they were to do a search on Google, what would be the most likely keyword?

How about Bloodhound real estate Phoenix? In a comment someone asked about the dog. This is why he’s there. No one can forget him.

I’m not complaining. Free the Drones could not have foreseen all of our thinking behind these sites — and this isn’t everything yet. But of all the reasons for building a custom web site for a real estate listing, how that particular site will Google doesn’t figure in…

The sign shown here is a mock-up. We were using a different kind of sign when we sold this home.

Further notice:
Free the Drones responds in kind with additional thoughts very worthy of consideration.

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8 Comments so far

  1. […] Greg over at Blood Hound Realty has been discussing the way he creates a unique web page for each of his listings so that he can promote a specific URL for the home that he is selling. He and the FreetheDrones blog talk about the reasons he does this as well as the costs involved. FreetheDrones talks about it as “only $10 to do it” but I would suggest that it is significantly more than that. The time required to build the site, even quickly, is also part of the costs of doing this. I applaud Greg for doing this. […]

  2. Marlow Harris September 2nd, 2006 11:35 am

    I build a custom webpage for most of my listings, using a subdomain from my site. So, for instance, I would have as the URL. It’s free, and it helps promote my main website. I don’t expect anyone to find it online, but I can use it to send to interested buyers and put on flyers and in other promotions. And if I ever DID want to submmit to Googe or Yahoo, I could. Which I wouldn’t do, of course 🙂

  3. […] Stephen Jagger at Ubertor raises some additional points on the subject of building custom web sites for home listings. I promise to come back to this topic sometime soon. There are four categories of clients for these custom web sites, and so far we’ve only talked about two of them. In the mean time, though, I think Ubertor builds gorgeous web sites. […]

  4. Tom September 4th, 2006 12:28 pm


    This is why you are one of the few real estate agents that deserves the full 6 percent and explains your success.

    Instead of saying to your clients “This is how we have always done it. I have been selling homes for ___ years.” you are innovating and giving your customers all of the technological advantages plus full representation.

  5. Greg Swann September 4th, 2006 3:35 pm

    > This is why you are one of the few real estate agents that deserves the full 6 percent and explains your success.

    You’re very sweet. I don’t think I’ve ever listed a home for 6%. Quite often for 5%, just because that makes competing against us that much tougher. If you’re selling and buying or if we’re selling a home you bought from us, then 4%. Always 3% to the buyer’s agent. Even so, we haven’t missed any meals.

  6. […] I have a new domain going live tonight, the first custom web site we have done for a real estate listing built as a weblog instead of a static web site. When we talked about this before, Free the Drones wondered if custom web sites might get lost for a span of time in the postulated Google sandbox, a place where Google, at least hypothetically, exiles new domains to make sure they are not spam, scams, who knows what. […]

  7. […] Since then, with each new listing, we’ve added ideas. I’ve written at length about our web sites, our custom signs, our ideas about promotional copy and about using the business card form factor for our promotional pieces. Cathy got her Property Staging Consultant certification earlier this year, and she has made vendor relationships for dealing with chores running from the painfully onerous to the painstakingly dainty. Going through our benefits page, there are half-a-dozen other services we provide to our sellers that the Realtors we compete against do not do. […]

  8. […] Most prospective buyers search for a home using real estate sites and search engines like their local MLS,, Trulia, Propsmart and the like – they generally don’t use Google to find a home – yet another reason why its not about SEO! I would argue that a Realtor that keeps his or her customers happy is going to get a lot more business then a Realtor who only cares about SEO – after all, 44% of buyers come from referred and not SEO. The good folks at Blood Hound Realty make a similar case in their post – [a custom web sites] might not Google well — but it doesn’t have to… […]