There’s always something to howl about

Truliamazing tricks of the trade: don’t link to your trusted partners

Greg is impressed how Trulia so dominates the search results for “714 West Culver Street”. Heck – they got the listing from somewhere, right? Why does Trulia show up above the original sources of data? In this case, two reasons: the original source doesn’t even display the address on the page (dude – MLS rules are stupid, but they usually let you display your own property’s address at least – you gotta fix that!). But the much more common reason is that Trulia blocks Google from following their links.

How do I know? Go to any listing on Trulia. See that “See more photos and details” button? Hover over it and look at the bar at the bottom of your screen. See how it says something like ? That gobbledygook links internally to a page on Trulia that instantly passes you on to the listing broker. However it tells Google that it is a temporary redirect (a 302 redirect), which Google has explicitly stated does not pass any PageRank. That means while you move on to the listing broker, Google goes no further than that internal page.

Why would Trulia withold PageRank from their trusted partners? They might argue that they need to track the number of people they are referring to brokers. However, Trulia appears to be very technically savvy and there are a number of other search-engine friendly ways to accomplish that including javascript onunloads or 301 redirects (which do pass PageRank). Why else would anyone withhold a link from the original source? Because in doing so, Trulia becomes the original source for properties in the eyes of Google. If Trulia were to link back to trusted broker partners, particularly if they were to use relevant text like the address (instead of an image link), they risk telling Google that they are borrowing that information from somewhere else – an original source – and Google might rank the original source higher in the search results.

Why would brokers who share their listings allow this? My best guess is they aren’t tech savvy enough to identify that this could be a problem. In the online world, the devil is often in the technical details. Surely they wouldn’t intentionally share their valuable listings on the promise that they’ll receive more traffic, only to find that they were giving up their valuable search engine position for those listings (and the traffic associated with it).


234 Comments so far

  1. Doug Quance April 29th, 2008 11:51 am

    Brilliant work, Galen.

    The devil is always in the details.

    Be wary when someone offers something for free. There’s usually a cost, somewhere.

  2. Tim O\'Keefe April 29th, 2008 12:28 pm

    This can be called the great real estate giveaway. For the benefit of traffic and exposure the industry has given away their only tangible assett-MLS listings. There is a reason sites like these gets top SERP positions and your above reasoning is one of them. Blocking outbound links is an SEO technique to hord page rank. This is not the only reason they do well, but it helps.

  3. Kevin Boer April 29th, 2008 12:42 pm

    My understanding of why Trulia dominates the SERPS for property address searches is quite simple and less nefarious:

    a) Their single-property pages are much more search-engine friendly, with the address in the url, and a clear title tag, description tag, and keywords tag. Single-property pages on most broker sites are completely un-search-engine-friendly; for instance:

    Title Tag: Broker name
    Description Tag: Non-existent
    Keywords tag: Non-existent

    b) Their single-property pages are actually search-engine crawlable — ie there’s a clear link-by-link way of getting there. The search page on most broker sites is some form of un-crawlable Java Script / ASP etc.

  4. Awesome Investigative Reporting April 29th, 2008 2:03 pm

    This is how Trulia is boosting their traffic and showing their growth versus Zillow who has flatlined. Little by little, they are taking over Google search results and boxing out realtors, brokers and MLS. The fact that they are withholding page rank from their advertising partners shows that Trulia views them as competitors in the long run.

    You are right that brokers and agents are not technically astute to realize that they gave away the farm to interlopers like Trulia who are trying to make a buck, back, off their data.

    And MLSs will never get to this level of sophistication to compete against Trulia’s 5 in-house SEO wonks.

  5. Rick NHS April 29th, 2008 2:37 pm

    Great post and analysis of why Trulia dominates… I think that there is a lot of truth to what you have stated, I may tend to agree with Kevin’s statements too… The fact the their internal pages are more ‘seo friendly’ likely plays a role too. Nonetheless, Trulia isn’t doing anything illegal and as far as the average agent is concerned, they aren’t doing anything unethical either…

  6. G. Dewald April 29th, 2008 3:02 pm

    I believe that Google is also scraping sites for data and usually assigns “originality” to the first IDX site it comes to… for an entire data set. After this occurs it is up to the individual realtors to claim their listings. I have seen this happen at least once.

    I think this will be an interesting situation in which to participate as syndication gets more prevalent and the data wants to be free after all. But how to provide the best value for the consumer along the way will be the challenge.

  7. Eric Blackwell April 29th, 2008 3:40 pm


    Yes (good find BTW) but that is not the only place that they are hoarding links like a mizer saving scraps of soap. Whenever I have posted my opinion that adding content or listings or links to folks like Trulia, Zillow and others is “feeding the hand that bites us” I get roundly boo’d for not being ‘free’ with information (and I do understand both sides of that argument), but in this case, we (REALTORS) are not only feeding them, we are sharpening their teeth.

    If we 1) Give them our listings 2) Give them link juice and 3) Give them content (TV, et al). Ummm how can we gripe when they bite us (rank well in Google)? We knew who they were when we picked them up….

    For those who are OK with giving them information (listings) then fine, but can we get some agreement that we should draw the line and not create pages and links FOR THEM?

    Just my thoughts.

  8. Tim O\\\'Keefe April 29th, 2008 3:50 pm

    Trulia is “blocking” to stop page rank bleed.
    But nonetheless some believe this a good way to protect against duplicate content. I have news for you if they have the most page rank on that content then they do not have to worry about dupe content.

    I have written about the great giveaway often over at

  9. Galen Ward April 29th, 2008 3:50 pm

    Eric – it certainly looks like a one way street from my perspective.

  10. Kevin Boer April 29th, 2008 4:54 pm

    Ooh, and this is priceless (and not uncommon)!

    Do a google search for 2707 greer palo alto ca, a currently active listing (

    Your mileage may vary, but on my side:

    1) Trulia comes up first.
    2) Then Redfin
    3) Then FindRealEstateAgents
    4) Then (!), arguably the canonical source of information about this listing
    5) Then Palo Alto Online (the local newspaper)
    6) Then Movoto (a local referral shop)
    7) Then Listing Producer

    Give Google 12 more hours, and I’ll bet Bloodhound will rank in the top 10 for that property, simply by me mentioning it here.

  11. Mike Farmer April 29th, 2008 5:09 pm

    I have a much clearer outlook on this. Thanks.

  12. Cheryl Johnson April 29th, 2008 7:43 pm

    Just looking at one of our listings, 5034 Monte Vista Street:

    1. Trulia
    2. Trulia
    3. Our own
    4. Movoto (Kevin, I don’t know much about these guys, have to learn more)
    5. Our own (interesting — this is mainly just some server space I use to store photos – has never been actively promotoed)
    6. Active Rain (yes, we do post listings to Active Rain)
    7. (not real familiar with these guys, either)
    8. (ditto)
    9. (Hi, Jeff Turner!)
    10. (Never saw this before in my life!)

    Interesting results indeed!

  13. Sue April 29th, 2008 7:59 pm

    Eric B, I totally agree that with what you are saying regarding Trulia, Zillow. When I first heard this, a while back, I didn’t quite get it. I get it now!!! Trulia owns 3 or 4 spots on the first page of G in my area for most of my towns.

  14. Matt McGee April 29th, 2008 8:32 pm

    Not only are the Trulia pages optimized much more effectively (as explained by Kevin Boer), but there’s also this to consider:

    1) Trulia is a trusted, authoritative domain. On queries like this, where there are almost zero matches (“results 1-10 of about 15”), the trusted domain will almost always win.

    2) The single property web site ( has no chance in this scenario because it’s quite likely brand new, has no inbound links, and has no trust/authority.

    You can’t underestimate the value of trust. It should be your online marketing goal. When you have trust, you can own the SERPs. Just look at Wikipedia. They consistently outrank the sites and pages they use as sources because they have trust and authority (as defined by both quantity and quality of inbound links, not to mention user click-thru data).

  15. Overland Park Real Estate April 29th, 2008 8:37 pm

    Too bad the big wigs at Pru didnt know that when they agreed to allow T to post all Pru listings (at least I assume they didnt).

    I also mentioned on the T blog one time how I wish I would at least get credit as the listing agent on my own listings (not just the company). Mysteriously now when I try to post to the T blog, my post wont go through and it says I am detected as a spammer. Very interesting…then stop posting this spammers listings on your site.

  16. Kevin Tomlinson April 29th, 2008 9:12 pm

    Great stuff. You may not know, but Kevin B. knows that I am all over this Trulia thing.

    Working slowly, methodically almost “Tomlinsonian” on the task.

    Dare I say interesting post?

  17. David G from April 29th, 2008 9:32 pm


    I didn’t want to to get into this but I must say you’re wrong about Zillow on this one. Any and all links from your listings or your profile on are followed. We’re not blocking google from following your links. Check it out.

    Here’s an SEO tip for using Zillow; there’s no limit to the (followed) links you can add to the “about me” section of your profile page on Zillow (and anything you post on Zillow links back to your profile.) So, post a link to each of your 10 most popular / recent blog posts or or website or both on your Zillow profile page.

  18. Thomas Johnson April 29th, 2008 10:04 pm

    I am really an internet invalid. Why have I always felt like Zillow would be a better place for me to invest what limited web marketing resources (mainly valuable time)? Is it just the David G is such a class act? or is it that that Zillow is the tortise in this race?

    Truliatown has always felt a bit contrived to me. The bogus leading questions from bogus “prospects” seem like a good way to entrap oneself into a fair housing nightmare.

    A Zillow zestifarm can provide an agent with a way to enter into a long tail relationship with his local market where the time invested will continue to deliver compounded dividends for years.

  19. Greg Swann April 29th, 2008 10:06 pm

    > Here’s an SEO tip for using Zillow; there’s no limit to the (followed) links you can add to the “about me” section of your profile page on Zillow (and anything you post on Zillow links back to your profile.)

    I know that’s true. I do it. Zillow’s profiles can be very rich.

    > So, post a link to each of your 10 most popular / recent blog posts or or website or both on your Zillow profile page.

    Can I have this in PHP? I’ll host and run the code, I just want the include in my profile.

  20. Joe Hayden April 29th, 2008 10:46 pm

    I haven’t read all of the replies in detail so I hope I am not repeating a point, but it is also good for high SERPS to keep the links away from your main page from being followed by Google. Use a sitemap to point to your pages, but don’t have a huge number of outbound links. Trulia may be doing this to keep certain pages from leaking PageRank.

  21. […] from Estately writeson Bloodhound about Trulia’s practice of running listing links through a temporary (302) […]

  22. Mike Taylor April 30th, 2008 4:08 am

    Thanks for the heads up on the Zillow profile Greg. As far as Trulia goes, the no follow thing is nothing new and yet they still manage to dupe agents to into giving them content for their site so they can then outrank those very agents that supplied them the content to outrank them. If we don’t educate the masses and soon, you might as well get out your checkbook and start writing a check to Trulia.

  23. Ryan Ward April 30th, 2008 5:04 am

    More than just nofollowing links, they sucker agents into adding their woefully innacurate market stat widgets onto agent websites adding on topic links to THEIR profiles.

    If you check their link profile through Yahoo Site Explorer it appears to me, a novice seo type, that some of the links TO trulia look suspiciously paid for from off topic blogs. I could be wrong about that, but, that’s what it looks like.

    Unlike other 3rd party sites, Trulia is very SEO savvy and understand very well how to manipulate agents to their advantage.

    I suspect their end game would be to dominate the SERPS and force users to pay for their relevance.

    They aren’t in it to be nice.

  24. Laurie Manny April 30th, 2008 5:12 am

    When Trulia introduced Trulia Voices Brian Brady organized a small army to step in and work the system and get it started. We were very active for a short time. Pete Flint called me one afternoon, we had a very nice little chat about link love being internet currency. In that conversation Pete assured us that the link love was coming our way.

    Web Reference:

    That code with the no follow tag is straight off of one of my comments on Trulia Voices and the reason that the group who helped get them off of the ground no longer participates.

    Pete, I always keep my word. Shame on you for not keeping yours.

  25. Teri Lussier April 30th, 2008 5:13 am

    I confess to some ignorance about Trulia as I have not been paying them much attention, mostly because I agree with Thomas Johnson’s comment that Zillow just feels better. But, I did read the post and all the comments, and I have a better understanding of how Trulia works and how it is perceived to work.

    OTOH, after 21 comments and no one from Trulia has chimed in, my initial gut reaction might be telling me something.

    Now I’m left thinking one thing about Trulia: “What Would David G. Do”? 😉

  26. Greg Swann April 30th, 2008 6:39 am

    > Now I’m left thinking one thing about Trulia: “What Would David G. Do”?

    Just to be fair, when we talked about this two weeks ago, David Gibbons was prominently sphinx-like, but Trulia’s Pete Flint did show up.

  27. Teri Lussier April 30th, 2008 7:01 am

    >Just to be fair, when we talked about this two weeks ago, David Gibbons was prominently sphinx-like, but Trulia’s Pete Flint did show up.

    And I’m not trying to be a brat, but okayfine, yeah, sure, let’s be fair. Honestly, I didn’t read that post, I’m reading this post.

    Trulia wants me to do something for them- post on their site- which makes me what? A consumer? A partner? I’m not sure, but okayfine. They want something from me, and guess what? I’m finally paying attention to Trulia- it’s this post, sorry about their luck, but that’s how the internet works. So me, a potential Trulia user is reading Galen’s BHB post about Trulia, and now, nearly 24 hours after this post was published, what’s the word from Trulia? ::crickets::

    My gut told me to stay away from Trulia, but sometimes my gut isn’t on point, so I came here to learn. And I’m learning a lot. I think that’s fair. 🙂

  28. Doug Quance April 30th, 2008 7:12 am

    My gut tells me to stay away from all of them…

  29. Ryan Ward April 30th, 2008 7:51 am

    Look. It’s very simple. They are a 3rd party site that wants in on a very lucrative piece of pie. They don’t exist at all if the majority of real estate pros were in any way tech savvy. Fortunately for them, that is never going to be the case.

    So, they get venture capital, SEO the you-know-what out of there site, become relevant because of search engine ranking and “wedge” their way in.

    Once in, they have the strength to force agents/brokers to consider them relevant, which they are because of the amount of traffic that they now have.

    It’s a simple business plan and they have implemented it extremely effectively. So the rub is that more and more people will feel compelled to use them and then they can increase their revenue by reselling information given freely to them.

    Brilliant, but, there is no need for their existance. How does that affect you and me? Very simple.

    Eventually, they will increase our marketing costs.

    The only way to stop them at this point is to beat them at their own game which only we can do because we hold the information – at least for now.

  30. Irina Netchaev April 30th, 2008 8:02 am

    This is quite an educational post and comments. I’ve been a Trulia Voice and user for quite some time. This has opened my eyes to some of the issues associated with them. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone from Trulia finally chimes in.
    Thanks for keeping me informed.

  31. Hi All!

    My oh my, where do I begin. Actually, we were waiting to reply after the 50th comment 🙂

    Yes, we have no follow tags on listings on Trulia. Nothing wrong with that. It’s standard practice online and some of the top sites around the web such as Flickr and Wikipedia use this method as well. That googlygook you see is used for tracking purposes.

    We choose to share the link love/Google juice in a different way – via our detailed profile pages. These profile pages get lots of love from Google and agents can actually “choose” which website or blog they want to share the link love with. I think that’s pretty cool. Web 2.0 is about providing “you” the user or agent with more choices and control. Deciding “where” to send the Google juice to me is priceless.

    Let’s keep our eye on the ball here guys. At the end of the day, when I was active as a real estate agent, my ultimate goal was to find a qualified,ready willing and able buyer for my clients listing in the shortest period of time. I think that still holds true today. The best way to do that is to place your clients home (listing) where the consumers are looking. We have built a strong brand that consumers, agents, brokers and search engines trust. In fact, for many brokers, we are one of the top referrers to their site – and they “love” that. I know this from first hand experience because I’ve actually been in the room a few times when some of our partners said it. Our partner brokers trust us and are quite web savvy. We send more traffic to real estate broker and agents sites in the US than any other real estate media or brokerage company out there and we do it for free. Literally millions and millions of free visitors a month are sent to thousands of different sites. Not too shabby.

    Hey, we can’t please everyone, but make no mistake, we are here to help bring consumers and agents together more efficiently. We value all our relationships and continue to bring some of the latest and greatest innovations to the real estate space.

    Thanks for lending me your ear.

    Social Media Guru at

  32. Charles in Las Vegas April 30th, 2008 10:49 am

    Eric is right on target. “we are here to help bring consumers and agents together more efficiently.” Really? You are always better off putting content on your own site. Why make another site the authority when it could be your own?

  33. TruliaFan April 30th, 2008 11:01 am

    Hoarding link juice is not Trulia’s only SEO malpractice. Check out page 3 of this whitepaper that they authored with Weichert Realty:

    It specifically calls out “Link Purchasing” as an effective marketing tool. Ummm… last time I checked it was against every major search engine’s terms of service to purchase links with the intent of influencing search engine rankings.

  34. Overland Park Real Estate April 30th, 2008 11:12 am

    Ok, I take back what I said about being blocked as spam on T. Rudy got back with me and explained they have installed a new filter…sorry that I assumed other wise.

  35. […] like a good post by another one of the excellent writers over at the Bloodhound Blog, Galen Ward (no relation) to get … I’ve written about Trulia before, but, before I go on about what I don’t like about […]

  36. Pete Flint from April 30th, 2008 12:42 pm

    Hi all,
    Wow, this is an interesting thread.
    A couple of points on all this.

    As Rudy’s explains we drive a huge amount of free traffic to agent and broker sites. We provide optional advertising services, but these services are optional and we won’t be charging agents for what we provide for free today or anytime soon.

    I do remember our telephone conversation. I explained at the time that links that exist within your profile on Trulia Voices are for link love. We put the nofollow on the “web reference” links to avoid spam, just like wikipedia and flickr. That is what it was at launch and nothing has changed, nor will it. I absolutely keep my word and can assure you there is no funny business going on here or change since we spoke. We channel all the link love to your profile where you can manage the link text and url. We keep it simple and highly effective. This methodology means that we channel the link love on Trulia to those that contribute most on Trulia Voices. Hence it’s a really great SEO service for agents.

    Hope that helps clear up the confusion here.


  37. Ryan Ward April 30th, 2008 1:13 pm

    Ding, ding ding:

    “we won’t be charging agents for what we provide for free today or anytime soon” *(emphasis added).

    Can you perhaps explain how I or other agents could “spam” you if you removed the nofollow?

    In my opinion, this is nothing more than spin. There is a major difference between you and wiki and flickr.

    I will say though, I think you may have helped clear up any confusion. 🙂

  38. Ines April 30th, 2008 2:01 pm

    – I have to admit that third party vendors always worry me. Somehow Trulia did things differently and I was curious about Trulia voices. I’m known to test different systems and drop them if I get no results.

    With that said, because of Rudy’s move to Trulia, I felt more inclined to be a part of it – I guess it was a really great move for Trulia to hire him, for those of us who trust and like Rudy.

    I have been an active contributor of Trulia Voices and do get traffic from there. Also met with my first client from Italy directly from Trulia last week (no closing though). The question will become an issue of “exposure” not leads. We’ll see how that goes after I’m done testing.

    One thing that I am extremely disappointed at is the fact that I syndicate all of my listings through v-flyer to Trulia and my agent information does not appear anywhere on that listing. Trulia does have an agreement with big brokerages and thus you see The Brokerage’s contact information on my listings, but what does an individual real estate agent get? Only a profile?

    If I’m giving you my listings, I better get more than just a profile, that’s MHO.

  39. Pete Flint from April 30th, 2008 2:41 pm

    Hi Ryan,
    Good to hear we are clearing things up. 🙂
    Sorry for the confusion on “spam”, but I should have clarified by stating “link spam”. That is the origin of the entire nofollow attribute, more here:

    Hi Ines,
    Great points, yes we think Rudy is great too!
    Watch this space for some changes on the way that we help listing agents. We are listening and will offer some free services for listing agents that should address the issues you mention in the very near future.


  40. Eric Blackwell April 30th, 2008 5:27 pm


    Listen, my friend…let’s be serious for a second. US giving YOU our content (listings and all) and you protecting “the world” from link spam??? (I am wearing boots right now ’cause it’s getting deep.)

    As Galen says, it is a one way street. “Trusted partners” when it’s convenient and then “spammers” when it suits your purpose.

    tsk. tsk.

    Maybe it’s time for me to trot over to REW and link to these proceedings and see if we can inform a few others about this charade…ooops I did that well over a year ago. Time to do it again.

    Correcting this does not require the spin that you are offering. It requires changing your ways, gentlemen (IMO).

    So whaddya say you start treating trusted partners like well, ummm, trusted partners…hmm??

    Methinks Galen needs some props and publicity for this post.

  41. Galen Ward April 30th, 2008 5:35 pm

    Rudy, I totally respect your work with Trulia, but this “it’s just like everyone else bs” is disingenuous. No one blocks links to the original source of data – Flickr and Wikipedia block links that may be spammy or untrusted. Blocking link following from Windermere and your other trusted partners is pretty sneaky. Do you explicitly tell them they won’t receive any followable links from working with you?

    There is no reason to limit outbound links on listings except to push agents out of the top results and limit all off site links for each agent to one page and limit all off site links for each broker to no search engine followable links.

  42. Eric Blackwell April 30th, 2008 5:37 pm

    Note to David G from Zillow…

    Sorry for not responding back sooner

    What you say is true with the profile pages. While I (personally) view many of the same third party sites, bots, et al with the same view since their missions at the end are all to insert themselves into the place where tech savvy realtors should be. (controversial, I know–grin), I will hand it to you that you have been responsive and fair. Also your links do go both ways.

    Thanks for treating “partners” like “partners”. I hope that continues that way forever. My concern is that down the road, Zillow management changes it’s mind and becomes a Trulia out of profitability pressure, etc. I have seen it happen too many times. Maybe I’m jaded.

    Trulia’s case study should be enough alone to prove that I am warranted in being suspicious.

    Know that I DO appreciate your willingness to provide a profile page and some do follow links… fair enough?

  43. Ryan Ward April 30th, 2008 5:55 pm

    Nope. Not buying it. Time and again some of the savvy guys like us step up and call Trulia out. Fortunately for you, and for us I suppose, we don’t make up the majority of agents/brokers and real estate technologists, but, there really is more to it than just nofollowing links. Like Eric Blackwell, I have written about this before and have done so again today after reading this post.

    I think more than just the nofollows, people see things like widgets with stats on real estate websites and then assume that Trulia must be an authority site because if agents use it they must be good. The fact of the matter is that they really aren’t providing information that not only can be found elsewhere, but, is generally more accurate. The example that I used in my post shows the list price in Alpharetta to be more than $200,000 more than the real sold prices. How is this helping anyone? Yet people see it, agents use it and the public believes it.

  44. Eric Bramlett April 30th, 2008 6:34 pm

    Honestly, I’m surprised anyone spends any time on Trulia voices. You’re building content for a competitor.

    Please! Everyone on Trulia Voices! Go to and find your city! You can do the same thing there, find qualified buyers, and not help your competition!

  45. Mike Taylor April 30th, 2008 7:00 pm

    “There is no reason to limit outbound links on listings except to push agents out of the top results and limit all off site links for each agent to one page and limit all off site links for each broker to no search engine followable links.”

    You hit the nail on the head with that one! I give you (Trulia) my listings and you give me no follow link as a way to control spam? I don’t think so. Get bent.

    “We provide optional advertising services”
    You would not have the opportunity to provide these optional services if we were not out there getting the listings for you to post on your third party site. You are preying on real estate agents not savvy enough to realize that you are their competition. This is a very outspoken group and believe me, we will spread the word about what Trulia is really up to.

  46. Eric Bramlett April 30th, 2008 7:02 pm

    BTW – in case anyone missed Truliafan’s link above (it was broken b/c he had a period at the end of it) check it out here. Top of page 3 lists “link purchases” as an effective SEO technique. Link purchasing is a blackhat technique.

    There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Trulia nofollows the links to their “trusted partners” due to link spam. You combat link spam w/ nofollows when you allow comments or other user generated links. Trulia’s linking out to known sites that provided listings – they’re doing this as an SEO technique.

    I heard someone mention “leaking pagerank” above. Pagerank leak is actually an older concept that doesn’t ring true. Linking out doesn’t lower your own site’s pagerank (BHB is proof of this – it’s a dofollow, PR6 blog.)

    The reason why Trulia won’t link out to their “trusted partners” is because they consider them SERP competitors. I personally avoid linking to my SERP competitors, Trulia does it, and everyone here should return the favor to Trulia.

  47. Galen,

    Wikipedia and flickr put no-follow on all external links and, as far as I can tell the same goes for and Yahoo Real Estate. We follow the industry standard.

    We’re not being disingenuous nor sneaky, it’s been the same story from day 1.

    As I mentioned before, we funnel all “link love” to agents via our profile pages. So we definitely help agents with their SEO.


  48. That’s right Charles, like it or not, we are connecting consumers and agents together everyday.

    By all means, I agree that you should continue to add content to build your own site. But if you really believe in what you are saying, I should not be able to find on any other site online except yours. Yeah, that’s a really good strategy for building your brand…..


  49. markum April 30th, 2008 7:45 pm

    can someone please get this educational post out there on Active Rain and other RE Blogs?

    While not everyone can be (or even wants to be) educated on this issue, i would like to think that spreading the word on this would result in FEWER people feeding Trulia.

  50. Tony Sena April 30th, 2008 7:46 pm

    Eric, I couldn’t agree more!

    “The reason why Trulia won’t link out to their “trusted partners” is because they consider them SERP competitors. I personally avoid linking to my SERP competitors, Trulia does it, and everyone here should return the favor to Trulia.”

  51. Greg Swann April 30th, 2008 8:44 pm

    > I heard someone mention “leaking pagerank” above. Pagerank leak is actually an older concept that doesn’t ring true. Linking out doesn’t lower your own site’s pagerank (BHB is proof of this – it’s a dofollow, PR6 blog.)

    I thought the idea of leaking page rank sounded particularly specious, but I didn’t care enough to fight about it. Right now, the top of the blog, the main landing page, is delivering 961 links. Of those, 372 are links back into the blog — overhead, house-keeping and deep-linking — but, of the 589 outside links, 140 are especially robust, since they’re in the Long List bot, which is echoed on multiple sites, including several of our other weblogs. We have just short of 22,000 comments with ~0% comment spam, so it’s plausible that we’re throwing off more than 20,000 dofollow links in comments.

    There’s more that we do. The potentially canonical list of real estate weblogs is 360 links deep. The Long List weblog is over 1,000 permanent PR4 links. I don’t think of this in SEO terms, but if we’re leaking Page Rank, I don’t see how.

    Here’s how some other blogs stack up:

    PR Total Links in Links out Long List Dofollow
    BHB* PR 6 961 372 589 140 Y
    Lenderama PR 5 282 136 146 0 Y
    Agent Genius PR 5 493 292 201 0 Y
    4Realz** PR 5 912 342 570 0 N
    FoREM PR 4 362 142 219 0 N
    GeekEstate PR 5 327 146 181 0 N

    *134 outbound links are to my Republic columns
    **4Realz displays 100 posts per page, typically composed
    of 3 inbound links and one or more outbound links

  52. Doug Quance April 30th, 2008 8:53 pm

    There’s nothing like someone pissing on your leg – and telling you it’s raining.

    Be wary of the beast you feed.

  53. Hi All!

    I respect all your opinions and we can go back and forth on this all day. However, I have some babies to feed and diapers to change. What I’m curious about is what your “clients” think about this. What do they say when you tell them that you won’t promote their home and participate on the nation’s fastest growing real estate website – at no out of pocket cost to you?

    Think about what I am asking you. In all fairness, let’s think about what’s in the best interest of your client. Isn’t that to sell their home? I haven’t heard anyone mention that here. Only what’s best for you and your site rankings. When I was actively selling real estate, and I would have told my seller that I was not going to submit his “home” on the fastest growing real estate website in the United States because “I” didn’t get google juice from them for that listing, I would have been fired on the spot. All this talk I hear sounds a bit selfish to me.

    Get your delicious Google link juice from us from your profile page on Trulia and send it to the website, blog or listing of your choice!!!! What is wrong with that? You guys just blow my mind sometimes.

    I guess I won’t be participating on flickr anymore because I can’t get any link love back. Seriously?!?

    Btw – Truliafan and Erik – You are mistaken. The part of the whitepaper you reference talks about what WEICHERT does, not Trulia. It is part of their overall online strategy. And by link purchases, I think they are talking about Google sponsored links and such….


  54. Morgan Carey April 30th, 2008 9:37 pm

    Just wanted to chime in here on the Zillow / Trulia thing, last time I checked Zillow was not passing any link love from listings either – instead of using 302 redirects they implement the onclick method of blocking outbound link benefits (Same as PR web) – (Read Matt Cutts comments here:

    And what else (I think) is missed is that BOTH Trulia and Zillow provide backlinks (Dofollow) from the profile pages (But neither from the posts, which is the crux of the issue here) – so if you are going to crucify one be sure to acknowledge both the differences AND the similarities – Zillow does not give you link love from listings either.

    I wrote a post trying to “bait” zillow into upping their SEO offerings in this thread

    Where I wrote:
    “So I put it forth to you members – if there was an SEO benefit to creating a profile at Zillow, would this change your status as a participant, or would you continue to boycott based on the principal of helping the competition amass content?”

    Drew Myers (Who has always been a class act at least in my dealings with him) responded clarifying their position and reminded us of link pop from profiles. But my question is – for BOTH Trulia and Zillow – don’t you realize that the best SEO is about building relationships, and by properly acknowledging your content partners you will actually GAIN authority? Your page rank hoarding is a short sighted SEO strategy that alienates you from the MOST powerful allies (The SEO savvy Realtors) – and honestly, there will always be those that dislike assisting their competition, but for those willing to take the trade (Link love for my inventory) you have a lot to “gain” and very little to loose – Your argument regarding “protection from spam” quite frankly IS BS and you guys know it – you trust the content but not the source? That is not the true spirit or purpose with which the nofollow attribute or any other link blocking method was designed for.

  55. Eric Bramlett April 30th, 2008 9:44 pm

    Rudy –

    #1 – your traffic doesn’t hold a candle to & Zillow. According to Alexa you have 1/2 the traffic of Zillow, and less than 1/2 the traffic or

    #2 – Let’s put a house on Trulia for 30 days, and then that same house on the MLS (and IDX sites) for 30 days. How much traffic do you think the Trulia listing would get vs. the MLS/IDX listing? Trulia doesn’t sell listings – the MLS/IDX sells listings.

    #3 – This is about Trulia being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. “Come over here, you can post your listings for free, you’ll get a link back from your profile, you can meet buyers/sellers from Trulia Voices.” Your linking techniques clearly indicate that you’re treating us like competitors. You’re offering nothing new in Trulia Voices that can’t be found on city data. Your one link that you give from our profile doesn’t mean squat.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but I’m a little offended that all the Trulia spin doctors came over here so quickly to play damage control, and the excuses you’re giving us are pretty lame.

  56. Eric!

    2. Once again, in the benefit of the seller, please reconsider placing their listing where actual buyers are looking.
    3. Sorry you feel that way. No wolves here. Just a kick ass team that does nothing but work it’s tail off everyday to make the real estate experience for consumers and agents a better one. Would you like more links on your profile?

    Spin doctors? Come on Eric. Some said I didn’t respond soon enough, now you say I respond too quickly.

    I guess as the saying goes, if you don’t like the show, change the channel. This is America you know.


  57. Mike Farmer April 30th, 2008 10:08 pm

    “Think about what I am asking you. In all fairness, let’s think about what’s in the best interest of your client. Isn’t that to sell their home? I haven’t heard anyone mention that here. Only what’s best for you and your site rankings. When I was actively selling real estate, and I would have told my seller that I was not going to submit his “home” on the fastest growing real estate website in the United States because “I” didn’t get google juice from them for that listing, I would have been fired on the spot. All this talk I hear sounds a bit selfish to me.”

    There you have it. Trulia has accomplished their goal, so lump it or leave it you selfish peons. My God, can’t you see they’re indispensable! My mind is blown.

  58. Hi Mike!

    It’s the reasoning of others that blows my mind.


  59. Mike Farmer May 1st, 2008 4:03 am

    Rudy, the problem I have with what you said is that it seems arrogant and it’s pretty much a non sequitor — agents are concerned about their site ranking therefore they aren’t concerned with selling their clients’ homes.

    It’s like saying — We are the best and you need to market listings on Trulia, so quit yakking about how we don’t follow and do what’s best for your client.

    Not a good response. Plus there are many ways to market listings outside Trulia. You’ve yet to prove viability as a profitable company, so reasoning is definitely in question.

    Perhaps I misunderstood you and the situation — perhaps Trulia has created a situation where agents have to use them and you are merely stating the obvious and cautioning people to unselfishly yield to the inevitable — even if this is true, it breeds resentment and puts Trulia in a tenuous position. No one is that powerful to hold such a position long.

  60. Ryan Ward May 1st, 2008 5:06 am

    I don’t want to argue the merits of where best to post listings, but, the effort feels very disengenious to me.

    In my opinion, Trulia is in fact a competitor the same as everyone else who ranks above us for coveted spots. The difference is that Trulia is not a party to any part of any real estate transaction.

    It’s this fact that people should be more careful about. Trulia has put together an excellent package that does in fact provide quality content and most people I talk about this with feel that their search capabilities are more intuitive than

    The listing data that Trulia takes from us for free is FAR more important than what they give back.

    There is no NEED for a Trulia, but, they have been succesful because of talented people – for that they get credit.

    They would dry up on the vine without our listings. We would not dry up without Trulia. It’s a tightrope walk they have been very succesful at it.

  61. Teri Lussier May 1st, 2008 5:28 am

    Hey Rudy-

    I really appreciate you taking the time to educate us about Trulia.

    There’s one thing I’m not clear about: Who exactly does Trulia consider its customers? Who exactly do you target with your advertsing and marketing? Buyers? Or real estate agents?

    I ask because from your comments, it’s still unclear to me. From the Trulia comments above, it’s safe to assume that someday, someone will be charged for use of Trulia. Could you tell me who that will be?

  62. Hi Ryan!

    I respect your opinion but there’s nothing disengenuious about what I’m talking about. In the best interest of your seller clients, place your listings in as many cost affordable/free online places as you can. You never know where your clients buyer may be looking.

    There is no out of pocket cost to you to have your clients listings on Trulia, or for that matter, a host of other well trafficked sites. The buyers are there. They are making connections with agents. At the end of the day, it’s about helping your client sell their home, isn’t it?

    I guess we should all withhold all our data from google as well. Because without our content, google would dry up and have nothing to show. Now that really makes sense….


  63. Eric Bramlett May 1st, 2008 6:10 am

    Google isn’t a competitor.

  64. Ryan Ward May 1st, 2008 6:18 am

    Trulia –> real estate is not the same as Google –> search.

    Let’s make sure we are comparing apples to apples.

    My point is more about the idea that a third party site that does not have access to all of the data available, does not have the ability to engage in a real estate transaction and does not in any way bring something to the consumer that did not already exist be thought of by you, me or the consumer as an authority site. It simply is not.

    I’m not trying to be anti-competitive. I believe that you should exist and compete if you you wish. I just want everyone else to think long and hard before doing anything else that helps further the position of any third party website as anything more than one more cog in an ever growing wheel of places to throw up listings in the hopes that a buyer will find it.

  65. Hi Mike!

    I stand by what I said. It was an example. You can substitute “Trulia” for any other popular real estate consumer destination. In fact, I’ll add to it by saying the same logic applies to any other highly trafficked real estate website. If the buyers are there, why wouldn’t you want to be?

    “agents are concerned about their site ranking therefore they aren’t concerned with selling their clients’ homes.”

    I’m not sure what to say about this statement Mike. I hope it’s not used in a listing presentation.

    Trulia, just as any other non-brokerage real estate site, offers choices to consumers, agents and brokers. It’s your choice to use them or not.


  66. James Boyer May 1st, 2008 6:47 am

    Great work Galen, I can attribute no traffic from trulia, no phone calls about listings from trulia, not one customer from trulia. What I can say is that I get between 2 and 12 consumer contacts on my listings every day from my wonderful MLS/IDX solution implemented on my website. I have gotten 5 consumer contacts from since Jan 1 2008, 1 call from (Not sure how something of mine got on that site) and nothing from any other third party sites.

    Rudy, your comments about REALTORS selling houses, and isn’t that what we are supposed to do, sell the house, are very old and tired comments which are also a bit insulting. What Trulia does is get in the way, and make it harder to get the word out about our listings in a way that gets consumers to contact us.

    It is time for Trulia to start being a honest player and stop being deceitful with their content providers.

  67. […] My belief would be that, regardless of’s nofollow policy on the listings it solicits from Realtors, brokers …, if you’re building things right at home, you should be able to beat any out-of-town […]

  68. Hi Teri!

    Thanks for asking a really good question.

    We have main two audiences, the consumer who uses Trulia in their house hunt and the agent/broker that can use Trulia as a platform to market themselves and their clients listings.

    Overall, we are here to help consumers, agents and brokers. Participating on Trulia is free. You can add your clients listings for free, create a free profile and utilize Voices – all for free. This will remain free!

    You, as an agent or broker also have the choice to enhance your listings today and will have more options in the future. Endemic (real estate industry), and non-endemic (American Express, mortgage companies etc) have the ability to purchase sidebar banner advertising.

    I hope this helps Teri.


  69. Eric Bramlett May 1st, 2008 7:22 am

    Rudy –

    I believe the question was “who is your customer?” not “who is your audience?”

    How do you guys earn money? What do you do to earn that revenue?

  70. Awesome Investigative Reporting May 1st, 2008 7:25 am

    @ Rudy, can you comment on the one comment with regard to whether Trulia participates in any paid link exchange programs with other sites? How about non-paid linke exchange programs?

    As much as you would like us all to think that your traffic growth and your “more leads to brokers and agents” then any other media company, is due to your products, I think we are beginning to suspect that it is the result of some very aggressive SEO tactics.

    So please come clean. Are you buying links to help you corner the market on SERPs as has been suggested by another commenter here?

  71. David G from May 1st, 2008 8:04 am

    Hi, it’s David from,

    @Morgan –

    You are wrong about Zillow. All links from your listings on Zillow are followed by search engines.

    We greatly value the partnerships we’ve formed with agents, brokers and MLS’ and we understand that you have a choice as to where to post your listings. Attracting traffic via SEO is an important objective for all of our listing partners and so we’re eager to help them achieve that goal. We firmly believe that if we make you successful you will probably return the favor by using our site. It’s also important to note that Zillow’s working hard at building a high-performance advertising platform so that it’s our ad customers and not our content partners that we derive the bulk of our revenues from.

    Check again; Zillow does not block search engines from following links from your listings. We have never done so and we don’t plan to.

    @Eric – thanks for your response.

  72. Hi all!

    Let me be absolutely clear – our traffic is not the result of a link buying program. That is a misunderstanding based on a white paper on Weichert’s online strategies.

    This has been a good – well, at least eventful – back and forth, but I think it’s better for us to address all issues in a post on Trulia Blog.

    So please stay tuned.


  73. Chris McKeever (CRT) May 1st, 2008 8:18 am

    I’m a fan of leveraging these sites for what they are worth:

    I am also a fan, of making sure you watch your ROI.

    These companies are built for the consumer, from the ground up with the ultimate technology – something, unfortunately, is increasing harder for the individual agent to achieve..let along the broker. We need more Houston Area REALTORS consumer sites, and a lot of this noise goes away

  74. Teri Lussier May 1st, 2008 8:22 am

    Happy May Day to you too, Rudy!

    The reason I ask about your customers is this: Your comments here imply that Trulia is probably not targeting a typical BHB reader. I don’t have demographics, I’m making assumptions about BHB readers, but perhaps we are smaller, independent agents and brokers.

    Your comments like “I guess as the saying goes, if you don’t like the show, change the channel. This is America you know.” Lead me to believe that you are not neccesarily here to convert non-believers. Which could mean that Trulia is targeting large corporations, not independent persons, brokerages. I’m sure that Trulia doesn’t mind if individuals post content, but ultimately, that’s not who Trulia expects to be buttering their bread?

    Maybe I’m making leaps here but I’m really just trying to figure out if I like the show, or should I change the channel…

  75. Morgan Carey May 1st, 2008 9:01 am

    @ David G from Zillow

    I am not sure I can swallow that: Please see the following code sample from Zillow’s listing details pages:

    The “onclick” method inserted into this link html as a method of tracking negates any link popularity benefits of said link, this is the exact same method used by PRweb in press release syndication for tracking purposes and you might want to read the Matt Cutts article posted above where he confirms that there is zero benefits from these link.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think that I am. Perhaps you could provide some evidence to contradict this? I would be happy to propose a test – I can give one of my clients a new site on a new domain, and we could submit listings to zillow (Assuming I can find a client that is willing, but we have many that already use Zillow, so should not be a problem) – This domain will have no other links to it and will not be known to others during the test – it would be quite easy to verify if spiders were reaching said domain via Zillow and getting indexed. Shall we test this out? (It would actually be cool if I was wrong, because then I have yet another place to get my clients links from, which is always a good thing)

  76. Morgan Carey May 1st, 2008 9:03 am

    Errmm sorry about that greg, not trying to embed a link, I actually posted some source code as a sample let’s try this:

    onclick=”trackPAL(this, ‘OfferInfoLink’,, paltrack.zpid, paltrack.zuid)” href=””

  77. David G from May 1st, 2008 9:35 am

    @Morgan –

    I just spoke with Drew; he clued me in to your conversation. I wanted to follow up with some more details.

    Onclick is a javascript mechanism used for tracking clicks. It’s certainly not intended to blog SE-bots. As you may know, google hasn’t been very clear on this issue but you should note that SEO guru Andy Beard has proven that onclick can pass pagerank. You’ll find Andy’s analysis here:

    We’re keeping an eye on this issue. If you learn anything new please let me know. If we learn that switching to another mechanism for counting clicks would also measurably improve the SEO benefit to our partners, we’d obviously be interested in making that change.

    The other topic that you and Drew discussed was indexing. Zillow certainly has of room for improvement there. We’ve made some recent gains and also have projects in the works that will ensure that the majority of the site is indexed.

  78. David G from May 1st, 2008 10:19 am

    @Morgan –

    I posted a detailed response to your earlier comment but it may be stuck in Greg’s spam filter. I’ll try again.

    I think you are wrong but if not, we’ll obviously look for another mechanism for counting clicks. The javascript onclick mechanism is certainly not intended to block search engine traffic.

    It’s possible I missed it but I’ve read the article you linked to and it doesn’t seem to address the onclick issue. Andy Beard has in fact proven that onclick can pass page rank. I linked to Andy’s post in my stuck comment and will send it to you offline to avoid getting stuck again. Please read Andy’s analysis and let us know what you think.

  79. Greg Swann May 1st, 2008 10:55 am

    I see no reason why these links from one of my listings would not search. Google should ignore anything within a properly-formatted HTML angle-bracket structure that it does not understand. It’s common to store software variables within angle-bracket structures, since each instance of HTML is supposed to ignore anything it can’t parse. The “on” events are so common that for Google not to have dealt with them would be absurd. This whole contretemps would be very easy to to test if anyone retains lingering doubts.

    (I forced line breaks to make the code fit the width of this page.)

    <a onclick="trackPAL(this, 'ZestimateHeaderLink',, zhpaltrack.zpid, zhpaltrack.zuid)"
    href="" target="_blank"
    class="external"><span>See listing
    <a onclick="trackPAL(this, 'OfferInfoLink',,
    paltrack.zpid, paltrack.zuid)"

    Inlookers: Would y’all be so kind as to Stumble this post. The general topic might be arcane, but it’s important.

  80. […] Truliamazing tricks of the trade: don’t link to your trusted partners, by Galen Ward. […]

  81. May 1st, 2008 11:11 am

    Truliamazing tricks of the trade: don’t link to your trusted partners | BloodhoundBlog: Real estate marketing and techno…

    Fantastic post highlighting the anti-agent linking strategies of Trulia. Make sure & check out the comments….

  82. Matt McGee May 1st, 2008 11:13 am

    Fascinating discussion. I’ll add something to the mix from an outsider’s point of view that won’t be popular:

    If I had a real estate client (my wife is one, so technically I do), I would say this:

    1) Don’t worry in the least about listings showing up on Trulia with no-followed links. Your listings are available all over the Web — on your own sites, on your broker’s/agency’s site, on, on Google, on Yahoo Real Estate, etc., etc., etc. So why worry about them showing up on Trulia without a followed link?

    2) It appears Trulia (and similar sites) are not likely to go away. AND, it appears Trulia (and similar sites) will only grow in trust where search engines are concerned. So, the question is, how can you use that to your advantage?


    1) Take advantage of the profile you get. Build out that profile with anything and everything the system allows you to put in there. Make it a great source of information about YOU.

    Why? Because, as a trusted/authoritative domain, that profile page is very likely to show up in the Top 10 when someone searches for your name. It’s a great way to do reputation management. Potential clients ARE researching you before they hire you. You want to control as much of the Top 10 when people search for your name as possible, and you want the SERPs to say good things. The more of the Top 10 you control, the less likely that a blog post from the idiot client who blames you for his unkempt house not selling gets in the Top 10.

    2) I’m guessing most of you have multiple sites/domains in your control — your web site, your blog (if it’s on a separate domain), your agent page on the company site, other profile pages, etc. So, point some links from these sources AT your Trulia profile to help it rank more highly and get into the Top 10 on name searches. As a trusted domain, there’s a good chance your Trulia profile can outrank your own web site — so make sure the profile acts as a mini web site for you.

    (This happens quite often in non-real estate industries, where a small company’s Citysearch profile will outrank the company web site because CitySearch has authority and trust.)

    If the links on your Trulia profile are no-followed, take advantage of that. Send some of that link juice out where it needs to go.

    You may not like Trulia, but it’s probably not going away anytime soon. So why not take advantage of it?

    I’m not employed by Trulia, have no personal or business relationship with Trulia, don’t know who the Trulia reps posting in this thread are, and I don’t think I’ve ever visited, either, for that matter. I’m just a marketing guy who believes in making the most out of opportunities that are out there. And a profile page with followed links on a trusted domain fits my definition of opportunity.

  83. Eric Bramlett May 1st, 2008 11:17 am

    Man….I strongly disagree w/ “point links at your trulia profile.” You’re only feeding them more PR. If you’re going to actively promote a profile page, promote on AR, REW, Realtown, etc… – any non-competitor site that easily ranks well.

  84. Greg Swann May 1st, 2008 11:26 am

    I think this is brilliant, Matt. I built out my profile the day I got my first click through from it. Until then, I had treated it rather like a bulletin board at the super-market, a place to hang a business card. But just one click is work $9,000 to $15,000 to me. Why not spend a few minutes to make something that’s worth that kind of money.

    I have other ideas along these lines — more ideas than time to effect them — but the bottom line is that we make money from conversions, not from our SERPs

  85. Teri Lussier May 1st, 2008 11:27 am


    I think your thoughts will be popular, and this is pretty much the same conclusion I’ve come to after reading all this.

    Trulia appears confident in what they have, at least for the near future. And it is free for now. So while I see no reason to spend time boosting their site when they are not likely to do much for me in the long run, it’s probably a good idea to become a (vampiric) user in the short term.

  86. Matt McGee May 1st, 2008 11:31 am

    I would do that, as well, Eric. I assume AR = Active Rain? I can’t claim to know much about the others you list, but my point remains the same: if Trulia isn’t going away, and is gaining trust/authority, and is offering SOME opportunity, why not take advantage of it?

    I would say the same about Zillow and other real estate portals. I would say the same about Yelp, Citysearch, and other non-real estate sites that offer business listings on trusted domains. These are authority sites that you can piggy-back on, followed links or not. Don’t worry about the listings — people can get them anywhere. Worry about marketing yourself. Own that Top 10 for your name. Use all those profiles to your benefit. The more pages/sites you control, the more bullets you have in your gun.

    I’ve never seen evidence that home buyers do Google searches for the address of a home they like. (Has anyone?) They’re much more likely to do a search for the agency or agent, aren’t they? (I know my wife gets many natural search referrals after people search her name. Never when they search a listing’s address.)

    So the fact that a Trulia page outranks you for a street address search – so be it. No one searches that way. They look for the agent or agency, and that’s why you all need to own the Top 10 for your name, and that’s where sites like Trulia can help.

  87. G. Dewald May 1st, 2008 11:33 am

    “the bottom line is that we make money from conversions, not from our SERPs”

    Absolutely. But there is a natural chain from SERP (Attention, in the Attention-Interest-Desire-Action pipeline) to conversion.

    However, if your time and money is limited, getting people closer to Action (i.e. on a site about buying real estate and looking for specific types of real estate or asking specific questions about specific properties) is more valuable than ranking well on the SERPs for generic searches.

    I wanna see the $9000 business card at the super market too. 🙂

  88. Greg Swann May 1st, 2008 11:41 am

    > I’ve never seen evidence that home buyers do Google searches for the address of a home they like. (Has anyone?)

    In Phoenix, people will search the neighborhood, the street name or the street address for trophy houses — a big part of our business — which is why we spend so much time building our strength on those long-tail SERPs. In other neighborhoods, they remember the photo of the Bloodhound, which also makes us easy to find. We don’t live or die by search engine results, but we built the brokerage to be inherently findable.

  89. Teri Lussier May 1st, 2008 11:42 am

    >I’ve never seen evidence that home buyers do Google searches for the address of a home they like.

    I get hits for addresses of homes I blog about on a regular basis. Months later, in fact, long after they’ve sold. One neighborhood hit has converted to buyers.

    Not to tangent here, but that’s another reason I’m jazzed about engenu- googlicious addresses! yummy.

  90. Eric Bramlett May 1st, 2008 11:43 am

    I second that, Greg. People have the craziest search habits. There are buyers that search for MLS #s on Google.

    Matt, my main point was not to link back to your Trulia profile. I definitely agree that, if they’re going to give you a profile, take the 10 minutes to fill it out. Just don’t link to them. If you’re going to link to something you don’t control, link to something that’s not going to compete with you.

  91. Greg Swann May 1st, 2008 11:45 am

    > I wanna see the $9000 business card at the super market too.

    What you’re looking for is the two-sided touch-screen flat panel video monitor as a yard sign. The web site, make contact, pre-qual calculator, page the lender, the works. It’s coming sooner than you think.

  92. Galen Ward May 1st, 2008 11:46 am

    Eric – I don’t think it’s what people are searching for, it’s that you might think you’re getting relevant links for your area, but you are not.

    And if you have the choice between ranking for your own site, where every inquiry goes to you and the phone number is yours or some other site, where your competitor’s ads circle your profile like a halo and users are a click away from forgetting about you, I’d pick driving traffic to your own site any time.

    Also, you 100% know how your own site makes money and your own site will not nickel and dime you when it’s having tough times. VC-funded beasts? You’ll only find out when they run short of cash or start to “monetize” they userbase.

  93. Matt McGee May 1st, 2008 11:53 am

    @Greg & @Teri — very interesting. I don’t think the search-for-a-street-address trend has hit our area yet, or maybe my wife just isn’t getting trophy listings. 🙂 (Shhhh, she might be reading this!)

    @Eric – fair play, but I would link to anything that helps people learn about me and helps me own the Top 10 for my name. You guys know more than me about how good/bad your Trulia profile page can be, so if it’s a piece of junk — yeah, maybe I wouldn’t link to it. But it seems to me that they’re giving you a weapon, so why not use it? (Sorry for the gun analogies…)

    And I still don’t understand the fascination with where your listings show up. They show up everywhere. What sells you as an agent isn’t ownership and display of your listings, it’s how you market them … and how you market yourself.

    Okay, I really do have actual work to do today, so off I go. Great discussion. I’m glad my wife suggested I read Bloodhound a while back…..

  94. Eric Bramlett May 1st, 2008 12:02 pm

    I 100% agree that you should own the Top 10 for your name. There’s some pesky minister in Illinois that keeps grabbing a spot or two for mine. 🙂

    Here are 10 places that you can optimize for your name that provide good profiles, rank easily, and won’t compete with you on the SERPs, or charge you for “enhanced listings”:

    1) Your own site
    2) Your site’s blog (indent)
    3) Real Estate Webmasters
    4) Active Rain
    5) Realtown
    6) Linkedin
    7) IdeaMarketers
    8) Myspace
    9) Facebook
    10) Ezinearticles

    There you go, guys! Now you don’t have to build links to a competitor!

  95. Teri Lussier May 1st, 2008 12:03 pm

    Just to be clear- I don’t work in the world of trophy listings. These are starter homes, one is just like the other, and it’s Dayton Ohio, not some tech savvy area.

    People know they can google an address, and when they do- there I am! It’s a beautiful thing. 😉

  96. Mary McKnight May 1st, 2008 1:39 pm

    Great observation, Galen. Oh for the fear of PageRank Leak. PR Leak is one of the hottest topics in SEO right now. You leak PR when you link out to other sites- or to other pages on your own site that have little to no contextual value (like a form or sign up page). It is recommended tat you sculpt PR through the strategic use of the no-follow tag. but in this case you need to balance the value of your partners against the value of hoarding PR on transitory pages (which listing pages are).

    Honestly – I am choosing to believe they just have bad SEO advice instead of making a decision that would effectively alienate their tech savvy partners/early adopter users. There are better ways they could sculpt PR and still show up well in the SERPs for their queries. They need to hire a real SEO firm or on staff SEO guru that can help them balance these issues and use the available techniques better. This is clearly a big mis-step that they should correct immediately if they want to entice Realtors to supply listings.

  97. James Boyer May 1st, 2008 1:41 pm

    Hi Greg Swan, I see buyers google MLS numbers all the time looking for property addresses, well I assume they are looking for property addresses. so if there is something that has the mls number out there it will come up in the search.

    I believe the trulia posts the mls number as well as the property address, so giving these people what they are looking for.

  98. Mary McKnight May 1st, 2008 1:46 pm

    Addendum: Because we use RSS feeds from MLS’s that show street addresses and MLS numbers- I can PROVE that people DO search for both of those items. I believe I posted an article earlier this year that showed a screen capture of our back end search stats for a Realtor using the feeds that clearly shows regular street address and MLS# searches.

  99. G. Dewald May 1st, 2008 1:55 pm

    I monitor a fair number of sites and can confirm that MLS# is used on occasion, definitely deep in the long tail. However, someone searching on an MLS# is likely very well along in terms of making a purchase decision compared to any other search term (they’ve narrowed their interest and desire down to a specific property).

    They could also be a savvy competitor. I haven’t yet been commissioned to study the conversion rate of MLS# searches vs other types.

    Someone might add here that “PR Leak” doesn’t lower your own Page Rank. Just in case anyone is confused by that.

    Good article on PR Sculpting can be found here:

  100. David G from May 1st, 2008 1:57 pm

    Zillow update: we found that we have nofollows on some of the links in the “about me” section of profile pages on Zillow.

    We’re changing this immediately; the site should be updated by the end of next week.

    In case you’re interested, the background here is that we mistakenly introduced nofollows to part of the profile page when we added nofollows to wiki articles. Zillow’s wiki had been abused by people posting spam links. Using nofollows is good practice for discouraging spam in common areas (like a wiki) but that argument certainly does not apply to partner provided content or pages like profiles.

  101. Kevin Boer May 1st, 2008 3:06 pm

    Won’t wade into the broader conversation here, but I can confirm from my own experience and my own logs that people DO frequently search for properties by their address. As re professionals, if we want to know about a certain property, we would go to our local MLS. Most “civilians” — unless they’ve recently done a home transaction — don’t know what an MLS is, and they go to the same place they do for most of their other online searches: Google, and to a lesser extent, Yahoo and MSN.

  102. Kevin Boer May 1st, 2008 3:23 pm

    …and to answer Eric Bramlett’s assertion that “Google is not a competitor.”

    Yes they are.

    Google hasn’t even begun to tap the potential of their Google Base product. If/when they do, you have to imagine Base would have an inside track on the SERPs.

  103. […] helps to drive more users. Recently, there has been some confusion or misunderstanding about Trulia in the blogosphere in regards to high search engine ranking. I think it’s important to address the concerns head on, […]

  104. Eric Bramlett May 1st, 2008 5:32 pm

    I’m fully aware of Google base. Google base results show up when you’re searching for particular products. It will stand to reason that, when you search for a particular address, the Google base listing (if it’s there) will appear at the top of the search results.

    Ryan Ward, Eric Blackwell, and myself will all tell everyone to withhold your listings from Google base (But why? I mean, they’re just providing us additional exposure – right?) Hopefully, some people will listen. If Google gets a hold of the IDX feed, our own personal web lead production efforts will be seriously affected.

  105. @ David G
    “Zillow update: we found that we have nofollows on some of the links in the “about me” section of profile pages on Zillow. ”

    Thanks for acknowledging that, David, because while reading this illuminating thread i went and added some links to my profile, only to see them show up as nofollow. I thought i was crazy with everything posted here to the contrary.

    But mostly regarding the wiki: i added a wiki to my site a year or so ago thinking it would be a nice web2 tool for community engagement. It hasn’t really taken off becuase i haven’t really invested the time in it…but boy does it get spammed. And i haven’t figured out a way to stop it and you can’t delete users in wikis. If you figure out how to stop the spam, pls pls pls share.

    As for the rest of this thread: everything originates from the listing. Some agent goes out and sells his/her services. From then on everyone else feeds on the commission: the broker, the co-op’ing buyer’s agent, every vendor out there trying to fleece realtors, NAR and, the MLS and their stupid rules and high fees and kickbacks to brokers, and online pseudo-listing services who figure out ways to monetize the listing that they never had to generate.

    Can you see why a strong listing agent would be bitter, particularly in this market?

    Great thread, though, i learned a lot…I think. ;->

  106. Morgan Carey May 1st, 2008 9:58 pm

    @ David from Zillow – Not to take this to far off track, but that article from Andy does not prove in the slightest that onclick passes pagerank, it is nothing more than a flawed test with no real empirical data to back it up – and there certainly is evidence from more credible source (Aka Matt Cutts) that strongly suggests such onclicks are “not” spiderable.

    It would take some dev time (I think you guys have some to spare) but why not use an image replacement technique to overlay a unique image over top of a textual link, and then track the clicks on the image using logs?

  107. Greg Swann May 1st, 2008 10:24 pm

    > Thanks for acknowledging that, David, because while reading this illuminating thread i went and added some links to my profile, only to see them show up as nofollow. I thought i was crazy with everything posted here to the contrary.

    I just saw the same thing in my own profile. What I was talking about were the links to our single-property web site from the Zillow listing for the home.

    In other words, Zillow is allowing link love from listings, where Trulia does not, and not permitting the spider to follow links from the user profile, where Trulia does.

    David, I would have no problem if both sets of links were coded target=”_blank”. This is the way I write all links, and I almost never click on a link without my finger on the Apple or CTRL key. Zillow’s goal is not to hoard Google juice but just to retain your visitors. Forcing external links to open in another tab or window does the job.

  108. Morgan Carey May 1st, 2008 10:30 pm

    I don’t think it provides them with the tracking / metrics they desire though Greg (Which is a completely legit reason for implementation of tracking URL’s, there are just better ways to do it)

  109. Greg Swann May 1st, 2008 10:52 pm

    > I don’t think it provides them with the tracking / metrics they desire though

    Completely different issue. I would be amazed if Google isn’t reading past “on” events in <a>nchors. It’s too common for them not to have dealt with it. I’ll know for sure in 24 hours.

  110. Morgan Carey May 1st, 2008 11:30 pm

    I was not suggesting Google is not aware or has not “dealt” with onclicks, I was suggesting the matter in which Google has chosen to deal with them prevents them from passing pagerank.

  111. Alex from PDX May 2nd, 2008 1:10 am

    Google still needs agents to stay in business. I’m sure a large portion of their PPC is from real estate related words. If there is less agents and less money thats bad for business. But then you never know maybe Google wants to rule the world.

  112. I can’t believe I read through all those nonsense comments from Trulia and Zillow. I couldn’t care less if these companies pass link juice or not although its great that it has been pointed out. Fact is, why would any intelligent person go to a national 3rd party website that only has some of the listings when they could go to a good agent’s website that knows the area and has the complete MLS IDX on their website and can answer any questions a buyer may have? Then there is Zillow and their lousy comps that as agents we have to try to educate our clients after they have looked at that garbage and explain that their home is not really worth what they were led to believe, which is not an easy task since the seller wants to believe the highest number they see. If I was looking for a home I would want to see ALL the listings, not just some of them. So as a consumer I would recommend finding the best agents website in the area they are looking and if they are not comfortable with that and feel they need a large national companies website but still want to see ALL the listings try or one of the other brokerage sites. Why settle for anything less than the best!

  113. G. Dewald May 2nd, 2008 5:27 am

    “If Google gets a hold of the IDX feed, our own personal web lead production efforts will be seriously affected.”

    This has already happened in at least one market that I’m aware of.

  114. Greg Swann May 2nd, 2008 7:50 am

    > I was suggesting the matter in which Google has chosen to deal with them prevents them from passing pagerank.

    Just to clarify this, your claim is that an onclick in an otherwise normal href anchor will cause Google to treat that anchor as if it had the nofollow tag. Is this correct, or is there a better, more explicit way of expressing what you are saying?

  115. […] Galen Ward owned our minds this week, for good reason, but, if I can, I’d like to turn your attention back to the idea of the unchained epiphany. This has nothing to do with the conference and everything to do with why we’re doing it. Chris Johnson and his wife had a little baby girl named Heather. I’m sure he’s not busy enough, so I would point him back more than a year, to Shyly’s Delight for a glimpse of what I consider to be the fully-human life. You can sneak a peek, too, if you like. […]

  116. LocalAgent May 2nd, 2008 10:46 pm

    302 nofollow redirects are notorious in the industry for stealing page rank. Hijackers typically use them to pass of content as their own. Trulia is also passing themselves off as the orginator of the content to the search engines and therefore stealing page rank. Most agents are just not web savvy enough to see this. However it’s surprising that now that they’ve been caught they are defending the practice. There’s better ways to build a brand.

  117. Mike Farmer May 4th, 2008 4:40 am

    I had lost interest in this discussion, but went back and read it through — I can’t let this response from Rudy stand.

    ““agents are concerned about their site ranking therefore they aren’t concerned with selling their clients’ homes.”

    I’m not sure what to say about this statement Mike. I hope it’s not used in a listing presentation.”


    I was showing your flawed logic, not making a statement. You either didn’t understand or you purposefully twisted it — I hope you didn’t understand.

  118. Ryan Ward May 4th, 2008 6:44 am

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but, the primary purpose of getting my site to rank is to help sell my clients homes so that buyers find my listings on sites that I control with information that I create.

    I sort of let that comment slide also, but, I want my internet presence to sell homes, not Trulia.

    Why would I want to help create a 3rd party site to do something that I can do myself? Am I missing something?

  119. Hi! I'm Rudy from Trulia. May 4th, 2008 7:13 am

    Mike and Ryan,

    Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. Noted. My apologies. In the best interest of your clients, I support your effort to rank high in the search engines.

  120. […] Galen Ward is my new hero for publicizing the fact that Trulia blocks Google from following their links. […]

  121. Misty Lackie May 5th, 2008 11:55 am

    Matt McGee and Kevin Boer are right on the money about why Trulia’s page rank at the top of search engines. Unless Agent’s can get their sites content to be more search engine friendly, get tons of quality inbound links and have content on their pages that change every hour, they will never be able to compete in search engines.

    Isn’t it more important though to get your sellers listings out there and seen? Why does it matter if your sellers listing are found on Trulia or your own site? Shouldn’t it be about getting your sellers listings in front of buyers? Trulia and some of the other web directories have accomplished this.

    Agents site should focus on their services, local area information and yes include their listings but Agents can’t rely on their website or the MLS anymore. Agents need to come to terms with these changes and yes, get your listings on these directories. By not doing so you are hurting your sellers. The bottom line is – buyers are going to these directories and by not having your listings on them, you are potential missing out on thousands of buyers.

    Rather than seeing Trulia and some of the others as competition, maybe you should look at them as an additional tool to get your listings sold.

  122. Erion Shehaj May 5th, 2008 2:08 pm
  123. James May 5th, 2008 2:09 pm

    Hi Guys-

    We are forgetting that Threewide and their service ListHub does the same thing. Most brokers dont realize that once someone controls the traffic they control the store. Do a search and find a listing with Threewide or Listhub and you will see they take you to a landing page on their site first not yours!

  124. Michael Hamby May 5th, 2008 2:35 pm

    This has been a fascinating read. As a Realtor in Annapolis, MD I have been very successful in maintaining high rank on most search terms and even pretty well in the long tail searches. However; that being said Trulia is definitely making its presence known.

    Does anyone know if Drodio does the same thing as Trulia?

  125. Sapan Behar May 5th, 2008 2:52 pm

    Agents want their sites to rank well, so that they can sell their clients’ homes. Kinda like Trulia wants it’s site to rank well, so that it can sell advertising

  126. Andrew May 5th, 2008 3:53 pm

    This is hilarious. Is anyone here an authority on SEO? I can tell you that Glen Ward is not. Trulia has done nothing wrong with it’s use of the “nofollow” tag. Inman should issue an apology because they should have checked their facts before posting a very misleading article. In fact, Trulia is only following Google’s recommended usage of the “nofollow” tag. Why should Trulia pass pagerank from thousands of property detail pages to their respective advertiser’s page? Trulia could get penalized by Google for selling paid links. If does pass pagerank from each property detail page, then maybe Google should penalize them.

  127. Eric Bramlett May 5th, 2008 4:22 pm

    Andrew –

    I don’t know if I would be considered an authority on SEO, but I’m pretty knowledgeable. Google recommends using the nofollow tag when you’re allowing user generated links, when you don’t trust the site you’re linking to, or when you’ve sold advertising. Trulia is nofollow linking to the agent who provided the listing, on the page’s listing. Obviously, they trust the agent b/c they’re using his/her data as authority. The listings are not paid advertisements, either. In effect, Trulia is saying “we don’t trust the sources of our information, even though we’ve entered into exlusive agreements with many of them.”

    And btw – Morgan Carey is definitely considered an SEO authority. Re-read his comments, they’re dead on.

  128. Galen Ward May 5th, 2008 4:24 pm

    Eric – I think you nailed it. Random user-generated content should be nofollowed. Content from trusted sources should not be.

    And instead of a nofollow, they are using a sneaky 302 redirect.

  129. […] Galen Ward’s post on’s policy of adding “nofollow” tags to links … has elicited quite a bit of controversy. […]

  130. Mark A. May 5th, 2008 8:35 pm

    I’ve been following this discussion thread for days now, and I’m deeply troubled by Trulia’s cloaking strategy. For now, I have removed their widget from my blog (yes, I had one), and I am done syndicating my future listings to them (through vFlyer).

    Trulia seems to have a bigger problem though. This morning, I googled the address of one of my new listings that I had not syndicated to Trulia. Guess what: it showed up under Trulia, in first position on Google. I looked at the details. It linked to the website of an agent from my company whose office is 30 miles away. I called the agent to inquire about it. She assured me that she didn’t know about it, and that she hadn’t sent any info Trulia’s way. She claimed, the same thing happened to her. Now, I don’t know this agent. She may have lied to me. But the point is that Trulia does not seem to have any verification process in place to make sure that the listings they’re being fed are actually coming from a legitimate source.

  131. Greg Swann May 5th, 2008 8:59 pm

    > It linked to the website of an agent from my company whose office is 30 miles away.

    This is another level of problems in the Trulia way of listing, addressed briefly in this post. It’s possible that Trulia is getting your listing from your brokerage or from your brokerage chain. If that’s the case, the links back will always go to the highest player on the food chain. Your listings would link back to you only if your broker or your brokerage chain were not feeding listings to Trulia. If they were, they would take the click-through traffic and distribute it however they wanted to.

    Note that I am not advocating dual agency. But the person best qualified to deal with potential buyers for your listings is you. Trulia’s policy of disbursing listing click-throughs from the board room to the broker and only then to you seems agent-hostile to me.

    This is another case where Zillow comes out on top, in my estimation. If you claim your own listings on Zillow, by hand or by feed, you — the listing agent — will take precedence over all other feeds.

    Rudy B. and David G., jump in to correct me if I’m getting any of this wrong.

  132. Mark A. May 5th, 2008 9:11 pm

    > It’s possible that Trulia is getting your listing from your brokerage or from your brokerage chain.

    To the best of my knowledge, that is not the case.

  133. James Ferguson May 5th, 2008 9:44 pm

    Couple of things to add-

    Trulia is a vertical market portal only. There existance relies on the agents that send them listings. Compare this to Google, Oodle etc… they all have models that span multiple verticals not just one. Trulia’s game plan thus far has been to provide some great tools to get agents to send their data to them. Threewide which partners with Trulia and many others has been generating deals with local MLS systems all over the US and sending data to real estate sites including Trulia. Agents have no say in this, as the MLs makes the decision. That decision is based on Threewide coming in and claiming that brokers are sending data out nilly willy (Idaho Dictionary). So as a result you should trust them to take over your listings and leads to all portal sites online. At first blush a broker or agent may think it’s great as you can claim all the sites their homes appear on for listing presentations. However, when a buyer finds your listing you have lost control of how it looks and where it’s viewed. (Threewide like Trulia sends people to their own site not yours).

    Our firm has contracts direct with all partners and setting up feeds is fairly simple for most programmers. Having a contract keeps the relationship honest between us and the listing sites and allows us to pull out when we want. Some of our brokers had not known the issues with Threewide and allowed their data sent through them. We lost enormous amounts of traffic to our site in very little time as a result for these brokers markets. My analytics tracking showed a big spike once we opted out of their helpful feeds!? :-{ Leads and traffic are back to normal now.

    Dont be fooled, bottom line is as agents you have the power not them. If you are not sure whats happening with your data and the company who is supposedly helping you watch out. My job is to protect our company from these kinds of problems. I may not be viewed as a search engine guru, but I work for the 37th largest firm in the country and we are ranked top 3 of all top search queries for our markets. Thanks for the great article, I am glad to see more people are getting it!

  134. Ines May 5th, 2008 10:34 pm

    Greg, you are right. I syndicate my listings to Trulia through v-flyer and my brokerage gets the link. My information is nowhere on that listing. I mentioned that above and think it’s their major flaw – hopefully they will fix that (SOON)

  135. Jeff Tomlin May 6th, 2008 12:09 am

    Not sure why there’s a suprise here. I’ve mentioned on Inman that has been doing this for years. Is this about getting direct traffic for your listings or is this about a link exchange?

  136. Eric Bramlett May 6th, 2008 6:47 am

    Jeff –

    Would you like it if you provided a great, original article to an authority site who then featured it, but nofollowed any credit links to your site? What if that authority site was also competing with you in the SERPs?

    It’s not about a link exchange in the least.

  137. Jeff Tomlin May 6th, 2008 8:33 am

    Eric, that goes right to the heart of the issue. People typically publish articles to generate benefit – specifically seo benefit. There’s a difference between traffic and link juice. Trulia exchanges listing content for free traffic – that’s their promise. They can’t deliver on their promise if they don’t do the best job possible to generate traffic. It’s the same as buying Adwords from Google. Google does not provide link juice from Adwords. You’re buying traffic from Google, period. Trulia does however provide from their site in other areas as Rudy outlined in their response. I spoke about this a bit on my blog.

  138. Bob May 6th, 2008 9:32 am

    If Google gets a hold of the IDX feed, our own personal web lead production efforts will be seriously affected.

    I agree Eric, but they are not going in that direction. They are aiming higher.

    When GBase first rolled out real estate listings, I had the privilege of speaking at length on a few occasions with engineers involved in Gbase.

    The discussion initially revolved around the problem of duplicate content, as listings were being uploaded by anyone. Agents with multiple sites had their listings uploaded by more than one provider, brokers were uploading listings, and as happened in San Diego, an agent fed Gbase his IDX feed so his name appeared on thousands of listings. This craigslist type spamming of Gbase was unacceptable to Google, and the discussion moved in the direction of the best way to have a inventory, as Google’s goal was and is the entire inventory of homes.

    To that end they cut deals with brokers and local boards on a piecemeal basis, but as Googlers are fond of saying, “that doesn’t scale”, so they did some more homework.

    Fast forward 18 months. Google is now one of the largest voices in the deliberation over RETS standards. The goal is to standardize RETS so when you enter a listing in your mls, you can also check options for distribution to 3rd parties like Zillow, Google, Trulia, et al. They won’t need the feed, but you should have control over where it goes.

    This, however, is where Trulia wins the earlier “you are doing your client a disservice” debate, though. Rudy and Pete were likely biting their tongues, as they know the inevitable, and they win. The client doesn’t care where your site ranks long term, they only care where their listing is displayed for the immediate short term.

    But the point is that Trulia does not seem to have any verification process in place to make sure that the listings they’re being fed are actually coming from a legitimate source.

    No they don’t. When they first launched it was even worse, as they scraped IDX listings and the data was completely garbage. With a new RETS standard, though, that issue is solved.

    If you haven’t read Dave Phillips’ “How Do You Spell MLS?”, please do so. Then read Dave’s Big News on Data Standards and
    Update On New Data Standards for Listing Displays

    (Dave, thank you again for these updates)

    This debate over nofollow is pointless if you do not know the background and the future. The long and the short of it is this – these entities WILL have the bulk of the MLS inventory. It will be THE END to the NAR debate over the use of the MLS acronym. If you don’t want them to rank, then don’t give them a link and don’t use their widgets. Holding back listings though will backfire and will only make you look bad.

    Trust me on this one – Russ Shaw and the listing giants like him in each of our respective markets will use this against you. They don’t need their own page 1 rankings to keep making bank. They’ll be quite happy with Zillow and Trulia marketing their 100+ listings for them. They can’t beat the ROI and if there is one thing these guys know, it’s their ROI.

  139. […] ado about Galen Ward’s Truliamazing Tricks of the Trade! Greg has already written a fantastic post about the reaction, so I won’t spend any time […]

  140. […] Truliamazing tricks of the trade: don’t link to your trusted partners […]

  141. Rick S. May 6th, 2008 1:59 pm

    I asked a few of my sellers if they had ever heard of Trulia and they had not. After reading these comments from Trulia I will be pulling our data from their site, and I will urge others to do the same.

  142. […] me the most about the ongoing debate about Trulia’s no-follow outbound listings links (started here by Galen Ward, then continued here, here, here, and here) is not the arcana of the no-follow tag, not the […]

  143. john sabia May 6th, 2008 5:31 pm

    You commented about the ethics of Realtors not doing what’s best for the consumer by not placing their listings on Trulia. An argument could be made that your ethics are in question, because if you removed the nofollow and followed the links, agents might be more open to list their listings on Trulia and therefore it is Trulia who is not doing what’s best for the consumer. I’m not sure if your old enough to know the saying “people who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones.” Trulia is doing what’s best for Trulia. Agents need to do what’s best for agents. Trulia is not what’s best for agents.

  144. Eric Bramlett May 6th, 2008 5:51 pm

    @Bob – thanks for your insight. I agree that Trulia, Zillow, & GBase getting the listings is inevitable. The time to boycott Trulia & Zillow was a year ago. Now, we just need to get the word out that linking to Trulia & Zillow is bad business.

    @Jeff – the point isn’t really the SEO benefit from the links Trulia could provide. The links from the listing pages are pretty worthless. The whole point of the issue is that Trulia has an SEO strategy, and part of their strategy is to make sure they don’t pass any PR to their competitors (us.) That is why they choose to nofollow the links from their listings. Because they are sourcing information that they obviously deem credible, and they’re not selling advertising space (only priority space through featured listings) it’s not the right time to use nofollows, as they were intended. It might possibly be construed as correct use to nofollow the featured listings, but definitely not all listings.

    It’s ironic, b/c the amount of SEO benefit they would give us simply changing policy and dofollowing the links is miniscule in comparison to the damage to their reputation as a result of standing by that policy.

  145. James May 6th, 2008 5:56 pm


    Not sure who you are talking to, but the idea of an MLS and or a Google taking over listing distribution is absurd. Will they try? Sure… The MLS is a service organization run by the Brokers, they cant act on their own. ROI?? The whole point of an Broker is to market data for their sellers, but more importantly to know where their leads come from. Is it good ROI to give the traffic and lead control to another party?
    Take away the BS of online and you find the 60 40 rule is still there. 60 from print 40 from online. Print is not dead even though many from the tech world want it to be. Your reaction is a typical one from a techy not someone in the Real Estate business. RETS has been a long drawn out process, I have been to some of the meetings and quite frankly Google is not the one pushing this, NAR is. NAR works for the Realtors not the tech community. The point behind RETS is simple, to standardize data across disparate regions and even countries. The belief that somehow its a foredrawn conclusion that Google and others will get all data is simply wrong. Those of us in the business running the feeds out the door are well aware of the intentions of other companies taking over. It’s simply not happening.

  146. Andrew May 6th, 2008 6:06 pm

    Regardless of what you think about Trulia, it is futile to continue debating the “nofollow” issue. MLS content is a commodity now. There are dozens of websites like Trulia out there. Are we going to monitor all of them? While all of you are worried about Trulia, there are dozens of other companies behind them who will continue to innovate and change the rules of the game. Trulia, Zillow, Roost, Estately, Google Base, etc… take the same data and slap on a different interface. Not exactly a big innovation. The teams that focus on customer data instead of property data win.

  147. Eric Bramlett May 6th, 2008 6:10 pm

    I wouldn’t agree that it’s futile. There are many agents getting a very basic SEO lesson right now – don’t link to your competitors.

  148. Andrew May 6th, 2008 6:22 pm

    Actually it is futile and I wouldnt really call this an SEO lesson. However it is a lesson about the dirth of SEO knowledge in the real estate industry. All of the SEO freelancers out there should view this a big opportunity to help the industry. There is no magic bullet to improve your rankings. Trulia is not in the wrong for using the no-follow tags, I cant believe this debate has gone on for so long. I dont expect to improve my rankings by syndicating my listings to Trulia. If I did, that would be a blatant attempt to game the google system and I am sure Matt Cutts (Google Guy) would quickly detect this and flag the links.

  149. Eric Bramlett May 6th, 2008 6:30 pm

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that followed links from Trulia would be a magic bullet – the links from the listing pages would be very low quality if they were followed. This is helping agents understand that Trulia is a search engine competitor. You want to help me out with “dirth?”

  150. Ryan Ward May 6th, 2008 6:33 pm

    There is nothing to throw up any flags at all. It’s referred to as sourcing your data. It’s not paid, so there is no reason to nofollow it and there is nothing else in it that would be a red flag.

    They are simply hoarding PR to help rank higher than agents. Fine. I get it and most of us get it. But, what happens when they rank a little higher than now?

    We have already heard Rudy basically tell us that we are doing our clients a disservice by not using trulia now.

    Let them rank a little higher and they will hang us if we don’t pay to list our homes there.

    What we need to understand is that the more successful that they are, the easier it will be for other companies will be able to stir up venture capital and pass you by as well.

    There is a trend here and it is not that the local guy will be number one if we (as a group) don’t wise up.

    It’s our data. They should not have the upper hand here.

  151. Misty Lackie May 6th, 2008 6:51 pm

    Andrew – your comment is probably one of the most to the point, accurate comments made on this entire thread and it’s coming from someone whose site ranks well and above Trulia for “Hawaii Real Estate”. You don’t see Trulia as competition because your site is properly optimized and well constructed. If Agents focused more on properly structuring their websites or pay an SEO specialist to do it then they wouldn’t be here blaming Trulia for their poor web ranking. A few follow links to your website from Trulia isn’t going to help your own website much. I can sit here and explain why and provide a ton of advice on what Agents should be doing to get their sites better ranking but seems like this entire thread has turned into blaming Trulia for Agents poorly optimized, static, out-dated sites. Stop blaming Trulia and others for your sites not ranking well. Instead look at your site, blog, etc. and invest some money into it. If you are not willing to do that then you should be looking at Trulia and the others as a traffic generator to a site that you would rather not pay attention to. Again – sorry of this sounds harsh but it is what it is.

  152. Andrew May 6th, 2008 6:51 pm

    Eric – Congratulations, you just made my point. The links would be “very low quality”. Plus Google would probably flag them anyway, which makes this issue and all of your comments to follow irrelevant. The fact that this is a story is laughable too. Focus on your content and the functionality of your site. You have a decent blog. Syndicate your listings to as many site as possible, but dont give up Days on Market and Sold data. Stop worrying about low quality links from a vertical portal like Trulia and get in front of your clients. Thanks for flagging my “derth” typo.

  153. Eric Bramlett May 6th, 2008 7:01 pm

    >>>Agents focused more on properly structuring their websites or pay an SEO specialist to do it then they wouldn’t be here blaming Trulia for their poor web ranking.

    Misty – I think you’ll find that the most vocal of Trulia’s detractors here all have high ranking, properly optimized sites.

    @Andrew – sorry for the snide comment. You & I are talking about 2 different things.

  154. Bob May 6th, 2008 9:48 pm

    Take away the BS of online and you find the 60 40 rule is still there. 60 from print 40 from online.

    James, where do you get those stats? Circulation for many large dailies is down by as much as 50% on weekdays and 35% on weekends (my data comes from the Tribune Publishing Co). The publisher of the NY Times has stated that they may not even have a print edition in 5 years. Their entire goal is too transition to solely an online entity.

    Your reaction is a typical one from a techy not someone in the Real Estate business.

    I have extensive experience in both worlds. I’ve been in real estate for 19 years. I’ve been online since 1998, well versed in online marketing, SEO and domaining. I also know something about RETS, having built the first VOW in San Diego aside from ERealty and still involved in the development of new IDX services. I can assure you that one of the top priorities for most agents polled is the ability to push their listings to as many online marketing venues as possible.

    The belief that somehow its a foredrawn conclusion that Google and others will get all data is simply wrong.

    While Google wants all the listings(“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”), they’ll get whatever data listing agents want to push to them. Given that exposure, few will choose not to over time. It will be as expected as a listing on

    I can tell you that the biggest producers in San Diego have all made online their priority over print. Listing agents that can get free exposure will consider that pretty good ROI.

    The whole point of an Broker is to market data for their sellers, but more importantly to know where their leads come from.

    Market data for their sellers? What does that mean? The seller doesn’t care where the lead comes from – they just want the property sold. They want to see it everywhere online and listing agents with loads of inventory take advantage of that.

    Is it good ROI to give the traffic and lead control to another party?

    As a listing agent, I don’t care where the buyer comes from as long as they close escrow. Since it costs me nothing, yes, that marketing is considered a pretty good return on investment, but I’m not giving up control.

    I understand the sentiment here. I was an early adapter to using others’ listings to generate buyers and I have lived and died on that model. The problem is that the business model is flawed. All it takes is a handful of other well funded entities to intercept the buyer before me and either act as the salesperson or redirect them. Trulia, Zillow,, Google, etc have that ability and the redirect will be back to the one with the listing. That is why the big brokers are lining up to provide them their listings.

    As Eric said, the time to do something was last year. It’s too late now. Now you just adapt or get out of the way.

  155. James Ferguson May 6th, 2008 10:34 pm


    Circulation and viewers are not the same thing neither is printing just in the paper.

    So let me go through your responses:
    Print is where the eyeballs are, and not just the eyeballs the demgraphic you want. Print is very good at driving people in the offline sector online. It also provides a much better avenue for understanding the user you are getting. Most of the information you gave assumes all good buyers are online and throwing your listings anywhere and everywhere is a good idea. What most people miss is online is just a saturation market for what people are getting already.

    For example both, and Yahoo Real estate sectors will be spending heavily in print, tv and radio advertising. well over 60 million. Trulia and others like them can’t touch that reach or that amount.

    Sending data for free does not make it free. I assume you work hard to get your listings and the online side of what you do helps that. However, if the buyer who is going to buy your property is not online your seller is not helped. The 60/40 Rule has been out for some time. here is a blog link that shows some info you can also do a search and find a lot of data that shows percentages.

    The idea that ROI is upfront only is flawed. IE you send your data to a Trulia, they send you a few good buyers and you are hooked. Only problem now is they control you and you have no way of controlling them. Your ROI in the immediate might be good but long term you have really missed the boat. If simply sending data out to free listing portals is all it takes to sell listings why do sellers need agents? I would think you would understand that an agent and brokers value is much more valuable than just listing aggregation. Marketing is of course an important side, but it requires agents understand what that marketing is doing. Do you know for example if using Trulia and or Google has produced the buyers you expected or are they just giving you people you would have already reached?

    The conclusion that online companies will take over is nothing more than wishfull thinking on their part and really misses the boat. The gaps in marketing that Google knows exists is why they are trying to buy into Radio and Print advertising. If they didn’t think these spheres were important why would they do that? They do it because they know what I just explained.

    as far as doing something and being too late, the assumption here is far from accurate. The assumption is they control whats happening. This blog by itself proves that incorrect. As far as adapting, Real Estate companies already do that in great part. However unlike a trulia or Google we have invested time, money and sweat in making home buying laws and systems that protect both buyers and sellers. Trulia will either adapt or be gone, Google will either adapt or be gone. Real Estate companies were here long before them and will be here long after. Our strength is not in our data alone it’s in our negotiating skills and accountability to the public.

  156. […] Galen Ward posted a blog entry regarding Trulia’s so-called “underhanded” SEO (search engine optimization practices).  In most geographic areas a search for “san francisco real estate” for example will pull up Trulia’s website as the first result, burrying other relevant local real estate companies websites.  Ward believes this to be unfair. […]

  157. Milan May 7th, 2008 8:19 pm

    I think it really is selfish and dishonest of Trulia to nofollow the links to the ORIGINAL source of the listing information. The idea behind “nofollow” to my understanding was to deal with things like comment spam, not to selfishly withhold link value from trusted partners so you could dominate the search engine rankings.

  158. Bob Wilson May 8th, 2008 7:59 pm

    >Trulia will either adapt or be gone, Google will either adapt or be gone. Real Estate companies were here long before them and will be here long after. Our strength is not in our data alone it’s in our negotiating skills and accountability to the public.

    You cant be serious?

  159. […] come across this discussion thread, which in turn had been prompted by good investigative sniffing [sniff one, sniff two, sniff three] by the pack at Bloodhound, Symantec’s elite Taskforce Realty […]

  160. Halfdeck May 9th, 2008 12:33 pm

    Nice catch, but here’s the elephant in the room: Trulia is ranking mainly because they’ve got a big brand and people are linking to them editorially.

    Of course the 302 redirects create a PageRank blackhole akin to Wikipedia, and widgets – if enough people used them with the links dofollow – will boost Trulia’s rankings, but even without those gimmicks, Trulia is bound to continue to be a threat in the SERPs.

    A long term strategy against Trulia is for you to offer better value and for real estate webmasters to develop a collective SEO/marketing strategy (“live together or die alone”) instead of wasting time dissecting Trulia’s SEO tactics – which isn’t the secret of their success.

  161. Andrew May 9th, 2008 5:05 pm

    Halfdeck, thank you! You are one of three people on this list who understand the issue. Bloodhound and Inman should apologize to Trulia for sensationalizing a non-issue.

  162. Ryan Ward May 9th, 2008 6:10 pm

    “Nice catch, but here’s the elephant in the room: Trulia is ranking mainly because they’ve got a big brand and people are linking to them editorially.”

    Maybe. Maybe not. There is no doubt that there is some fanfare and buzz about Trulia as they are innovative if nothing else. Certainly this will lead to some very solid editorial links – many of which will likely come from many very solid sources. But how many? As many as they get from widgets? I can’t see how.

    So, I don’t think it would be prudent to discount their widgets as a source for what likely amounts to oh, I don’t know, maybe 100,000 links??? maybe 5 times that many??? from on topic sources. Many of which are pretty solid ranking sites…

    I think Trulia would have a difficult time ranking pages that are drilled down quite a distance from there homepage without such a diverse and on topic link portfolio.

  163. Eric Bramlett May 9th, 2008 6:21 pm

    If anyone has doubts about the effectiveness of widgetbait, you should take a look at SEOMOZ’s Widgetbait Gone Wild. Obviously, the topic of the post is a Google penalty for abuse of widgetbait. However, pay attention to exactly how effective the widgets are – and bear in mind that Google hasn’t yet made it a habit to penalize widgetbait.

  164. David G from May 9th, 2008 6:57 pm update: nofollow tags are (again) removed from profile pages’ “about me” (see my previous comments.)

  165. Halfdeck May 10th, 2008 5:34 pm

    “So, I don’t think it would be prudent to discount their widgets as a source for what likely amounts to oh, I don’t know, maybe 100,000 links???”

    Did I discount Trulia’s widgets? No.

    You should wake up to the fact that even without widgets Trulia is going to cause you grief in the SERPs.

    “But how many? As many as they get from widgets? I can’t see how.”

    You think sites like Wikipedia and Youtube wastes time submitting their link to and botw or articles to ezinearticles?

    Trulia already has a ton of authority – an index penetration of over 150,000. That’s what you should be worried about.

  166. Halfdeck May 10th, 2008 6:29 pm

    BTW, someone who’s got time on their hands figure out how many widget links are pointing at Trulia right now. Though I never claimed widget links aren’t helping their ranking, a solid number instead of pure speculation would put this discussion into perspective.

    “oh, I don’t know, maybe 100,000 links???”

    According to site explorer, trulia’s currently got only 160,000 backlinks, so 100,000 is a pretty high guestimate if you ask me.

  167. Ryan Ward May 10th, 2008 6:51 pm

    Trulia does some cool things on their site so they are going to get some editorial stuff. However, if they lose widgets and visibility on other websites, they lose traffic and they lose links…Is it the magic bullet? Probably not, but I think we need to start somewhere…

  168. Eric Bramlett May 10th, 2008 7:05 pm

  169. Eric Bramlett May 10th, 2008 8:33 pm

    Half –

    Run through the backlinks for just a sec and see what you think. Their widgets all point to internal, area pages.

    Here’s their Austin links.

    I’m not sure how to go about counting their links from widgets, but I think if you run through that profile, you’ll see that the lion’s share are from widgets. It looks like Number1Agent is putting links to them on all of their templates’ myhomes.asp pages.

    Anyways – take a look and see what you think.

  170. Eric Bramlett May 10th, 2008 11:45 pm

    oops…must have left the mouse a little too close to the beer bottle. Here is the correct link to the Austin links for Trulia.

  171. Halfdeck May 11th, 2008 11:47 am

    “It looks like Number1Agent is putting links to them on all of their templates’ myhomes.asp pages.”

    Hmm… well then maybe the one that needs a good spanking is number1expert, not Trulia.

  172. […] Trulia’s linking Strategies – Please read this and the comments, very informative. […]

  173. […] Galen first posted about Trulia’s aggressive no-following of listings links, it was a bit technical for many folks to follow, but it set off alarm bells everywhere. Then Eric […]

  174. […] that will actually cost everybody money in the long run… (much like Galen has done with his How Trulia tricks the unsuspecting post.) Unfortunately, attacking other REALTORS or services that have the best interest of REALTORS […]

  175. Eric Badgley May 18th, 2008 4:52 pm

    You know I googled an address on one of my listings the first result was Trulia. I was amazed, unaware that we even send our listings out to trulia. I was under the impression that we didn’t. My broker actually sent this post over to me through inman as a concern.

    Whats powering all of trulia is us and our listings, and our websites through the widgets. If you take a look at the site itself it has no content except our listings and our voices. When do we draw the line, without us they wouldn’t have a website. The least they should do is give a litte juice back to the broker sites.

  176. Halfdeck May 18th, 2008 7:52 pm

    “If you take a look at the site itself it has no content except our listings and our voices.”

    Yeah.. and Google proved its a very profitable business model.

    “The least they should do is give a litte juice back to the broker sites.”

    That would be stupid for them to do not only because they’re not running a link exchange but also because trading link juice for listings is against Google guidelines.

  177. […] spare you a rehashing of the controversy (more here, here and here) but today they’ve extended an olive branch to the Realtors they may have ticked […]

  178. […] compared with most of the ol’ dogs here, so it took the introduction of a pretty serious SEO debate to reel me in. I’m not here to grind this topic in. In fact, I think we’ve done a fine […]

  179. […] about ‘gaming the search engines’, optimizing pages for placement, the big debate about Trulia and its linking practices, or one of the many other ‘best practices’. All of which to me seem like you are trying […]

  180. Rick Belben June 15th, 2008 4:34 pm

    Wow this has been an interesting discussion. My wife keeps asking what I am reading for so long. I appreciate all the different views and have learned a few things about seo as well.

    I think it is time to go check my profile page on zillow and trulia.

  181. Sue June 16th, 2008 7:02 pm

    Trulia seems to have lost alot of ground in the search engines in my area over the past month.

  182. Bob in San Diego June 20th, 2008 11:26 am

    Now I’m left thinking one thing about Trulia: “What Would David G. Do”?

    David G. would see the benefit of all those widget links Trulia is getting and send out an email detailing their change of terms and REQUIRING a do follow link, whereas Trulia has said they have no problem if you modify the code and make it a no follow.

    From Zillow dated June 10, 2008:

    Clarification to Zillow API Terms of Use

    As a Zillow API partner, you are receiving this e-mail to alert you to an important clarification to the API Terms of Use. Specifically, we require that links to Zillow are “followed” and that you do not modify the code with a “nofollow” attribute. Please comply to this clarification by July 15, 2008.

    David G. would also request that the do follow links specifically link to the given area, just like many of the Trulia widget links do.

  183. Greg Swann June 20th, 2008 11:37 am

    Excellent work, Bob. So Zillow treats linking partners fairly but wants to be treated fairly in return, where Trulia doesn’t mind being mistreated but has no intention of treating linking partners fairly either way. One grocer never cheats, but prosecutes cheaters. The grocer across the street winks at cheaters because he is one himself. Where would you choose to shop? I don’t think anyone could have done a better job of unearthing the underlying morality of this dispute.

  184. David G from June 20th, 2008 11:43 am

    Yes, Bob.

    Not only do we have a healthy respect for the way the web was designed to work, but we expect the same of our content partners.

    If you feed your listings to Zillow, we will not abuse that partnership by adding no-follows to your links. Links are intended to indicate the source of content; for people and for google. Since you are the source of your listings, the only correct response to your decision to syndicate them to us is to credit you for them. In exactly the same way, Zillow is the source of the information provided in its API’s and so we expect our partners to credit Zillow as the source of that information.


  185. Halfdeck June 20th, 2008 11:51 am

    “Specifically, we require that links to Zillow are “followed””

    That violates Google’s TOS and Webmaster Guidelines. Links must be given editorially – otherwise from Google’s POV they are a part of a link scheme.

    Apparently either Zillow are ignorant of Google’s stance on link schemes or Zillow simply doesn’t care. Either case, its fair game for Google to bitchslap Zillow now in the SERPs.

  186. David G from June 20th, 2008 12:11 pm

    Halfdeck –

    With all due respect, you are incorrect. The truth is that Matt Cutts said that nofollow is intended to say “I don’t editorially vouch for the source of this link.”


    According to Matt Cutts and Google, when someone adds a nofollow tag onto links that lead to listings that were provided by a RE broker they are communicating to google that they don’t trust that RE broker as a source of that listing content.

    We don’t believe that that’s a healthy approach to content partnerships.

  187. Tim O\'Keefe June 20th, 2008 12:27 pm

    I once had a football Coach who said shut and compete. This is the game YOU chose to be online. So compete with them.

    Don’t say it isn’t fair, because thats right its not.
    Google isnt fair, Trulia isnt fair, and Zillow and anyone else.So go get your own links. Use Trulia for what they are, a traffic source. If you object then do not. If indeed their voices section pass on Pr then blitz the hell out of the Voices. The way to do that is to give general info and say how you really get into the nitty gritty of the subject over at your article at your blog or site.

    In my opinion thats what all this free space is for at Active Rain, Trulia, Social anything. Why would you build someone elses website up? Isnt that the big complaint about Trulia(and others are doing it too by the way)? So use the free space adding decent not great content and siphon off their traffic into yours. I am not saying write crap which is what most do and it doesnt work. But everything leads to your brand. Otherwise why spend the time?

    But in my opinion this whole Trulia thing was inevitable. Its too little too late to get the rest of the industry to quit this addiction.

    But to call this moral, or a break of a TOS is just nonsense.

    They took the MLS away from you. I mean you(your industry) gave the MLS to them.

    If you want to complain, complain against your Realtor organization who couldnt see the forest thru the trees ten years ago when they started charging you to be in your own website portal. After you financed it. You want to get into morality?

    They dropped the ball. Think of that next time you send in your check. I do not want to say I told you so, but I warned of this in several ways starting two or three years ago in my blog. Game over. Compete.

  188. Eric Bramlett June 20th, 2008 12:32 pm

    They took the MLS away from you. I mean you(your industry) gave the MLS to them.

    I hardly think that 50% of the listings (in my area) means they’ve taken the MLS away from us.

    From Your Blog, on BHB

    I do not support the uninformed postulating on SEO which is a conglomeration of ideas that are for the most part poorly formed opinions by many-not all- who simply do not not know a page rank from a link, from a nofollow to a dofollow and their purposes.

    That’s pretty funny. And blue/orange go fabulously together, btw.

  189. Tim O\\\'Keefe June 20th, 2008 12:55 pm

    50% is quite a bit don’t you think?
    If I am in Trulia and I am going up against you on a listing, and you are a conscientious objector, is it not reasonable that I am going to leverage that against you? When generally speaking Trulia is in every top ten listing for the short tale words across the country. They have reached critical mass.

    And surely they think so because they finally have the guts to charge to be on top of the free content. You only do that when you are not afraid of who you are p*ing off.

    Which is why I said Game over. Critical mass. So good marketing is to leverage their critical mass in the ways mentioned in my above post. Or whine that it isn’t fair based on a littany of ill founded SEO reasons.

    Even if the analysis was right is not the point(it wasn’t). The discussion is losing complete focus on the advantages they are giving you.

    A site gives you page rank, a link, or it gives you traffic. Get all of it, or a little. Rinse and Repeat over at Zillow. And so on.

    Thanks for reading by the way despite your aversion to the color mix. Style over Substance eh? Not I.

  190. Eric Bramlett June 20th, 2008 1:04 pm

    50% is game over? Seriously?

    Even if the analysis was right is not the point(it wasn’t).

    Ad hominem arguments are great b/c you’re not burdened with actually addressing the issue.

    Style over Substance eh?

    Or neither. I found nothing earth shattering, mildly entertaining, or elementary on the subject of SEO over there.

  191. Halfdeck June 20th, 2008 1:10 pm

    No, David, you are the one who is incorrect.

    No one can force or demand other webmasters to not use nofollow when linking to them. Once that demand is made and a webmaster complies, that link is no longer editorial.

    I link to you with dofollow so you link back with dofollow – that’s nothing more than a classic link exchange. If I link to you I link because I feel like it. That is editorial linking in a nutshell.

    Think of rewriting your TOS otherwise your competitors and the blogosphere may have a field day with Zillow.

  192. Bob in San Diego June 20th, 2008 1:13 pm

    we expect the same of our content partners.

    Links are votes. Votes are meant to be given freely. Requiring a do follow link is not the same as vouching for a site.

    David, what you are missing here is that your API partners are basically affiliates and can be treated by Google as such. As a result, having a large site that may give you 1000s of links is risky for that site. Affiliate links are frequently no followed and Google has suggested as much.

    One could also easily argue that your requirement of the do follow in exchange for the API makes it a paid link.

    FWIW, I’m thrilled that you are taking this stand because the downside risk for Zillow in the SERPS is huge if you lose.

    Greg, I don’t see any of this as cheating or a moral issue. People are free to link to Trulia or Zillow if they wish, regardless of how link juice is directed. Trulia offers it one way, Zillow another. What they do on their own site is up to them. The difference is what they require coming back. Trulia is offering s tool to their partners with no strings attached. Zillow is not.

  193. David G from June 20th, 2008 2:36 pm

    Halfdeck –

    My source is Matt Cutts from Google and Rand Fishkin with SeoMoz. Care to quote your source?

    Also; you totally misunderstood me. I’m guessing you don’t work in real estate. The listings scenario I mentioned above has absolutely nothing to do with a exchanging links. Let me know if you’d like to jump on a call – I’d be glad to explain this.

    Bob –

    “votes” can be a good way to think about links but this is certainly not the presidential race. Linking, in this context, is all about quoting your sources. In publishing, in general, it is customary / polite / ethical / required by fair use (take your pick) to acknowledge your source. Same thing here. At Zillow we have invested heavily in our content and we share it liberally. We do require that our partners acknowledge Zillow as the source of the data we share. If you feel that’s unreasonable you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

    You are also further confusing this scenario with paid links. Totally different issue. Paid links are one of the three cases where Google’s guidelines (strongly) recommend using nofollows. The other two are a) internal pages that needn’t be found (like registration forms etc.) and b) community content that could attract SPAM, though Matt Cutts (Google) has said on that topic that “we don’t generally encourage this behavior, but if you’re linking to user-generated content pages on your site who’s content you may not trust, nofollow is a way to tell us that”

  194. David G from June 20th, 2008 3:03 pm

    Amazing the amount of FUD around this topic. FWIW, here are Google’s published guidelines for using nofollow’s:

  195. Halfdeck June 21st, 2008 2:01 pm

    “I’m guessing you don’t work in real estate.”

    And I’m guessing you don’t work in SEO. Demanding dofollow links is against Google guidelines. You are free to demand them – but then you open Zillow up to Goolge penalties. Your choice.

  196. Bob June 22nd, 2008 9:38 pm

    Linking, in this context, is all about quoting your sources.

    Nice try David, but the source is clearly acknowledged with or without the do follow.

    You are also further confusing this scenario with paid links.

    Not hardly. You are trying to justify a do follow as an editorial issue instead of a requirement. The obligation you are requiring makes it paid. It doesn’t matter if payment is not in dollars. In our online economy, the coin of the realm is a clean link.

    The entire paid links/no follow issue with Google has never been clear cut or consistent. The no follow was originally supposed to be just for blog spam, but Google has expanded that to include whatever it wants. Citing Google’s webmaster guidelines as gospel on linking is funny.

    My source is Matt Cutts from Google and Rand Fishkin with SeoMoz. Care to quote your source?

    Rand is not a source. As for Matt, are you are saying that you asked Matt specifically about those links? If not, I’ll ask him myself.

  197. […] Man: Pete Flint (Trulia). Come on, Pete, have a heart — ditch the nofollow tag on your listing pages and let the Lollipop Guild get a little Google Juice back for providing you with free […]

  198. […] has been caught in some allegations recently that question the integrity of the company, and imply that Trulia is […]

  199. […] rehash any of that here. If you are interested, you can read about it on the Bloodhound Blog here and here, my blog here, the REW blog and more here. It’s not so much that I dislike them, […]

  200. […]’s butt-surfing of its own listing partners […]

  201. MARK Z August 8th, 2008 7:45 am

    I don’t think most brokers have a clue about SEO. All they know is trulia is a site a lot of homebuyers go to, so they feel like if they are advertising there, then they are doing their sellers justice. If they would only look at little deeper at the negative affect this will place on their own rankings in the future. The sad part is by the time they wake up and figure it out, it will be too little, too late.

  202. Tim O'Keefe August 8th, 2008 10:23 am

    The great MLS giveaway has been going on for years. It wasn’t that long ago that was dominating the engines in the large phrases. I find it more disturbing that would first have the industry fund their online property, then charge big fees to the people it was supposed to support. They too had good rankings for broad terms.

    In affect a competitor, much like franchises are in affect competition too. seems to have fallen off the map.

    But in todays environment trading content for traffic is common. TRulia has played it as well as anyone. But need we forget Youtube? You can get traffic by providing content there. There are tons with this relationship. BTW YouTube blocks their juice like Trulia.

    In the end remember the tradeoff. Is it giving you direct link juice, traffic, or both?

    If in the case of Trulia, Active Rain or any other “free” ap make your content give you traffic if the ap does not give you link juice.

    All roads must lead back to your home.

  203. g. dewald August 8th, 2008 10:38 am

    Not sure that is entirely falling off the map:

    Content marketing strategies are great when you can provide unique content. MLS data is a very long way from being unique content today (it’s on your site,, Trulia, Zillow and all your competitors with IDX feeds). So best to find something unique in your content marketing arsenal.

  204. TIm O'Keefe August 8th, 2008 10:47 am

    <More specifically you do not see them on city + real estate as much as you used too. Which is the big argument going on here. “They are taking “my” positions away”.
    I would only bring up here that the traffic number for Realtor(if you want to trust it which is another whole discussion) I would bet is more than likely built on brand and off engine traffic than Trulia which I would bet is more engine dependent. Which is what has been the theme of the thread here-engines.

  205. g. dewald August 8th, 2008 11:28 am

    Agreed very much re: accuracy of all the competitive analysis tools. I was unsure about what was meant when you said had fallen off the map.

    This thread has covered a variety of topics and aspects of inbound marketing. What has interested me the most is the debate over the value of SEO vs the value of delivering actual site visitors. They are two different but related items.

    If the source delivers traffic does it matter if it also gives you SEO benefit? If a source delivers more traffic than your existing SEO campaigns is that a problem?

    Or is the problem one of competing with aggregators for SERP position? That seems to be the loudest argument but I’m not convinced it’s the most important, from a marketing standpoint.

    Yes, I have been following the thread: click my link just below the green ribbon 😉

  206. Tim O'Keefe August 8th, 2008 11:47 am


    How do you compete against sites that exist without the neccesity of making money?
    You can’t. So smaller marketers must learn to use these aggs. When admitting our own limitations we can then leverage the capabilites that these types of sites make available.

  207. […] is ranking pretty well for highly competitive real estate search terms. While their SEO tactics are extremely aggressive to say the least, in my opinion they do provide engaging content that warrants relevant rankings. […]

  208. Jennifer in Louisville August 27th, 2008 6:55 am

    Fortunately in the end, most consumers want/need a local real estate professional to represent their interests. No matter how many nifty tools (& tricks), the big nationals come up with – they can never truly be an expert for the local areas.

  209. Virtual Tour Software by Bruno R August 31st, 2008 4:14 am

    I find Trulias comments on this post very interesting.

    Trulias representative forgot to mention one of the most important reasons for not passing page rank and this usually is spamming.

    Websites that do follow and pass page rank are a good target for spammers.

  210. […] is ranking pretty well for highly competitive real estate search terms. While their SEO tactics are extremely aggressive to say the least, in my opinion they do provide engaging content that warrants relevant rankings. […]

  211. […] is ranking pretty well for highly competitive real estate search terms. While their SEO tactics are extremely aggressive to say the least, in my opinion they do provide engaging content that warrants relevant rankings. […]

  212. Edge - The Credit Crunch September 4th, 2008 11:12 am


    It seems to be less of an issue of passing juice and more of an issue of being “open” or “honest”. If Trulia is truly (rise above the pun, rise above the pun =p) using that tactic as an excuse for appearing as the original dot in the link trail, it’s almost walking a soft line with link fraud I’d imagine.

    Now, that above statement is mostly determined by whether or not the true owner of that content is even aware enough to know what happens, cares enough about it to bat an eyelash, and even knows what to do in that very case.

    I imagine most don’t and won’t. As we’ve seen here and on a couple other blogs, technical savvy isn’t the forte of many a Realtor.

    As Eric points out, the user-generated content is creating a goldmine for Trulia. But is there an implicit trade-off expected with some google juice for a listing? What if that listing results in a lead for a closing? Lots of plausible deniability there…

  213. Toren September 9th, 2008 11:36 am

    I just discovered this great article/thread. I have to agree in principal, sans the profile linking, with Matt McGee’s comments on using Trulia and other aggregator sites as marketing tools while concentrating on your own site for SEO/SEM optimization.

    The big aggregator sites are now established as authority sites, which means they will always rank well for long tail searches. Google Base has even more potential to capture the real estate consumer’s attention if/when Google pushes it’s presence. They are here to stay so use those sites to drive traffic.

    However don’t take away your own site’s authority by using things like Trulia widgets or any other “time saving/link building” tool the big sites come up with. With search engines placing more emphasis on local authority in their geo-targeted search results the opportunity for an agent to establish their site as “the” local authority on the market exists.

    Yes Trulia, Zillow, etc will show up in the Top 10 but as the local authority site you can usurp their position for targeted local searches. It’s not easy but with an SEO friendly site and intelligent link building it is possible and is frankly the only defensible position in the future for ensuring your leads aren’t stolen.

    FYI, sure looks like Zillow is now trying horde their own link juice with a combination of on site tags and an “interesting” outbound linking structure, e.g.

  214. David G from September 9th, 2008 4:14 pm

    Toren –

    Hi, it’s David G from Zillow.

    What you’re seeing in those links is just a tracking mechanism but those are clean links. There’s nothing preventing search engines from following links from listings on Zillow to brokers sites. Zillow actually stands out in this regard because nearly all other listing sites have refused to acknowledge brokers as the source of the listing by ensuring that search engines can’t follow links to brokers’ websites (most apply the nofollow tag to links in listings.)

    Having good domain-level authority for, say, “real estate” or even “seattle real estate” does not guarantee relevance for long tail search terms like addresses and so I disagree that that battle is lost. If you care about being the authority for the addresses of your listings then by all means, be judicious about who you send them to.

    A strong link building strategy should incorporate Zillow. Not only are links from listings followed but all links from your profile on Zillow are also followed. If I was a Realtor, I’d be figuring out how to use my Zillow profile to control more of Google’s 1st page real estate for the important keywords that my site already ranks for.

  215. Toren September 9th, 2008 6:18 pm

    Hi David-

    I absolutely agree merely ranking for real estate on it’s own does not guarantee that Zillow or any of the other aggregator sites would rank well for the long tail/address searches. When Zillow had URLs full of parameters and orphaned pages it wasn’t ranking for those searches.

    However, your company has solved those issues so the combination of excellent site authority and a relatively SEO friendly site structure has allowed you to rank for those terms. The new distribution deal with major national newspapers should only enhance your site’s authority making it an even more powerful presence in the search engines.

    That said I’m certainly not suggesting a broker/agent give up on ranking for their own listings, just the opposite in fact. More than ever building out a site that can establish local authority is the key to success for agents/brokers. It takes a lot of hard work and a level of SEO knowledge that few brokers/agents possess, which goes back to the original theme of this post, i.e. uninformed brokers/agents helping build up Trulia to the detriment of their own sites.

    As to the URL structure of your listing links that looks like a common link redirect, which Google does not pass link juice on. If you want a search friendly way to track referrals you would be much better off using a pixel image attached to a standard HTML link. I would love it if your links did pass juice but I’m afraid when you redirect a link it shuts down any flow of link juice to the outside site.

    I’m sorry if I’m coming off as negative, I simply am trying to point out that Zillow can be a tool for ‘controlling Google’s first page’ as you point out but it is not a great tool for a broker/agent’s SEO efforts, at least not with the current link code. The profile pages do pass link juice but they are also buried deep in your site so have less link authority to pass. I’m not suggesting as others in this thread have that brokers/agents withhold their listings, just be aware of what you are getting and giving.

  216. David G from September 9th, 2008 10:03 pm

    Toren –

    Not negative, just wrong. 🙂 Plug that link into this tool:

    Redirects can be search engine friendly and in fact have to be because site structures change all the time and for many good reasons. Your oldest pages often have some of the best inbound links so it’s important to 301 redirect them when you change them around.

    Links from listings on Zillow do pass PR.

  217. Toren September 9th, 2008 11:36 pm


    I have to admit when I saw the redirected link and all the no follow links, nothing nefarious implied -clearly link sculpting not hording, I assumed it was a 302 redirect not a 301.

    Well I must apologize those are indeed 301 redirects that can pass link juice. Not that it is the best reason for listing on Zillow, direct traffic and potentially owning a property SERP are far more important, but it is nice to know you are also getting a little bit of link love. Good job Zillow.

  218. […] is ranking pretty well for highly competitive real estate search terms. While their SEO tactics are extremely aggressive to say the least, in my opinion they do provide engaging content that warrants relevant rankings. […]

  219. lauren September 16th, 2008 5:39 pm

    all trulia has to do is ‘no follow’ a link if they intended not to pass juice; which if i were working for them, id recommend they do, as it would absolutely dilute their own authority & PR.

  220. lauren September 16th, 2008 5:40 pm

    sorry, i meant, *NOT* ‘nofollowing’ (ie do-following) would dilute authority & PR

  221. Hawaii real estate guy September 25th, 2008 1:09 pm

    @Misty Lackie – Even though Andrew’s site is well optimized and above Trulia, don’t think that he doesn’t see them as a threat. I rank above Andrew for the term “Hawaii real estate”, but I still know Trulia’s coming!

    But Andrew is right, they are doing nothing wrong, and we can’t complain against every site out there that aggregates real estate content. There is room for several players in each area, you just have to find your place among them.

  222. David G September 25th, 2008 3:58 pm

    FYI – the latest debate on this topic is on active rain:

    Hawaii –

    You should read google’s guidelines for using nofollows. Not one of the reasons that nofollow should be used apply to this listings syndication use case. Using a technology for something it wasn’t intended to do is misuse at best but in this case, abuse is probably more accurate since it’s happening at the listing partners’ expense.

  223. Laurie Manny September 25th, 2008 4:13 pm

    David, Calling in the troops?

  224. David G September 25th, 2008 4:21 pm

    Laurie – LOL – nah, I can handle myself. This thread has just been going so long it seemed appropriate to let anyone who was still following it in on the debate over on AR.

  225. Laurie Manny September 25th, 2008 4:27 pm

    lol, just playin with ya

  226. Skinner October 19th, 2008 7:25 pm

    I have several of my clients that told me that they love my website because that can find their properties there by typing their addresess. But when they told me that they love “that green color” I figure that they were looking at Trulia instead.

  227. Jim Grapes November 27th, 2008 6:14 pm

    I’m sure they want to leap up the rankings, capture leads and sell them back to us Realtors using the information we gave them for free.

  228. Sue November 28th, 2008 2:47 pm

    I’m sure they want to leap up the rankings, capture leads and sell them back to us Realtors using the information we gave them for free.

    This is definitely true. I’m still getting an error page on that Weichert link. One which I was curious since I work for Weichert. I know that Weichert listings are put on Trulia and the leads go thru Weichert…not directly to the listing agent unless they purchase a site thru Weichert. 🙁

  229. Greg December 16th, 2008 12:11 pm

    Seems to be a business model that working for them, but not winning any friends. Will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming months.

  230. Sue December 18th, 2008 7:53 pm

    Yes, it will be interesting to see how this business plan plays out as the agents become more internet savvy. There are always trade offs.

  231. R - Webmaster December 22nd, 2008 7:59 pm

    Yes, it will be interesting to see how the plan pays off, as not only the agents become more aware, but the larger referral sources begin to take SEO action as well.

  232. bpo January 6th, 2009 12:57 pm

    Its to late. MLS wont change its ways. Its up to the local agents to dominate local serps and provide access to listings without a registration page.

  233. Ruthmarie Hicks January 14th, 2009 12:58 am

    From Rudy @ Trulia:


    Oh MAN!!! The one thing about words like that is that you can’t take them back once they are out there. That was a mouthful and it reeks of blackmail. You should be ashamed of yourself Rudy.

    To be honest, I was on the fence about posting to the interest of my clients…but now – NO WAY!!!

    The behavior of all the Trulia employees has been very disingenuous throughout this thread…downright threatening and sly. Not good at all.

  234. Joe Lane January 15th, 2009 3:27 pm

    I stumbled onto this post doing some research on Trulia. In our small area we haven’t seen Trulia, Yahoo, etc., invade our search results until lately. At first I thought it was Trulia coming in, however, I’m now certain it’s my fellow not-knowing real estate competitors inviting them in. I wonder how long real estate agents will garner leads from search when there are so many big fish occupying the top spots in he results (and real estate agents giving them the top spots).