There’s always something to howl about

Oh, Canada! Your Zestimates are baking: is in the oven

So: My belief would be that, regardless of’s nofollow policy on the listings it solicits from Realtors, brokers and brokerage chains, if you’re building things right at home, you should be able to beat any out-of-town infiltrators on your own listings.

So I looked up “718 West Moreland Street”, which isn’t even my listing, but which I wrote about in my own Trulia post a couple of weeks ago. My links are coming in in positions 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Trulia is at number 6. Your mileage may vary.

Next up, “12214 West Madison Street”, which we listed 13 days ago. The home’s single-property web site comes in first and second. Trulia isn’t there at all yet, but guess who comes in third? Yes, its underdog victorious I tweaked David Gibbons a couple of days ago about his uncharacteristic silence, but I knew this meant that Zillow had to be working on SEO. With Zillow, you can learn a lot from the questions they won’t answer.

Here’s a third one: “1322 East Vermont Avenue”, which we’ve had listed for about a month. We definitely believe in networked cross-linking on our own sites, so as I look at my results for that search today (all of which might change at any instant), we’re coming in first, second, third, fifth and sixth out of seven hits on google, with the single-property web site again in the dominant position. is in fourth place, behind a weblog post I wrote about the Vermont house on — a PR4 weblog.

Can I call this established? If you’re building your own web sites properly, should not be able to beat you. Any disputes, disclaimers or caveats?

But here’s what’s really interesting: Position number seven is occupied by I don’t know how many houses there are in Canada, but it looks like they’re about to get Zestimated.

If a sphinx-like creature, his gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, should like to offer up some details, I’m all ears.

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14 Comments so far

  1. Dave Barnes May 1st, 2008 7:22 am


    You have Welcome home… to 1322 East Vermont Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85014 | Phoenix real estate: Sell, buy, invest, relocate with internet savvy Realtors
    for the title. I personally think that “For sale… 1322…” would be better as it would indicate to a buyer that it is available.
    Also, you should have a description meta tag.
    1. Google heavily weights the tag when indexing.
    2. Google [typically] displays the first 155 characters of the tag as lines 2-3 in the results.
    I suggest: A mid-century big ranch home on a big lot, on a cool, quiet tree-lined street with a shady front porch. Perfect for entertaining: a refreshing pool, a stately hearth.


    P.S. The page has extraneous end-of-comments.

  2. Ryan Ward May 1st, 2008 8:24 am

    Same results with me here on a single property site. 1 and 2 is the property website and 3,4 is Trulia.

    Your point is well made that it is more important to focus on our own things than scream about what others are doing.

  3. Greg Swann May 1st, 2008 8:27 am

    > Your point is well made that it is more important to focus on our own things than scream about what others are doing.

    Check, but I don’t have a problem with screaming about stuff. Galen’s post and the comments thread have been very instructive.

  4. Doug Quance May 1st, 2008 9:22 am

    >Ryan: Take a look just a little further down and you’ll see that Metro Brokers still has a preforeclosure listing showing on your property:

    (I would get on them about that)

    You’ll also see on Trulia that your listing is at least 30 days old (not helpful) and the web also shows that you apparently had a previous listing on this.

    While all this data may be fine and dandy for the buyer… it’s not a great benefit to the seller…

  5. David G from May 1st, 2008 9:46 am

    Geez Greg. I could swear you never asked me the question that you claim I never answered. But yes, we’re working on it. 🙂

  6. Doug Quance May 1st, 2008 10:03 am

    >Ryan: Scratch that – it’s your listing with the brokerage info in small type at the bottom of the page.

    My bad.

  7. David G from May 1st, 2008 10:08 am

    To clarify my comment above; the “it” that we’re working on right now is SEO, not

    That said, there’s significant interest in Zillow among Canadian real estate professionals and enthusiasts. We get more requests to launch a site in Canada than from all other international destinations combined. is redirected to .com and it would not surprise me if that url’s been linked to enough times to earn some nice page rank.

    We have aspirations for international expansion but building the foundation for our site in the US is our first order of business. At this stage I don’t suspect that we’ll launch an international site in 2008 but it is in our future.

  8. Greg Swann May 1st, 2008 10:11 am

    > I could swear you never asked me the question that you claim I never answered.

    The unwritten rules to “What would David Gibbons do?”

    1. If the topic is true and favorable to Zillow, expand on it.
    2. If the topic is true and unfavorable to Zillow, change the subject. (Rudy B.: Watch him do this; he’s a one-man master class.)
    3. If the topic is true and is not yet favorable to Zillow, but will be soon, say nothing.
    4. If the topic is untrue and unfavorable to Zillow, address it more in sorrow than in anger.
    5. If the topic is untrue and yet favorable to Zillow, laugh it off and hint that it might be a forthcoming feature.

    I know you have Google bots running to show you everything, so I read your silence as tactic #3. Was I wrong?

  9. Ryan Ward May 1st, 2008 10:16 am

    Yes. I see most of that, although I don’t see anything about it being a preforeclosure as it never has been???

    It’s true that you can find a great deal about a property if you know how to utilize the web and I certainly don’t need anymore reasons to not like Trulia, although I’m not sure that a listing being on the market for more than 30 days presents that much of a problem in this market. I can see it now – “Trulia screwed my seller because the buyer knew it was listed for a long time”! That doesn’t seem like such a great place to “Showcase my listings” now does it? Certainly seems to give more advantage to a buyer – definitely NOT what you want to do as a listing agent.

    Your point about what else is readily available in the search results brings up some excellent fodder for a good post about how to use search engine marketing to displace some of these results with more results that I can directly control by ranking other posts in those positions from other strong sources on the web. In this case, it was removed due to a death in the family, but, it still swings the bat in favor of a potential buyer.

    Thanks for the insight.

  10. Will May 1st, 2008 1:43 pm

    David Gibons has shown up on a few local blogs here saying they are not coming to Canada for the foreseeable future… they have their hands busy with enough stuff down there. As it is, they’ve owned that domain since 2002(wonder who the Canadian is who registered it as you must be a citizen/corporation of Canada to get it).
    I know they would be welcome up here by many… don’t know about professionals… seems there’s been quite the controversy between their zestimates, public perception, and reality. Has that changed?

  11. […] absolutely can and should rank higher than us as Google will find your local sites more relevant—Greg Swann talked about this on BHB today. In sum – we don’t remove the nofollows because it could negatively impact our ranking and it […]

  12. David G from May 1st, 2008 4:30 pm

    @Will –

    “Has that changed?”

    I suspect that Zestimate values will always be controversial. What has changed is that most real estate professionals have come to view Zillow as a marketing tool. That was a difficult argument to win when we launched and only had Zestimates on the site but now that we’ve added features for promoting agents, listings and loan officers, it’s become clear to most professionals that Zillow is a media company and that the site offers some great solutions for finding clients and selling homes.

    @Greg –

    You’ve partially got my number. I believe it’s as important to know when not to comment as it is to join the conversation so I’d add … 0) If you have nothing to add, don’t force it.

    The standard PR tactic of blocking and bridging (your #2) actually does not work in SMM. When you’re talking directly to your critics you must be prepared to completely and honestly address their criticism before you can move on to your pitch. If you don’t, you’ll lose your credibility no matter how much of a “nice” guy you are.

    For #4 I don’t recommend either sorrow or anger. Perception is reality. My typical approach here is to debate the flawed perception until there’s a common understanding. Then simply request a correction which should be a formality (if dealing with a rational person) once the underlying perception is changed. The caveat here is that ego can mess with this tactic so take it slow.

    In general, I encourage companies to discuss future developments with customers but you must to be judicious about it. Don’t talk about anything that is not certain and ensure you have internal support before you do.

  13. Norm Fisher May 2nd, 2008 6:05 am


    There are approximately 13.5 million households in Canada, and about 95,000 Realtor members of the Canadian Real Estate Association.

    We’ll welcome Zillow’s arrival but I know I’ll feel incomplete until we have a Redfin of our own.

  14. Greg Swann May 2nd, 2008 8:27 am

    > I’ll feel incomplete until we have a Redfin of our own.

    😉 I predict your dream will come true.