There’s always something to howl about


No, that’s not me with The Hoff and a Google Search Appliance, that’s Google’s UK Sales Mgr. will be a network of Independent brokers connected by a unique function – a natural language Real Estate search engine. Our goal is to create a true consumer benefit: A Google-inspired (and powered) natural language search experience that leads to a good, local independent broker.

The success of our network will be determined by Word of Mouth (or, more accurately, Word of Email, Word of Facebook, Word of IM, Word of Twitter…).

Here’s the thing about that: We, as the technical force behind the network, have no control over what happens after we hand a homebuyer off to a broker, but that is the part of the experience that will drive WOM for both the broker and the network.

Since we work on an exclusive territory basis to preserve the competitive advantage of a unique user experience, we need to be sure that we are working with the right brokers if we want to see that WOM, so we are being selective about who we hook up to the network.

That’s why I am announcing RealSearchUSA here on BHB: If we can network Web-smart brokers together at the Search Result level, not only would we be off to a good start, we would be taking concrete steps to strengthen the independent brokers who are poised to shake up this industry whenever a recovery gets going.

In most cases, we can place a Google-powered Real Estate Search box on an existing Web site, as we have done here for Mike DiMella at Charlesgate Realty in Boston. It is a network based on an upgrade to Search, which is the function that most Real Estate Web site users are looking for in the first place, but here is the kicker: This search function will also make you a node on a network of independent brokers like you.

Allow me to explain the node thing:

We build Real Estate Search Engines using Google’s Enterprise technology. Our goal is to provide the best Real Estate Search experience for people who like the way Google works.

In January we tried something new: We created a “Search Engine Referral network” by decentralizing one popular domain and using it as a hub to direct traffic to localized Search Engine domains, AND we assigned every listing in our database to just ONE of those local domains.

As you would expect, the numbers for the local Search Engines shot up at the expense of the hub, but here’s where it gets interesting: There was a corresponding increase in direct Google Organic Traffic. 70% over 30 days in one case.

Based on what we know about Google’s PageRank, I thought configuring the sites this way would have an impact. I was not, however, expecting such a large bump so quickly. The beauty of it is that the bump consisted of highly targeted traffic because the vast majority of that Google traffic landed on a property detail page after a specific search for that property on Google.

It makes sense: Since the local sites only have local listings, and they refer people interested in a listing in another area to the appropriate local site at the search result level, we have increased the relevance of each site as it relates to local Real Estate and given the GoogleBot a way to see that. Google craves relevance, so it sends traffic.

It’s Google 101 and, other than our technology (and Google’s), the only other thing this strategy needs is a network of brokers who understand it, and therein lies the opportunity: This is a classic disruptive scenario where a small, nimble technology company can team up with small, nimble businesses to exploit an opportunity faster than the big guys in the industry can react to it. And this is a great economic climate for disruption.

In the beginning, the benefit to an indie broker is having an exclusive on a familiar, Google-powered user experience and the SEO tools that go with it.

In the long term, If Web-smart Independent brokers are, as I suspect, more likely to collectively provide better content and take full advantage of our SEO tools, as we plug in “nodes” to create a network of optimized Real Estate Search engines — who knows? We may find ourselves behind the wheel of a large automobile.

But first we must find out, where does this highway go to?, and that conversation continues at


6 Comments so far

  1. Drew Meyers March 31st, 2009 11:51 am

    FYI that i’m getting a 404 error when clicking on the “Search Engine Referral network” link in this post.

  2. John Rowles March 31st, 2009 12:18 pm

    Fixed. Thanks, Drew.

  3. […] Rowles at MainRhode LLC (they build enterprise search solutions using Google technology) just announced the launch of RealEstateUSA over at BloodHoundBlog. You can take a look at the new site at What is it you may be wondering? […]

  4. Michael DiMella March 31st, 2009 3:27 pm

    Interesting stuff John. I am excited to test drive the property search engine. Hopefully my “node” will be the first of many on the network….

  5. Doug Quance March 31st, 2009 10:04 pm

    A killer concept and execution.

    What are the costs to the indie broker?

  6. John Rowles April 1st, 2009 6:26 am

    @ Doug: Thanks.

    You can go to RealSearch(ST).com (ex. to reserve a territory for $300, which is applied against your set up fee.

    Setup starts at $500 (if we already have your feed). If we don’t have your feed, its $1000 per feed and we will spread that out over 3-6 months.

    After that, the monthly cost is determined by how large a territory you want to cover. The minimum is $400 for your primary zip code, plus the zip codes that touch it.

    I have details @