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).

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