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There’s always something to howl about

The return counter — Looking AG’s Trojan Horse in the mouth: MyMarketWare works hard for the money, almost hard enough…

Continuing with my discussion of the bribe/gifts proffered to the contributors to Agent Blunderbuss, here’s a quick look at MyMarketWare.com.

I looked at this product when it was introduced and was not all that impressed. I like it better on second glance.

What is it? YASPWSS: Yet Another Single Property Web Site Solution. Like many of these services, the offering is pretty light-weight. And like seemingly all of them, it inflicts treacly music upon the end user. But, to be fair, the price for a site, hosted for a year, ain’t bad.

Keep in mind, as you read, that my frame of reference is our own engenu sites. I can do anything I want, to any level of detail or depth that I want, and I can reorganize an entire, huge web site on a whim. There is no YASPWSS on the market that is going to impress me.

MyMarketWare works to one level deep. That is, from a site’s “home” page, you go one level down, no deeper. Given that architecture, I would have loved to have seen at least the on-site links done within an iframe on the index page — pseudo AJAX.

You can link to off-site pages, which is a bonus, since it makes the sites effectively infinitely extensible.

The pages of the sites themselves are built in ASP, with a huge block of obfuscated code near the top of each one. Positioning on the pages is effected with both CSS and HTML tables, which seemed odd to me. MyMarketWare promises decent SEO from these pages, but they seemed very verbose, to my eyes.

I personally want a lot more photos than MyMarketWare makes available, and I want to be able to sort and organize them by category. The slide show software, apparently available on one page only, was fairly robust.

There are decent contact and scheduling forms, and MyMarketWare promises to feed your site’s details to various Realty.bots — which is probably also being done by other vendors you are using.

My overall rating of MyMarketWare’s demo single-property web site was “eh” but not inadequate. It does a decent job at what it does, but like every other YASPWSS out there, it doesn’t even begin to do enough of the job — nor even to approach all of the other jobs you should be able to do with automated web-site construction software.

A single-property web site can be the most important sales tool in a listing Realtor’s tool box, but it has to be deep enough, robust enough and compelling enough to do that job. Like many, many goofy “tools” sold to Realtors, a YASPWSS is just shining it on, making it look like you’re marketing the property when all you are really doing is wasting time and money.

But: To MyMarketWare’s credit, the price for this product is right. For you to buy your own domain for a year would cost you around ten bucks. Hosting for a year is going to run $36, at least. So after spending $46, you will have an empty domain that will take you a couple of days to populate. For $39 and a few hours of your time, you can have a single-property web site. It won’t be everything it could and should be, be we all gotta start somewhere.

I can’t find a review of MyMarketWare on Agent Shortbus, but they’re not advertisers. Sellsius weighed in, as did 4realz, but, in the very best light, these two posts simply illustrate that people who don’t actually sell real estate may not know a whole lot about what makes the frog jump, as Robert Heinlein used to say.

I end up here: The price is right, more than right, but the product is mostly wrong. I haven’t looked at other YASPWSS vendors lately, and it’s plausible to me that MyMarketWare is the best of the bunch. But it’s still not enough. To be an effective sales tool, a single-property web site has to be like that old Christmas “Wish Book.” The ultimate buyer of the home has to be able to go back to the site again and again, staying there until she’s “full” — until she’s satisfied. Anything less than that is a wasted effort, just another business card tacked up on the web.

I do consider this to be an honest effort, both in terms of product quality and market value, so I’m striving to be constructive. But we’ve been doing single-property websites for many years, long before the YASPWSS vendors came into existence. I think we know more about what makes single-property websites work — and what makes them fail — than anyone.

Cheryl Johnson and I have come to the agreement that engenu is like a John Deere harvester for people who think their job is to pick a peck of corn out of their gardens. But as I wrote the other day, Realtors have a publishing problem. They’re just now waking up to the fact that their “garden” is four miles square — and growing. We don’t need vendors to solve our publishing problem, we need to learn to get behind the harvester…

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  • 4 comments

    4 Comments so far

    1. Dave Barnes December 30th, 2008 3:38 pm

      As a consumer, I went to the demo property site.

      Music! Insipid music! What are they thinking! The fastest way to get me to leave a website is to have one that makes noise. Noise that drives my office mate crazy.

      The 3 meta tags (title, keywords, description) are too long.

      The Home button on the inner pages is in the wrong place as I had to look for it. “Don’t make me think.”

      Tables instead of CSS for alignment? Even I have moved on to CSS.

    2. Trace December 30th, 2008 5:51 pm

      To be fair regarding the seo component…. the premise or hope behind most listings is that they will not be around long enough to actually age long enough to gain enough authority to actually start to rank… which is why I’ve written about recycling your single listing domain names if SEO is a priority for you… secondarily, most single listing sites contain virtually no content, so ranking for any competitive search terms is a moot point without such content….

      Agreed on the music, users should always control video / music …. period, that’s just part of basic web presentation standards….. :p

    3. Dave Barnes December 30th, 2008 7:35 pm

      @Trace

      1. It take 6+ f—ing months to sell a property in today’s market.
      2. Google typically indexes a new site within 2-3 weeks.
      3. You can at least rank #1 for “456 Any Street”.
      4. The COST of doing the 3 meta tags is approximately zero$. Zero$.

    4. Trace January 7th, 2009 1:35 am

      @Dave: Actually I see most sites indexed in days, not weeks… this means nothing in terms of a site’s ability to rank… being indexed means nothing, any and most sites are indexed, that does not mean these sites rank well.

      Very few people, if any are searching for “456 Any Street”… If somebody knows the home’s address, they likely have a flyer with the website URL on it already.

      Meta tags are very ineffective without content, so it is a moot point, besides a brand new domain is not going to rank as well as an aged domain with great content… that’s the bottom line.