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2014 Map Search IDX Roundup & Review

I mentioned in a previous post that I intended to do a video review of several IDX products with a primary focus on their map search capabilities. This turned out to be a much longer project than I had expected, hence the delay, but I’ve finally got it done. Before jumping into the video, I want to touch on why I wanted to do this. In the introduction to the video, I discuss why I think map search is still relevant.  Indeed, I think it’s a must-have for agents and brokers who want a full-featured home search on their website. But beyond that, there are a couple of reasons I wanted to do the project itself.

One is to provide agents and brokers a place where they can see all (or at least most) of the map search IDX products in one place, and learn about their various strengths and weaknesses. But more importantly, I’m hoping IDX providers use this to improve their products. I think sometimes IDX developers are too close to their products to view them objectively. They “can’t see the forest for the trees,” as the expression goes. Or, they rest on their laurels and end up with outdated products. I’m hoping some of these IDX vendors see some of their competitors’ innovations and realize they need to innovate as well! With transparent competition in the marketplace, there should be plenty of innovation, leading to better and better IDX products available to agents and brokers.

I also want to define what exactly is a map search. It seems like it should be obvious, but I’ve found that many websites and IDX providers claim to have a map search, when really they don’t. The ability to simply plot search results on a map is not a map search. A map search, to me, is one that gives you the ability to search by map. This means you can define the geographical area that you’re searching in by manipulating the map. And you can change that area in a real-time manner by panning, zooming, drawing a shape or similar movements of the map. So that’s what I’m looking for in these reviews.

The final product also resulted in a much longer video than I had anticipated. It’s so long that I had to break it into two parts, because I exceeded YouTube’s 2 hour limit! So you don’t waste your valuable time, if you’re looking for a particular IDX provider below are links that bring you right to that section of the video. If you want to watch the whole thing, I might suggest you use YouTube’s feature to watch it at 1.25X or 1.5X speed. I would also suggest viewing in full-screen format so you can see the details of the IDX products being reviewed.

Jump directly to a specific IDX vendor:

I hope that agents, brokers and IDX vendors alike find this video to be informative and helpful.

About Mike McGee

My wife Tina and I own and operate Intown Elite Real Estate in Atlanta GA. Like most small business owners, I wear many hats. I'm the broker, IT support guy and amateur webmaster, among other things. I run a few websites, including my primary site at IntownElite.com, a niche site at JacksonLakeHouses.com covering lake homes near Atlanta, and others.

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  • Mark Moineau

    Nice to see a review of all the map solutions but to be honest…I am very familiar with a few of the products you reviewed and there are several items that are not correct. Just to list a couple examples….IDX Broker does offer the ability to show your Search by Map as wide as you would like, it is responsive (needs some css tweaks to be ideal) and they do include a mobile friendly version of the map search. I realize it is hard to know what is a limitation of the product and what is a limitation of the developer that did the integration…but since there were significant errors in the review of a solution I am familiar with, I must question all of the others.

    • Thanks for the constructive criticism. A few things here. I reviewed 15 different IDX vendors here, I couldn’t possibly have development experience with all of them, nor did I claim to. I’m sure there are several points with which one could quibble. My intention was to have a 30,000-foot view of a collection of vendors from the prospective of a user, as well as from the prospective of a typical agent who buys the product and plugs it into their site. I’m sure that a talented developer can pull all kinds of tricks with custom CSS and other hacks, but that’s beyond the scope of this post/video. The point is how does it work in its off-the-shelf state, since that’s how most agents would use it.

      Neither on the site I reviewed (as you can see on the video), nor on the IDX Broker Platinum Demo Site, does the map respond to changing browser sizes. Based on the definition of “responsive”, I would still say that their map is not responsive, at least out-of-the-box.

      You are correct, however, that they do have a mobile-friendly version of the map search, which works correctly on the IDX Broker Platinum Demo Site ( http://demo.idxbroker.com/idx/map/mapsearch ) when using a smart phone (but not on a tablet). It’s unfortunate that, as one can see on the video, it was malfunctioning on the site that I was testing.

  • This is awesome, Mike. Now, it’s just time for you to get started on a video tour of all the CRMs you can find…

    • I heard you were doing that already? 🙂

      • Can’t wait.. Is he going to actually use them all? You know do real testing and real use cases.

        • It would be impossible to actually use and test every single crm (or map IDX) there is on the market…unless you wanted to spend years doing it. And I doubt anyone is willing to do that.

          • How can you really know how they work and what is good about them if you really don’t use them?

          • Just because someone hasn’t used every single product doesn’t preclude them from having opinions about them. Of course, opinions about products someone has actually used extensively should be given more weight than those by people who have only looked at products from a high level.

            I have no used every single travel site on the planet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t spend 15 minutes doing a thorough review and have some idea whether their product works/provides value/etc. I have spent enough time in the industry to have a pretty good gut feel.

          • I agree! Every one is has an opinion, but doing a review that is not extensive is not really good way of doing it. If one doesn’t actually use the product in real life they really don’t know everything the product offers.

          • “If one doesn’t actually use the product in real life they really don’t know everything the product offers.”

            True. But I’d strongly argue that even if you do use a product regularly, you likely don’t know everything the product offers. We battled for years to get zillow users to know there was more than zestimates on the sites..it’s something every single vendor struggles with.

          • My point is Mike has enough industry experience to have a good gut feel on this stuff at a high level. But it’s definitely not the same as reviews on products by individuals who have tested a particular product offering with real users/data.

  • jeffreyhoguerealtor

    I have used 6 of the IDX vendors listed in your review. I settled on SpotOn Connect. I was simply tired of iFrames, Flash media and non responsive non functional IDX solutions that do not index well. SpotOn Connect gives me and my customer base what they are looking for. The staff is great to work with (rare in this space) and they are always bringing new updates and ideas to their product. Looking forward to more updates I am told are coming soon! Oh…BTW, What a great value!

    • BFagan Broker

      I’ve been trying to get them to work with me since I read these comments and reviews, but no response from them for over a week

      • jeffreyhoguerealtor

        I have sen SpotOn Connect your comment. How can they contact you? I normally can get them even on weekends.

  • Mike, any chance of getting an editor’s choice summary of which one you liked best and why? I know I would find that very helpful.

    Also do any of these vendors offer a VOW site? IDX is nice, but seeing the sold properties on the map near the one you are buying is very helpful too.

    You are definitely now the expert in IDX Mapping solutions!

    • I didn’t check into VOW, but I agree that displaying sold listings is very helpful. I know that the Diverse Solutions product will show sold listings if your MLS allows it. Unfortunately, mine does not.

  • What a joke! Map searches don’t convert as many leads and the more leads you get to sign up the more returning visits you have! BTW: More returning visitors… more potential customers.

    Closed 205 transactions off my site and the map search is a secondary to the list view.

    I prefer to base my opinion on real life numbers and testing plus real user feedback.

    My overall site bounce rate is 26.65% and returning visitors is 71.5%…

    • Yes, you made practically the same comment on the post where I announced my intention to review mapping IDX products. What exactly is the joke? The fact that I dared to review map searches after you demonstrated (to your own satisfaction) that they don’t convert as well? I made no statements as to conversion rates. I only state why I think map search still has a role to play, then go on to review several vendors. I’m sorry that upsets you so much.

      A point to ponder: If I was a creator of an IDX product, and my map search doesn’t convert as well as my non-map search, how do I know if it’s because map searches are simply inferior in general, or just MY map search is inferior. Hmmmm.

      • LOL… There is always room for improvement!!! That is why I am always working on improving mine and talking with the users of my Hawaii site!!! Not upset at all 😉 Sorry you took it that way!! Just stated some facts and numbers based on analyzing different solutions with the same traffic.

        I prefer to base my business decisions on real numbers not someones opinion that is not based on real testing. I think most other agents would too 😉

        It would be a waste on money if an agent drives traffic to a map based search like DS when they could get drive that same traffic to a solution that can convert 3 to 7 times more sign ups for the same money spent. That is based on facts of agents I know that have used DS map based solution and then went to solutions like REW, Boomtown or RG. After they switched they got conversion rates from 3 to 7 times more than they were getting using the DS map based search with the same traffic.

        Map searches are really fun to play around with. Most are not set up to get sign ups. At the end of the day agents want to get more prospects and returning visitors so they can sell more properties.

        BTW: WordPress IDX plugins have a pretty horrible user experience as well. I have played with many and the user can not even go from one property to the next without hitting the back button…

        How many sales did your site generate last year? What is your sites returning percentage? What is your sites overall bounce rate?

        You mentioned you need to have a good user experience to have returning visitors so you can sell more properties.

        Do you think 71.5% returning visitors might indicate the user likes using the site?

      • Bob Wilson

        The joke is that your review is based solely on your opinion with no data to support your claim of what works and what doesnt.

        Given your opinions, one could assume that your choice of DS in your own business is based on what should work best. So lets see some analytical data from your site that would compel someone to use that product over the others that you have reviewed negatively. Come on, back up your opinions with real data. Otherwise you are just misleading people.

        • Bob, I realize that you and Jeff are owners of RealGeeks. It’s your baby and you’re proud of it, as you should be. It’s always tough to hear criticism about your baby, but it was meant to be constructive.

          Nowhere in my review do I say that DS is a better overall product than RG. The fact is that my company has a number of websites. One of them happens to run DS, and guess what, one of them is a RealGeeks site!

          My video mentions a couple of areas where I think RG can improve in one facet of your product, that being the map search. Now, you can either take that information and improve your product, or you can take the position that “who cares, maps don’t convert anyway.”

          Your company, your call.

          • Mike –
            We are continually improving as I use it myself here in Hawaii. We focus on usability for the consumer and that is why our conversion rates are one of the highest in the industry! We also have lower bounce rates than most along with a high percentage of returning visitors. That is why I shared my stats 🙂

            We are continually getting feed back from actual users to improve the user experience 🙂

            BTW: I am the owner and Bob is a long time friend and head of my sales team.

            I wish you a lot of success in 2014!! Be happy to get on a call any time and share ideas

        • brandon sanchez

          Right now DSIDXPRESS has been down since yesterday for more than 15 hours affecting the entire network, except for zillow.com. Zillow press and all IDX clients which is a huge network is completely down , you can imagine how this is affecting the agents index with google , this has been happening almost every week at least once a week. When they shut down the entire network zillow.com improves its ranking, because their conflict is that zillow.com is their priority by controlling the biggest IDx network that they can manipulate as they want they keep zillow on top, zillowpress is almost subsidized for the sake of linling to zillow..com on Diverse DSIDXPRESS is even worse you pay zillow for IDX and they shut it down every time they want . This time it has been longer that before, they are even lying the public check diversesolutions.com suppot they said they started experiencing problems earlier today but it was yesterday since 10pm eastern time. The SEO implication for many realtors couldnt be worse thousands of pages removed from google index.

          These frequent outages from diverse solutions are a joke.

  • Bob Wilson

    Mike, care to share what percentage of your visitors convert to a lead? How many that actually use your DS map search convert to a lead?

    How about what percentage of visitors use a map search over a list search when given the choice to “search” vs “search by map”? It is way lower than people realize.

  • Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the review… A small correction, the Showcase IDX WordPress plugin is indexable and we do have index pages, etc… as we have a non-javascript version that only appears when the search engine indexes or you are in non-javascript enabled site. So it’s not readily apparent that it is there when you have Javascript turned on. We are currently working on some extensive new SEO tools that we’ve consulted with some of the top SEO experts and successful agents on. The update should be out in the next few weeks. Thanks again for the review. Cheers.

    • Thanks, Scott, that’s outstanding news! I’ll make an annotation in the video noting the correction. I may also contact you for more information.

      • Hi Mike,
        Thanks for the correction… really appreciated. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Would love to have a chat about what we’re doing. We’re in the midst of expanding into about 100 new markets over the next year or so.

  • Finding the Youtube video reviews of the various IDX mapping solutions was a big help for me as I begin to piece together the different pieces of the puzzle to create a great user experience/real estate portal for my local area. A year later, and it looks like many of these IDX mapping tools are roughly in the same place that they were when you initially reviewed them.
    If you put a summary/feature comparison of all of these IDX solutions into one place (maybe a paragraph or two for each as well as a feature comparison matrix), it would allow you to make occasional updates to each as things develop (kind of like The Wirecutter’s process). That would not only keep the original research relevant, but would be a huge benefit to those researching this subject. If I could help with that at all, let me know.
    Lastly, does anyone know if Curaytor is using a 3rd party for their mapping IDX? It’s my understanding that they don’t really build out their tools from scratch, but instead “curate” various tools they find to be best of breed, and put them together (e.g., Follow-up Boss is their CRM, BetterVoicemail for voicemail, Mailchimp for email, Mixpanel for analytics, etc.).

    • Sam, it looks much nicer indeed, but the functionality is still flawed. You can’t zoom into an area, then refine by price/beds/baths, etc. within that area. Once you go to “Refine Your Search” and return to the map, the map location is reset to its starting point. It’s maddening to me.

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