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The Quest for IDX Policy Revision, and Redfin’s Advantage

Earlier this week, I saw Victor Lund’s post about Glenn Kelmans’s call for IDX policy revisions requiring link backs to the broker.

My first reaction was: this is a brilliant initiative/strategy. For Redfin. Not for the industry.

I planned to write a blog post. Then, I realized Rob pretty much wrote everything I was going to say.

Kelman — and Redfin — KNOW they can, and will, annihilate every other broker/franchise in the SEO department. They are already doing it. The suggested IDX change will help Redfin far more than it will hurt.

As Rob says, please “stop fighting the last war“.

PS: Enforcement of outbound links is going to be a complete cluster f*ck. Are MLS’ going to require every individual page on every IDX/VOW website be fully indexable? An easy way for a broker/agent to bypass giving SEO juice up via required outbound links is to “noindex” every page that’s not your own listing.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • VictorLund

    So, if the rule outlawed “no follow” links on these pages, would that satisfy your concern? Also, outbound links from Redfin to these broker sites would add value to the recipient of the link back, not to Redfin. Outbound links have not been proven to add SEO to a site, inbound links do. That is why Zillow puts no follow links on their site – they do not want to share the SEO juice. I am also not totally worried about enforcement – a vendor must accept the IDX terms in order to supply an IDX solution to a broker. If the vendor does not comply, their IDX feed would be suspended or terminated for all of their brokers. It would simply add one additional compliance check for MLSs. In truth, very few MLSs scour IDX sites for IDX compliance – they typically respond when a competitor broker complains about a violation.

    Incidentally – Rob has mentioned publicly that he works/has worked for Zillow – its possible that he was inspired by his client to write that post – as I was inspired by Redfin (although Redfin is not currently a WAV Group client – we have not worked for them since they helped to fund our data accuracy research on third party websites.).

    • Sadly for your shade-throwing, Victor, I stopped any business relationship with Zillow months ago. Not that my client relationships are anybody’s business but my clients and me… or that my client have any say in what I write on my blog. Can we say the same about your blog?

      By the way, do tell us more about how Redfin inspired you to write that post.

      While you’re at it, please tell us how changing IDX is going to do a damn thing to Zillow,, Trulia, and any other site using syndication feeds.

      • VictorLund

        You are right – I should retract the bit about your relationship with Zillow inspiring your post – that was inappropriate. Please accept my apology.

        Glenn pleaded with the policy workgroup on stage at NAR Midyear, which is when I took my note to follow up with him and get more information.

        As for this change impacting syndication feeds – I do not think that they will impact how they treat those links – but Glenn thinks that if it becomes an industry standard, there may be some leverage – I am not convinced.

        However, I am convinced that brokers with a network of back linking to the listing source (thousands of links to a single source) would have an impact on SEO, and perhaps lift the authority of those sites for long tail search results like address search.

        • Apology accepted. It’s all good, Victor.

          If Glenn is really pushing changes to IDX without changes to syndication, then this is a double no-no for brokerages with a brain. As Drew observed, Redfin crushes any brokerage/franchise on SEO today; it’ll be even worse tomorrow.

          But again, even if brokerages got all the traffic in the world, they would still face the same problem of a broken business model.

          • VictorLund

            Glenn wants changes to Syndication – but I am uncomfortable that it will happen. The real estate industry has been asking the portals to remove the “no follow” links for a long time, and none of the top sites have budged on the request. Glenn hopes that there will be an inflection point if it becomes an IDX standard. I share his hope, but have little confidence in the likelihood.

            Can you provide a citation or flush out your belief as to why the link to the listing broker’s site would improve Redfin over other firms? It seems to me the site with the most authoritative backlinks would be the winner. Redfin certainly does not have the most number of listings, hence they would not get the most number of backlinks –

            Here is a pretty decent article that describes the value of backlinks – its pretty linear that the more you have, with the most authority, the better you do.

          • I think link back to the listing broker’s site (and not just link-back, but the canonical and authorship metadata) requires more than just putting it in. (I should know, since I do absolutely NOTHING for SEO on Notorious, because I don’t care, and I know for a fact that I get link-backs without deriving all of the benefits.)

            Glenn has far better capabilities at SEO (and he can acquire more) than any other brokerage/franchise in the industry. And even if Redfin doesn’t have the most listings, he’s growing at a way faster rate than anybody else: Redfin’s listing business went from 20% of revenues to 30% in the last couple of years. His overall business is growing at 44% Y/Y — who else is doing that?

            It’s a brilliant play: Redfin will maximize and squeeze every tidbit of SEO advantage out of the link-backs, while the other firms will benefit but nowhere near as much. Furthermore, other firms driving more traffic to their websites doesn’t help them as much, since they have the 1099 recruit-and-retain model, whereas Redfin can take advantage of every single visit.

            So if say Coldwell Banker increases its traffic by 10% due to this change, and Redfin increases traffic by 30%, who wins in the long run? It’s not CB in my mind.

            Like I said in the post, I really want to know what’s in it for the brokerages not named Redfin to go along with this change to IDX? More traffic won’t help them; it will help Redfin. So what gives?

          • “Can you provide a citation or flush out your belief as to why the link to the listing broker’s site would improve Redfin over other firms? It seems to me the site with the most authoritative backlinks would be the winner. Redfin certainly does not have the most number of listings, hence they would not get the most number of backlinks”

            Correct, Redfin is not the biggest listing broker — and they will have to give outbound links, sure. But they will also get inbound links from thousands of broker/agent websites in the process. They have a 10 year head start in the link building department.

            As one example, take a look at windermere (by far the largest listing broker in Seattle)… it’s clear as day they don’t understand/invest in SEO simply based on the title tag of their home page.

            Redfin vs Realogy/NRT/CB/Prudential/Windermere (in seattle) etc in the SEO department? If I’m Redfin, I’ll take that fight any day of the week…they know, and I know, they will win that SEO battle.

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