MLS® and REALTOR® Trademarks in Meta Tags

Google is certainly all the buzz talk in the SEO world these days and us Real Estate Agents are not immune to the unfortunate penalties and updates our beloved Google has bestowed on us.  With all the Penguin and Panda talk – and of course the penalties that Google has handed out in the last months – they have really shaken up rankings across the US and Canada. But now you have to wonder about Trademarks and how they affect your possible placement on Google and other serps.

I was recently contacted by my local real estate board as the request of CREA – ( the Canadian Real Estate Association) due to the improper use of trademarks on my website. While I have always tried to comply with our rules and regulations I was surprised to see that I was not in compliance.  In this case it was the unauthorized use of “meta tags” yes folks you are not allowed to use our two well searched and ranking terms MLS® or REALTOR® in meta tags even if you use them in the right context. This came as a surprise to me and likely to many of you – yet if you search the internet through you will find that many real estate agents use this term in their meta tags. This caused me to want to do a little more research into things.

I called CREA and begrudgingly found out it was true. My next call was to NAR- the National Association of REALTORS® I had a very detailed conversation with their  legal team which also revealed that NAR shares the same sets of rules. ( although they admit they don’t enforce them)

Now part of SEO practice to rank for certain keywords is to have them in the meta tags as well as the content in your site. So if you want to rank for REALTOR® or MLS® terms you it is recommended to have them in your metas – but wait it is an infringement on the guidelines for the trademark itself – what can you do?

Now most real estate agents are not using the terms correctly in various medias of advertising from Internet to print and everything in between. If you are sinking your hard earned money into site development or designing advertising pieces using the trademarks you might wish to educate yourself on the proper terminology to avoid a possible issue or fine in the future with your governing trademark body. Not to mention having to take down advertising in print or billboards that could be a costly mistake.