Summary of new RealBird features launched in 2011

RealBird-Bird-LargeToday is the last business day of 2011 and we thought it is the good time to summarize the main new RealBird features that we launched in 2011. 

Switched the RealBird Property Search from Google Base to Oodle data

As you may recall Google suddenly announced in January '11 the discontinuation of Google Base. Because the RealBird Property Search was based on data from Google Base, we had to find another solution. We successfully ported the application to use real estate data from Oodle, soft launched in March and made it available for all RealBird members in June. The new search application has been working great ever since and has delivered thousands and thousands of buyer leads to RealBird members.

New listing inventory widget replaced the old version, with color themes and custom transition effects

We retired one of our legacy sidebar listing inventory widgets and replaced it with a brand new one, which can be configured with custom color theme and custom transition effects.

The first version of the RealBird Mobile Real Estate Website was launched

In March, we launched the first version of the RealBird Mobile Real Estate Website service with vanity domain name and QR code support. Within weeks, thousands of mobile sites were set up by RealBird PRO members. It also received coverage from Inman News.  

The second version of the Mobile Real Estate Website added Property Search support

Soon after the initial launch, we also completed the mobile user interface for the RealBird Property Search and added to the RealBird Mobile Property Website service. Update to the platform (and the new desktop IE support) also made it possible from then on to embed the mobile real estate website on regular blogs and pages with the handy RealBird widget, including the inclusion of the QR code and a call-for-action message.

Default Property Website Theme editor added

One of the powerful features of the RealBird single property websites has always been the versatile theme editor. We realized however that even with the easy-to-use interface, it has been an unnecessary hassle to set up the custom design for each listing one by one, so we introduced the same powerful theme editor tool as a global configuration option. In other words, RealBird members can now set up a default custom design once and all new property sites will inherit this theme.

Introduced 3 Facebook Real Estate Page applications

Just in time for Facebook's application platform overhaul during the summer, we released three Facebook applications for different RealBird services. You can now easily add your listing inventory widget, map-based property search and your mobile real estate website to your Facebook business page.

Diligent SEO work brought major results: video thumbnails of your property websites are now shown on Google

We've been always focusing on SEO best practices, but 2011 brought some break throughs: Finally, over 1 million pages on RealBird has been indexed by Google and to our great surprise, RealBird became one of the few real estate information providers whose pages have been enhanced with video thumbnails on the Google search result pages. This is a very positive and stunning SEO news and together with the high ranking of the RealBird property websites, it represents a major improvement in visibility for our members.

Tighter integration of your RealBird featured listings and map-based property search

We also introduced a small, but powerful feature for RealBird PRO members. The RealBird map-based property search can now be configured to show your own featured listings as "sticky", highlighted icons on the map. We call them "sticky" icons, because they are shown on the map independently from the actual search criteria, as long as their location falls within the current map boundaries. This a great, non-intrusive advertisement of your own properties to home buyers using your map search.

United Kingdom coverage added to RealBird

We also extended support for most of the RealBird services for estate agents in the United Kingdom. With this launch, RealBird now provides online marketing services to US, Canada and UK agents and brokers. 

Brand new, major redesign of the flagship RealBird single property website platform launched

It's been a long time coming and finally, in October, we launched a major redesign of our flagship RealBird Listing Publisher property website platform. The system has many, many improvements and new features, while remaining fully backward compatible: new layout design, improved SEO, improved load speed, deeper social media integration, better lead capture, more automatic integration with 3rd party services such as Walkscore, ability to add more custom pages and content and many more features. We were very happy to receive an overwhelmingly positive response from all of our members regarding this major update.

New Craigslist property ad generator released

A revamped Craigslist property ad generator was launched in November, making it much easier for RealBird members to create a Craigslist ad with unlimited color theme options. Craigslist is one of the most popular classifieds ad platforms and this new tool makes it way easier to create much better looking ads for your RealBird listings. 

SMS keyword property marketing added to your mobile marketing toolkit

Just in time for the holiday season, we added a new listing marketing service to the RealBird mobile toolkit. We integrated RealBird with the leading SMS technology provider, Twilio and introduced SMS keyword marketing for your properties with an amazing, automatic lead capture feature.

Last but not least, 7,616 real estate professionals joined RealBird in 2011. This is our highest yearly registration number ever and we thank you all very much (long time and new members as well) for trusting your real estate marketing on the RealBird platform. 

We Wish You All A Very Happy & Successful New Year !

-- The RealBird Team
RealBird.com 


Oodle classifieds - and your RealBird listings - are coming to Facebook

Realbird-oodle-facebook
Oodle announced on December 2 that they reached an agreement with Facebook for powering Facebook's classified ads system, just like they do with MySpace already. The specifics of the implementaition is not yet known but I assume it will utilize the relationships inherent to the Facebook platform. Oodle is planning a Q1 2009 release so we should know more soon.

The good news for RealBird users is that the listings syndicated through RealBird will automatically be included through our existing distribution to Oodle.

We'll post more details as soon as we have more information.

-- Zoltan
RealBird.com


Kijiji revisited

We wrote about Kijiji (an eBay company) a year ago, a few months after they had made their first push into the US classified ads market. We quickly added an option to RealBird to make it a very easy, copy and paste operation to manually post your RealBird property advertisement to Kijiji. A few days ago I wrote about the main referral sources to the RealBird single property websites and I thought while I am at it, I follow up by revisiting Kijiji, Oodle and Backpage to see how they compare today, in terms of traffic and demographics. I selected these three classified ads portals, because they support similar verticals (not just real estate, like Trulia and Zillow) and because they are comparable in terms of overall traffic. I left out Craigslist from the comparison because it is still a magnitude larger in terms of traffic compared to these other important destination sites.


Update: Based on the reminder by Craig (see comments), it is important to note, that Oodle provides an API for 3rd party implementations and due to their partnerships with large online outlets like MySpace, listings syndicated to Oodle may reach way more actual people, than the Compete.com chart above would suggest. The point of this post is to show the growth of Kijiji over the last year and the importance of marketing real estate listings there as well.


Kijiji's own site claims 5 million uniques (vs the 2.5M+ reported by Compete), which is quite possible as Compete.com shows less unique visitors on RealBird sites than the number reported by our Google Analytics deployment.

Digging deeper into the stats (this time using quantcast.com for sub-domain traffic) one can see which markets (DMAs) are the most popular on these sites.

Kijiji.com

Kijiji-market-traffic-breakdown


Backpage.com

Backpage-market-traffic-breakdown


Oodle.com

Oodle-market-traffic-breakdown

These charts are quite easy to read and the value of posting your RealBird listings to these classifieds sites is quite obvious, especially if your listing is in one of the top markets. (E.g. Washington, DC metropolitan area on Kijiji with over half a million people visiting a month or New York on Backpage)

Click the images above to dig deeper into the stats and see the monthly uniques in your DMA (Demographics Market Area) Also note that the demographics of these general purpose classified-ads site is different than Zillow's or Trulia's (focused on real estate only)

This post might be also a good reminder for all of our current RealBird members to take the time to manually post to Craigslist, Kijiji and Backpage (Oodle is an automatic syndication option). It takes only a few extra minutes per listing and you can potentially expose your property ads to hundreds of thousands of new prospects, out of which it only takes one actual buyer to sell the property :) Instructions and copy&paste code is provided in the RealBird member area.


-- Zoltan Szendro
RealBird.com


Updated referral statistics

The updated pie chart below shows the relative click-thru traffic from major real estate portals; i.e. consumer destination sites where RealBird listings are syndicated to (automatically or manually). It is based on the web analytics data of the last 200,000 click-throughs to RealBird single property websites:

Referral-stats-RealBird


Some notes and assumptions:


  • Craigslist is a manual distribution option for which we provide all the instructions and code. However, - due to the fact that it requires agents to manually post their listings after entering them in RealBird - the number of RealBird listings published on Craigslist is much less than the number of listings automatically syndicated to portals (Trulia, Zillow etc.). The traffic ratio of Craigslist would be way higher if all RealBird listings were published there as well by our members.

  • Trulia and Zillow consumer traffic is comparable (see Compete.com) but the click-through traffic from Trulia is almost three times as much. I suspect, that this is due to the fact, that Trulia has a big, prominent button "See more photos and details" linking to the RealBird property sites, while Zillow has a smaller, regular link on their property pages. In other words, Trulia's property page is more click-through friendly, hence more consumers actually end-up on the RealBird listing websites.

  • Since our number of syndicated listings is relatively small compared to the whole for-sale, active, US listing dataset, this chart does not implies in any ways the importance of those sites in terms of consumer traffic or the level of exposure your listing will receive. Statistically speaking, this chart can not be used as a base for making projections on traffic of the included portals. Our dataset is not a representation of such information. It only shows the distribution of traffic sources to the RealBird dataset. Use Compete.com or Quantcast.com for more accurate info on this.

    Update: Based on the conversation with Sara from Zillow (see comments below), I'd like to emphasize it again, that the chart shows the ratio of referral traffic only, which does not have direct relationship with other metrics, like lead conversion etc. For example: one may receive more leads directly on the sites we syndicate to, without the user ever clicking-thru to the RealBird listing website (hence no referral traffic is tracked).


  • It is interesting to see that the click-throu traffic from Overstock.com is higher than the traffic from Vast.com, even though OverStock.com's real estate classifieds are powered by Vast.com. It is probably due to the fact, that Overstock has way higher traffic than Vast.com (See Compete.com for details)

  • We decided to include ActiveRain traffic that is not click-through referral, but impressions of RealBird widgets embedded on ActiveRain. It may artificially improved the relative rank though. We did so, because we wanted to emphasize the importance of posting listing widgets on ActiveRain, and because we could not find an easy way to separate the two types of web analytics data

Other notable sources of traffic are: Geebo.com,Walmart Classifieds and recently, StumbleUpon

Thank you for Juliet Johnson for making us create an updated chart :)


-- Zoltan
RealBird.com


MySpace Classifieds has real estate listings through Oodle

The great thing about syndicating RealBird listings to Oodle is that through their ever growing partnership with third-party sites, RealBird listings find their way to even more destinations automatically. We wrote about it on ActiveRain when we first noticed traffic from OverStock (through Vast.com) and Walmart's classifieds sites (through Oodle) and now there is a new prominent Oodle partnership, which takes your RealBird listings even further, capturing the attention of another segment of the Internet population.

On June 28, Oodle announced its parnership with MySpace supplying their newly released MySpace classifieds site with fresh listings. This particular implementation also utilizes the social graph embedded in MySpace: listings can be linked to MySpace profiles and friends can be enlisted to help users buy and sell products. Not being a MySpace user myself, I have not tested these features yet, but I've noticed traffic coming in to RealBird sites from MySpace already.

Oodle syndicates to more than 200 sites, so when you post your listing on RealBird, it is eventually syndicated to an additional 200 portals besides our direct distribution partners. Syndication of the syndicated data. Pretty cool.

I could not find the full list of their partners anywhere on Oodle, but I will inquire about it and list them in a future post.

-- Zoltan Szendro
RealBird.com