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 

Vertical real estate search engine - co-branded with revenue sharing

The following post is reblogged from our ActiveRain blog

Encouraged by the positive feedback from the real estate community about the initial release of the "Search The Real Estate Web" custom search engine, we are pleased to let you know that we released a co-branded version as a free service. We also offer a unique revenue sharing advertising model for those agents who deploy this co-branded version. But first thing first.

Vertical real estate search engine

The RealBird vertical real estate search engine allows consumers to search for any real estate terms across thousands of real estate sites and networks. It utilizes the familiar Google user interface and utilizes Google's technolgy to provide state-of-the-art content ranking and lightning fast results. Rather than searching the billions of pages in the regular Google index, this search engine focuses on hand selected professional real estate content. While the selection is focused, the number of content pages are still large and aggregated from distinct real estate sites. In other words, the vertical real estate search engine provides a more focused, but robust result set for the consumers and hopefully a very accurate search experience of real estate content.

Co-branded - your traffic, your brand, your links

With the current release, real estate professionals can create a co-branded version of the same service for themselves. It is a free service. The co-branded service provides you with a version of the service which carries your photo, name, links to website, blog and featured listings on ALL pages and upon subsequent returns of the same visitor (see Bill Gassett's example on the right). This branded information is presented to all consumers who arrives through your very own link. The co-branded version also comes with a branded search widget which you can add to your blog and ActiveRain sidebar. Embedded in this post below is Janie Coffey's live widget for demonstration. As you can see, the widget itself carries your brand and links and all searches submitted through a particular widget maintains the branding information. Furthermore, when a consumer shares your widget through social networks, bookmarking sites or via email, it maintains your co-branded version also, so that you get incremental traffic to your own co-branded search engine from additional placements.

Revenue sharing

As you can see, there are advertisement above, below and on the left of the search result. We thought that it is only fair that we share the revenue with you for the traffic and click-throughs originated through your co-branded service, your blog's traffic and through your social networking activities. The system is designed in a way, that you can add your own custom content to the footer section of the search result pages. Not only the header will carry your profile and links, but you can also add further revenue generating and promotional content below the search results. In short, click through traffic from the built in ads above and on the left will generate revenue for us and all click-thrus below the results will generate ad revenue or traffic for you (assuming you configured the service with your own ad code) .

SEO benefits

One of the beauty of this design is what I like to call "chain-linked" SEO. This may sound like a complicated concept, but in practice it is very easy to accomplish. The idea is that you deep link from your websites and blogs to your co-branded search engine result page with specif search terms, "do follow" links and proper anchor tags. When Google's main search engines indexes your content again (your website, your blog etc.) and it finds these links, it will follow them to your own RealBird search engine result pages and it will index those pages also. Those pages contain your search engine friendly links. These links are pointing back to your website and blog. Ideally, Google will follow these links to your 3rd party sites and consider them as backward links. The RealBird system allows you to create as many "deep links" to specific result pages as you want hence making Google follow and index even more pages with your own links on them. In turn, this may very well increase your website and blog ranking even more. We suggest that you set up a few direct links for search terms for which your own content comes up first (your name, your brokerage, your local market and your name) and add those links to your website or blog. You can also add a few to your ActiveRain sidebar, under the link section, which will be populated to all of your AR blog posts. Within the RealBird member area, we provide a handy tool to create these links in seconds. Furthermore, because hopefully many of you will create deep links, the overall number of pages Google will know on the same domain name ( will increase drastically.

Here are three more examples:
Virginia Beach real estate
Healdsburg Real Estate Blog
Akron, OH homes for sale

Transparency - the value proposition

We love transparency, so here we go: the value proposition for everybody involved is the following:

Consumers - They have access to a focused, easy to use, general purpose vertical real estate search engine

Us at RealBird - We receive ad revenue on the portion of the traffic

YOU - Free marketing and branding tool for you. Provide an invaluable service to your visitors. Increase the SEO of your own content and generate additional revenue with the revenue sharing model, if you opt-in to do so.

Additional content

We are continously improving the search engine by adding more related websites and networks to its index. With this release we have added content from RISMedia, Real Estate Shows, ClassifiedFlyerAds, Zipvo, Postlets and VFlyer to the growing index. As always, if you do not find your own blog or website after searching for your name or your domain name, just let us know. You can request the inclusion by commenting below.

Best practices

I hope I could successfully explain the benefits of this new, free service. It's cobranded, all your visitors who comes through your widgets and co-branded links will see your own photo banner no matter what they searched for, the revenue sharing or additional promotional options and SEO. If you decide to utilize this service - and we certainly hope you will - than we suggest that you promote your co-branded version as much as you can. Here are a few tips on how to do it:

  • Use the built in social bookmarking feature on the co-branded widget - share the link on Facebook, delicious, Digg, Twitter and others
  • Create good, meaningful direct deep links using specific search term and your co-branded Url. Chose the ones which directly benefit you and make sure that the link's anchor tag has related, meaningful name and title.
  • Add the co-branded widget to your blog and website and share it through email as well. Ask your network (farm, friends) to share it with their friends as well.

How to get started - it's free

  • Existing RealBird members: Access the widget configuration page in the member area (login required)
  • New to RealBird? Register for free and configure and grab your private labeled widget on the "Widgets" => "Search The Real Estate Web™" member page

Finally, please share this announcement with your network !

As always, we do appreciate if you share this post by Re-Blogging, through FaceBook, via Twitter other networks or by simply emailing it to your collegues.

Thanks and do not hesitate to contact us with your feedback.

-- Zoltan

Google Street View - amazing neighborhood virtual tours

We could not wait until Google provides access to the amazing Steet View imagery via their Google Maps API, so we went ahead and for the first time in the industry, we made Google Street Views available for RealBird members with a very simple manual embedding process.

As many of you already know, Google started to take 360° panoramic photographs of streets in 2007, starting with major metropolitan areas. Many in the real estate blogging sphere covered Google's product release and most of them including me found it an amazing and a very valuable tool for real estate virtual presentations. Slide-shows and interior panoramas provide virtual walk-through of the house; maps and aerial photos give great information about things in the vicinity including buildings, schools, points of interest, roads and more and now, finally, with Google Street View, home buyers from remote locations can "walk around" in the neighborhood, virtually, without ever leaving their own place. From interior virtual tours through neighborhood walk-thrus to bird's eye views, finally you can provide virtual presentation for all aspects of your property.

While Google still does not provide API access to this feature (i.e. enabling 3rd parties like us to automatically use this imagery), they quietly released a feature in December, which allows you to embed the interactive Street View  widget into your website and blog. And now with RealBird's capability of handling any kind of embeddable widgets, you can use the Street View on your single property websites built with RealBird Listing Publisher.

How to add Google Street View to your RealBird single property website

Let's see a live example for demonstration, then I will show the simple steps it actually take to do it for your own listings for free.

Click the image below, then on the property website, click "Street View".

Amazing, don't you think?

OK, so  here  are the  steps for setting up a single property website like this. (You  will need to have a free RealBird account)

See if Street View is available for your location

Go to, type in the address and see if the Street View button appears on the top right. If Street View is available, drag the little yellow icon to the location where you want your viewpoint to be set . The streets with "Street View"  capability will be highlighted once you click the "Street View"  button.  Drag the person-icon to a location on one of the highlighted streets. As you will see it in the next step, the actual, current Street View will be provided as widget, not your initial location. In other words, fine tune the view of the location before you continue to the next step.

See if Street View is available for your location

Grab the code

Click the "Link to this page" link above the map on the right.

Link to this page option

The second text box contains the default iframe code, which you can copy and paste just like that. You can further customize the widget. Click the link: "Customize and preview embedded map"

Step 3 - Customize code

There is another feature, which can be very useful, but is not obvious as an option on the configuration screen. In some design layouts, you may want to have a full bleed 100% width for the widget. Just take the code Google provides and replace the width="xyz" with width="100%". The Street View widget's width will automatically scale to whatever design you embed it into.

Embed the widget into RealBird single property website

Login on RealBird (or get a free account in a few seconds).


Add a new listing or edit an existing one. On the listing editor page, click the Embedded Media tab (it can be used for any widgets: video, slideshow, audio, iframe, in this case we are going to embed the Street View into a listing website)

Post Street View on your RealBird site

Enter "Street View" in the "Tab text" field and paste the embed code into the large text box. "Publish" or "Save as draft" and it's done.

~~~ Easy, elegant and absolutely cool presentation. ~~~

I believe, this is a must have widget for any online listing presentation if Google has coverage for your area. While these manual steps will not be necessary once the Google Maps API gives access to it, but until then, this feature on your RealBird sites can be a great marketing vehicle for virtual presentations and to separate your listings and yourself from the crowd.

-- Zoltan Szendro


Capturing buyer leads from portals

Our CEO, Gabe Gross, wrote a whitepaper published by some major real estate media outlets recently (Rismedia, Brokeragentnews, Inman News).

The concept described in the whitepaper and supported by RealBird for the first time in the industry is  the following: A large segment of online home buyers start their searches on major classifieds portals. By "pushing" your real estate services (e.g. IDX Search) with your featured listings close to these portals, you can create new channels for capturing some of this traffic and not only for your own listing (the original value proposition of listing syndication), but also for your local IDX  search services (the new value proposition). Some portion of these home buyers, once they arrived to your single property site, will continue searching for comparable properties on your own, private labeled tool embedded in your own featured listing website. Furthermore, since your RealBird single property sites are indexed by Google and other search engines while they are active, once the property is sold, you can still use your sold listing sites with the embedded IDX Search to continue capturing buyer leads. In other words, rather than waiting for home buyers to visit your website and eventually contact you for assistance, you create multiple entry points for your services via your own featured listings and sold inventory at high profile portals and search engines. The concept is very similar to the value proposition of real estate blogging. Blog syndication (via RSS, blogroll, search engines) enables you to capture visitors on remote online locations and after you "pulled" them back to your blog, you can provide additional real estate services (comparables, IDX search, market stats etc.) With RealBird's new listing publishing technology, you can use your featured listings and sold inventory to do the same: use it as a marketing vehicle to "push" some valuable content the meaningful online locations and "pull" visitors back to access your additional services on your single property websites.

Gabe's article is below.

-- Zoltan Szendro


A Novel Approach to Lead Generation for REALTORS®

by Gabriel Gross, President,

A “virtual” paradox is happening in real estate: the Internet has become the major medium for real estate information, yet real estate agents find it increasingly difficult to generate good leads using their Web sites. The cause for this is quite simple: The majority of early-stage home buyers will start their search with the major classifieds portals and so individual agents rarely stand a chance to be even “seen” by these consumers. Yet, these are clients that could be the most valuable leads because at this stage they have probably not yet committed to another agent.

Another way of looking at this problem is that no matter how interesting or informative an agent’s Web site, it will be only as useful as the traffic it gets. This of course leads to the need to generate traffic to the Web site, and the options for this are limited and expensive: keyword advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), banner ads, blogging, e-mail farming, or “traditional” media advertising. In truth, agents will find that in most markets even these methods will only produce spotty and unpredictable results because the majority of agents and brokers employ those same strategies, and therefore it is increasingly difficult to achieve differentiation even with the best agent Web site.

Another problem with the traditional traffic-generation methods is the low quality of leads that they produce. The best leads for an agent are those consumers who are early in their home-buying process, the ones who have just started “looking,” as these clients have not yet committed to another agent. However, surveys show that the majority of consumers will start looking for listings that are on the market on the major online classifieds portals-, Craigslist, Google Base, Trulia, Zillow, etc. Most consumers will not start their home buying by looking for an agent to work with, and so they may end up establishing a relationship with a listing agent that they contact from a listing that they see and like on the classifieds portal that they happen to visit.

So what can a Realtor do to “fish” for leads in the big Classifieds portals pond? The obvious solution is to post (syndicate) featured listings to these portals using one of the several Single Property Web site services. These services allow you to create compelling Web sites for your featured listings, with photos, slideshows, even video, and then post them with a click of a button to several classifieds ad portals and search engines. Many brokers and agents already are syndicating their listings, either on their own, or using one of the many service providers available.

A common mistake that agents are making is to assume that their listing will be indexed by the search engines simply because they are available in the “featured listings” section of their own Web site. This is not the case. Another common perception is that simply because their listings are syndicated in bulk by their broker it is not necessary for the agent to promote these on their own. Listing syndication works just like advertising - the more the better, and given the low effort and cost involved this should be a “no-brainer,” must-do activity.

As with any marketing activity, the results achieved are usually depending on how unique your approach is, and how you stand out from the crowd. With listing syndication it is no different, and in most markets the majority of listings are already being posted on classifieds portals, so posting a few listings will not be as effective as it was one or two years ago. Also, it is quite unlikely that a homebuyer who finds your listing will actually consider it to be a good fit with their need, and if that is the case then they will just click on to the next listing and you will have lost them forever!

An out-of the-box, novel approach to increase the effectiveness of your lead generation using single property Web sites is to embed an interactive MLS search into each featured listings Web site. The resulting benefit is that if a home buyer finds your listing on one of the classifieds portals, they can immediately see MLS properties and start a full search, directly from this listing that they are looking at, instead of having to click over to your Web site, which they would never do because at that time they are in the frame of mind of searching for and viewing listings on that particular portal.

In other words, instead of just trying to “pull” potential clients to your site you are “pushing” your branded MLS search to the best locations where most early-stage home buyers go when they start their search for a home.

This ability to search the whole MLS with an interactive map focused automatically on the area of the client’s interest greatly increases the probability that they will contact you for more information for any of the listings that they find using your MLS Search and can produce dramatically better results.

For an example of such a listing, please see this Single Property Web site: Note the “Nearby Homes for Sale” button and “MLS Search” tab.

With each active featured listing that you publish to the major classifieds portals, you create several additional “touch points” on the Internet. Compare this with only 1 - your own Web site where normally the MLS search resides. What’s more, you can do this even if you don’t have any listings of your own - all you have to do is borrow some nice, sellable listings from a colleague (with the listing broker’s blessing) and ask for their permission to advertise those on the Internet (make sure that you have written and that you display the listing broker and that you comply with your local MLS’s rules). All this takes maybe 30 minutes to do, and you can do as many as you have time for, with each published listing creating multiple locations on the classifieds portals where they can find your own, branded MLS search.

But wait, there is more: once the listing is sold, instead of deleting it from your account you can change the status to “sold,” and so your “sold” listing Web sites which by now are already indexed by Google will accumulate on Google to a growing number of additional “touch points” for your active MLS search tool. Again, this cumulatively increases over time the likelihood that home buyers will find you and will also create an “organic” lift effect for your search-engine standing. If, for example, you sell 10 listings each year, then the number of Google-indexed “entry points” increases in one year to 10 and after two years to 20, in addition to the active listings to be found on the major classifieds portals, as outlined above. Again, each of these sold listing Web sites will have your MLS search embedded, and thus whoever finds these listings on Google or some other search engine will be able to search for active properties on the market from right there, each “sold” listing thus becoming a potential conduit for new leads.

For more information, please visit

"Just Listed" widget with custom colors

"Just Listed" widget

A new version of the RealBird "Just Listed" featured listing sidebar widget has been released. The upgrade lets you  customize the color scheme of the widget to match your website and blog design.

Many thanks for Christoph Schweiger for this feature request. See the implementation on his blog under the "Just Listed"  header on the right side. Christoph: thanks for the  kind words about us in your recent blog post.

The widget configuration tool is not yet available in the member area. In the meantime use the Url syntax listed below for setting background and link colors (the example is using Christoph's listings) &rb_lh=150&rb_f=0

rb_bg is the hex color code of the background
rb_ac  is the hex color code of underlined link
rb_tc is the hex color of the second text line (also a link but not underlined)
rb_f=0 hides the RealBird logo (the logo is not transparent, so this has to be set when using background colors other than white)

Your RealBird listings on

We are glad to let you know that your listings published via the RealBird Listing Publisher is now also automatically distributed to for additional exposure.  With over 4 million unique visitors in August 2007 - according to the Zillow - this is a marketing exposure you can't refuse.

-- Zoltan Szendro