You’ve heard me talk about this before… As a real estate professional you should own your website, create local content and build SEO. I’ve built a few real estate websites for clients this past year and I wanted to share my thoughts on how your IDX data affects your SEO. One of the areas often neglected is a well planned implementation of IDX. Specifically, how to automatically update unique MLS content on your WordPress site that is optimized for SEO. Yes, it is wonderful to provide visitors with a way to search for MLS listings on your site, but don’t stop there.
IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange and is the method use by a Multiple Listing Service to share property information for public use in a certain area. In a nutshell, it’s a data feed that enables users to search for MLS listings on approved websites.
IDX iFrame vs Wrappers
How you display IDX results on your website depends on whether you are using iframe or wrappers. It may sound technical, but really what matters is how search engines “see” the data on your webpage. An iframe works like a window within a window, placing a webpage content from another website into a window on the webpage. It’s two separate things and search engines see it that way. I don’t recommend this method.
A wrapper seamlessly combines the data together onto one webpage as if it was all from the same source. IDX Broker offers this, and I do recommend it.
Add a Dynamic IDX Wrapper
The beauty of a dynamic IDX wrapper is that it matches the look and feel of your site, because the page is actually from your site. A bit of code is added into the content area to tell IDX Broker exactly were to insert the IDX portion of the page. The page is then served by them, but looks just like a page from your site. By placing the content directly into a specific area of your webpage, search engines see it as content from your website.
The dynamic portion really comes into play when the search engines revisit the page – the content is automatically updated. Search engines are always on the prowl for new content, so they typically visit pages where content changes frequently.
Taking IDX Broker Further
If you are using IDX Broker, they offer a lot of options to customize your page and search content. Admittedly it does take some time to sort it all out, but once you do, it is definitely worth it.
The ability to implement a custom subdomain. This will allow you to use something such as search.yourdomain rather than the standard subdomain that your idx provider offers. IDX Broker has that option and I highly recommend using it to give your site credit for the content from the feed.
Use Dynamic Title and Meta Tags
Make use of dynamic Title and Meta Tags for the page that displays a property’s detail information. Search engine crawlers will see each detail page as unique, improving index and search visibility. For example, the title for the page about 123 Main St could be “123 Main St AnyCity, AnyState, AnyZip, Property For Sale MLS# 123456789”.
You can take things further by adding some unique content to the wrapper pages themselves. Don’t limit yourself to just one global wrapper page either. Create one for featured listings, search results, detail pages, etc. This will give you the opportunity to a some unique content to those pages. The goal here is create dynamic pages that are unique.
Create Saved Link Pages
Create pages for market areas, neighborhoods, or communities you serve. With one click, a visitor can see all of the available listings for a specific market. You can also embed those listings on an information page about that area, creating very unique content. These become rich content pages that differentiate your pages from others, improving the index visibility of those pages.
IDX Site Map
Be sure to include a link to the IDX Site Map in your site footer.
Adding a link to the IDX Sitemap somewhere on your website will help search engines find your IDX pages faster and index them more thoroughly. Your Sitemap is created automatically to include categorized links of all of the active listings from your MLS. Depending on the size of your MLS, that could lead to hundreds or thousands of indexed detail property pages! Note: This sitemap only contains links for IDX pages, not others pages and posts on your site.
While not required, it is recommended you submit an XML Sitemap to search engines. IDX Broker provides that, so if you are already using Google Webmaster Tools, you can submit an XML sitemap manually to search engines.
Whether you choose to do this work yourself, or hire a professional, I strongly encourage you to do it. Maximize your IDX investment and take full advantage of the SEO features to build unique content.