Is Zillow the wrong place to spend your time as an agent?

It seems that Zillow has only one thing in mind... search engine rankings.  The purpose for this is simple... higher rankings = more advertising money.

Maybe the agents here on Zillow would be better served by participating on other sites where they actually let the agents answer the questions and provide contact information and/or links to useful websites other than ZILLOW.  Why do they have a website link button above the text box if you can never use it, without a Zillow Moderator feeling like his life has meaning, by killing the link so no consumer will ever see it?

All you do by answering the questions here on Zillow is provide content for the search engines in order to increase page rank and search ranking (which then causes your personal websites or blogs to be listed lower than Zillow even if you do have more targeted information for the web surfers).

What's your position agents?

Watch this hotlink get removed by the Zillow Moderator citing "Good Neighbor Policy"... in short the Good Neighbor Policy states (without stating) any reference to any outside persons, companies, or online resouces is not allowed as it might cause someone to look away from the Zillow.com website.  Zillow wants you to believe that all information you will ever need is right here on Zillow.com and doesn't account for the fact that Zillow doesn't have all the answers (or any answers... they utilize information they "scrape from other sites" scrape from other sites in case you hadn't noticed).  I added "scrape from other sites" twice as the overzealous Zillow Moderator will likely remove the hotlink I've added to make a point... OR the moderator will leave it attempting to seem indifferent to the hotlinks... though they're not.
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August 22 2013 - US
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YES. Any lead generator is likely to be pretty much the same as the others. There can be lots, few or none as far as leads but 99% will be dead ends so it is a numbers game just like all other things with real estate. I like Online better than open houses so I think of it that way. Find other places to get business from, but don't totally abandon any online site.
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August 22 2013
Profile picture for wetdawgs
As a consumer, I'm pleased to see discussion on Zillow's forums.  I'm pleased that Zillow doesn't allow the "call me, call me" cries found on some other websites' forums.   I'm pleased that consumers find contact information in profiles rather than cluttering posts.    I'm pleased to see the hundreds if not thousands  of links to useful websites that are provided that aren't deleted as long as they don't go to the agent's website.  (No agent has all the secrets)   As a consumer,  I use a number of real estate sites.  They are all different.

Zillow receives data people (agents, brokerages, owner) chose to send.  Zillow doesn't "scrape".   Zillow also buys huge amounts of data.

I know many agents who are pleased to have received a lot of business through Zillow, and others who hate the place and some are somewhere in between.   Each agent will need to make the decision for themselves and what works for their own business model and style.    I know of no agent who uses only one website.
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August 22 2013
Profile picture for Dunes ..
Sorry you are so outraged Zillow does not feel a Link to your website is the answer to every question...

Perhaps you are correct that you & any other Agents who are annoyed by that type of outrageous approach to a Forum  "would be better served by participating on other sites where they actually let the agents answer the questions and provide contact information"



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August 22 2013
So workabee I'm curious... how is answering a visitor's question with a link to the answer (which is not promoting my services) in violation of the terms you posted?

That's right... it's not.  However Zillow assumes that agents will be self-promoting and remove the content without reviewing it responsibly thereby leaving a "[hotlink removed by Zillow moderator]" in place of the requested information.
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August 22 2013
Profile picture for hpvanc
So did any of your links go to websites that were not your advertisements? I see agent links that go to 3rd party informational sites left in place on forum threads. The key is it can't be your own website, or be primarily an ad.
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August 22 2013
The links in question were not self-promotion and directing the visitor to the information they requested.  When I happened to see the post at a later date, I noticed that the web visitor who asked the question couldn't even see the answer due to the [hotlink removed by Zillow moderator] insert where the answer was previously posted.
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August 22 2013
Not that I've done this, but I'm guessing (even though it's not prohibited in the policy) Zillow wouldn't even allow users to recommend agents outside their own areas.  Let's try it out.  Looking for a good short sale agent in Sacramento?   Contact [Contact information removed by Zillow moderator. Please see our Good Neighbor Policy for information.] today.

P.S. I'm in Southern California and have no relation in any way to the agent listed above.  In fact, I've never met or spoken with him.
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August 22 2013
Profile picture for SoCal_Engr
Less than 2 minutes to get moderated. Record? Or phaked?
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August 22 2013
Profile picture for wetdawgs
There is one very basic part of moderating that Zillow moderators appear to do consistently and have done for years - if the link goes to the agent's website with their photo and contact information, that link is considered self promotion even if it a blog or article on how to garden with petunias in response to a question on petunias.     While you, Cameron, may not consider it self promotion, if  your link went to a website without your photo and contact information, chances are very good it wouldn't get deleted.  

Clearly you don't like that policy.   Find what works for you.     Attitude stands out in your posts, and that helps the potential clients make their decisions related to business relationships as they search for agents.



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August 22 2013
Profile picture for Pasadenan
See Zillow's good neighbor policy, the "not so good" column":

"Please don't post inappropriate stuff:
...
Spam, advertising, or self-promotional content is not allowed in Zillow Advice. This includes, but is not limited to, any contact information such as phone numbers, email addresses, or website URLs
"

It doesn't state "no URL's", it states no "self promotion" URLs.... Those that link to your own website(s) belong on your "PROFILE" page.  Every post you make has 2 links to your profile page.

Yes, you can go to Trulia and post all the Spam you like... but only 17% of the people that use Zillow use Trulia...  Guess who gets to read all your spam?  Think it is potential clients?  Nope... it is other Realtors that are trying to post their spam.

One thing you might consider is that even health product advertisers try to post on the Zillow forum, even knowing that their post will be deleted...  Why?  Zillow ranks #53 in the nation for website usage.  And they have done a good job of making sure Google's crawler and other crawlers are able to crawl the pages.  And they don't charge to participate.  So, that is free "SEO".  (Search Engine Optimization).  And every link you get from Google (or other search engine) gets the reader not only to possibly relevant content they were looking for, but gives two links to your profile page, where you are allowed to link as many websites as you want.

If you do it right, not only does it drive people to your own website, but it also establishes your reputation of being helpful and knowledgeable or not.

But the primary purpose of the website is not the forum.  Substantially less than 0.031%  of the page views generated on the site are from the forum.  If you want local exposure from a larger percentage of the page views in your area, targeted ads or "buy a zip-code" premier agent status are much more effective ways to accomplish that.

As for answering consumer questions?   Most of the questions on the forum are not for agents... the majority are for Zillow staff; next for loan officers; next for contractors or home owners.

So, really, you just need to consider "why" you want to participate, or why you don't.  And if your time is not spent well here, spend it somewhere else.  There are hundreds of millions of websites you can post on, including many in China.  Perhaps you might want to learn a few hundred languages and start spamming other people that don't want to be your client?
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August 22 2013
Profile picture for Pasadenan
By the way, Zillow doesn't "scrape" from any websites... the "accept" syndication via IDX as a courtesy.  If you don't want to syndicate, then by all means "DON'T"!  No one is forcing anyone to syndicate.  Most of the approximately 900 MLS's in the nation don't syndicate directly to Zillow.  Many of them require agent access codes to obtain their information, and to access any syndication.  Sure, Zillow owns Diverse Solutions, which provides IDX services for 415 MLS' in the nation, for Realtor and Broker owned websites and similar; but they still don't get syndications for this site from most of those 415 MLS's.

If you really believe that Realtors don't want anyone to see any of their listings on any site other than the Realtor's site, or perhaps an MLS site with a limited access granted by a Realtor that is a member of that MLS... then why do the MLS' even use IDX in the first place?  Yes, there are Realtors lobbying for "no IDX"...  you can join them... but the majority of Realtors are asking how they can effectively syndicate, not how they can avoid syndicating.

And why are over 500k Realtors "registered uses" in the Zillow "directory" if all 1.2 million Realtors in the nation "Hate Zillow"?

If you don't like Zillow, and don't want people's searches finding your name on Zillow, then you can request Zillow customer service to delete your profile.  They are happy to do so, and do so regularly.
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August 22 2013
I think that Zillow is a good site for searching properties, not a complicated one that after you enter info it sends you to TX when you are wanting to search the farmlands in KY.

I like the question and answers forum on here and think that it is a very beneficial link to get a reasonable answer quickly.
They may not be the answer you are looking for exactly but they do provide
you with information to aid you in making a more educated decision or give you a better focus on what to ask next.

It is a place connecting Realtors, Contractors, Bankers and Educated folks like Wetdawg to the people who are searching for answers regarding residential housing and the purchase thereof for free.
I dig it.
-Joseph-
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August 23 2013
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Here is a sample of how the links on Zillow's discussion forum can be used...

For other machine opinions of approximate value, see:
finestexpert.com

Realestate.com/homepricecheck

homes.com

Homesand.net

Eppraisal

realquest.com express

cyberhomes.com

trulia

chase

homegain

smartzip

dataquick

zillow.com/homes/

(of course they won't be deleted; this is "reference" information, not "contact" information nor "self promotion" references).
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August 24 2013
I can say that Zillow is well worth my time.  It is the only advertising that I pay for and I am quite content with it.  I do my best to follow the rules and try not to ever "self promote"  and it pays off.  I get frequent calls on Zillow because I pay for a place in a zip code that I work, I answer questions honestly and because of that I get contacts that are looking for someone that doesn't say "call me"  
and you can recommend someone without breaking the rules- when it is a legitimate answer to a legitimate question and you simply say...X person is in your area,- and provide a link to their Zillow profile.

as for reviews, I've not been to crazy about them and I no longer ask customers to give them, in fact I'd be quite happy if they disappeared (long story won't start that rant now).  but if you look at my reviews you will see that two of them are from Zillow users in other states that I helped by answering their question on Zillow and they contacted me by phone for more information, so bacially I provided a free service to them -took 5 minutes of my time- no benefit to me when I did it.  For whatever reason they decided it was worth of a review (which really....it was not all that significant of an effort) this was their way of thanking me for my time.    I don't know that I've benefited from those reviews, and I don't know that people really read our posts or reviews, but as for advertsing I get my money's worth on my zip code placement and by being honest on the forums I have had a few customers.

I suppose if I trolled the forums I could probably get more out of it financially but I'm quite happy to just use the forums as they are intended and get the occasional benefit. It's much like providing good service to a customer and so they refer their friend to you.  Call me old fashioned but I find that a stable and comfortable way to do business.
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August 24 2013
I don't know, but it does seem like there's a lot of "love it or leave it" attitude going around.

Clearly, the forums are not especially important to Zillow's business. I have thought that encouraging agents to participate would expand their usage, but maybe this is as good as it gets.
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August 24 2013
Profile picture for Pasadenan
The only way that you encourage more agents to participate is to have more "consumer" questions.  And the only way you get more "consumer" questions is to make it more "consumer" friendly.  And they only way you make it more consumer friendly is to 1) actually provide relevant answers in a timely manner, and 2) avoid the "call me", "I'm the best"...

Zillow moderators do a 1/2 way decent job of keeping down the "call me"...  there still is a long way to go to get relevant answers to most questions.  If it wasn't for wetdawgs, sunnyview, and dunes, over 1/2 of the questions posted on the site would never get relevant answers.

No, promoting the forum does not expand Zillow's business.  Actually, more participation on the forum (driving additional page views, driving up advertising revenue) has been shown to occur when there is healthy disagreement on subjects.  Otherwise, the readers find it boring and go somewhere else.

What would be the point of "ask one question, read one answer", then never look at the forum again?

This is the "letters to the editor" section of the publication, and it doesn't need more "professionals" pretending it is their "free classified" section.

As for having to "love" it if you aren't going to "leave"?    Of the hundreds of thousands of posts that I have read on the site, I have only read a handful that state they "love the site", and absolutely none that indicate they "love the forum".  Sure, I read a few that state they love a few select discussion threads, but that is quite different.

As for all publications, it is still a "work in progress".
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August 24 2013

that's a good point.
the purpose of the forums are for the consumer not the agent.

the agent is served by the placement in searches and the ability to have our listings here which is only valuable if consumers are using it.


I get calls every few days from other sites wanting to sell me space on their site, something new, something consumers aren't using yet.   Those are a waste of my time.

using the forum is not marketing but it is a supplement to your marketing. So if all you do is try to use the forum for your marketing...it's a waste of your time but not a waste of your money because you didn't spend any.

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August 24 2013
Well, hmmm. I thought the revenue came from the agents.

I think that the forums here are generally agent-unfriendly, especially to newcomers. It probably doesn't matter, though, because as Pasadenan points out, the advice boards are virtually ignored by visitors to the site.
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August 24 2013
Profile picture for Pasadenan
We've gone over the breakdown of Zillow revenue multiple times...
NO it does not primary come from agents!  This is not your local MLS, nor any MLS for that matter; it is a media publication, primarily driven by advertisement revenue using a similar model to a local newspaper.

The sources of revenue:
1) Google Provided Ads driven by page views  (About 30%)
(http://ad.doubleclick.net/*)
2) General sponsor ads sold for the website (like Lowes, Propel Water, Honda...)
3) "Confirmed Lender" robo-quote contact "clicks". (About 30%)
4) Agent "buy a Zip Code" premier agent status (Platinum) (About 15%)
5) Targeted ads (by demographics, zip code, county, city or other); large portions are not directly real estate related; such as local car dealerships.  (about 15%)
6) Loan incentive and house purchase incentive "gift" program  (The loan officer or agent pays to advertise, a gift from Zillow is offered for a closed deal; Zillow gets Lowes (or similar) gift card at about 1/2 price to "give" as a the gift; the store pays the other half for their advertisement part of the program). (5%)
7) Local media (newspaper) partnershp/sponsorship ads.  (used to be on the search maps, based on search map area; as it doesn't indicate it presently; it is not clear what Zillow did with that program).
8) Other premier agent status (Gold - $50/month; gives "featured" status for listings, and client listing report.  Silver  - $10/month; provides a website, some contact management tools, and priority support)
9) other services Zillow offers through other companies they bought (such as "programing" through "diverse solutions").

If 500k Realtors® disappeared from Zillow over night, it would probably increase Zillow's revenue rather than decrease it.  Over 99% of the Realtors on the site are "freeloaders" that make no money for Zillow.  Even their puffery listings generate minimal page views.  Even without the listings, people are still going to look up the county records and other data on properties on the site.

This is not "Realtor.com" where NAR dues and agent advertisement pays for the site.
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August 24 2013
I am extremely pleased with the amount of business I have received via Zillow. The exposure is great!  Zillow is very controversial due to their zestimates and consumers love this website. You gotta know how to work any lead generation site in order to profit.
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August 24 2013
 
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