A new study has concluded what many of Zillow’s advertisers already know: Zillow refers consumers who are more serious about buying or selling a home than other real estate web sites. Commissioned by Threewide Corporation, the independent study analyzed the results of syndicating real estate listings on behalf of broker members of the Northern Nevada Regional MLS (NNRMLS.) The stated purpose of the case study is “to review the effectiveness of brokers sharing listings with non-broker and non-agent (third party) consumer facing property search Web sites.”

Simple in its approach, the study reports two metrics:

  • The percentage of visitors that were referred to the brokers’ websites by each 3rd party Web site and,
  • The percentage of those visits that resulted in a lead (i.e. where a customer contacted the broker.)

Not surprisingly, we did not send the most traffic (i.e. visits) to Nevada brokers’ web sites. Zillow just started receiving bulk listings from brokers a year ago and is a relative newcomer to that game. Zillow’s 4th place ranking (out of 21) is respectable but should grow with our coverage of homes on the market. Yahoo! deserves special mention for taking top honors for both visits and leads in Nevada.

A visit from Zillow is more valuable than a visit from another real estate Web site.

The case study’s results showed a huge disconnect between the percentage of visits from (12%, ranked 4th) and the percentage of leads that that traffic generated (21%, ranked 2nd behind Yahoo!.) According to the study, traffic from Zillow performed remarkably better than that from other sites.

“It was interesting to note that Zillow’s lead conversion numbers are proportionally higher relative to their referring traffic volume. Not all traffic is the same; some sites attract customers who are closer to making an actual purchase.”

By dividing the second metric by the first, it’s possible to calculate the relative ratio of leads per visit for each site. With that ratio, you can compare the relative value of traffic referred by each site on a conversion rate basis. The study doesn’t go that far but the results are startling. Only Yahoo! comes close to referring traffic that converts as well as traffic from Zillow does – at 71% of Zillow’s rate. That’s far better than average. For all other sites combined, referred traffic converts at a dismal 40% of the conversion rate of traffic from Zillow. And some sites faired even worse. Trulia, for example, would have had to refer 5 times as much traffic as Zillow to generate the same amount of leads (they didn’t.)


To feed your listings to Zillow, either contact ListHub or, if you have an XML guru on hand, send us a feed.

Threewide Corporation is the provider of ListHub, a service that distributes listings to real estate media companies for brokers in 110 markets. This study was conducted by The WAV Group on behalf of Threewide Corporation, and the full study can be found here.

  • Rebecca Levinson

    On clicks…how about on forms filled, contacts and closings?

  • Victor Lund

    The conversion rate did relate to consumers who inquired about a listing (sent an email), or requested a showing.

    Although we suppose with strong confidence that there were also numerous calls generated to offices and agents, there is no facility for tracking that across an entire market.

    This case study was aimed to view the effectiveness of listing syndication by an MLS on behalf of their broker members. We presumed that brokers who pioneered this practice, and painfully learned how to manage hundreds of listings on a dozen websites every day, might be concerned that the MLS was leveling the playing field.

    What we learned from broker interviews was to the contrary – brokers embraced the Northern Nevada Regional MLS for taking this burden off their shoulders.

    Today listing syndication falls mainly in line with meeting a seller’s expectation that their agent will market their property online – everywhere if possible.

    Secondary benefits are increased SEO from inbound links, increased referral traffic from 3%-10% to broker/agent websites, and some new customer contacts that you may convert to sales.

    Overall, listing syndication is a good thing.

  • David Gibbons

    Victor –

    Thanks for stopping by with the extra detail. The case study does a great job of identifying best practices in listings syndication. I particularly agree with the advice about preventing re-syndication.

    Regarding effectiveness, did you also compare these referrals to other online sources? It would be interesting to know how this group compared to traffic direct from search engines and other sources.

  • David Gibbons

    Rebecca –

    As Victor mentions, it wasn’t just clicks considered in this study. Leads are “consumers who inquired about a listing (sent an email), or requested a showing.”

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