I’ve convinced myself that the one thing missing from Outside.in is that they…

…never made much inroads with the real estate community (or real estate portals for that matter).   Imagine if the Realtor.com team had bought Outside.in instead of building the neighborhoods project.

And it really doesn’t matter if it was Zillow, Trulia, AOL, Yahoo or Realtor.com, it could be a win for the real estate portal (lots of local traffic and increased SEO benefits for local terms), a win for Outside.in (monetizing within real estate is easy: featured agents, listings, etc. on neighborhood pages) and a win for consumers (a large portal could easily add more local data/content such as neighborhood stats and maps).

I’ve always felt that Outside.in had an interesting thing going and just needed some real estate influence to make it pop.   Maybe the new CEO in the restructured Outside.in will do a better job reaching out to the real estate community…

9 responses

  1. With the right type of post, I can actually get a fair amount of traffic from Outside.in — so I know people are going there.

    It does have a good “neighborhoodish” framework, which you’d think would lend itself well to real estate. But at least in the Phoenix area, the discussion section is all but dead.

  2. Dave Balaishis Avatar
    Dave Balaishis

    I’m not sure it makes sense for a real estate portal to acquire something like Outside.in – I think the value of it is highest to those who are already living in an area, not those looking to potentially move there.

    For instance, a quick check of my local area on Outside.in shows information about schools and real estate. However, the school section links to an article about how one local high school was evacuated temporarily 2 months ago because of a hazmat scare, and the real estate article links to an article about a large fire at a local condo project under development. How would this be useful to someone looking to move into my neighborhood, who was looking for school information and real estate trends?

    Now, I’m not suggesting that Outside.in shouldn’t try to leverage the great local knowledge in the real estate community to improve their site content – there is obviously a lot of potential there.

    However, I think that the goals of any local news and discussion site is at odds with that of a real estate search site… one needs to have up-to-the-minute freshness to be effective, whereas the other benefits from showing a “bigger picture” view of the area. I also think there is a risk to the news side of things if the forum starts to get overloaded with “neigborhood marketing” types of content – this is probably a turn-off to people who are just looking for what’s happening around them.

    I would say there is utility in neighborhood information sites linking out to places like Outside.in or everyblock.com – these are great resources for folks who want to “dive deep” into the vibe of an area. But realistically, what sites are best for this is also a local matter – and from a RE portal perspective, it probably makes more sense just to link out to the key local players, rather than trying to maintain the network itself. What might be lost from an SEO perspective is probably made up for in a better consumer experience (and maybe some reciprocal goodwill).

    (Disclosure: I might be a bit biased towards the specific neighborhoods site Dustin mentioned, since I helped put it together…)

  3. Outside.in is an interesting idea but an established site like Topix seems to be in a better position to make headway.

  4. Jay:

    It’s interesting that you get some traffic from Outside.in… I remember when they first launched I used to get traffic to RCG, but they never show up in my referral logs any more.

  5. Dave:

    When you say their content may be at odds with the goals of a real estate search site, I’m thinking you may have been at R.com too long. 😉 The goals of a real estate search site should be to attract consumers, and at least going forward, that won’t be done by creating a sanitized and sterile environment. Being able to learn about neighborhoods in an authentic way could go a long way to building up consumer credibility around neighborhood information. And in many ways, just creating a welcoming environment for real estate professionals to promote their local information via this platform could be a huge goodwill for a real estate portal.

    And while I totally get your point that the information may be too much noise in the local content to be useful to most home searches, you could definitely use the content to attract consumers and introduce them into a local search…

    As always, Dave, I appreciate you stopping by!

  6. Jessie: Why topix? I’ve always thought they were missing the local feel although in the big picture I do like that they also focus on topical areas and not geographic communities.

  7. Traffic already massive to site, currently have some listings via Trulia syndication & their own craigslist type classifieds.

    Most importantly the commenting community seems to be alive and kicking… they would just need to tap into local blogs to get more of a local street feel.

  8. Dave Balaishis Avatar
    Dave Balaishis

    Dustin – while I agree that I may have been at R.com too long 🙂 I do think its important to give users relevant information that they’ll find useful. Trying too hard to “force” a marriage between fairly different types of user needs (i.e. real estate vs. local search) can create an awkward experience, meaning that it’s less likely that folks from both sides will stick around to form a vibrant community.

    However, I do think there is tremendous value in showcasing the “authentic” flavor of a neighborhood through local information and discussion (especially leveraging the knowledge of real estate experts) as part of a well-rounded neighborhood information experience. The challenge I can see is trying to do this within a system such as Outside.in without driving away the same “locals” that give this information its credibility…

  9. Dave: As always, you make some very good points. I still think there would be a way to make Outside.in useful to real estate searchers without corrupting the service, but I also agree it could be a tricky balance.

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