5 Reasons Microsoft Search Still Sucks

All the talk about Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google reminded me that I hadn’t checked to see if Microsoft has made any improvement to their search results in quite a while…

I know one term doesn’t make a rule, but I’ve found the term [Seattle Real Estate Blog] to be great for testing out the search engines over the years. Over the past three years, Google has always delivered relevant results for the term, while it used to be full of spam for both Yahoo and Microsoft. It’s interesting to note that Yahoo has made great strides over the past few years, while Microsoft is still lost in the dark.

Here’s the top five results by search engine:

Google [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. Rain City Guide
  2. Seattle RE Prof
  3. Seattle Bubble
  4. Ardell’s Seattle RE blog
  5. Guide to Seattle RE

All of these are great blogs and worthy of being in the top five.

Yahoo [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. Seattle RE Prof
  2. Redfin Corporate Blog
  3. Rain City Guide
  4. Redfin Sweet Digs
  5. Ardell’s Seattle RE blog

Again, all of these are great blogs worthy of being in the top five for the search results.

MSN Live [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. “Seattle Real Estate Blog”
    • Spam site that’s been around for years… A few years ago the webmaster got very pissy with me when I told him he had to stop republishing EVERY Rain City Guide article in full on his site. There’s nothing original on the site as it is all republished articles from Seattle blogs and news sources.
  2. seattle-real-estate-blog.com
    • Parked domain with no content
  3. “Real Estate Blogs”
    • Landing page with links to actual blogs. This is the best of the top five results, but still not a Seattle real estate blog.
  4. “Seattle Real Estate and Puget Sound Real Estate – A blog”
    • Account suspended by BlueHost. This normally happens when someone is posting spam.
  5. “Real Estate Blog”
    • Takes you to a landing page that says “This blog currently has no posts.”

There results are horrible. Two spam sites, two sites with no content, and one page with a few links. There are some great real estate blogs in Seattle, but Microsoft can’t seem to find them as their search algorithms are still so easily gamed by spammers.

Scoble thinks Microsoft should buy up Facebook and keep it closed to all but their search engine. Personally, I think they’d find a way to screw that up.

UPDATE: NYTs says Microsoft is getting ready to PAY people to use their search. How sad.

If Yahoo got their social media act together, this…

could be huge.

I’ve always enjoyed the niche social networks bought by Yahoo (Flickr, Upcoming, del.icio.us, etc.)… and if they can keep them niche, while making Yahoo more social, there’s potential for some interesting synergies.

(I found this particularly interesting in the context of Yahoo’s desire to keep prodding along…)

The Big List of Real Estate Events

As best I can tell, there isn’t a great list of real estate events that is published anywhere on the web.   CourseDates probably comes the closest with their list of real estate conventions, but even they’re missing the smaller events that I want to track.

So this evening, I created a group on upcoming simply called Real Estate, and I invite all of you to join me in my endeavor to track the various real estate events that occur around the country.

I settled on upcoming for a variety of reasons:

  1. Many people with the RE.net are already using it to track their events (see Portland RE Meetup, Adwords Training by Reachd and RE BarCamp as examples)
  2. It’s free
  3. Nice RSS support (including the ability to sort-events by start date within feeds)
  4. It has great social features including a “groups” that will allow me to promote others to help manage the group.

So, here’s how I plan to use the group:

  1. I’ve added the list of events to the sidepanel of 4realz.net
  2. I subscribed to the group’s RSS feed so that I can get an update any time someone else adds a new event to the group!
  3. I opened up permissions on the group so that anyone can join and add events to the group.
  4. I’ll continue to add events as I learn about them.

How can you use the group?

  1. Join the group and add your own events.
  2. You can subscribe to the group’s RSS feed to learn about new real estate events as they get published on upcoming.
  3. Add the list of real estate events to your sidepanel.

Of course, if people start adding spammy-type events to the group, I’ll buckle down the hatches a bit in terms of who can post events, but at least initially, I don’t see that being much of an issue.   And if you have any ideas for how to improve the tracking of real estate events, I’m definitely interested in hearing about it!

Rumors spread that Trulia is getting Prudential’s Listings

It started with the real estate coach and spread to Joel before hitting 4realz. And it all seems so believably that no one is really doubting the story.
However, I think it is worth nothing that there’s a bit of confusion over the total number of listings that Prudential would be giving Trulia… and I’m pretty sure the the confusion stems from the fact that Yahoo ran their real estate site as it if was an IDX feed from Pru so that Pru was “sending” all the MLS listings (Pru and others) for most MLS’. However, if Prudential is sending listings directly to Trulia, this would no longer be the case and I’m almost positive Pru doesn’t have anything close to 4M US listings as reported by the various sites.

Either way and any way, this would be another big win for Trulia, but as Joel notes, Michael agrees, (and I’ve said before), it is not self-evident that at the end of the day, the consumer wins with broker-fed listing sites.

The 1st 4RealzEd event was yesterday and…

4ealzEdI think I’ve recovered enough now to actually post about it! 🙂

Despite our best efforts to be prepared, the day started off a bit rough with a nearby mudslide taking out power in our building in the morning (meaning no hot coffee and no projector) and a 9-car pileup on a nearby freeway slowed me down tremendously. AHHH

So, to say it started rough would be an understatement… But once it started, things seem to get on a roll quickly.

I started with an overview of consumers expectations in a web2.0 world to set expectations for the day… Jim followed up with presentation on optimal features and design for a real estate website. Then it turned back to me for a presentation on social networking… lunch… then another presentation by me on creating value through blogging about communities. And we returned for the day’s finally with Jim giving a engaging presentation on measuring and tracking marketing results to ensure a positive ROI.

All around, it was a wonderful day! And, maybe they were just being nice, but the attendees who talked with me said only good things about the education.

Because I promised attendees I would give them a list of all the sites I mentioned in my presentations (so that they wouldn’t have to ask me to spell out each URL), here is the list for everyone’s benefit.

Consumer Expectations in a Web2.0 World:

Engaging in Social Networking to Earn Clients

Using Blogs to Build Communities

I wasn’t tracking the sites that Jim mentioned, but there were not nearly as many of them in his presentations…

And thanks again to all the bloggers who have helped spread the word about the event, the sponsors who helped us keep the price low and all the attendees who made the day possible!

I received some incredible feedback from all three groups, which is going to lead me to make some changes to the upcoming events (I’ll announce those early next week!). Great stuff all around. Thanks again to everyone!

Going way back before I took my job at…

…Move, I landed a 30-minute meeting with Dan Rosensweig (COO of Yahoo at the time), where I tried to convince him that I should lead up a team for Yahoo to build a platform that would help real estate professionals market themselves at a local level using the various tools Yahoo had in-house (at the time, it was something like Yahoo 360, Flickr, upcoming, local business reviews, maps, listings, etc.).

Dan’s strongest argument against such a platform was that I should prove out the concept first by doing it myself since almost all of these platforms had APIs (and theoretically, he was right, but I was looking for a regular paycheck!).

Anyway, I only remembered this story after reading Joel’s post about Seth Godin’s new product: SquidZipper.

Even two years after my call with Dan, the market for providing a free, quality, and local marketing platform for agents is still largely undeveloped… and while one of the real estate focused verticals like Trulia or Zillow could theoretically fill this niche, it still seems like such a no brainer for one of the big guys like Google, Microsoft or Yahoo to take a page from Seth’s playbook and create a niche-specific platform for their various tools!

Seth’s platform is a great idea… but it is still missing the one thing that could really make a platform like this work: an abundance of consumers!

Design or Dysfunction?

As Brian pointed out, Yahoo Real Estate currently returns broker-uploaded listings by default, but also gives consumers the option to see “MLS Listings” via their agreement with Prudential.

Yahoo Real Estate Screenshot

My guess is that Yahoo has (internally) made the decision to end their existing IDX relationship with Prudential at some point down the road and is using the dual option as a way to smooth the transition.

However, it seems like a somewhat confusing option for consumers in the meantime…  Especially, since many agents have “taken the hint” and stopped using the words “MLS” on their websites… opting instead for a consumer-friendly version of “Search for Homes!”

I’m with Joel in wondering what…

..MicroHoo would mean for online real estate…  (and especially for Move who did not renew the contracts to run the listings behind AOL Real Estate AND Yahoo Rentals last year).

My guess is that it would be a good thing for Move as it would provide at least another year of breathing space while senior execs at MicroHoo focused on trying to synergize their future online ad platforms.

On a REAL wild speculation…  I think best thing this combined MicroHoo could do in the real estate space is would be to write a big paycheck to one of the big players (probably Zillow, but even Trulia or Move) and let them worry about real estate while MicroHoo sorts everything else out!  🙂