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97: Josh Cobb: Build Your Real Estate Brand (Only) On The Portals At Your Peril

By |September 21, 2016| No Comments


As the joke goes… “The best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google.”

Nobody looks there, right?

So when our real estate portals release new products, such as Agency Profiles, they say help us rank higher in search results, what’s the point of having our own real estate website anymore?

In this episode of Real Estate Pros, we discuss why going all-in with the major portals, at the neglect of your own website, is a very slippery slope. And we ask the question, is there a better way?

Build Your Real Estate Brand (Only) On The Portals At Your Peril

Back in August this year, announced it was relaunching Agency Profiles – a product they say is “an enhanced online feature designed to help real estate agencies stand out from the crowd and get discovered by more sellers.”

Agency Profiles allows real estate agencies to, essentially, build their own website within’s website and “the changes include more engagement opportunities with enhanced calls-to-action, a team overview with links back to individual agent profiles within the agency, cover images and detailed descriptions and a simplified grid view”.


All-in-all, it’s not a bad way to have a presence on Australia’s 19th most visited website, and best of all, as long as you’re a paying subscriber, it’s free.

In their SEO Agency Profile Cheat Sheet, which is publicly available on their Agent Marketing Centre, REA say that “Appearing near the top of search results is a great way to get more exposure for your brand and more engagement from property seekers.”

We would likely all agree that appearing higher in search results is something we all want to achieve and we could be led to believe that REA has our best interests at heart when they say things like this in their marketing collateral.

But in what might seem like a fleeting statement to some people, it’s what REA say in the very next paragraph that deserves further attention in my opinion.

They say, and I quote:

“Optimising your agency page on will help consumers in finding you, whilst improving your brand’s presence in Google.”

That sounds great, right?

Well here’s something you may not have considered.

While it may in fact be your brand that consumers are finding in a search on Google, your brand is on a website that you don’t own.

What that means is you’re playing on someone else’s land, under someone else’s rules and they can change the rules whenever they like.

Here’s a few scenarios that could very well play out as more agents and agencies begin filling out their profiles and start driving traffic to their profiles on our portals:

  1. REA might decide one day that it’s time to monetise their Agency Profile pages by showing ads on your profile and charging you for the privilege to have those ads removed.
  2. They could decide to do the same thing with their Agent Profile pages as well.
  3. After enough traffic starts visiting Agency Profile pages, they might offer banner advertising to their key stakeholders and charge them accordingly based on which profiles, in which locations, are getting the most traffic.
  4. They might even decide to show native advertising for sponsored lifestyle related content by local publishers.
  5. They may charge you for add-features that are developed in the future.

These are all very real possibilities and we must not forget that our portals are media companies and media companies make money from advertising. But unlike traditional media companies, our portals are unique, in that they generate revenue from both sides – from advertisers and their customers. That’s you.

For all the scathing attacks that our portals have received over price increases, I believe the push to have agents and agencies to live only on their platform is a very slippery slope indeed.


It was after one of our recent Digital Marketing Essentials workshops that I began to realise the threat to agents who go all-in with these tools that our portals are marketing to industry professionals. A principal of a large multi-office network asked me this question: “Why should we bother with our own website if our Agency Profile on is higher in search results?”

The fact is, he’s right. If your own website is simply a portal for your listings, your agent profiles and your results, you should be questioning whether having a website of your own is worth the time, effort and expense if it’s being outranked by your profile on our major portals.

The reality is, for the most part, we as an industry let this happen.

Our primary focus on promoting our listings, our profiles, our awards and our results has allowed our portals, and others, to develop products that seem, on the surface, to allow us to stand out on from our competitors in all of these areas.

If you think of a traditional sales funnel, our listings, our profiles, our awards and our results are all bottom of the funnel marketing activities and we as agents spend a disproportionate amount of time promoting these things.

If you listen to our podcast, you’ll know about the countless case studies that we’ve shared of agents and agencies who are playing at the top of the funnel, where there are far more consumers and far fewer agents.

These agents and agencies use their own website as the centrepiece of everything they do online. These agents and agencies use their own website to publish content that people at the top of the funnel want. These agents and agencies are winning the battle for attention on social media and rankings on Google because they’ve taken the time and effort to think less like real estate agents and more like a publisher – a publisher of inherently helpful information that consumers are looking for well before they’re looking for an agent.

According to a journal by three authors out of the College of Information Sciences and Technology at The Pennsylvania State University, more than 80% of web queries are informational in nature, with about 20% each being navigational and transactional.

80% of web queries are informational in nature, with about 20% each being navigational and transactional.

So how does this relate to real estate?

Well, if only 20% of people going to the internet are ready to select an agent, or to list their home, or to buy or rent a property, what information are we as agents and agencies giving for the other 80%?

This is the question we all need to give some serious thought because this is where the opportunity lies if we want to control our online presence and not be at the mercy of the major portals and others.

Sure, have a presence on those platforms if it makes sense for your business to do so, but never forget that the only platform you own and control is your own website.

If using your website to simply promote your listings, profiles, rewards and results isn’t helping you with rankings or new business, maybe it’s time to rethink having a website at all.

What content could you publish on your own website for the 80% of people who are going to the internet but aren’t ready to buy, sell or rent right now?

Do you want to control how your real estate brand is built online? Or will you let the portals do it for you?

It’s time to decide.

Good luck.

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