When buyers and sellers end up on a real estate website, what do you think is their expectation? In addition to For the majority of users, they are looking to search for homes for sale. Adding IDX to your real estate website provides exactly that.
What is IDX?
IDX is a program put forth by your local MLS to provide its members with the ability to provide a search on their website. The local MLS board provides a
data feed (RETS Feed) that contains all of the active listings (and in some instances even SOLD listings). This data feed is used to power the search results on a real estate website. Although the general IDX rules are written by NAR, the local REALTOR sponsored MLS board overlays some additional rules on how these listings can be displayed. For instance, every website that displays IDX listings must have certain disclaimers and has specific fields which can or can not be displayed. At its most basic level, IDX is a “pool of listings” in which local real estate brokers participate in. They agree to let their listings be in the pool and for that, they too can display other brokers listings on their website. Most MLS’s have a 99% or better participation in the IDX pool. At the technical level, IDX is raw data, containing listing information and photos.
Other Advantages of IDX
Putting a real estate search on a website, which will include other brokers listings,is very commonly done, but uncommonly done correctly. What I mean by that is there are many benefits of IDX other than simply giving your website visitors the ability to search properties. Having IDX keeps people on your site much longer than if you don’t have a property search feature. Even if the user doesn’t become a “lead” they are being barraged by your personal branding while on your site.
In addition, if properly set up, adding IDX listings to your website adds hundreds or even thousands of new pages (each listing has a property detail page). Each of those new pages can either add or detract from your real estate SEO. If you are thinking about having an IDX search on your real estate website, its crucial that it gets implemented properly to insure you get the maximum benefit.
Maximizing IDX for Search Engine Optimization is one of the first things we do when we take on a new SEO client. Lastly, in some markets the large real estate portals such as Zillow or Trulia may not have all of the available listings. Having IDX on your website can provide a valuable service by displaying ALL of the avaialble homes for sale.
What You Need To Implement IDX
To get IDX on your real estate website, you must first start with choosing an IDX vendor. The IDX vendor will take the raw data feed from your local board and provide you with a property search and the formatted display of those results. There are many IDX vendors out there, some that only work with certain MLSs and some that are nationwide. We strongly recommend one of the larger companies as they stay on top of dealing with the changes within the industry and the data feed itself. Most of the larger IDX providers provide a WordPress plugin to utilize their services. Two of the larger companies are IDX Broker and Diverse Solutions. Most IDX providers have a setup fee and monthly charges ranging from $29 per month on up.
Once you have chosen an IDX vendor, you will need to fill out the proper paperwork with your local MLS. There is usually a three party contract that is between you, the MLS and the vendor. All parties must sign off as everyone is agreeing to the terms and conditions of how the listings will be displayed. This lets the local MLS send the data feed to your chosen IDX vendor.
After your IDX vendor is getting the local data feed, you will need to go through the process of adding IDX to your WordPress website. This is usually done by the installation of a plugin provided by the vendor. The plugin will have a unique code or key that will communicate with the vendor and validate your monthly subscription. How you actually implement IDX on your WordPress website can vary by the vendor you choose. The larger IDX vendors provide good training materials and support. If you are not personally technically proficient, you may request for your web developer to actually to the implementation on the website.
Things To Consider When Adding IDX To Your Site
You will want the IDX listings to display on YOUR domain.
This is a critical aspect for real estate SEO. What we mean by that is when the user is viewing listings, those listings are actually on YOUR website. In some instances, IDX is implemented by an iframe or by a sub-domain on the vendors website. We do not recommend implementing IDX using either of those options. On the other hand, having the listings as a sub-domain on your website is fine. These are critical questions to ask of your IDX vendor and your web developer. In many instances, the user will never know the difference, but it can substantially change the way search engines view your website.
If implemented on your domain, your search and results will look something like this:
If on the IDX vendors subdomain, it will look something like this:
Having an IDX Map Search
Map searches can provide an added level of functionality to your website. Althogugh everyone doesnt necessarily search in that manor, its not a bad idea to provide that type of search. In many instances, the IDX vendor may charge a little more per month for providing a map search.
Having a Sign Up Wall
Depending on your personal goals, you may want to have a sign up wall included in your IDX. This is where the user is required (or in some instances asked) to sign up to continue to search for properties.
Their are two schools of thought here:
- One is that the website is designed to be a lead generator and we should do everything in our power to get their contact information. Forcing the user to sign up substantially increases the capture rate on the site.
- The other is that you don’t want to run anyone off of your site by forcing them to sign up. You want the user to stay on your site as long as possible and get permeated by your branding.
In today’s world of online real estate, simply having a website is not enough. You need to give your clients what they are looking for, which most of the time is a real estate search. Although there are many ways to get IDX on your website, the way in which it is implemented can make a big difference.