As a real estate agent or broker, you may have asked yourself “what are organic MLS listings and why do I need them”? Read on to put the question to rest!
The MLS (Realtor.ca) multiple listing service is the official trading platform of all real estate agents and brokers. The database contains a comprehensive list of all properties on the market.
In order to increase visibility, and their chances of selling, real estate agencies display this list of properties on their website.
Since the MLS is constantly being updated, a specialized integration method is required between real estate agent websites and the MLS in order to display accurate and up to date listings.
There are different methods of integrating an MLS listing on a website.
An organic MLS integration produces an organic MLS listing and is, by far, the best integration method to use.
An organic MLS listing on a website is one where the MLS database resides natively on the web servers.
This may seem confusing. So, to help you achieve a deeper understanding, we’ll use a contextually relevant example:
Think of a real estate website as a house and the MLS listings on the website as the furniture in this house.
Let’s say this house rents its furniture from a supplier.
If the house displays its furniture as holographic images streamed from the supplier, it may seem at first glance like the furniture is actually present and part of the house; however, further inspection would show that as not being the case.
Visitors would not be able to interact with the furniture in the same manner as if it were physically present.
If the furniture, however, was rented from the supplier and physically present in the house, it would reside natively in the house, and visitors would be able to interact with the furniture as a natural extension of the house.
The first scenario illustrates an MLS integration that acts as a mere portal between a website and MLS listings – and the second illustrates an organic MLS integration that achieves an organic MLS listing on a website.
Organic MLS integration automatically updates the MLS listing on a website without the need for the user to do anything manually.
From both the front and back end, the MLS listings seem like a local embedment, so it’s a full MLS import into your website.
You may conclude at this point that an organic MLS integration method with your website is indeed extremely beneficial.
But what are the specifics of these benefits?
Let’s go into detail about some of them below.
There is tremendous SEO value to organic MLS listings on your website.
SEO (or search engine optimization) is essentially a method of helping your website rank highly on the list of results for a particular Google search query.
So what this means is if a customer performs a search on Google using a phrase related to a property you have organically MLS listed on your website, your webpage with that property on it will appear in Google’s search results which will, in turn, increase visibility and traffic to your website.
And more visitors to your website, of course, means more customers!
The incredible benefit of having an SEO optimized website is the fact that it provides a means for you to attract new customers free of charge.
Unlike paid advertising methods like Google ads, an SEO optimized website allows you to show up on the first page of Google organically, without needing to pay for anything.
Organic MLS integration also helps the listings load much faster on your page giving visitors an enjoyable experience and also further contributing towards positive SEO.
The other benefit of organic MLS integration is the appealing aesthetics that come with it.
You could have a beautifully designed real estate website, but if the MLS listings displayed on it are non-uniform and cluttered, the entire website is deemed unimpressive to visitors who might then decide to find another, more visually appealing website.
Organic MLS integration results in listings being displayed in a uniform format, which gives them a neat, clean look, and makes user navigation a pleasure.
A visually pleasing, fast loading MLS listing on a website reflects the respect you have for positive visitor experience, which will be reciprocated with repeat visits and even page shares.
There are different technologies available that facilitate the residence of the MLS database on your web servers – the two primary ones being IDX and RETS.
Both technologies have organic capabilities but there are some differences – namely, in their rate of data transfer.
The RETS (or real estate transaction standard) is the highest quality of data transfer technology from the MLS host.
RETS integration updates information at the fastest rate, compared to other technologies.
This speed, however, does come at a price…literally.
RETS integration is quite expensive and requires a higher level of skill-set when it comes to website implementation.
Implementing RETS integration is not a necessity since thousands of organic MLS listing websites operate successfully with a cheaper integration method.
This cheaper integration technique is known as organic IDX.
IDX integration operates at a very similar level to RETS integration. In some cases, the refresh rate difference is almost unnoticeable.
The archaic form of IDX integration utilized a file transfer protocol (or FTP) via an iframe portal which did not result in organic MLS listings.
IDX (or internet data exchange) technology has now evolved to accommodate native MLS hosting via a simple WordPress plugin known as IDX WordPress.
The creation of the IDX WordPress plugin was a defining moment in the digital real estate space.
This innovation gave real estate agents and brokers the capability of setting up organic MLS integration much faster and cheaper than ever before.
The IDX WordPress plugin comes with the SEO benefits of having all of the property data, addresses, and descriptions indexed on your website, which makes your entire website both visible and accessible via Google search results.
Complete customization is also possible with the IDX WordPress plugin.
You have complete control over the MLS listings – you can even choose to display only specific types of properties.
Editable widgets, such as the photo slider, property gallery, and many others, can be easily customized and even excluded when desired.
The IDX WordPress plugin can also be changed to suit the theme of your website – so, don’t worry, there will be no need to rebrand yourself just to accommodate for the MLS listings.
In conclusion, if you are not displaying organic MLS listings on your website, you are missing out on many potential customers freely finding you on Google.
The IDX WordPress plugin makes organic MLS integration faster and cheaper than ever before.
Give your website a competitive advantage by getting set up today.
Let us know what you think in the comments.
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