Google Drops Real Estate MLS Listings

Will Google Stop Indexing Real Estate Website MLS Listings

is google dropping mls links iconIs Google going to stop indexing MLS listings on real estate websites? It’s a rumour we came across recently! Disturbingly, the source of the rumour came from an IDX service provider. (IDX service is an intermediary service between the raw data MLS feed and a realtors website)

The IDX service provider told our client there was no point in having indexable listings on his real estate website as Google was going to stop indexing these listings.

In a way this makes sense. Yet the idea raises more questions than it answers.

MLS listings are a big problem for SEO – content duplication… Read more

Google Drops Real Estate MLS Listings

About Mike

Web Developer and Techno-geek Saltwater fishing nut Blogger

Posted on July 12, 2013, in Google and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Gwen

    Thanks for the positive comment. 🙂

    At this time Google IS still indexing the MLS listings.

    You don’t mention which IDX you’re using – I’m guessing if your client’s site is running on WordPress, it’s probably Diverse Solutions.

    Noindex nofollow helps but has a downside

    Going the route of noindexing, nofollowing the listing pages, and nofollowing any on-site links to these pages – and setting a robots.txt disallow rule is definitely an option (with a down-side). It does stop all the 404’s Google finds.

    The down-side: Excluding these pages from search results is not a good idea if the listings are bringing in business for your client.

    If the site is still small , and the listings aren’t getting good SERP among better ranked sites, then I feel it can be beneficial, at least until the site domain is getting well ranked with the older, larger,more authoritative sites.

    A client of mine had great ranking for his articles and his own listed properties, but the site had only around 150 non-MLS pages. When we switched to an IDX like the one you describe the number of indexed pages of course increased dramatically.

    That was great for a while, then the broken links started accumulating – sometimes 700 and more a week. More broken links than on-site pages

    Then we started seeing the well ranked articles dropping down the SERP rankings, below less relevant results. The only reason we could establish was that the excessive 404’s was creating the impression to Googlebot the site was faulty – and we know Google wants to send searchers to sites where searchers find a quality experience.

    Traffic also dropped.

    Noindex nofollow experiement

    As an experiment, we noindexed, nofollowed all IDX generated listing pages – and nofollowed on-site links to any of these too.

    After about 4 months (It’s a slow process recovering from a downgrade in Google ranking) traffic started picking up again, and SERP improved. We’ve stuck to this for now – concentrating instead on building strong content to build the site authority. Once we feel the site is more competitive with the bigger sites in ranking, we’ll look at allowing the listings back in Google’s index.

    Just a word on SearchMSN, Bing etc – these bots completely ignore the meta robots markup and robots.txt rules and index the MLS pages – so we still get broken links in those search-engine indexes.

    Best solution for 404 MLS problem

    The best solution to the 404 problem is for the IDX service to return control over broken links to the site using the system – so we can set proper 301 redirects – or set de-index header code (which is what the IDX SHOULD do – not simply delete the listing). But that’s unlikely – the service my client uses thinks it’s better to have Google find broken links… But it doesn’t affect them – only their clients.

    I think what they mean, but won’t say, is “it will cost too much money to manage the sold listings properly”

    Or consider what we see as our long-terms option; set-up a dedicated RETS integration so the sold property listings can be managed properly. Which is quite a challenging task for my small business – so is likely to take another 3 years or so. Unless we get lucky and get hired to develop the system 🙂


  2. Interesting read on one of the many challenges of real estate SEO. Since this article was published, has anyone heard more about whether MLS listings have indeed been dropped?

    The issue that I’m dealing with for one of my clients is that once a listing is sold, it is removed from the MLS and therefore their website. This makes for something like 23K Not Found pages in Webmaster Tools. Do you think that the solution is to add no index tags to the listings pages or a no follow to the robots file? Neither of those seem to be ideal solutions since we do get a lot of traffic through those pages, but neither is having 23K 404s.

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