Widget Linking – How Real Estate Agents are Helping Zillow and Trulia Rank [Infographic]

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Ranking well in the SERPs is difficult enough to do organically, especially against brands more recognizable than your own. But what about when those larger sites in your vertical are actually getting you to do the work for them?

Many unknowing agents in the real estate field may already be helping Trulia and Zillow to outrank their own smaller, independent sites without even knowing it.

This infographic is a companion piece to the original article posted on Real Geeks which explains how it’s happening, and what real estate agents can do about it. Widget linking or “predatory linking” has been an issue in SEO for years – whether that predatory linking be in the form of Hitcounters or even Zombie Widgets.

How has this influencing the rankings of the Trulia and Zillow giants, and what does this mean for the innocent real estate agent who believes that they are adding value to their own site?

Looking forward to hearing the conversation!

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Jeff Manson
Jeff Manson is the owner of Real Geeks IDX Solutions and American Dream Realty Hawaii. He's a veteran to the industry and has been a... Read Full Bio
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  • Mark

    The terms of service that prevent links from being removed from the widgets make them SPAM in Google’s eyes. Matt Cutts says that users MUST be able to editorially choose their links and anchor text with no quid pro quo (including widget functionality) or the links will be considered SPAM.

    I’ve seen widgets in which the functionality of the widget stops working if the link is removed. This is typically done with javascript that checks for the presence of the link and does not render the widget if the link is gone. Matt Cutts specifically said that this is spam.

    Enforcing links through terms of service would also be considered link spam by Google.

    • I agree with you 100% Mark..
      Looks like the big guys are getting a pass on these type of practices… Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com are taking advantage on real estate agents knowing they are not tech or SEO savvy.. Most agents are not aware that those links are helping a competitor rank above them 🙁

      They are also doing some major internal link spamming most sites would not get a way with either.. Look at the bottom of these pages:
      They say nearby Cities or Neighborhoods and are stuffed with keywords…

      What makes it worse is the fact that it goes beyond widgets. They have thousands of crappy Hello World template pages with 2 awesome targeted anchor text in the footer of every page linking back to zillow.com/agent-websites/.

      On their widgets and these sites they are randomly putting anchor text back to their site to get around the new Penguin update.

  • It it easy for to see how many agents would view their widget as you put it how could one link really help them, but when you put it into perspective that the NAR reports that there are currently 1,024,669 active members of which the majority have 1 or more websites, the potential for links to Zillow and Trulia is huge especially considering many of their widgets are placed in the sidebar and thus providing sitewide links.

    Mark, I agree with you and wish that Google would as well, but couldn’t Trulia and Zillow make the arguement that users can simple choose not to use their widgets?

    • Hi Ashlee.. they do make that argument… they also know as I stated above that most agents are not aware of what they are doing…

  • Joe Notgood

    Look at the pot calling the kettle black. I love how you slam companies for putting hyperlinks in their widgets, but you put a hyperlink within your infographic, that has 2 keywords in it.

    You’re lame.

    • Hey Mr undercover guy… Nobody is requiring a link if they want to share our image to educate agents how they are helping a competitor… BTW: links are our company and the name of the post 😉

  • Bob Wilson


    You are correct. Here is Matt Cutt’s latest comments on the subject:

    Matt makes it clear that links and anchor text should be editorially given and not dictated by the widget provider. It is safe to assume that the same would apply with infographics.

  • Son of a biscuit! I didn’t even realize that the widget gave a link back! I have multiple sites for my real estate and every single one shows off my fancy badges! No wonder I can’t ever outrank Zillow and Realtor! Thank you for the heads up. Mine are officially coming down and I plan spreading the word. Also I have often wondered why these big sites get away with kw stuffing at the bottom of their pages. Realtor is another bad one at that. Thanks again for the heads up.

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  • An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was doing a little homework on this.

    And he in fact bought me breakfast simply because
    I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this matter
    here on your website.