Zillow - SEO Case Study

About Zillow

Zillow founders Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink were fresh from the success of Expedia.com when they decided to create an online service dedicated to providing consumers with valuable real estate information and tools.

The Web 2.0 Awards honor the most useful sites in various categories for their innovation. One month after launch, Zillow was chosen for the Real Estate category.

Zillow was the only online brand to receive Advertising Age's 2006 "Marketing 50" Award which honors the top 50 marketers of products that "broke through the clutter and delivered real impact."

In August 2006, Zillow was chosen as one of Time Magazine's "50 Coolest Websites" defined as "shining examples of Web 2.0: next-generation sites offering dynamic new ways to inform and entertain, sites with cutting-edge tools to create, consume, share or discuss all manners of media, from blog posts to video clips."

Pre-build SEO & Post Launch Consulting

Zillow's starting team had the wisdom and foresight to consider SEO during the planning stages of their site development; before the platform was selected, before the design was mocked up, before a single byte of code was ever written. Working with Beyond Ink, Zillow launched a search-friendly, crawler-accessible site (not without glitches however! see below) website that whizzed through Google's sandbox filter. The disruptive nature of their technology was a PR magnet and the Zillow site enjoyed an abundance of inbound links from authority sites. Unimpeded by technical barriers, the link value quickly dispersed through the site.

Indexing Glitch - Google Loves Me; Yahoo Loves Me Not

Monitoring the site launch, we quickly noticed Google was crawling and indexing the site significantly faster than Yahoo. The culprit turned out to be a last minute branding initiative to use .z as the file extension for the site so, for example, the About Zillow page URL became zillow.com/about-us.z. Yahoo's bot Slurp considered this extension a designation for a compressed file and ignored these URLs.

Success Metrics: Natural Search

Despite the Slurp glitch Zillow was top ranked in Google for several competitive terms (listed below) within 6 weeks and enjoyed more than 3 million referrals from natural search during that period.

  • home value(s)
  • real estate value(s)
  • house value
  • real estate prices
  • real estate valuation

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