Local Housing Gets OneBox Treatment from Google

Greetings from Inside the SEOigloo!

Over the past six months or so, I have been looking at real estate all over the state of California with my husband because we are contemplating a move. Tonight, Google’s SERPs presented me with an option I had never seen before in all of my searching. The search I performed was formulated town name + house for rent. Here is what I got:

Google OneBox result for local housing search


As you can see from the above, I’m being given the option to put in a location to select a property type (it showed me single family and duplex/condos), and also the type of listing I’m looking for (rentals, real estate, or foreclosures). When I hit “Go”, it took me into a Google Maps result that looked like this:

Google Maps for Real Estate listings

As you can see, we have something that looks akin to Google’s local business listings, but we’re being given drop down options of the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and further refining of the location of the house for which we’re searching. We can also sort by price, distance, and date.

On the left, we have a scroll down of the listed properties. Mousing over the addresses, I’m seeing a long URL that seems to be going through Google Base, but I’m not quite sure I’m reading that right. There are 20 houses listed on the first screen with 3 total available pages being offered.

Google Maps Real EstateThere is one peculiar thing I am noticing. If you look at the image on the right, you will see that Google is pulling the same house listing from multiple sources, but giving each one its own numerical listing. The linked titles are different, and the four listings shown here are coming from four different websites, but it’s all the same house. That’s kind of weird!

This is the first time that I have seen this type of OneBox for a non-metropolitan housing search. The town in question, Petaluma, CA, is not a big city. It’s really just a big town. I was really surprised and excited when this popped up in my SERPs, and I would like to share this with others to discover what they know about real estate being given a OneBox result, and what may be influencing that to happen. Is Google drilling down to more rural locations now?

6 Responses to “Local Housing Gets OneBox Treatment from Google”

  1. on 20 Aug 2007 at 12:41 am Matt McGee

    “Is Google drilling down to more rural locations now?”

    That’s exactly what it is, Miriam. I’ve seen the same thing happening elsewhere — smaller locales are now getting the real estate dropdowns. I would have to assume it’s a combination of better technology, and maybe more importantly, more real estate agencies and MLS systems making the data available to Google.

  2. on 20 Aug 2007 at 8:21 am mblumenthal

    Hi Miriam

    In a broad sense I noticed this trend in March, with the phrase “real estate + city, st” with a post about google pulling back from the local onebox. But I had not yet seen it in the rental market.

    In fact I am not seeing it on this search: Ellicottville NY house for rent.

    I think Matt is spot on with his comment about technology improvments and data availability. Although there may be a component of profitablity on Google’s side as well…clearly they want to be in the listing business. And it appears to me that when they can provide relevant results with GoogleBase over the Local data they will.

    Mike

  3. on 20 Aug 2007 at 2:29 pm admin

    How nice to see both of you fellows here! I wanted to tell Matt about this, but know he’s in San Jose this week…and I thought of Mike, too, and his great local blog, but couldn’t find an email for you, Mike.

    I think the point that they are likely getting this information from Google Base is really an important one for realtors to pay attention to, eh?

    I have to say, if the information provided by this service is relevant and correct, it will be a huge improvement, as currently, so many of the top 10 SERPs for real estate and rental housing listings are monster sites with no actual data…just catchall pages that usually don’t have any housing on them at all. At least, this is how they are for me, locally, and it is really frustrating to try to find actual businesses.

    I’m glad both of you have seen something like this, but it seems like with Mike’s search of Ellicottville NY, we are still left with some mystery on our hands as to when Google will provide this feature and when they won’t.

    Thank you, Matt and Mike, for stopping by!
    Miriam

  4. on 24 Aug 2007 at 4:59 pm davidmihm

    Hey Miriam, great speaking with you earlier today. GoogleBase in Universal has been around for awhile here in the inner Bay Area now, but I am definitely interested to see it in the North Bay.

    As for the multiple listings, that’s definitely a problem for both Google Base and Google Local/Maps. I’ve seen a number of duplicates in both properties in some random searches I’ve done.

  5. on 25 Aug 2007 at 1:02 am admin

    Hi David,
    It was tremendously nice speaking with you, too!

    Yes, the repetition in the Maps results is not fun. And if you are seeing this in your more cosmopolitan neck of the woods, where there are doubtless a ton more properties for sale, chances are this is the case everywhere. I thought I might only be seeing this because there weren’t to many results to display.

    That’s something that could really use some attention from Google. 4 listings for the same property is just too many!

    Thanks for commenting, David. It’s very nice to see you here.
    Miriam

  6. on 29 Aug 2007 at 11:52 am davidmihm

    Miriam–interesting that in doing searches for real estate, homes, etc, around here (Oakland and Piedmont, with and without all variations of CA and California), I’m no longer getting GoogleBase results as part of Universal…they’re still experimenting!! :)

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