Structured data are data that are well-organized and don’t require additional effort to determine their meaning. For example, raw text representations of sentences are not structured data, because they require an understanding of human language in order to interpret and determine their meaning. When information is well structured and represented in a standardized manner, search engines can more easily organize and display the information in useful and creative ways. They can do this because they have a better understanding of the information expressed in the data as a result of it being better-organized and making use of common terminology. The use of structured data in real estate applications has the potential to create more effective ways to reach consumers with information about properties, brokerages, and agents.
Structured data can be incorporated into web pages in a variety of ways that do not interfere with the appearance of the web page. Often, all that is required is the addition of a few extra lines of HTML code. Once structured data are added to a web page, using terms that major web search engines understand universally (such as the price, image, and description of a product for example), such information can be incorporated into what is displayed in search results. As documented by case studies in the U.S. and abroad, retail firms can get up to a 30 percent increase in organic traffic by incorporating structured data into their web content.
Structured data typically uses the schema.org vocabulary. Schema.org is an open, collaborative community effort to promote standard structured data in a variety of online applications. Sponsored by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex, Schema.org is developing a vocabulary for the real estate industry. Property Panorama has been actively contributing to the development of the structured data vocabulary for real estate with the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO).
The incorporation of structured data into real estate web content can help increase their search result ranking, making it easier for real estate consumers to access information about MLSs, brokerages, and agents and their property listings. Though still in its infancy, the creative use of structured data in real estate promises to become an important new marketing tool to reach consumers directly with rich and current information about properties.
InstaView 3.0 is the first virtual tour to incorporate structured data to create a single package delivering listing data and broker and agent contract information along with a state-of-the-art visual display of the property. Information entered in th the MLS by listing agents and/or into the InstaView 3.0 platform itself is converted into the structured data vocabulary and embedded in the tour to create Agent Profiles, and Property Profiles for individual listings.
The MLS Enterprise Version creates Agent Profiles, Office Profiles, Open House structured snippets, and Property Detail summaries within search results.
Instaview 3.0 tours are distributed to multiple listing services, broker and agent websites, syndicators, social media portals and YouTube. Agents can add or change contact or listing information in each tour or within the MLS which is synced simultaneously to ensure accuracy and timeliness. In MLSs where open house data is available to Property Panorama, this information can be incorporated into the virtual tour web page as events, causing a “structured snippet” to appear with the result. This allows consumers to not only see virtual tours relevant to their search criteria, but to also directly see information about their open house events.
“Snippets” are text that appear under a search result on a major search engine like Google. Snippets provide consumers with information about what is within the link delivered on the search engine results page to help searchers decide whether to click through to the web page. Four years ago, Google reported real estate sites increased visitors using "tabular" snippets that include brief information on open houses and listings like the example below.
Real estate information can be further incorporated into search result pages through the use of panels that appear on Google search result pages, providing more detailed information, including graphics, maps, and photos. Below is an actual, current Google search result showing structured data for an Ohio agent, Ms. Hope Marsh.
As illustrated above, structured data will provide consumers extensive information on agents and brokers, helping them make more informed decisions about selecting local agents. Agents can use structured data to emphasize specialties, awards, and their experience of local market trends which they enter into the Agent’s Tour management area of InstaView.
Property Panorama intends to use Structured Data within Instaview with the goal of delivering this powerful search result, for free, to every real estate professional within their system. As search result engines and companies like Google expand their knowledge graphs to include structured real estate data, search result pages will inevitably begin to improve the consumer’s experience, showing them more dynamic information that is relative to their search criteria, and both interoperable and in sync with the real estate information systems that are stewards of the data.
Property panorama also provides agents with a profile page, displaying their portrait, contact information, as well as information about their office. Below is Hope Marsh’s Property Panorama Agent Profile page.
When an agent enters a listing into the MLS, it will be automatically pulled into our system and displayed on the Agent Profile page.
Below is Ms. Marsh’s Agent Profile and Listings.
As noted, the use of structured data in real estate is in its infancy and InstaView 3.0 is a pioneering application. Feedback for the launch of this new product from MLSs, brokerages and agents will improve it in the months to come. Property Panorama’s experience will inspire new products and applications, as portals, syndicators, MLSs, brokerages and agents discover more about the potential of structured data. Consumers will be the biggest winners, as this new technology brings them closer to their local agents, markets and properties.