Does your IDX measure up? Find out which tools rank highest

Written by Alessia Girardin

The Made in America Movement, a platform for promoting American businesses, released a report examining which internet data exchange tools are the best for your website as well as what consumers think about the home search on existing sites.

IDX, also known as internet data exchange, allows brokers and agents who are members of a multiple listing service to integrate real estate listings from that MLS database into thier own websites. The benefit to such a feed over Redfin, Zillow and other aggregators is twofold: This software connects directly to the source so that all your listings are all up to date and comprehensive. It also keeps prospects on your website, allowing you to receive leads from your listings when users execute a property search on your website.

When dealing with IDX tools, it is important to look at search engine optimization. There are some downsides to when clients do their property search on Google: They often fall under Google’s “user intent” shift, in which searches only appear based on what the search engine remembers about the searcher. The study noted that several outdated IDXs use iframe technology and subdomains which make it almost impossible to rank a website on search engines. However, with modern IDXs this feature is enabled.

In regard to SEO, the report stated that it’s important that website developers stay updated on new platforms to ensure they continue to work for brokers: “We found that many agents have been hurt by website developers that use an IDX that utilize subdomains or iframes because the developer is simply accustomed to using one of the outdated IDXs, rather than one of the newer modern options.”

Some IDX plugins are more successful than others. After testing 25,000 real estate agents’ websites and working with more than 125,000 consumers, MAM ranked Showcase IDX as the highest rated IDX plugin overall, with kVcore and Real Geeks coming in not far behind. According to the results, Showcase IDX had the best SEO and visitor retention scores, especially from the standpoint of return on investment. Those are important factors for the success of the plugin, but MAM noted that maintaining solid lead generation, engagement and conversion through the website are also important factors.

MAM emphasized the importance of using your website as “the hub of all of your marketing,” and noted that integrating a modern IDX is part of that effort. Modern IDXs provide users with a web building platform as well as plugins that can directly link to them. From MAM’s analysis of more than 25,000 real estate websites, Showcase IDX came out on top as the most successful plugin to use whether you are building your own website independently, or working with a web developer to create it. The benefits of all-in-one platforms like kVcore and Real Geeks is that they provide other services as well — such as a full website, drip email and text campaigns, as well as other advertising features — rather than being hyper focused IDX companies. Still, MAM noted that these two platforms came in at a much higher annual price than owning your own website.

3 cybersecurity tips for working from home

3 cybersecurity tips for working from home

It’s a data thief’s dream come true — millions of professionals working from home computers and leaving themselves exposed to digital burglary.

A recent report by cybersecurity firm McAfee noted a 630% increase in cyberattacks on cloud services since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Real estate professionals could be at greater risk, too, according to the report. McAfee’s “Cloud Adoption and Risk Report: Work From Home Edition” charted a 50% increase in cloud computing across all industries between January and April of 2020, while real estate and construction cloud computing jumped 63% during that time.

Cybersecurity specialist Robert Siciliano, founder of Protect Now LLC, said real estate professionals should immediately take a few key steps to make themselves safer. After all, he noted that phishing, hacking, spoofing — every category of electronic fraud, essentially — is on the rise. “There’s a coordinated effort by criminal hackers to take all the existing scams from the last 10 to 15 year and direct them to COVID-19,” he said.

1. Update, update, update

Siciliano said that, above all else, those working from home need to make an investment in new technology. “You can’t work on an old device that has Windows 7 on it,” he said, noting that outdated operating systems are not regularly updated for cybersecurity, which leaves users open to scams. While it might be a tough sell to make a substantial investment when many face the prospect of reduced income, the financial impact of being a victim of cyber fraud could be much greater, Siciliano said.

2. Check the age of your modem and router

Be honest: When’s the last time you updated your cable modem and router? Siciliano said it’s crucial to do so every five to six years. Most people only switch out when the device slows down or ceases to function properly, but security should be the main concern for your connection to the internet. Failing to do so could mean lost clients, lawyers fees and a damaged professional reputation, he said.

3. Is your connection secure?

This is cybersecurity 101, according to Siciliano, but many people still are unaware they need to encrypt their Wi-Fi connection with password protection. Failure to do so means anyone with a computer within 300 to 500 feet can connect to your system. “Enable WPA or WPA-2 encryption on a home Wi-Fi router,” he said, advising those working from home to Google the make and model of the router and the term “setup.”

The National Association of Realtors has also provided an abundance of information about cybersecurity with details on everything from avoiding cyber liability to its data security toolkit.