Google likes to do things that “scale,” which is why it has been difficult for the company to create vertical solutions of depth. Maps and local is an area that Google has invested hugely in but, by and large, the company has not built out compelling vertical content areas or services.
What’s happening with real estate is very interesting because it’s playing off of Maps and local developments — a case of “synergy” that enables Google to offer an increasingly credible real estate search capability. Google has offered housing/real estate search for some time. But now it appears to be getting much more serious. Matt McGee covers the integration of Place Pages into the mix. And the Google Australia Blog describes the ways in which Google may indeed become a force in the real estate vertical (at least in terms of listings):
We also wanted to tell you about the integration of real estate listings with Place Pages. Now clicking the “more info” link next to a listing takes you to a faster, easier-to-read page that gives you all of the information we have about a listing: photos, inspection times, videos, details, a Street View preview and nearby public transit information if available, allowing you to quickly find the listing you want and click through to the sources of the listing.
Here’s a “real estate” search on maps for my old San Francisco zip code:
Each of the listings has a Place Page (this is the game changer for Google potentially):
As mentioned above, these pages may/will contain video as well. The content on these pages is also as good or better than the listings detail pages of most real estate sites.
The key to successful real estate search is comprehensiveness and depth. Google’s goal is likely to be able to show all properties for sale in a given market. If in fact they can get there (which people can argue about) then real estate search on Google will become more widely used. The Place Pages supply the depth of detail about the listing that prospective renters/home buyers want. The advertising implications (together with Local Listing Ads for agents) are self-evident.
Real Estate verticals “going forward” will need to compete with community, as well as value added services, data and other features.