The Online Search Battle For Commercial Real Estate. It’s Not What You Think It Is.

The Online Search battle For Commercial Real Estate. It’s Not What You Think It Is.

Not Even Close.

I know that you are assuming that I would launch right into all of the “supposed” national or well-known commercial real estate search platforms.

Rip them apart. Tell everybody why they suck. What they are doing wrong and how to fix them.

Which……I probably could. But…that’s for another day…or maybe not. ( Tooooo Boring.)

Let’s get everybody into the pool.

The battle for online commercial real estate search is not just between a few broker facing bellybutton looking platforms.


It’s simple. Let’s take a look at a simple Google search for…

350 Fifth Avenue New York ,New York

Poof up comes the first page of Google and what do we see?

350 fifth avenue New York


The Empire State Building.


Virtual Office Address.




Honest Buildings. Personal Woo Hoo!

Find Hotels Near Address.  Which is a russian american website. (Go Figure.)

I know this may be a little hard to figure out but guess what? It is the address for The Empire State Building in New York!

Drill Down.

Now let’s get serious here for a minute. Take a look at the first link that comes up in the search. I said look!

It’s the address of the property.  Take 5 minutes to ponder this. Please take 5 more minutes.

If I have written opined ranted or flat-out screamed about anything in commercial real estate this may be the most important thing…EVER.

It’s how a property will be found and defined online now and forever. (Bold statement I know.)

Guess who has already figured that out? Almost everyone but the people in commercial real estate.

Walgreens has. Foursquare has.  Mapquest has. Hell a russian american website has!

Ok Ok  I will give some cred to Loopnet. They have been on the address search train forever.

Search some other random property by address. Loopnet will come up. Go ahead I dare you!

A special Hell Yea to Honest Buildings who are just quietly kicking some ass.( Riggs how much more love can a man give and not get a beer?)

So What.

So What? You have got to be kidding me. So a few different website links show up. Nobody pays attention to those things anyway.

Well Google does and so does everyone else specifically everyone who searches for commercial real estate.

We shall now learn from our residential friends.

Go to Google and type in your home address. I did mine and no I am not giving out my home address. There is transparency and then there is transparency.

So what comes up on the first page of Google for my house. (Keller Williams)


Basically all third party service providers of residential real estate tied directly to my personal home address.

Now just for fun go type in some of you or your firms commercial listings by address.

What happens….I know what happens. Loopnet shows up somewhere. Cityfeet (Co-Star) shows up somewhere. Most likely a firm or business that occupies the building and Mapquest also shows up in the mix somewhere.

Guess who doesn’t show up anywhere………anywhere at all. You guessed it!



Or any other broker or firm for that matter!

So….the way that people will now and mostly forever search online for commercial property is by the address of a property and we in commercial real estate??????

See no point.

Have not figured out how to use a computer.

Think SEO is a new stat the golf channel came up with to track Tiger.

Assume the new junior hire is on it.

Know for sure the company “tech guy” knows what that is.

Only focus on relationships! (Company Mantra)

Wish Duke Long would shut the hell up.

Could care a less.

Wish this internet thing would go away.

To quote the guy behind me in Palm Springs ” I know people are into this stuff but it is a waste of my time.”

The Online Search Battle For Commercial Real Estate. It’s Not What You Think It Is.

Comment opinions and points of view are always appreciated.


Duke Long


  • Right on, Duke.

    The fact that brokers are not paying for Google adwords blows my mind. This is marketing 101 stuff.

    I.e., if I were selling industrial space in Tulsa, Oklahoma you can bet that I’d be capturing Google and Bing searches for “industrial space Tulsa” “industrial brokers Tulsa” and similar and display my add for a specific property or my link to my broker profile.

    Paying CoStar and your dues every month IS NOT MARKETING. People, being a commercial broker in 2013 no longer means handing it off to the jr. ‘wiz-bang-kid’ – being competent with computers, mobile devices, digital communication, social media, blogging, copy, and SEO IS part of the job description.

  • Nicely said Duke – er.. but you do realize that the default Google view is the personal view and on mine, the layout is a bit different. (Honest doesn’t make it ’til the 4th page). But your point is well taken.

    • I always default to avoid personal results. I analyze and track how our online marketing performance is fairing by performing organic searches on a regular basis.

  • What’s the one question all of us as early adopters of #CRE social media receive? Have you made any deals with this stuff? We could debate the purpose ad nauseam…but I can answer resoundingly, YES!…using the digital address “foot-printing” Duke describes. If you doubt me, google 3621 Commonwealth, and see what comes up. We leveraged this video content into a multi million dollar sale/resale.

  • Duke don’t be giving out all the tips to the good old boy club. Things like you explain are giving the young guns a shot to beat them all to the punch. Im fortunate to be in a expanding city of Rochester, Minnesota that is expected to see approximately $3.5 Billion dollars in investment from a private employer the Mayo Clinic. Approximately $600 Million dollars from the state of MN for infrastructure improvements. All of this action is showing an estimated very large private investment from people all over the world. With all of this economic development I just need to work hard in my corner of the ring to be trained, tuned, and able to move quick as some BIG deal researching and conversations from outside investors begin from a thing called Google Search.

    Now I need to return back to my corner and keep training, great article Duke keep the good stuff coming. is the site for the economic development engine behind Rochester’s expansion.

  • People may search for a specific property by address now and then but the most reliable search term that searchers seem to use to locate an agent/CRE listings is “commercial real estate” followed by a city and maybe a state. This was determined a few years ago after a firm I’m familiar with spent big bucks on Adwords…so now you don’t have to. But Adwords is a money pit/stacked for the house. So just be ready to spend.

    Won’t help for organic search, though, unless you spend A LOT on Adwords (notice how the paid links often match the organic results…). Besides money, Google is interested in authority, relevance and “freshness”.

    After Google’s last algorithm update, many of the big brokerages dropped off the first page for those keywords I mentioned (CBRE was the exception…). Try it yourself – it’s pretty bad. Point of the update was to reward “freshness.” Which is why it’s nearly impossible for smaller – and even bigger –
    brokerage sites to compete with LoopNet, etc…since LoopNet et al. have tons of new “content”, everyone links to them and they have years of “authority.”

    Best strategy now is to be on G+, have a blog and post a lot – and promote a lot in order to get visitors and authoritative links.

    • “Best strategy now is to be on G+”

      Interesting, I’d like to hear more about the reasoning behind G+

      Is it that it’s tightly integrated with Google search?

      • Sure it is – especially if you’re logged into a Google account when you’re searching. They look at your G+ connections…their connections…and all the other info they have on you – and show results based on that (“personalized” search…). But even if you’re not logged in, “influential” G+ users with content relevant to your search hold a lot of weight.

  • Thanks, Duke – great observation regarding addresses.

    Our website clients utilize primarily one of two solutions to showcase properties on their own websites:

    (1) 3rd party property listings feed providers (better fit for those with 100+ properties to avoid dual data entry – usually using an iFrame), or

    (2) WordPress Custom Posts as a content management system (CMS) (better fit for those with <100 properties where data entry is less of an issue)

    For those who are familiar with WordPress, you can imagine the SEO advantages in applying tags to applicable location/address for each property listing.

    creGROW teamed up with NAI Knoxville on a website showcasing the national disposition of Ruby Tuesday properties – – and achieved great results.

    As example, Google search " 3898 State St Rd, Bay City, MI 48708 " to get a feel for it.

  • Duke, Right On!

    I searched for my house: 3 Zillows, Yahoo (anyone use Yahoo in commercial?) & a (probably picks up on past searches).

    Resi industry knows free searches are where it happens, instantly. I saw a listing on my street not hit the MLS and about 100+ cars arrived for the open house. CoStar watch out! What is the good of all the “past” information? Do I drive looking into the side and rear mirrors? I don’t care what a building leased for in 2000, it’s 2013 (2nd Qtr). How good is research? Is it about deal this month, or LAST quarter?? How fast to buildings get created and added to databases? Not very. Who’s in charge of the APN? What’s it unique to? Who cares most? The tax organization.

    Social media is not for brokers – it’s for your clients & prospects! The only cre brokers I really want in my Facebook, LinkedIn, etc, are out of area, or in area if they share information, it’s building a network! What’s the definition of a network? Alan Buchanan is excellent at this!

    SEO is what Loopnet has over CoStar. Loopnet got it going early, CoStar can’t – that’s why they are best for research (research is where? In the pasture). It will take awhile to take Loopnet down, due to past searches and future, CoStar will figure out how or sell the whole thing off to someone else.

    I wish I could get more excited about going to Palm Springs to hang out with brokers. Frankly, I would rather go to Web 3.0 conference – coming soon to a city near you. I would rather go to a Hackathon in the Silicon Valley and hear what people want and then try to serve it up.

  • Duke, what you and it seems like no one else is accounting for is: the reason why these residential sites show up so high is the fact that they get tons and tons of traffic. That always helps with SEO. In the commercial world, traffic to brand sites is minimal. The only sites with significant traffic are LoopNet and CoStar. That helps them show up (along with tons of SEO tactics they’ve engaged in).