Place data in the websites we use and love: Spotlight on Zillow

We launched this blog series a few weeks ago with a spotlight on crowd favorite Airbnb, which now supports searching for listings based on characteristics of the place you're visiting. This time we're shining a spotlight on Zillow.

At first blush Zillow may not appear to support category search. You're not met with cute icons on the homepage- just a regular old search bar. So I entered the location of one of my Zillow fantasies (admit it, you've done this too): Harpswell, ME-- a lovely seaside town not far from my alma mater. The search page suggests a few properties are available so I start to scroll. And while it's subtle, I noticed that there is a ton of real estate (pun intended) below the search results. I used to be on the Growth team at Airbnb, and it's pretty clear that I've soon entered the SEO section of this page. How can I tell? Well, there's a lot of text. It's near the bottom of the page so you don't get distracted by it but Google's bots can still find it. And it's all linked to other pages on the site. And what do I see when scrolling but "Harpswell Waterfront Homes for Sale". Would you look at that! 

So we've found a waterfront homes filter for Harpswell at `https://www.zillow.com/harpswell-me/waterfront/`. Because I like to break things, I figured I'd see if this pattern holds a bit more generally. So I dropped the `Harpswell` and tried `https://www.zillow.com/me/waterfront/` and it worked! The pattern persists for other states, too (but a quick glance at results suggests quality is not awesome; here are CA results, for example).

It seems odd to me that such a popular search phrase as 'waterfront' would be obscured from home searchers/only findable via a sleuth like me. Maybe it's due to the quality of results? Or more likely, maybe the growth team put some of this data together but hasn't been able to extend it or get one of the relevant product teams to take it up in other parts of the product. In any case, stay tuned for more soon. If the meantime you're interested in building innovative product experiences with place data, let me know!

About iggy

Without Iggy, building innovative user-facing products and tools with neighborhood and geographic data requires sourcing and buying fragmented and unwieldy datasets, hiring specialized geospatial analysts/data scientists to work with them, and engineers to bring what they build to prod. It’s complicated, expensive, and slow.

Iggy brings data about neighborhoods to your product development stack and lets you build innovative products and experiences in a fraction of the time by completely eliminating the need to source, preprocess, analyze, and aggregate individual and incomplete spatial datasets so you can do what you do best– convert more customers.

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