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Digital Realtor Roundup: Memphis, Tennessee

By Phil Butler | August 21, 2016

On the borderline in between Tennessee and Arkansas, Memphis is the largest and westernmost metropolis in the state, and the largest on the Mississippi River. Founded in founded in 1819 by a group of wealthy Americans including judge John Overton and future president Andrew Jackson, the city is noted these days for the growth of its downtown area.

The home of "Elvis", is also home to a thriving business sector powered by fortune 500 companies  FedEx, International Paper, and AutoZone. As for the real estate market online, Memphis is not unlike so many other towns we have surveyed. Most agencies have turned to Google ads, Zillow and Trulia, Remax, and the typical cookie cutter suspects, and have essentially given up on any hands on media distribution. There are a few exceptions though no real estate player even appears on page one for search. Here is a rundown of resident Realtors actually doing the work of commerce online.


Marx-Bensdorf is nothing out of the ordinary

Marx-Bensdorf Realtors

Situated at the top of page two of Google for the search term "Memphis Real Estates", Marx-Bensdorf is celebrating 145 years in the Memphis area. The three dozen or so agents here look to President Jimmy Reed for guidance in serving Memphis property clients and buyers. As you can tell from the screenshot of the company's website above, "typical" is what to expect from this company's effort to utilize mobile and online channels. The digital rundown is as follows:

  • Estimated visitors per month – Alexa 3 million plus – gets (amazingly) 300 + visitors a month
  • Facebook – 1604 fans, with scattered post frequency
  • Twitter Engagement – Joined 2009 – 263 followers – they gave up
  • LinkedIn – 64 followers - profile essentially unused
  • Google “Mobile Friendly Test” – Passed

On the bright side of this Realtor's footprint, the blog shows a lot of promise compared to many competitors we have looked at. However, the lack of proper SEO function virtually assures even fresh content will be ignored. My initial thoughts here are; "If this is the best Memphis has to offer...." This agent gets a 4 on a scale of 10.

Sowell & Company Realtors' website leaves a good first impression

Sowell & Company's website leaves a good first impression, but the wonder stops here

Sowell & Company

First of all, this company has a very nice, tailored website. I love the slate green color scheme. Whoever approved the web design had a flair for crisp corporate style, I'll give them this. The texts however, leave a lot to be desired keyword SEO relevance wise, and the site reads like a closing lawyer wrote the content. Whew! Now that that's all out of the bag, the company is all but invisible to anyone searching Memphis for a house. Once again a major agency has hired a website built, got some freelance writer to type out some texts, and "set it and let it" online. As I type this, I cannot actually believe Memphis Realtors can be worse than Pittsburgh ones. Let's move on.

  • Estimated visitors per month – Alexa 1.9 million plus – 1,520 visitors a month and rising
  • Facebook – 168 fans, and a waste of time engagement
  • Twitter Engagement – Joined 2010 – 27 followers – never engaged
  • LinkedIn – 44 followers - Linda Sowell has a personal profile
  • Google “Mobile Friendly Test” – Passed

Principal Broker Linda Sowell is almost more prevalent as a brand online than her real estate company is. I don't want to seem like I am agency bashing here, but what a colossal waste of time this company's online billboards are. This agent gets a 1 on a scale of 10, and only by virtue of the fact somebody created a digital footprint at all. will not be seen in the Louvre soon will not be seen in the Louvre anytime soon, but the site works for minimalism

Joe Spake is in the top 1% of socially engaged real estate people on this globe, I am sure. A contributor to RealtyBizNews many times, Joe is on every social media channel that counts, and in a big way. To be honest, I am a bit puzzled as to why his is not listed higher by Google? Perhaps the ads have really taken over the show for Memphis. It may also be relevant that the Spake website is not really optimized aesthetically or SEO wise, but I've not the deep intel to glean this. What I can say is, Joe's going "minimalist" was a good move, if an ugly one. As you can see from the screenshot above, is not Sotheby's. That said, Joe is super engaged for his clients.

  • Estimated visitors per month – Alexa 5.4 million plus –  600 - 1000 visitors a month and rising
  • Facebook – 1193 fans, mirrors everything from Twitter etc...
  • Twitter Engagement – Joined 2008 – 5961 followers – top notch Tweeting
  • LinkedIn – 500+ followers - top notch profile and recommendations
  • Google “Mobile Friendly Test” – Passed should rank higher than it does, even against the massive branding Zillow and the others get from their ads and overall reach. That said, Joe could also spiffy up the website for more curb appeal too. The Google indexes for his site are massive, so I am suspicious about the SEO effort as well. However marginal this website may be though, Joe Spake's social effort is second to none. I give him a 7 out of 10 for serving clients well online. (Let me send you a WordPress theme Joe)

Functional, JudyMac's site needs a makeover even if Judy does not

Functional, JudyMac's site needs a makeover even if Judy does not


Judy O. McLellan is a Crye-Leike Real Estate legend in the Mid-South region. Personable to a flaw, this Germantown, Tennessee broker is what I would call an "organically successful" property professionally. What I mean by this is, she seems about as genuinely friendly and professional as they come. Her Facebook and other social efforts attest to what I am saying here. On the down side of online presence though, Web 1.0 bill-boarding has been out 20 years. The JudyMac website is only surpassed in ugliness by Joe Spake's aesthetically anemic one above. If that sounds harsh to some of you, imagine a home buyer dropping in, leaving, and never, ever, ever coming back.

Now that I have beaten the signage drum loudly, let's look at what Judy does best.

  • Estimated visitors per month – Alexa 14 million plus –  100 - 500 visitors a month max
  • Facebook – 2358 fans on her personal profile
  • Twitter Engagement – Joined 2009 – 3034 followers – super engaged
  • LinkedIn – 500+ followers - top notch profile and recommendations
  • Google “Mobile Friendly Test” – Ooops! Failed - the first ever in our series on agents

Judy McLellan clearly relies on the power of her company's Crye-Leike site presence, so it's a bit unfair to criticize so adamantly her website. Other than this "spot" on her digital effort, the Memphis broker is straight up stellar in her endeavors for clients. So, she gets a 7 out of 10 too.

Fast Track Realty's website is "nice" ... but not memorable

Fast Track Realty's website is "nice" ... but not memorable ... and memorable is the goal

Fast Track Realty

Begun in 2009 by Beth & Greg Glosson, this Memphis area agency landed on page three of Google, which means nobody in their right mind visits the site from organic search. People just don't scan search pages to find a home in Memphis, Trulia and Zillow, Google Ads took care of that potential.

  • Estimated visitors per month – Alexa 14 million plus –  100 to nobody
  • Facebook – 999 fans - very nice posts
  • Twitter Engagement – Joined 2013 – 8838 followers – some fake, maybe bought
  • LinkedIn – 5 followers - not yet developed
  • Google “Mobile Friendly Test” – passed
These fake followers follow a thousands and Tweet nothing

These fake followers follow a thousands and Tweet nothing - 3rd parties sell such fans

Looking at Fast Track's Twitter social profile I find some fake followers. The high number of fans given the late engagement in 2013 clued me into the possibility the agency bought some followers. While this is not illegal or totally unwise, using Twitter profile ads is the best way to achieve this. Third party follower services are unscrupulous generally. This real estate presence shows some potential, even despite the mistake of boosting Twitter like mad. Fast Track gets a 4 out of 10 with hope for the future.

Phil Butler is a former engineer, contractor, and telecommunications professional who is editor of several influential online media outlets including part owner of Pamil Visions with wife Mihaela. Phil began his digital ramblings via several of the world’s most noted tech blogs, at the advent of blogging as a form of journalistic license. Phil is currently top interviewer, and journalist at Realty Biz News.
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