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I am wondering how Google searches of almost any street address returns a Zillow webpage.

The way my website currently works is as follows:

When a query is entered in the search box a page is generated specific to that query (similar to how Zillow has pages for any address, where the page layout is basically the same but differs in relation to the search input).

As an example here are links to two random addresses found through Google:

  1. https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/665-Cedar-Lake-Ln-Clinton-NC-28328/116257128_zpid/
  2. https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/711-Santa-Cruz-Dr-Keller-TX-76248/29236359_zpid/

Here, the page content differs only in relation to the information in their database specific to the search address. Price, location, etc.

My problem is that as of now, my website only generates these pages and dynamic urls (www.domain.com/search_input) when the search is done through my site. If I want that same page (www.domain.com/search_input) to appear when the "search_input" is entered in a Google search, what do I do?

Did Zillow generate the content for all the addresses in their database and then host each individual page, meaning millions of pages with Google picking them up in the usual way? Or is there a way to instead just host one page with your basic layout? Through a Google/Bing/etc search the page would then change only in relation to the information tied to the search and the url would be www.domain.com/search_input as when generated through my website.

I am fairly new to web development and this is my first project where I have a database of search_inputs that is too large for me to manually create the content for each one. Even if I wrote a script to generate all these pages, there would then be the issue of hosting such a large number and I'm not really sure what that would entail.

Any help would be appreciated!

-Scott

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As with any other page detection in Google it is done through linking. Zillow doesn't host every single address as a page rather it is being done using a single page template and a database of addresses. In order to make Google detect these there are two methods which are used by the various sites that do something similar. One is to create an index of all the addresses through a series of links so that search engines can detect it using standard crawling practices (this is what Zillow appears to do).

The other method (which is done by a few similar sites here in Australia) is to use Sitemap files, grouped by geographic region, and link them all through a sitemap index file which is all re-generated regularly (anywhere from every 3 hours to every 24 hours) and then submitted to Google or even just left in place until Google re-indexes the site and detects the updated sitemaps.

I will add a side note that some sites use both techniques for added reliability in being detected, and you should always make sure that if the link exists or the sitemap entry exists that the address (the page) can be accessed at that link and doesn't wind up failing with a 404 error.

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    I am not sure the OP understands that Zillow only has pages for properties that are listed for sale (or rent) from other real-estate sites. It is an aggregator site and not a site that provides a page for each address that exists. – closetnoc Mar 5 '17 at 1:01

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