Late last year some small businesses were up in arms, charging that search engine Google changed its algorithm to favor large companies and portals. The reality, says analyst group eMarketer, is that all the major search engines now tend to list the large portals because they have the most links and site traffic.

What does this mean to builders? Type “maryland new homes” on any of the more popular search engines and no small builders will be listed. Searchers will be pointed to maybe one large builder and sites like, new,, or

Best advice: Don't depend on free traffic. Builder portals like American Home Guides cost roughly $100 to $300 a month per community and are a low-cost way of advertising. Most experts say builders need a combination of advertising on one or more builder-oriented Internet portals and local newspaper advertising.