MONEY magazine’s annual Best Places to Live feature launched today. Congrats to Middleton, WI which came out on top of the Great American Towns. As in year’s past, the list was compiled by Sperling’s BestPlaces. It also uses local market data from OnboardLLC.

This year however, CNNMoney has done something new by incorporating Trulia’s search engine into the site to power the homes for sale function. Readers can search real estate city by city or from any page on the site through a search widget.

trulia-search.png

This is a pretty big win for Trulia. One of the site’s biggest weaknesses, is that it suffers from a lack of widespread consumer brand awareness. Outside of Internet-savvy home buyers and real estate 2.0 professionals, very few people I talk to have even heard of the site. Its Puget Sound rival Zillow, on the other hand, enjoys much greater mainstream recognition — largely due to its relentless and shrewd public relations campaign.

Trulia’s deal with CNNMoney, which itself is part of the greater TimeWarner media empire, means many more consumers are going to be exposed to the Trulia brand. And if this plays out the way I’m sure they hope it will, this could be a huge traffic driver to their site.

Trulia’s challenge going forward is going to be capturing some of that traffic and retaining it, as I expect much of it will be from first time visitors. They’d be wise to welcome all new visitors coming from the CNNMoney site with some sort of unique welcome message (something Seth Godin has been advocating for a while) – one that highlights the unique features of Trulia, encourages them to bookmark the site etc. That way people won’t feel quite so alone when they land on their pages.

Aside: WordPress bloggers can accomplish this using the What Would Seth Godin Do? Plugin for WordPress.

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