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The Time Google Became Estate Agents.

In recent years, the search engine giant has progressively increased its market share in various heavily feed-based verticals, including hotel bookings, flights, and more recently recruitment.

“We are leaving Rightmove” this is a phrase that has been uttered by many estate agents in the country. In light of all that is going Rightmove has failed to understand the needs of their customers.

Why would Google disrupt this industry

For me the question of whether Google will enter the property market is a question when not if. With other offerings such as Google Flights, Hotels and Jobs. Estate agents should prepare themselves for Google Properties. 

Last year, Google quietly became the biggest job board. Google has the power to do this they have the power to put their content over others even if it means making some businesses redundant. 

It is no surprise that Google’s first real estate offering failed. In fact, Google so much as admitted this in a statement they released saying:

We recognize that there might be better, more effective ways to help people find local real estate information than the current feature makes possible. We’ll continue to explore this area, but in the meantime, Google offers other options to home-seekers – Brian McClendon, VP, Google Earth and Maps

This statement was made all the way back in 2011, so the question is has Google Maps improved since then and could a Google real estate feature be reintroduced again?

This is tricky, it would be quite simple for Google to implement, for example Google my business pages have without a doubt killed directories. So a Google real estate platform could just as easily kill property portals.

Property industry has got lazy

Many in the property industry have focused all their marketing time and money to the property portals. Which leaves many estate agent website that are not optimised and have bad user experience. Many agents all use the same website builders so identical estate agent site with different color schemes and logos are not a regular occurrence.  

A new property offering would force agent to focus on improving their sites and also allow Google to make money from PPC ads. 

How it would affect you?

Imagine starting tomorrow, you can easily look on Google maps on your phone to see houses for sale or rent in your area and through Google maps you can send an enquiry. With such an easy user experience you probably won’t bother to look on Rightmove.

This is a feature that could shake up the whole property industry, it would push the sector to focus more on SEO and web presence.

Property portals would lose their value, if data from these platforms can be fed into Google listings like the above. It would make going on a specific platform redundant.

Local Search

Real estate revolves entirely around locations, and Google will serve users with the results it deems most relevant to either their geolocation or to geo-targeting keywords such as ‘flats to rent London’. 

 

Free Website Audit

Regardless of whether Google does enter the real estate sector again, I think it is always imperative to focus on your own web presence, and keep your website on step ahead of your competitors.

If you want a free website audit, provide your details below and we will send you a tailored report for your site.


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    Biggest Estate Agent SEO Mistakes.

    In the past two weeks, I have analysed over 52 estate agent websites, this first started when I asked a few estate agent owners in a poplar Facebook group to post their websites for me to critique.

    I ended up receiving over 52 replies with people asking me to look at their websites. After reviewing every single website I noticed a recurring number of errors the websites all had. Other industries make some of these mistakes in their SEO strategy, but the ones I will list below are more prevalent when it comes to estate agents.

    Template Websites

    A lot of estate agents do not get bespoke sites and use companies that offer them template websites. The issue here is many do not know that they have template website. These template websites make it difficult for owners who are not SEO specialists to optimise their site. Speed optimisation and A/B testing is difficult due to the rigid nature of template sites.

    But the worst thing is that your business which has its own brand ends up with a website that looks like everyone else’s.

    Hosting lead gen tools on different URL’S.

    A lot of estate agent websites have valuation tools. mortgage calculators, and other lead generation tools. These  are usually hosted off their site and sometimes take users to pages with no SSL certificates. Having too many of these tools that take users away from your website can actually prop up the domain authority of the url’s these tools are hosted on, not your own website!

    Also, because these tools are not hosted on your site, this makes tracking data difficult as once users leave your site, you can’t track their interactions to optimise the page for conversions.

    Broad Keywords

    Most sites I looked at did not have a SEO strategy to target people searching in the area where the agency is based.

    For example, an estate agent in Essex not having Essex in their title tags and meta descriptions (these are the results you see on Google.) Broad keywords put you in competition with national competitors and it is harder to rank especially for site with  low domain authority. Of all the sites I reviewed, not one had a domain authority over 50 ( domain authority of a website describes its relevance for a specific subject area or industry it is score 1-100.)

    Using broad keyword also lead to unqualified leads, you don’t want people on your site who are based in London but your agency is a based Lancashire.

    Missing Sitemaps

    When I first started reviewing some of the 52 websites, I noticed a few did not have a sitemaps, as I reviewed more this was an issue on over 50% of the sites I looked at. And most of the time it was the sites that were hosted by companies who create template sites.

    Sitemaps are essentially a road map for the Google crawler bots that deciphers what your site is about for ranking purposes. Missing sitemaps coupled with broad keywords for most sites was usually reflected in the low monthly traffic going to the sites. If Google can’t decipher what your site is about, you will suffer in search rankings.

    Slow Loading Speeds

    A lot of sites I reviewed were not optimised for speed, this was the result of many mistakes.  Again the template websites were the biggest culprits. Too many tools cause a lot of estate agent websites to load slowly because there is too many requests. Loading properties on the homepage also caused many sites to be slow. A remedy for this is showing properties on separate “For Sale or Rent pages”.

    Missing SSL Certificate

    An SSL certificate on your site is one of the fundamentals for good SEO practices, without one Google will not rank your site high. Or even worse, if you do somehow manage to rank high and receive visitors they will be greeted with a notification informing them that you site is not safe for them to enter their personal information. If you site exist to get leads this is a sure fire way to have an empty leads inbox.

    Conclusion

    These are just some of the most reoccurring errors I found on many sites I reviewed. There were many othe errors I uncovered such as websites with all pages missing meta titles and descriptions, 404 erros, missing robot.txt files and many others. I recommend any estate agent looking for a new website opts for a bespoke crafted site that is built with SEO in mind. Cheaper template site will cost more in the long-term as they impact SEO which needs to be fixed.

    If you would like to know the current state of your website please provide your details below and we will send you a FREE Website SEO Report.