Property agents old and new will easily relate to the following scenario when it comes to lead generation and finding interested buyers for their listings from the millions of buyers surfing the web for property to consider buying.
- Have a website designed and built to advertise the company, services you provide and showcase all the properties you have listed for sale
- Immediately be disappointed at the lack of enquiries about your listings given the time and effort it takes to publish them on the site
- Look for alternative ways to generate interested buyers to speak to that are looking for the types of property you sell
At the third stage there are a number of options – sharing your listings onto any number of property portals, pay per click advertising, taking space at property exhibitions, email blasts… the list goes on – but how many of these advertising mediums continue to produce results after the spending stops?
The Drawbacks of “Quick-Fix” Lead Generation
The vast majority of marketing possibilities have one thing in common which unfortunately comes with one drawback:
- They all cost money to produce results
- The moment you stop spending – the flow of enquiries stops too
Think of it as being similar to renting a house – you pay the rent and have a house to live in. Stop paying the rent and you have no house, but perhaps more importantly – the process has gained you nothing of use in the future either making it “dead money”.
Of course, some marketing activities will always be a dead money spend – that’s the marketing world however, one of the most popular marketing activities that can work incredibly well, can actually be holding back your own website from ever being able to rank in the search engines for the properties you spend time and money on listing and marketing!
The key is finding a way to advertise that generates enquiries and continues to promote you and your company – without continual ongoing costs.
All That Glitters isn’t Gold
Probably the most popular choice is adding all your listings to one or more well-known property portals for a fee – most portals offer a variety of options and costs, all of which assure you your listings will be seen by more people looking for what you’re selling because they have substantially higher traffic than your website.
Generally most portals of any size do perform with respect to generating enquiries – some better than others of course – but then to keep the enquiries coming in you are invariably committed to continue advertising – whatever the cost.
At the same time you might think your own website should start to perform better as you add more listings to it and becomes more established – yet for most, the opposite can often be the case – traffic numbers remain stagnant (at best) or start to drop and fewer enquiries are made via your own website that you have paid hard earned money for.
The problem is property portals do little (if anything) to improve your website performance or ranking in the search engines – in fact there is a very good chance they are doing more harm than good over the long term for your website!
This scenario can be depressing at the best of times, knowing you are tied into advertising your listings to generate enquiries from someone else’s website because if you stop your own site cannot do the job as efficiently.
Your listings on the portals might look great and generate enquiries – but that’s all it does – very few property portals allow you to promote your company, your detailed knowledge of the areas you serve, or the amazing customer service you can offer to clients that buy a property using you.
A more concerning issue to bear in mind is what happens if your portal of choice falls foul of changes in the search engines and the flow of enquires dries up altogether?
First Things First
If a portal is working well for you and generating quality enquiries for you at a sensible cost – DO NOT STOP USING IT – but, take the time to understand why it isn’t helping your own website perform and learn what steps you can take to improve your website, build your brand and generate higher quality enquiries at a lower cost – without the fear of being held to ransom by the real estate portals.
Identify and Understand the Problem
To start with it’s a wise idea to understand why this is an issue, then establish how much of an issue it is with respect to your business – then what you can do to use the situation to your advantage.
The reason your own website is not improving and generating more enquiries is pretty simple if you think about it logically – it’s something the portals all know, but rarely point out to users.
When you add your listings to a portal they will usually provide you the option to submit them all at once using an xml feed. You might already have one or have one produced by a feed service – in essence, an xml feed is a copy of all your property listing details in a digital format which the portal can import into their site.
This in itself is the crux of the problem. The xml feed you provide to them is an exact copy of what you have on your website – word for word – which is effectively what the search engines regard as “duplicate content” i.e. the portal now has the exact same property listings on their website as you have on your own site. If you list on more than one portal – more copies exist. To compound the problem further – if you work with an agent network portal and share listings with other agents and permit them to share your properties on their sites, every network member has a copy of your listings too!
Why is This Not a Good Thing?
The initial thought might be this is not a bad thing at all – “I have the listings on my site, then I pay to list them on 3 portals – surely more copies means more exposure and more enquiries?” Sadly, this is not the case at all.
The internet as we all know is a jolly large place indeed and the search engines are well aware of this, one of the major problems they face is deciding which pages they include in the search results for a query. Now if there are a large number of pages from different websites that can answer that query, the search engines will usually try to serve the pages most likely to be useful to the user based on a very large number of criteria – many of which are derived by the content on the pages as well as the popularity and quality of the websites as a whole.
This makes sense to a degree, but then if you published the listing on your website first before advertising them all on a portal (which you pay for the pleasure) – surely your site should be first in the results? After all, they have the same data and information you have and it’s just a copy of the original? Unfortunately the answer is a resounding “no”.
Sadly the search engines are not as fair or logical as one might hope. Being the first to publish a unique listing understandably might lead to the thought that your own website should rank for it above everyone else and your website should benefit from all the hard work and money you put into it. The reality is the search engine algorithms have to deal with duplication constantly and they manage it by truncating search results.
If you stop listing on the portals, the flow of enquires will come to a halt, but you need the properties on your site to give users the opportunity to find what they want (and to be able to feed the portals with your properties). The portals don’t help promote your site or your service so what can be done?
There are a couple of impractical ways around the problem.
- You could for example choose to set your property pages to not be included in the search engines using a “noindex” directive on all of your property pages – users can still browse your site, but your listings won’t appear in the search engine results because you have told them not to index them. A far from ideal solution.
- You could rewrite all of your property descriptions for either your own site or the xml feed you supply to the portals – a plausible option for small property agents with a handful of listings but time consuming, tedious and expensive. Totally unviable if you have 100’s of listings.
The best solution is to segment and emphasise on the listings that will potentially highlight your company and services and focus on the more profitable listings on your books by making them work for you.
Sounds Great – But How?
Not all property listings are equal, some will be more profitable to the agent perhaps with higher commissions, some will have some fantastic images due to the location, others might have a great deal of history behind them, been featured in a film and so on. Every so often there is a listing that should stand out from the crowd – a listing that you as a property agent are proud to have listed and display for sale on your website.
These are the listings you can use to your advantage to attract potential buyers whilst at the same time, using them to really illustrate the level of knowledge and service you provide to help sellers get their property sold, and communicate to buyers that you are the agent to be dealing with in your region.
Pick a listing on your books that has more to offer if it was given the chance, take some high resolution pictures of it, perhaps a video. Create a longer, more in-depth description of it, describe how it feels to walk around the property. Elaborate on the location – if you listed it, you should be well informed about the surrounding area and amenities, if you have detailed articles about the area on your website – link to them from your new listing to help the reader familiarise themselves with your company – all of these specifics will engage and entice buyers by illustrating your wealth of knowledge and dedication as a property agent AND help your website improve its ranking with the search engines as an authoritative and useful resource.
The listing you originally created on your own website can and should stay the same – changing it on your website will simply perpetuate the issue you are trying to avoid when the portals refresh the feeds. These modified and extended listings should be placed elsewhere – on a website more in-tune with the types of buyers you are trying to attract.
Property Newsroom offers a variety of advertising packages designed specifically with property agents in mind – whether you want to promote just the one special listing, or promote a number of different listings on a regular basis giving you the opportunity to really highlight how well you and your property agency know your business and are the “go to” company of choice for high net worth buyers in your region.
Contact us now using the form below and we’ll be in touch with details on how we can work with you to improve the efficiency of your advertising budget and building your property agency brand.