I feel the Need, the Need for Speed!

Why your estate agency site needs to serve pages quickly!

powerfulIt’s not enough to have clean URL structures, in a site with a nice site architecture; these days you’ve got to be blazingly fast too.

Site speed is probably the most overlooked ingredient in estate agency website design.  However, because it’s an “invisible factor” it’s easy to overlook the full significance of this factor and forget to insist on it during your website build or ongoing operations.

Humans love websites that serve up their pages quickly.  No doubt you’ve felt this yourself: “Ugh, this is a slow site, I’m out of here!”.  Whereas fast sites reward users clicking on them, to the point the user starts to feel (subconsciously) that they can “click on that next link” as there’s “no cost”.  Faster sites get more page impressions per session, period.  So users find more properties, make more enquiries, read more articles, and register more often.

And as you’ll know from elsewhere in our writing about Estate Agency SEO advice, Google is increasingly aligning the way it rates your site with how much your regular human visitors enjoy your site: a better human experience on our site, also gives us SEO advantage, as we’re being measured both explicitly on our site speed, but also rewarded for longer user visits, more page impressions, great email sign up, greater repeat visit ratios to our site etc.  Everyone is a winner.

When you are a large agency group trying to optimise for 1000s of concurrent visitors, you need to use techniques like “caching” (pre-preparing web pages, or parts of web pages, so you can serve them instantly in a Blue Peter-like “here’s one we prepared earlier” move), content delivery networks (that push the pages and images down the network to a more local server in your local exchange), and even look to deploy ultra-fast non-sql databases like MongoDB.  However speed is every bit as important for the competitive single branch independents – so you should be seeking blisteringly fast page serving whatever your size.

The best news is that few of these speed optimisation techniques are widely used in the agency website market, as most website developers haven’t had to cope with the scale that requires them, and agents very rarely request these capabilities.  This gives you an opportunity, if you’re the one to focus on it in your town.