Through our series of online marketing seminars as well as our general benchmarking and consulting work, we spend a lot of time examining how sophisticated different estate agents are with their online marketing. Scroll down and have a quick scan through the charts below. They paint a stark picture of the variation in performance between agents. This article explores how your agency performs relative to your competitors, on a number of very important underlying metrics for SEO, and why this really matters. It’s technical – but bear with us – we aim to get these concepts, which are very important commercially, across in ways that are interesting and easy to follow, even if you aren’t remotely interested in technical matters.
What do we learn?
Tough news for independents: Larger agencies are fundamentally advantaged when it comes to SEO. They have higher “Domain Authority”. They have the scale to invest in better content. And they gather more natural upstream links. And to add to the mix, they can afford to invest more deeply in a solid website platform which underpins all SEO effort for agency, as we will explore here.
However, we’re also going to argue it’s not all bad news for the inquisitive, strong, smaller independent. You can box clever, and your local focus can bring you advantages online in SEO, just as it does offline by offering quality, focused, local experience and care. It’s perfectly possible for a smaller agency to enjoy a true, enterprise class, web platform at a fraction of the cost, by working with Homeflow, and that difference in better quality platform and hence SEO fundamentals is important commercially. That said, unless you are already well versed in SEO, then the (vitally important) differences are going to take some explaining.
If you aren’t indexed, you can’t rank…
The first step for SEO, is making sure Google can actually read and access the important pages of your site. The way Google works, is by operating computer programmes to go out and “read” the web. These programmes are known as “crawlers”, “spiders” or “bots”. They don’t do anything particularly intelligent, instead think of them as foot soldiers that simply come to your website, follow every link going, picking up every single web page they find in your site, and “taking them back to base”. Back at base, they will digest the page, think about it, count who links to it, measure what it says and how it is structured, etc.
So, if your site is well structured, it will be exposing every single property, and, much more importantly, your town pages of results, and your content pages, in a fashion that is easy for Google to harvest.
So, how do you fare?
I feel the need, the need for speed
Next up is to establish how fast your site is.
Google have gone on record saying they “want a fast web”. They deem faster sites to be a better experience than a slow site. And we can all identify with that. But they go one stage further, they now punish sites that are too slow, relative to sites that serve their pages quickly.
So how do you measure your site speed? Fortunately Google provide a handy public tool. Simply nip along here and type in your website address, and Google will give you a handy measure of how fast your site is. Take that score and measure yourself against a representative sample of every estate agent in Exeter below…
Link building which used to be so important, now actively punishes agents, unless they are very careful.