Andrew Grant’s visit to the Site Doctor

1

What’s in the video?

The purpose of our Site Doctor analysis is to get us fully briefed before meeting you.  We like to base any recommendations we discuss on research, rather than whim.  So we do it as preparation, in order that we know what you have as strengths (needing careful protection in any rebuild), and where we believe there are the biggest opportunities for improvement.  However, we also film our preparation, so that you have this for reference if you find our meeting interesting, irrespective of whether you choose to go into the operating theatre with us or not!

The video is divided into 6 segments, looking at the site design and functionality, as well as speed, SEO and social media.  The prescription is below, together with a few useful links, which develop the points identified.

In sum: there’s lots to like in the design, and the site is pretty quick.  There’s something really interesting going on with the property search pathway (property detail pages embedded within the results lists; though relying solely on this feels risky).  Social media is done well, though there are opportunities with Google+ and in bringing this activity into the fabric of the site itself.  The site would benefit a great deal from going fully responsive (obvs), and has some really great SEO improvement opportunities.  Some of those are blindingly good to be honest, and few of them could yield very significant ROI.

We hope you enjoy the video:

The Doctor’s Diagnosis…

Design Impact / Homepage

Design is such a subjective field, and clearly a redesign is one of the reasons you are chatting to us.  However, our observation on the existing design is that:

  • It has very strong, modern branding, with lovely fonts, and a bright, upbeat colour palette.
  • It is laid out into a clean, uncluttered, and relatively modern visual design.
  • It employs the so called “flat design” style, which is very much “on trend” at the moment, though it takes this to an extreme on forms and tabs, perhaps to the detriment of conversion rate optimisation.
  • And we propose there are lots of opportunities to inject more personality / feeling into the design.  That might be through actual personalities – ie featuring your front line staff – though you may have reasons not to want to do this, or it could be through the use of real life photography, alongside the illustrative style.
  • The navigation is strong – interesting actually – and quite unconventional.  Though we are just starting to see the emergence of a new, “mobile first” inspired, pattern of desktop navigation which closely mirrors the pattern you have set here, so you are way ahead of the curve on that front.  An interesting one to discuss.
  • The footer is now relatively old school, and won’t be helping SEO (you can read more about this principle here)
  • So there is plenty to like here in terms of the visual framework.

Response for Mobile

Probably the biggest point for the site is that it isn’t fully responsive. This is very important and a great opportunity.  It’s probably one of the most important things to address in our view.

Speedy, speedy, speedster…

All of our speed testing suggests that the site is perfectly fast enough.  No penalties here, indeed it performs well.  That said, if you drive a car that will do 0-60 in 6 seconds, you might rather enjoy one that will do it in sub 4?

Property Search Pathway

Lots of to think about here:

  • The results list page is clear, if a little conventional in presentation.  Until you click on a property…
  • …then wow… you pop out an expanded property listing within the list of results.  That’s really neat.  However, we couldn’t find a way to get to an actual discrete property page.  So when we tried sharing the property page (or what users will THINK is the property page), the URL is not uniform.  In fact, it’s a non-uniform-resource-locator a NURL!  This has big implications… see missing property details page section below.
  • The results list also really needs an H1 tag, with the area name, and property type, if you want any hope of floating up the Search Engine Results Pages.  This is an essential recommendation in our view.
  • Once you have sorted out what you want to do on these two points, you might want to consider more funky presentations, like multiple photos in the base listings (or popping out as you have them), infinite scroll, grid view, etc.
  • We also forgot to mention in the video how it is now possible to add, vendor focused adverts into the flow of listings, as applicants can sometimes be vendors in disguise just checking out whether you have properties like theirs for sale, to give them comfort.  See point 14 on this set of vendor marketing ideas for what we mean here.
  • You have a nice simple map results page, but there is an opportunity to add full on sketch-a-map, (much better than the old school draw a map), if you wanted to add it in your redesign.

Missing Property Detail Pages?

As discussed in the video, we think there is a great opportunity to add proper (uniquely addressable, and hence shareable) property detail pages.  You needn’t throw out baby with bathwater, as there is something very interesting and usable about the result-within-results type of approach you have pioneered.  However, there are downsides to not having a distinct page.  If you agree, then you might enjoy the “Perfect Property Details Page” video for some thoughts before we develop it.

And if we did so, there would also be an opportunity to add in “Next” and “Previous property” links, that would contribute to the all important “one more click” effect, and help your SEO notably (see below), and indeed help users, by removing the need for them to “pogo stick” up and down between the property results list and property details pages (something your current mechanism avoids very neatly).

Further, if you had discrete property pages, you could then use the additional space they afford to add in “Staff profiles” and indeed “Exposed contact us” forms – both of these things will increase your conversion rate of enquiries, and encourage longer site journeys.

Get Social Baby!

You are strong on Social media already.

Facebook and Twitter are both well dressed, active, with soul.  And you are particularly strong (relative to other agencies) in Linked in, perhaps a function of your wider range of services, auctions, commercial departments etc..  That said, given the quality activity here, your key metrics are not yet strong compared to other agent averages in our Social benchmarking – which we found really odd.  Are you new into doing Social Media well perhaps?  Also there is a great opportunity for you in the Google+ pages, which are not yet as well dressed or developed as your mainstream social media. Once this is sorted, the other activity is going to really help your SEO as soon as you fix up the structural impediments you have in that area…

SEO Performance:

Turning to SEO, we can see several important structural faults that we suggest need urgent attention.

In the video we look at two of the major types of search traffic volume
• “Estate agent in Worcester / Bromsgrove (etc.)”, and
• “Houses for sale in Worcester / Bromsgrove (etc.)”

There are some very clear opportunities here.

In the natural results, you are being held out of slots 1-5 by other agents – who have cleaner URL structures, and page titles.  In the video we point out the result of missing title tags, H1 page titles and clean URLs.  We also believe the lack of uniquely addressable property detail pages, is quite possibly a factor in the mix for the structural impediments here (apologies if we missed finding them, as they do exist and we felt they should surely be linked somewhere, though we did search quite hard).

If you were to fix these structural issues which are all explored in more detail in the video, then as a strong, mid sized agency group, you should be able to rise up and compete for those top slots.  To really ram that home, will require some work on your Domain Authority too (31 at the time of the doc’s examination), but that isn’t too hard.  Fixing all of this would deliver strong commercial value and more instruction leads, without a shadow of doubt, and would help you strengthen market share across your patch and into new surrounding areas too.  In our view getting these issues sorted is essential, not optional.

Boomerang?

Not mentioned in the video, but worth noting here…  It would be great to see you start using Boomerang, that’s something we could get going with before any site rebuild, and it will certainly help your SEO through boosting your repeat visit ratio, once you fix up the structural impediments (and perhaps even a bit before).

Integration is everything in 2016:

A final point that is also not covered in the video, is the opportunity to integrate with your software system.  Given that you are using Reapit, you are lucky, in that nearly every capability in the Homeflow People Exchange is being developed in the coming weeks.  Bonza!

Your Prescription:

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