In his fourth appointment, the Site Doctor examines the website health of a high end, Jersey based, estate agent. We explore what’s great, but also identify areas with opportunities for improvement.
Gaudin & Co (www.gaudin.je) are strong in their local market, and not afraid of a convention breaking with their strong, stylish design pattern. There’s lots to like in the design, but of course there are always a good few areas where the Doc’s prescription will help the patient to even greater health. Enjoy the video:
In our view, the best thing about this site is the strong header style – the central logo breaks normal conventional form with style. The site has great imagery, a strong colour palette, makes good use of white space, and has very clear navigation. With a design like this the site will thrive or struggle based on the quality of photography, and Gaudin are blessed with great local photography, of the beaches, and local areas to help on this front. That said, the same strong photography background is causing issues with readability of the second level menu. It probably works better on high resolution screens where the design was conceived, but on a regular sized monitor it can make readability a bit difficult. This might be possible to fix with more consistent colour treatments in the photos.
You also set a lovely design language through the “round-tabs and ‘g’ logos” which is developed throughout the content areas of the site. Lovely.
It would also be nice to consider putting a clear phone number in the header somehow (that’s the single biggest use case of an agency website, “I’m just looking for the phone number”, and you have the luxury of putting a primary switchboard number, front and centre given you are one branch).
The styling of the site falls a little from this strong start, as you move down into the search results lists and property details pages in the guts of the site. And we believe there is an opportunity to bring the content promo images on articles out into big background images (and vary them a bit), to sit with a more consistent site style.
Probably the biggest point for the site is that it isn’t fully responsive. This is very important and a great opportunity, though it’s probably one of the most expensive things to address. If you want to address this without an expensive full rebuild of the HTML, then a good, quick, and not necessarily bad option would be to plug in an “adaptive” approach mobile website. Many large agencies, including the really big portals, do this as their preferred approach, so don’t think of this as a poor relation option. However you approach it thought, there is an absolute imperative to fix mobile one way or another in our view.
Lots of ideas here:
We couldn’t find a map or list view of your property results. This may be deliberate – and to do with Island geography, or privacy perhaps? If not, there’s a clear opportunity to add in mapping. Grid views would also work nicely for mobile, if you were to want to try and make the site fully responsive down to mobile devices. These days it’s possible to do really nice sketch-a-map, (better than the old draw-a-map), if mapping wasn’t left out deliberately, adding this could be a nice touch too. The video has a demonstration of this on Leaders.co.uk.
This is a nice looking page in general. You might want to watch the “Perfect Property Details Page” video for some of the points below…
Your content page styling is nice and simple. Though we think there is an opportunity to simplify it further into a single column layout (better for responsive design if you want to go there), and pull out the promo image to replace the carousel like background images on these pages.
We also think there may be an opportunity to add more content aimed at stronger vendor focused messaging to help you trap more vendors.
The text could then also be made bigger, and greyer to compensate for this simpler layout. These days as monitor resolutions are going up, text fonts should be following that, in order to avoid them becoming small and spindly. To be clear, yours aren’t too bad, as you have bolded them, but you can always be simpler, and user testing tends to suggest this is nearly always and improvement.
Turning to SEO, we can see the outcome of the structural faults we explored earlier showing strongly we believe.
In the video we look at two of the major types of search traffic volume…
• “Estate agent in St Helier”, and
• “House for sale in St Helier”
There looks like you might have a PPC traffic and branding opportunity, though it’s always hard to know if an agent is doing this and has just spent the daily budget by the time we look?
In the natural results, sadly you are being beaten by a few other independents: notably Rock Property. In the video we point out the result of missing title tags, and clean URLs. If you were to fix the structural issues which are discussed in much more detail in the video, then as a strong, focused local independent, with great property data volumes and strong social signals (hence presumably equally strong domain authority generally), you should be able to rise up and there’s no reason you can’t compete for those top slots. That would deliver strong commercial value at the margin, and would help you expand your market share. In our view getting these issues sorted is essential, not optional.
There is a very significant problem with your site speed, which we fear may be impacting your SEO very negatively. Have a watch of the video, but then have a compare to this speed benchmarking chart for single branch agents here. In any regard, we would strongly recommend fixing this quickly, as it will be having a real impact on end users, let alone SEO.
Your performance on social media is fantastic.
On Facebook you are super strong. The page is well dressed, the activity is up to date, and lively / human. And check out your Twitter account! It’s also on brand (though with an opportunity to brand the header perhaps), it has life, and it’s brimming with real discussion. And it’s strong stats and ratios for a one branch agency. You are have double the number of people following you (at the time of writing this) than those who you are following – this is a great ratio (as it shows Google that more people are listening to you, than you are listening to. So, both these numbers are big, check out our Social benchmarking to see what we mean. This is going to really help your SEO once you fix up the structural impediments you have.
There may be opportunities in Linkedin (especially given your specific market characteristics we suspect), and also on Google+ (for different, SEO reasons). We haven’t checked your presence on either of these, as there was no link from the site.
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).
We hope this was useful.