Is your website currently performing well as an enquiry generation tool for your agency? If you feel it’s not, then we have some tips and advice for you on what you might want to focus on to rectify the effectiveness of your agency website. Follow the advice below and you should start to transform your site into a highly valuable marketing and promotional tool for your agency, that could play a key part in helping you to reduce your reliance on expensive paid property portals for your enquiries. Read on to find out more.
Make sure your property search is first-class
Every property agent website should of course have a property search. But there are some things you can do to ensure that your search function is as good as possible.
Firstly, make sure that the user experience for the search on your site is up to scratch. If you’re not sure how to optimise this, then it might be worth enlisting the help and advice of a professional to improve the UX of this key part of the site as much as possible.
Make sure that the speed of the search function is fast enough, so that users don’t have to wait long to see results. We all know how impatient website users are these days. They won’t be prepared to wait more than a second or two for search results to appear.
Once their search results are in front of them, make sure they are displayed clearly and in an attractive and pleasing way. Again, it might be worth employing the services of a professional UX person if you know you need help with this.
Again, generally website users don’t have much patience at all if they are struggling to figure out anything on your website pages. So you’ll need to ensure everything is really clear and easy to read and understand.
Make sure your overall site speeds are good enough
We mentioned in the previous point about ensuring your site search speeds are nice and fast. But of course load speeds for every single page of the agency website also need to be fast enough.
Once a user has come onto your site and possibly viewed one or more properties, then you should have a strong call-to-action on the site to get their contact details and get them into your lead and enquiry sales funnels. But in many instances, if users struggle when moving from one part of the site to another, you could lose them as they become impatient.
So as well as focusing on the speed of your site search, make sure that your overall page load speeds are good and there’s no reason for any of your site visitors to get frustrated and leave prematurely.
Use these tools to check that your site speed is up to scratch, and seek advice and help from a professional if they’re not.
Checking site speed can be particularly important for estate agent websites. They tend to have lots of different elements coming together and lots to consider.
For example, you’ll likely have your property search function, meaning it’s not just a basic site with only regular, static pages. It’s a little more complicated with some features that can slow things down if not done really well.
Plus images is another big consideration. Of course, you’ll want to upload lots of high-quality images of your properties onto your website. But you need to be careful that these images don’t slow thing down too much. So it’s important to find the right balance here. Your properties must look as appealing as possible on your website – but not at the expense of too much site speed!
Search engines also don’t like slow sites!
Remember that considerations around speed don’t just extend to the actual human users of your site. You also need to consider search engines like Google too.
Site speed has become a significant ranking factor now in the eyes of Google and the other main search engines. If search engines keep reviewing your site and the speeds are too slow, then you’ll get penalised. This makes it harder to drive things like organic traffic.
So this is another important reason to ensure that your site speed is up to scratch. You’ll no doubt be competing with other agents for important search keywords focused on the local area that you serve. You don’t want competing agents getting above you in the organic listings partly because they have a significantly faster site than you.
Keep your listings updated
Nothing can infuriate your website visitors more than when they see their dream property on your site, then find out it’s been rented or sold days or even weeks ago!
So it’s really important to ensure your listings are kept up to date. Have someone in the company responsible for ensuring this is done as frequently as is required.
You should have a water-tight process for keeping listings up to date on your site. Again, if the design of the site doesn’t easily allow for this, you might want to consider making some changes.
In this day and age, your website should be highly flexible and dynamic. So you need the right tools and setup to enable you to make changes and updates quickly and easily, often on a daily basis!
Of course, there are many various tools and software to link and integrate with your site to help keep things up to date across all channels. If you don’t have decent automation and synching between your property listings software and your site, again this is something you might want to take a look at.
This kind of automation and integration can potentially save you hours and hours each month. So it really is something to look at now if you feel you might be lagging behind in this area.
Perhaps you can investigate a new setup that is going to do this important job for you more efficiently and effectively, if it’s an issue for you right now. Do some investigation to see what’s out there that might help in this area.
The main thing is to do everything you reasonably can to keep all your listings as up to date as possible on your site. This can be a major source of frustration for your website visitors if not done well, so it’s a vital consideration for your site.
Keep updating and adding new content to your site
We mentioned before about ensuring that your property listings are as up-to-date as possible. But this approach also extends to all other pages and areas of your site.
It’s beneficial to make sure that there are constant updates and changes to the content on your site. Search engines such as Google also consider this for their rankings. So regularly adding new content will further help you to get a better website that drives more quality traffic.
A regular stream of fresh content indicates to search engines that your site is active and a valuable resource to people searching for information and content in your market. So it’s great for SEO, whilst also of course looking good to users when they come onto your site and see your valuable content.
If you don’t regularly add new content to your site, then there are some obvious places that you can start right now. Try adding some blog posts to the site focused on advice and guidance for people in your local area. You can also post updates about your agency, and what you are doing to improve the service to your customers.
People in your local area will likely appreciate anything of interest and relevance to the town or city you are based in. So start there and see how you get on with new content, if it’s not something you are actively adding to your site regularly right now.
Recycle your redundant property URL’s
Following on from the importance of keeping your site well up to date, you also want to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to keep users on your site once they arrive there.
For property agents, one key thing you can do is recycle your property URL’s. Once a property has been rented or sold, you’ll no doubt have links people will click that link to that property listing.
Rather than just display a 404 error message, why not display a custom message instead that invites the user to search for alternative properties. Give them a search function right there on the page. Or if you can, actually suggest some similar properties for them that are still available.
If you need to keep things more simple to start with, then simply redirect them back to your main property search page. At least then you are pro-actively getting them to search for a new property, rather than them just seeing the 404 error page and then leaving your site.
Ensure your site branding is up to scratch
We’ve talked a lot so far about various functional and technical things on your site. But it’s also important to ensure that the overall look of your site is also up to the right standard.
Your website visitors have to feel confident about the professionalism and capabilities of your agency from simply viewing the site, even for just a few seconds.
If you feel your current site might be somewhat outdated or aesthetically not as pleasing as you would like, then it might be time to make some serious updates?
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a slick and highly professional looking website. Especially if you want to start driving more traffic to your site to perhaps replace the often very expensive costs of using paid property portals.
Remember that many people who come onto your site may have had no previous contact or engagement with your agency whatsoever. Your site could be the very first impression that they form of your agency and brand. So you need to make sure that first impression is the right one.
Get your site navigation right
For a very simple website, site navigation is often something of a no-brainer.
But as an estate agent, you’re catering for a range of different people such as buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants. Meaning that typically more thought and care needs to go into your site navigation.
Think about the very different reasons that people are likely to be coming to your site for. And then make sure that whatever the reason, each site visitor has a clear path to find the information that they need as quickly as possible.
This helps to keep visitors on your site and therefore increase the chances of more of them completing your website conversion goals before they exit your site.
Make sure your website is fully responsive
It’s now more important than ever to make sure that your website appears really well on mobile devices. The number of people browsing the internet on their smartphones continues to increase. So your site simply has to look good and function well on all devices.
Once again, if you check your site on mobile and see that it’s not fully responsive, then you really should employ the services of a professional web designer to rectify this issue as soon as possible.
Make sure that all pages and sections of the site appear correctly and that no text or images has become unreadable when scaled down on a much smaller mobile device.
Think about when the people you are targeting will tend to instigate a property search or try and find other services that you provide. Much of the time, they will be doing this on the go between breaks in their day such as lunchtime at work, or perhaps whilst waiting for a friend or colleague to arrive. This means that you need to provide a seamless experience even if they pop onto your site for 5 minutes on their smartphone.
Make sure that your agency website is a powerful marketing and enquiry generating tool, no matter what time of the day users access it, or what device they view your site on.
In order to do this, we recommend running through the advice above and seeing which of the key areas you might need to focus on right now. If you have concerns about your agency site, focus on implementing a combination of the above and you should find that a few fundamental changes make a big difference.
WANT MORE ADVICE IN THIS AREA?
This blog post is part of a series of posts that focuses on ways in which you can improve your own internal agency marketing and enquiry generation in order to become less reliant on expensive paid property portals.
If you’d like to get more advice and guidance in this area, then you can download our free eBook ‘How To Become Less Reliant on Rightmove‘. It covers some more high-level areas and things you can do to accelerate a shift away from paid property portals and over to driving more traffic to your own website and generating high-quality enquiries using your own site and your other marketing channels.