How will Google’s Latest Search Changes Affect You?

SO WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?

As of April 21st 2015 Google changed its search algorithms to favour websites that are ‘mobile friendly’. This means that mobile optimised websites will begin to rank better in searches than those that are not.

WHY IS IT CHANGING?

This change by Google is a response to the changing way in which users are increasingly searching for content via smartphones and tablets. It is a move to improve the user experience and ensure users are directed to mobile-friendly sites as a preference when searching for content on Google.

WHAT ABOUT MY WEBSITE?

If your website doesn’t have a responsive design or mobile specific site it is likely that your search rankings will suffer. This can send your website tumbling down Google’s search results and potentially cost you deals.

BRIGHTFOX IS HERE TO HELP…

Although this change has already taken effect there is still time for businesses to act. Google can recognise newly optimised sites quickly and will revise your search ranking accordingly. Contact Brightfox now and ensure your website is ‘mobile friendly’ and you’re not losing sales as a result!

Why bother with video and what’s with all the fuss?

 

19-03-2015 2-36-03 PM

Videos have always been a powerful tool when marketing property as they allow us to get potential buyer’s attention and help share the ‘story’ of a project or individual property in a truly engaging way. One of the greatest limitations of email design has been the inability to incorporate embedded videos into your emails like you would in a website or other interactive media. But times are a changing and Video support in HTML email is quickly becoming the hottest topic in email marketing circles.

For those who have been working with direct email campaigns for a number of years you may recall that there was  a time many many many years ago that most desktop and web-based email software supported video in email. But with online security tightening and spam becoming a bigger problem, the belt was tightened and video support in email became a thing of the past. 

With the release of HTML5, it may all be possible again. One clever project has surfaced that uses the <video> tag for browsers that support it and for those don’t support it provides a fall back to the traditional option of a cleverly designed image linked to your video on a hosting platform such as YouTube or Vimeo.

So why should you consider incorporate video into your email content strategy?

According to a recent survey by the Web Video Marketing Council, a whopping 88% of marketers who included video in their email marketing reported a positive impact from recipients. With the rise in popularity of mobile devices, such as Apple iPhones & iPads, which provide the perfect platform for HTML5 and embedded video playback you have the opportunity to put your content rich visualisations directly into the hands of your customers. This direct compatibility is also true for Apple Mail, which is also excellent news for your desktop readers. Gmail and Hotmail users, can also view an inbox-playable preview if linked to a video hosted on YouTube.

Is there a downside to incorporating video into my emails and how do I overcome it?

The downside is that adding URLs as text can trip off phishing warnings in some email clients, so this should be applied with care. For browsers and desktop email software (such as Outlook) that does not support embedded video it is possible to include a fall back image, which will display if HTML5 is not supported. Being able to reliably provide a fall back image is absolutely imperative to ensure that all recipients are able to receive the most relevant content available to them

Our Recommendation?

Our recommendation is that you should do some market research and explore your options before deciding if it’s worthwhile incorporating video as a standard into your emails. Utilising a product like the foxMessenger platform provided  by Brightfox will allow you to run your tests and review the report statistics of your send(s) to determine if you’ve had a better uptake from your customer base.

Responsive Web Design: The changing face of website design & development

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The power of mobile

Everyone who is anyone in digital marketing is talking about responsive web design. But, whether you love it or hate it, responsive design is going main-stream in 2013. So let’s talk about the what, the why, the how & the who of responsive design and how a Brightfox Smart Site can get you ahead of the game.

What . . . is responsive web design?

According to Stanford University, the definition of a responsive website is: “A website that responds to the device that accesses it and delivers the appropriate output . . . . Rather than designing multiple sites for different-sized devices, this approach designs one site but specifies how it should appear on varied devices”

So in layman’s terms, a responsively designed website will recognise what device you are using, like an iPad or iPhone, and will adapt itself to best suit the device. What this means is that you can live in comfort knowing that every one of your website’s visitors is having the optimum viewing experience no matter what devise they use.

Responsive Design Workflow

Why . . . is responsive design becoming so important?

With the explosion of Tablets and Smart Phones all over the world we have seen a major shift in how people access websites. For the first 15 years of the Internet as we know it, everyone used a PC to view websites. But that is all changing now. In fact it is becoming increasingly the norm to access websites on your Tablet and/or Smart Phone.

Did you know that:
• 61% of smartphone users are accessing the internet daily.
• In Australia alone 76% of people own a smartphone and 38% own a tablet device.

So the next stage of evolution of website access is already being dominated by use of Tablets and Smart Phones as opposed to the use of PC’s. The significance of this to the development of a successful website is quite profound. Just one of the surprising (or could we say alarming) statistics is that on average 61% of mobile visitors to a non-friendly website bounce, that is to say they never travel past the homepage.

Good and Bad

If we look at our own website you can quickly see the negative impact that having a non-responsively designed website has. Looking at our own website’s analytics we found that 20% of our visitors came from mobile devices and that a whopping 57.73% were bouncing. That’s 72 potential customers we lost in a single month! Simple math says that if we converted 20% of these bounces into leads we would have 19 new prospects and if only one of those prospects made a purchase from us, I’d say that the money we invested into our new responsive Brightfox website was money well spent!

How do figures like this stack up in your business?

How . . . does responsive web design work?

Three key technical features form the heart of responsive web design:

  • Media queries and media query listeners
    The process that determine the device being used and its screen size and resolution.
  • A flexible grid-based layout that uses relative sizing
     The word ‘Grid’ is used  a bit freely to describe this element, but effectively it is code used to determine the position and layout of the content based on the device detected by the media queries. The flexibility of this is done not in traditional pixels instead in percentages to provide relative sizing based on the device.
  • Flexible images and media
    This feature allows you to adapt your images or other media to load differently depending on the device, either by scaling, cropping or using an alternative (perhaps smaller size) file.

Who . . . should be utililising responsive web design?

Everyone!

With the speed at which mobile devices are being adopted all over the world, a responsive design will ensure that your website stays ahead of the browsing trend. Now not everyone can justify the additional expense involved, but if you are in a selling or service industry where your clients are typically on the road or away from a traditional PC, then a responsive design is an absolute.

Two of the best  industry examples are automotive and property. With clients on the road constantly inspecting and investigating potential purchases, Tablets and Smartphones have become key tools in the consumer search. In fact, according to realestate.com.au over 34% of all visits to their site came from mobile devices (and this does not take into account their iOS and Android apps).

We suggest you do some simple math yourself. In the case of a property development, lets consider a traditional weekend advertising campaign with a full page ad in a national paper. Lets say for arguments sake that this costs $20,000. If this advertisement was to generate 40 leads, one would say the cost of lead generation would be $500 per lead. A large number of these potential leads will immediately visit your website for further information or to register their further interest. Lets assume 50% visit the website rather than pick up the phone to call or visit the display suite. If we use the above statics (61% bounce rate for mobile users visiting a non-friendly website) we can say that 12 potential leads will be lost (61% of 20 leads), with a direct cost of lost leads of $6,000. Of course the true cost is vastly higher than this as the potential revenue that could be earned from each prospect is greater than the lead generation cost. Nevertheless, this example does show the immediate and direct cost to a business through having a poorly designed and developed website.

Are you maximising your cost of enquiry and can you afford to lose this business?

Brightfox Smart Sites

We encourage you to visit the Brightfox website on a range of different devices so you can truly experience what a responsively designed website is. You will find the experience quite different, but far more rewarding on each device. To ensure that all of our customers can similarly start developing responsive websites, we have launched a new product call Smart Sites. This is a single  high powered content management system that is coupled with a responsively designed website which seamlessly delivers a website suited to every device, all with minimal technical and administrative input. Please visit our website or call Brightfox on 07 3177 0505 today to find out more.

Brightfox Smart Sites

Buying property in the USA – the pitfalls and just how easy they are to avoid

The 7.30 report on the ABC recently ran a segment on the pitfalls of purchasing property in the USA. You can view the segment here

What is interesting is that they pointed out all of the pitfalls, but didn’t really tell you how to avoid them. There are of course a couple of very simple ways to avoid paying too much for a property in the USA or even purchasing in a bad suburb or city.

If you go to www.zillow.com you are able to search on the vast majority of properties in the USA, and in most cases get a price estimate and hopefully a price comparison with the market. This immediately gives you some rough idea of market value, and from what Zillow’s own research says, a figure that is pretty accurate. If you go here you can see how the Zestimate is calculated and how accurate it is for each city.

As a rough guide however Zillow say the following on estimate accuracy:

  • within 20% of the actual sales price 74.5 percent of the time
  • within 10% of the actual sales price 52.1 percent of the time
  • within 5% of the actual sales price 30.0 percent of the time
  • for an overall median error rate of 9.4 percent

Here is an example of what Zillow can give you on a specific property for sale – http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3488301.htm

As you can see you get a very good overview on the property, its expected financial returns and comparative listings. A great start to ensuring you are paying at or close to market value.

Of course there is nothing like a local visit, so I would strongly recommend flying to the relevant City and doing a personal inspection and some general market research.

Look who is going Places in Project Marketing (our recent newsletter)

This month Brightfox is proud to introduce Brisbane based project marketer, Place Projects.
In the last few months Place Projects have not only adopted foxEnterprise to manage the sales, marketing and reporting functions for their project sales but have also released a brand new website with a custom design by Brightfox utilising the power of the Umbraco Content Management System.

The Place brand launched onto the Queensland residential real estate scene in late 2002 and since then has grown significantly in both recognition and in market position.

Real Estate power houses – Bruce Goddard, Syd Walker, Damian Hackett and Lachlan
Walker partnered with this growing name, to open the Place Projects office. Understanding that their project marketing needs were going to be immensely more complex than a residential sales office, they approached Brightfox looking for a high quality CRM system and a website that could keep up with the times.

The Place Property group had an existing in-house CRM software application in use
throughout their offices. But to suit their specific project marketing needs
Place Projects spent a considerable amount of time investigating the various
options available on the market before deciding on foxEnterprise and according
to Kathy Cuthbert of Place Projects.

“. . . We never found a system before that catered for
projects. . . and the system is amazing and so user friendly”

and 3 months down the track…

“Since using foxEnterprise we get help with anything
we ask for and if it can’t be fixed straight away or the
person we speak to can’t help us, any issues
arenormally resolved within 24hrs.”

Place Projects is a business involved in launching and marketing
new ‘off the plan’ Projects, so it was essential that the website presented the
Company and the Projects it was marketing professionally. The website needed to
be user friendly and be easily updated, with both new Project content but also
up to date research from Place Projects own internal research division.

The Place Projects website has been built from the ground up to work
seamlessly with foxEnterprise, ensuring that all prospects are imediately
captured and profiled for each Project within the foxEnterprise CRM. The
Brightfox CMS (Content Management System) ensures that Place Projects is 100% in
control of the content on their website, updating as they need to, thereby
ensuring it’s up to date and encouraging repeat visitors to the site.

and the results…   

“We had our projects website designed and operational within a couple of months, the training for it was great and even now, when there is a question it’s answeredin no time at all. It’s so user friendly we can make 99% of the change ourselves”

Raine & Horne + QR Codes – An Evolution or A Revolution . . .

Some years ago on this very Blog we talked about QR codes and their possible use in real estate. Here in Australia they are finally starting to get a little traction (and I mean a little – the vast majority of Australian’s still don’t know what a QR Code is let along know how to use them).

Raine & Horne, a large real estate franchise group, have recently gone through a complete brand revamp, and as part of this have included the overhaul of all of Raine & Horne’s digital media platforms. An interesting inclusion in their new media platforms is the use of Quick Response (QR) Codes across their entire media.

What are QR Codes?

QR Codes were originally developed in Japan by Toyota to track vehicles through the manufacturing process. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background and were designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.

Ver. 3 QR Code

QR Codes have seen wide usage across Japan, Europe and the U.S. with smartphone users able to take a photo of the barcode which is placed onto traditional static media such as flyers and billboards. Users are then typically directed to further interactive content such as a plain-text message, website url, video url, enquiry registration form or email address. Though not as popular in Australia at this time, many local media agencies are beginning to see the potential for the use of QR codes to not only interactively communicate from what was a traditionally static channel but to also effectively track these offline user interactions.

Where is the potential for the broader real estate industry?

The primary potential for this technology in the real estate industry is to provide prospects with the ability to interact online with property listings after reading a traditional mail-out, sign-board or window card. In this way multiple images or interactive tours can be viewed after seeing coming across a simple static advertising piece.

The typical usage scenario involves a potential purchaser driving through a suburb investigating different streets and neighbourhoods. After seeing a ‘For Sale’ or ‘For Rent’ sign the purchaser would normally have to remember the address (along with 10 others); visit an agency website and search for the listing from their phone (very time consuming); or call the agent for more information (which can be daunting). With a QR code printed onto or attached to the sign, the purchaser can simply take a photo of the barcode and be redirected directly to the property listing online or to an online enquiry form to submit their details or to ask more questions.

An underlying advantage to QR codes is in tracking consumer interactions with your static media. By utilising unique URL’s for the various static media types (eg. Flyers – estate.com/flyer; Window Cards – estate.com/wc) redirecting to the appropriate content, entry points can be tracked back to the offline media that directed the traffic. A much more accurate way of tracking user interaction compared to the classis, Where did you find out about us . . . ?

QR Codes; the next big thing?

Will QR codes be the next big thing in real estate? Probably not. But is there a fantastic potential for tracking offline marketing and greater consumer interaction – Definitely! Only time will tell . . .

Google+ What’s the potential benefit for your business?

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Google+ ImageWill it be just another social networking site . . . ? Or with the backing of the Google brand and some added features and benefits, could this be the dawn of a new age of Enterprise capable social networking?

Having already exceeded its maximum allocation of users within 2 days of its test launch, there is obviously a demand to see what’s new and where Google is going to go with this. After the failure of its first two attempts at social networking – Wave and Buzz – I’m sure Google is giddy with delight at this kind of initial response from users.

But what’s new . . .

Google have introduced five main features to Google+

Circles – Unlike facebook, Google is providing the ability to group your ‘friends’. As an example you will be able to group your work mates separately from your family, friends or high school buddies; allowing you to choose what and how you share with each group.

Huddle – This allows a group chat functionality, instead of having several one on one chats. A particularly useful function for planning events or discussing a central topic with a number of people.

Hangouts – A video chat function, which allows users to see who’s online and chat face to face. Similar in nature to Skype but integrated with your ‘friends’ lists.

Sparks – Similar to an RSS feed, sparks will look for videos or articles it thinks you might like and if they take your fancy, have them ready for you to view anytime .

Instant Uploads – There is nothing particularly new with the concept of uploading photos and videos to social media sites from your mobile devices. But with smart phones running Google’s Android and Google+, you don’ even have to think about uploading because all the hard work is automatically done for you. All you have to do is log in afterwards and publish for your ‘friends’ to be able to view.

What does Google+ mean for the business world . . .

Looking only at the basic functionalities as described above there are numerous possibilities for integration into the business world. With instant uploads you have your very own ‘live feed’ to your social media site keeping your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ up to date by the minute. With circles you will be able to group users based on preference or practice thus allowing you to send targeted information or marketing materials. Sparks will prove to be useful with up to date media related to your fields of interest, which you may have otherwise missed, sent straight to your account.

Unquestionably Google is targeting the consumer market with this new offering. But many industry commentators believe that there may be more to Google+ than meets the eye. With its collaborative tools and ability to build distinctly separated groups from the aggregate whole, many believe the fundamental building blocks exist for Google + to truly own the Enterprise Web, not just the Social.

Google+ and +1’s. The coming effect on search engine results . . .

What is +1’ing you ask? Google is now providing the users of Google+ with the ability to recommend or refer a website, google ad, video or image. They are calling this action +1’ing. This provides users of Google+ with the ability to make or see virtual recommendations.

The biggest overall affect that this will have is the return of  search and ad results in Google’s search engine which will be annotated with the number of +1’s they have received. This will effectively provided users with the ability to gauge whether something may be of use to them simply by seeing whether their peers have previously rated it as noteworthy.

While still only in a testing phase, the response to Google+ has been strong. But once fully released, will there be this predicted mass influx of users to make this the new Facebook? One thing is for sure, Google+ is definitely something worth keeping an eye on. To visit the Google+ page and read more about its features and stay up to date with its full release, click here.

Google Friendly Websites

Is your website a Google friendly website?
One of the most important things to consider when looking at your website is to determine how “Google friendly” it is.
If you want to rank better on Google, you need to make sure that you are “playing their game” and giving them the information they are looking for, so that they favour your website over your competitors.

Take a look through the simple tips below, and use this blog post as a checklist of tips for creating a Google-friendly site.

Make sure your site is easily accessible:

Build your site with a logical and usable menu structure. Every page should be reachable from every other page, by at least one static text link. This is normally done via the Navigation menu, but can also be achieved by adding internal links into your page content. Make sure to keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number

Also offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map has an extremely large number of links, you may want to break the site map into multiple pages. One great idea is to use a text browser, such as Lynx, to examine your site. This will show you how the search engine spiders see your site. If features such as JavaScript, frames or Flash keep you from seeing your entire site in a text browser, then spiders may have trouble crawling it & indexing it.

Give visitors the information they’re looking for:

This is probably the single most important thing to do. Make sure you provide quality content on your pages, especially your homepage.
If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract visitors and entice others to link them, thus creating a helpful, information-rich site.
You should aim to write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site, but within a natural flow of information.

Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the “ALT” attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.

Make sure that other sites link to yours :

Links help search engine spiders find your site and can increase the ranking in search results. When returning results for a search, Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”
Keep in mind that Google can distinguish natural links from unnatural links. (Only natural links are useful for the indexing and ranking of your site.)
Natural links to your site develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web when other sites find your content valuable and link to it.
Unnatural links are those placed there specifically to make your site look more popular to search engines. Some of these types of links can be found via Link Exchange programs or on pages set-up specifically to attracts search engines (called ‘Doorway Pages’)

Things to avoid
Don’t fill your page with lists of keywords or attempt put up pages just to attract the spiders.

If your site contains pages, links, or text that you don’t intend visitors to see, Google considers those links and pages deceptive and may ignore your site.
And do not stuff words onto pages in the hopes of attracting search engines, such as has been done under the footer, on this site :  Red Pepper Realty

Don’t feel obligated to use companies that claim to “guarantee” high ranking for your site in Google’s search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site’s flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful, because if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from Goggle’s index.

Don’t create multiple copies of a page under different web addresses. Many sites offer text-only or printer-friendly versions of pages that contain the same content as the corresponding graphic-rich pages. To ensure that your preferred page is included in our search results, you’ll need to block duplicates from our spiders using a robots.txt file.

ABS Data shows worrying trend for developers

Brisbane Business News has just published an article showing a worrying trend for apartment developers with commencement of new product down almost 13 per cent in the last 12 months.

“. . . While the January floods have increased new housing construction in Queensland in the March quarter, demand for unit and townhouse sales decreased 15 per cent.”

Visit Brisbane Business News to read more . . .
http://www.brisbanebusinessnews.com.au/article1961/APARTMENT%20STARTS%20AND%20SALES%20TUMBLE.html

Places for Real Estate

If you don’t already know what Google Places is all about, it is basically Google’s attempt to provide relevant local search results to searchers based on their geographic location.

So when you search for something like “Real Estate Agent Capalaba”, Google assumes (and rightly so) that you are looking for Real Estate Agents in Capalaba.

If you do not already have your office set-up with a Google “Places” page, now is the time to do so.
Why? Well, here are three simple reasons :
•    It is free.
•    It will help people find you more easily.
•    It makes Google happy.

Why get a Google Places listing now?

Recently, Google has rolled out changes which emphasise how serious they are about the Places search and helping  users quickly finding local business results.

Places is now a search type of its own, found in the left-hand column on Google, along with other common search categories.

The current order is:

•    Everything
•    Images
•    Videos
•    Places.

What’s different about Google Pages listings?

Places Listings have far more prominence than they used to, dominating the results page.  They also provide more information than before, including an image if images were provided with the listing.
To understand the impact of this change, consider your search engine optimization efforts.  If you used to be on page one of Google for a search term that is local in nature, your business might be relegated to page two with this change.
As well, the map works differently now too.
It has been moved over to the  right-hand column above the AdWords ads and it will now scroll down the page as you do. Places is so important to Google, that the map will actually cover up those AdWords ads which are also so valuable to Google.
This says a lot about how important local business listings are to Google.

Google Places: Tips to Optimize Your Local Business Listing

  • Create a Places listing for each physical office you have.
  • Complete as much information as you can in your Places listing.
  • Make sure your business name, address and phone number is the same as you have it listed on other local listing sites.  (Google is looking for consistency)
  • Ensure you’ve listed your business in as many categories as are applicable.
  • Add links back to your main office website.
  • Add photos and videos (as appropriate)