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

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 Analytics Website Benchmarking Newsletter

Google have just sent out the first Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter. This is a monthly newsletter seeks to analyise the statistical log data taken from hundreds of thousands of websites from around the World.  There isn’t a huge amount of data in this newsletter, however one itel of interest is the decline in the average no of page views per site visit, with a reduction from 4.9 pages per visit in 09 – 10 to 4.5 pages to visit in 10 – 11. This is probably simply a reflection of the ever growing depth of content on the web, making it increasingly more competitive to get a visitor and then to keep them.

Here is the Newsletter itself:
Google  Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter2011, Volume 1, July 2011

1. Introduction

Welcome to the first volume  of the Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter!

This month, we are replacing the standard “benchmarking” report in your Google Analytics account with data shared in this newsletter. We are using this
newsletter as an experiment to surface more useful or interesting data to Analytics users. Data contained here comes from all websites which have opted-in anonymous data sharing with Google Analytics. Only those website administrators which have enabled this anonymous
data sharing
will receive this “benchmarking” newsletter.

You may be wondering, how  many websites are in this “anonymous data sharing” pool? Currently, hundreds of thousands, and we’ve endeavored to make all of the metrics here statistically significant.

The date range of  comparison for this newsletter is from November 1, 2010 – February 1, 2011.
Comparison is done with data from November 1, 2009 – February 1, 2010.  Absolute metrics such as total # visits, pageviews, or conversions for all
opted-in websites are not reported.

To simplify the prose, the phrase “websites” will represent “websites which have opted into anonymous data sharing with Google Analytics” for the rest of this

2. Site Metrics

Compared to a year ago, websites have seen reduced pages / visit, average time on site, as well as
bounce rate.

11/1/09 – 2/1/10

11/1/10 – 2/1/11


Pages/Visit 4.9 4.5 -0.4
48.2% 47.0% -1.2%
Time on Site
5:49 5:23 -0:26

2.1 Breakdown by Geography

Our anonymous database has aggregated geographic breakdown at the country level. Here are a few representative countries and their respective aggregate metrics. The first number in each cell represents the metric for the date range 11/1/10-2/1/11.
The parenthesized number is the Year over Year delta compared to a year ago.


Pages / Visit

Bounce Rate

Avg Time on Site

France 4.4
Brazil 4.1
China 4.1
Japan 3.9

For bounce rate, the distribution by country is plotted below:

The distribution above is annotated with some countries — which seem to indicate a story of leisure and stage of economic development.
For a related metric: average time on site, the distribution by country is  plotted below:

The type of countries  annotated in the average time on site graph above seem to be in reverse order  as those in the bounce rate distribution.

2.2 Breakdown by Traffic Sources

Traffic sources below are  identified by how the “source” and “medium””” parameters are received by the Google Analytics collecting servers. Here is
an article  describing what these designations refer to.

Traffic Sources

Pages / Visit

Bounce Rate

Avg Time on Site

Direct 4.0
Referral 5.0

2.4 Conversion Rate Distribution

Many marketers’ favorite  metric is conversion rate. Here is the worldwide distribution of Google Analytics “goal conversion rate” by country.

Would anyone have guessed that states which are known for conversions are also high for their citizens’ goal conversion rate? Note that for some states with few population, the statistical significance of the conversion metric comes into doubt.

3. Traffic Sources

Traffic sources below are identified by how the “source” and “medium” parameters are received by the Google Analytics collecting servers. Here is an article
describing what these designations refer to.

% Visits from Sources

11/1/09 – 2/1/10

11/1/10 – 2/1/11


Direct 36.5% 36.8% +0.3%
Referral 21.0% 19.4% -1.6%
27.0% 28.0% +1.0%
Other 15.5% 15.8% +0.3%

4. Operating Systems

Browsers and Operation Systems (OS) are identified by the “referrer” string sent by users’ browsers.

% Visits from OS

11/1/09 – 2/1/10

11/1/10 – 2/1/11


Windows 89.9% 84.8% -5.1%
Macintosh 4.5% 5.2% +0.7%
Linux 0.6% 0.7% +0.1%
Other 5% 9.3% +4.3%


This is the first volume of our Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter. We hope that it provides useful isights. If you have specific comments or suggestions on how to improve this newsletter, please send your feedback to:

Happy analyzing,

Google Analytics Team

Email preferences: You have received this
message as part of the Benchmarking feature in Google Analytics. To stop
receiving the Benchmarking report, you can turn off Anonymous data sharing in
Google Analytics account settings. Google Inc.

2011. Google is a trademark of Google Inc. All other company and product
names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are
associated. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043

Your website is hurting you.

When is the last time you looked at your website?

I mean, really looked at it.

Not just opened a page with one of your listings, so you can get the link to send through to a potential buyer.

I speak with companies who have not touched their website since it was set up in 2004 or 2005!

It’s pretty much a given that most real estate companies, have had a website for the past few years or longer.

As you focus on the day to day activity of selling and listing, it can be easy to just take the attitude of “Oh, we have a website up and it is working, so I will leave it be.” The problem is, after a while a website, like many things in life, starts to look a bit outdated.

More importantly, your website can be hurting your business without you knowing!

You could be losing potential vendors to other local agents, simply because your website is not as nice as theirs, or because theirs has more information on it. Buyers may also not contact you, as they cannot find the listings that strike their fancy.

This is how your website can be hurting your business RIGHT NOW!

It is recommended that clients revise their websites about every three years (if not sooner).

I bet you are thinking that this sounds like a ridiculous and costly exercise.
But I can promise you that you will reap the benefits of a site revision.
To make things really clear & easy to follow, here is a list of straight forward reasons why you should look at revising or redesigning your company website.

  • A redesign can help to improve your website’s search engine optimisation
  • Believe it or not, a revamp of your online tools can actually SAVE YOU MONEY.
  • Google likes sites with new &/or regularly updated content. It ranks them higher.
  • Users expect to see location maps of properties these days. You can lose sales based on the lack of the ability to see where a property is located. This is especially important for out-of-area investors.
  • Google also prefers sites with maps in them, as the information is deemed are more usable and relevant.
  • Technology is changing so rapidly that you want to be sure your site meets the newer standards of web design and interactivity
  • Your website should be representative of your company in every way. If your website looks tired and outdated, what will prospects and vendors think about your entire organization?

Many offices tell me that they feel their website is not as important anymore, because most views of their listings occur via Property Portals sites, such as,, etc.

Whilst it is true that the portals get exposure for your listings, your website is now more import than ever.

Your website is what potential vendors use to judge who to list with.

Your website is where buyers end up when they have done enough general looking on the portals and are at the purchasing stage.

Your website is what potential sales people judge your business on, when deciding if your organisation is the one they want to work with.

Don’t take your website lightly. Take a good long look at it today.
Scroll through all the pages.

  • Is it fresh? Is the content valid?
  • When was the last time you added something new about the company? A new photo? A press release?
  • Do your listings have multiple photos and maps?
  • Are there listing categories that you no longer sell in, still showing on the site?
  • Can users get automatic alerts about new listings?

In a tight market like the one that a lot of real estate agents are experiencing today, your website is the key to your company – as much as your sales and customer service staff are.
Treat it well and it will deliver the world to you.

Speak to a Brightfox website consultant today, and stop your site from hurting your business.

How Google’s New Algorithm will affect your real estate website

Very recently, Google made significant changes to its search engine algorithm.
This algorithm is basically the formula that Google uses, when determining which sites should appear at the top of search results, and which ones should not.

Very few people, except for hardcore search and tech literati understand precisely how these changes were set up or exactly how they work, but the changes are pretty evident already.
The long and the short of it, is that you will need to take a good look at your website to determine if it is still “search engine friendly”.

Here are some items that now need to be understood in regards to this new Google algorithm:

  • Faster Indexing
    Google has a new thing called “Google Caffeine”. This means there is no more “sandbox” or long waiting times, before your website can be indexed by Google. The indexing time is now down to around 15 minutes (if you have a dynamic site map submitted to Google Webmaster Tools).
    This means that unique, steady content such as news updates, blogs, etc, will take even more precedence in search engine rankings.
  • Google Analytics Data
    In a fairly controversial move, Google has suggested that they may use the analytics data of sites in their algorithm, since it provides a huge amount of information about user interaction of a web site. This makes a lot of sense, but there will be many that do not like this idea.
    This one is a pretty easy fix though, as Google Analytics is free and does not take much to add into a website.
  • Paid Links
    Buying links to push ranks up in a short period of time is a technique used by some marketers. Many of these are added for short periods of time due to the cost of purchasing them.
    Google now says that the age of links matter, so these short term link arrangements will no longer help you. They prefer stable links that have been there for a while, so work on building naturally occurring links that matter to your business.
  • Page Load Time is now important
    Very simply, the time it takes a web page to appear in your internet browser will directly affect how it ranks in Google.
    Make sure that your images and all page elements are optimized and that your sites load fast. Don’t lose rank due to slow loading images or other web elements.
  • Flash animation and Flash websites
    Flash websites and animations created in Flash, can take forever to load up. Based on the information above, this is bad news for your site ranking.  Avoid full flash websites, large animation files & splash pages. Use HTML5 where you can.

There are other changes still to come from Google. They like to rearrange things periodically just to keep the SEO experts, tech guys and online marketers on their toes.

Trying to play the game and work out how Algorithms work, can be a real waste of time. These Google Algorithm Changes, don’t really change the core message and approach of a good website though – it still is all about CONTENT.
The best thing to do is ensure the basics are covered and that you have good, solid content on your website.
This means:

  • clear information on your site, that is relevant to what your website visitors are looking for (Such as search-able listings, interactive location maps for listings, locality information, clear contact information & staff profiles for example)
  • the consistent addition of unique content (latest news, etc)
  • site promotion through syndication, aimed at generating quality back links through to your site

Brightfox is aware of these changes, and we regularly advise our clients on the best way to manage their online presence, to be the most search-engine friendly that it can be.

If  you are seeking to improve your website rankings, traffic and sales, then feel free to contact us here at Brightfox.

How BRICI Countries are using Mobile Phones to Access the Internet

A great article on The Economist on how BRICI countries are using mobile phones. Anyone who reads this blog will know how we have being saying for years that the ‘new’ internet is smart phones, and this article demonstrates very aptly why this is the case.

The graph in this article shows the number of PC’s compared to smart phones and the speed of adoption. It is amazing to think that these BRICI counties will bypass the PC age. They are essentially leapfrogging straight to the smart phone age – jumping PC’s completely. It is the sole medium that hundreds of millions are increasingly using for accessing the Internet.

It is time for every company to have a ‘smart phone’ internet strategy. Give us a call if you would like to discuss how this trend is going to impact your business.

Building Smart Websites for Smart Phones (and Ipad’s!)

We blogged recently about the amazing growth of smart phones. Smart Phones and Tablets (think IPad and the upcoming Android and Windows Tablets you will see next year) are going to be the dominant platform for accessing the web in the short to medium term. More people will access the web using these devices than PC’s. Let me assure you it is going to happen.

So what does that mean for websites? Well pretty much every single one has been designed for viewing on a PC so this means a lot.

We have long been pushing the importance of building mobile friendly websites and have been doing so as far back as late 2007. As mobile phones and tablets simply become more and more powerful, and 3G and (coming 4G) internet speeds faster, it is simply more convenient to use them to access websites and web services. The huge growth of social networking is also a strong driver of this user adoption. People start using their mobile to access Twitter or Facebook, and as they become increasingly comfortable with the medium, start using their phone to access all manner of content.

The future for real estate on the web is to provide a true cross platform experience to the customer. Whether it is via a PC, a mobile phone or on the ‘about to explode’ tablet and touch screen devices, users simply expect a great experience. This means delivering an experience optimised for that specific environment.

To explain a little further, the experience of accessing the web via a mobile phone is very different to accessing it via a PC. The screen resolution and functionality is vastly different, not to mention the environment in which it is done. This results in large useability variation between the two, which in turn requires a different design to your website or services and often a modification to the service itself. One simple example is sending an enquiry on a listing. On a PC the most common action is to complete a register interest form and send an enquiry via email. Mobile phone users are far more likely however to want to send an SMS.

We have just launched a website that demonstrates the difference in design for a PC to a Smart Phone.

Visit This is a standard website when viewed on a PC however if you visit this site from your phone you will be automatically taken to a mobile friendly website at the following URL:

You will note significant differences with the design and if you are using a smart phone, integration with your GPS, call and email functions – all making the website user friendly and actually useable!

To effectively target this every growing market we now recommend that our clients build a website for these very different user platforms. The additional cost really is not that great and the benefits are significant.

How to become more efficient – online and offline!

In this age of instant transactions and having almost everything available to us at the click of a button, more and more people are working longer hours and simply don’t have the time to complete real estate transactions the way they used to.  People are increasingly expecting to be able to speak to someone straight away or, at the very least, be contacted within a few hours of making an inquiry.

For this reason, it is essential for you, as a real estate agent, to make yourself available to your target market as much as you possibly can.  This will often mean that you need to be available to meet with clients after normal work hours and on weekends but this is not the only way you can be more accessible.

Here are just a few ideas on how you can make yourself more accessible to your clientele, even when you’re not available!

  • Use your website to its maximum potential.  Make sure you include up-to-date information about all of your listings and that they are as detailed as possible.  If you can narrow down the options for potential buyers they will have a much better idea of what they are looking for when they actually get to speak with you.  If you are an individual salesperson you might consider spending the money to build your own website so that customers can come directly to you and view all of your listings in the one place.
  • Use social networking sites to interact with your customer base.  Update your Twitter account with new listings and open house times and encourage your clients to “follow” you.
  • Use your mobile when you are mobile!  Take the time to update your voicemail message with a direct message on days when you know you won’t be available. By putting in the effort to record a message that includes the date and advising callers that you will be in meetings/unavailable that day, you are showing your customer base that you care that they are calling you and will take the time to call them back when you actually are available.  Make sure you keep it up to date though as an out of date message of this kind will have the opposite effect!
  • Use your “Out of Office Assistant” when you are going to be away from your desk for long periods of time so people who email you know why you haven’t replied to them.
  • Consider getting a BlackBerry or similar mobile device, if you haven’t already got one, so that you can check and respond to emails while you are away from your desk.
  • Use SMS as a way for clients to contact you.  You can set-up direct SMS functionality on your website so that potential clients can send you an SMS direct from your website to request a call back. Similarly, it is a good (and simple!) idea to have your office Receptionist or Administrator send you messages for call-backs via SMS rather than send you an email as you will get it immediately, as opposed to getting the message the next time you check your email; which could be up to 24 hours later.
  • Start your own Blog – this is an easy way for you to make yourself more accessible and approachable to clients on a virtual level.  Use your Blog to post your ideas on current market news and talk about situations you have been in that are relevant and useful for both vendors and buyers.

These are all simple and extremely effective ideas that you can use to make yourself available and accessible to potential clients when you are on the run.  In the fast-paced age of technology that we live in, it is imperative to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to communication and utilizing one or more of these suggestions in your day-to-day dealings will help you to do just that.

Mobile Phone Traffic Triples in 12 months

Ericsson has reported that mobile phone data traffic has tripled in the past 12 months. This is really demonstrating the move by consumers to smart phones and the increasing trend to access internet data on these smart phones.
We have for some time been raising the long term trend for smart phones to be used to access to the Internet. It is the most active ‘battleground’ for technology companies as it is a new and quickly emerging market place without the dominant existing providers that exists in the more mature technology markets (think Microsoft in PC land and Google on desktop search).

However just as technology companies are scrabbling to stake out their place in this new market, so should property companies. As more consumers use smart phones to access the internet, they will naturally be driven to websites and web applications that are optimised for the platform. This simply provides a much richer and user friendly experience so it is entirely natural. However the vast majority of property firms have no strategy let alone website or web application to target this market.

We rolled out the service R.E. Mobile around 12 months ago specifically to target this emerging market and it has proven a big success in providing a fantastic experience for accessing and searching for property listings, staff member details and general company information. For more information on R.E. Mobile visit our website here.

To read about the Ericsson report click here. taking private listings

A couple of interesting articles are circulating the web on the announcement that (Australia’s second most popular portal) will be accepting the upload of listings from the private seller site In this post a number of agents question why Domain would do this and how it will give a benefit to their major competitor See here.

I know agents have a vested interest in restricting the level of enquiry a private seller can get, but do they really expect marketing websites such as Domain not to take private listings? After all Fairfax (owner of Domain) have taken and continue to take private advertisements in their Newspapers so why would the website be any different.

It makes sense to have as much content on a Portal as possible so adding private sales, and increasing the depth of listings, can only help.

The real question here is how does a portal such as Domain reward its loyal trade customers i.e real estate agents? In every business model a loyal repeat customer is rewarded with discounted pricing, better service or a better product. If Domain is going to take private sales then they had better make sure they look after their core customer base and reward them appropriately.

I am sure all agents would be happy for Domain to take private listings if they (Domain) offered them (the Agent) something of value that a Private Seller could not obtain direct from Domain.

A few ideas could be:

– customer email alerts restricted to agent listings

– featured listings for just agents

If you are targeting Asia, you need Brightfox!

A recent article in Real Estate Business (see it here) interestingly talks about the amount of business Victorian agencies are doing with Chinese buyers at present.

Brightfox has been doing business in Asia for over 9 years, and we can successfully market properties and projects to Asia.

One of the suprising facts that most people wouldn’t appreciate until they start marketing to Asia is the fact that most languages require the PC to be Unicode  compliant. This requires the CRM software and the website to be similarly Unicode compliant.

Both foxAdvantage and foxEnterprise meet these requirements and can market your properties and projects in the native language of your target audience – a key requirement to successfully penetrate these markets.