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.
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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.

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.

Real Estate Agents warned against breaching Spam Act in Australia

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We have long advocated the use of opt in only databases used for email marketing. You simply can get far too much negative feedback, poor publicity and can even get blacklisted if your email marketing becomes SPAM.

Regardless of how you built your database, you simply must always include the ability to unsubscribe or instructions on how to unsubscribe. This is simply good business practice, and in some countries, a legal requirement. In Australia it has been law for some years now to include the ability to unsubscribe from any bulk marketing email and it is not starting to be rigorously enforced.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has issued a formal warning to an Australian Real Estate Agency for breaching the Spam Act. Danielou Pty Ltd, trading as Elders Real Estate Wollongong, breached the Spam Act by sending emails without an unsubscribe facility.

The full press release is provided below:

“Real estate agency breaches the Spam Act

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has issued a formal warning to Danielou Pty Ltd, trading as Elders Real Estate Wollongong, following an investigation that found the real estate agency breached the Spam Act 2003 by sending commercial electronic messages without an unsubscribe facility.

‘This is the first enforcement measure taken against a real estate agent since an ACMA awareness campaign about unsolicited communications targeted at the real estate sector,’ said Chris Cheah, acting Chairman of the ACMA.

The campaign was held in response to the ACMA’s concerns about widespread non-compliance with marketing obligations by members of the real estate sector. The ACMA wrote to more than forty head offices of leading real estate franchisors and companies in 2009, informing them of key obligations and providing links to online training and resources to increase awareness of legal obligations and of the consequences of non-compliance.

‘It is disappointing that some real estate agents do not appear to have taken the opportunity to understand the requirements for complying with the Spam Act,’ Mr Cheah said.

The ACMA has a tiered approach to compliance and enforcement. While education is the first step, stronger enforcement action will be used if compliance is not achieved.

‘Real estate agents should consider themselves to be on notice,’ Mr Cheah added. ‘Members of the industry need to understand that, even when they are dealing with potential buyers on a one-to-one basis, these interactions are commercial and they need to comply with spam and telemarketing laws.’

Commercial electronic messages must be sent with the recipient’s consent and include a statement that the recipient can use an electronic address, provided in the message, to send an unsubscribe request. During the course of this investigation, the ACMA identified messages sent by Elders Real Estate Wollongong that did not contain unsubscribe wording to this effect.

The ACMA has taken a wide range of enforcement action against non-compliant ‘spammers’ in the last twelve months, including recent action in the Federal Court which resulted in significant penalties being imposed on both individuals and companies.

Under the Spam Act, potential penalties of up to $1.1 million per day may be imposed by the Federal Court for repeat offenders”

The simple rule is always include the following text or something to this effect:

Important Information: If you are not the intended recipient, please ignore this email. This communication has been prepared by . To unsubscribe from this email please reply with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line.

Launch of R.E.Mobile making it easier for property buyers to find property online

 ACCESS TO PROPERTY INFORMATION JUST GOT MOBILE!

Brightfox is proud to announce the launch of R.E.Mobile, a world first product that takes an existing website and optimises it for viewing over any smart phone in the world.

Over 140 Million ‘smart phones’ were sold in 2008 and with 87.1% of all property buyers researching property online, the smart phone will become more and more prevalent in today’s market.

Instant access to property information is becoming extremely important, but the ability to view this information in an easy to view format has been somewhat difficult.

Enter R.E.Mobile.

R.E.Mobile, or Real Estate Mobile, is designed to enable any real estate agency or developer to instantly establish contact with consumers and provide them with essential property information via a smart phone.

An R.E.Mobile site takes a companies existing website content and transforms it into an easy to read format ready for any multimedia phone allowing buyers to research whilst on the run.

R.E.Mobile can display listings, projects, rentals, staff profiles, latest news and more, all updated instantly from the companies own website (which also eliminates the need for manual updating).

“RE Mobile allows buyer’s to research property information whilst on location via their smart phone. It can provide them with all the information they need instantly, in an easy to read format to make a calculated decision”, said Brightfox Managing Director, Cameron Black.

“With people now viewing less homes per purchase thanks to the Internet, and with RE Mobile, buying property has now become a lot easier”.

An R.E.Mobile website is a fully customizable and can be setup and running in under 3 weeks and for as little as $25 per week*.

For more information on R.E.Mobile and its innovative technology, contact Brightfox.

How to measure if your website is successful

This is an excerpt from one of our weekly emails sent FREE to subscribers of the 50 Bright Ideas email campaign. To read this article in full, and to get another 49 great tips and action lists on how to improve your property business, visit http://50ideas.brightfox.com.au and sign up – it is free. “Last week we talked about using Google to promote your business. We will talk more in coming weeks about how to optimise your website design to improve search engine results. But we digress this week to answer a question from one of our readers regarding last week’s email. Charlotte asks us:

“Thanks for the information on Google. I understand a little more on how I can use it to increase visitors to my site, but how do I know if it is working or not?”

This is a good question, thanks Charlotte, and the answer to your question is this week’s Bright Idea.

So you’ve built a website and spent money on Google Adwords, how do you know if your website is working? To get the best out of your online marketing you need to understand the basic metrics that are used to measure the performance of your web site.

Most web development firms would point you immediately at a weblog statistics package that will analyse the technical details of how many visitors came to your site, how long they stayed and so on. This is all important, and we discuss it below, but we believe in analysing the success of your site more deeply than this. We recommend that you use three forms of measurement. They are:

(a) Lead Tracking: There is nothing more important to your business than generating actual leads that convert into sellers, purchasers, tenants or landlords. The true and absolute measure of any advertising medium, including your website and online marketing, is the amount of business your website generates.

We would say that a website that brought 10 leads is better than one which brought a million page views but no new potential clients. I think this is pretty obvious to us all however, we have found that many clients fixate on the web traffic analyses and don’t track nor analyse the number and quality of leads generated from the site.

So the number 1 measure of success is simple: the number of leads and the % of those leads that convert. We recommend that you track both and report on them weekly.”

To read the rest of this article and to get a detailed action list of how to measure success on your website, subscribe for FREE to http://50ideas.brightfox.com.au.

How to create a world class website for world class property developments

Barr Al Jissah

Barr Al Jissah

I was revisiting some of our old newsletters and came across this content – which was emailed out in October 2007. I think it is as relevant today as it was then, particularly as so few websites for property developments include the functionality that this site does. I find it very surpising that property developers do not demand more when it comes to internet marketing. They spend hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in the main stream media and yet usually have token websites and almost non-existent online marketing. I think it is a real oversight and is affecting the sales performance of so many projects. Given the number of property purchasers who start looking on line now (up to 80% in some countries), this really is something that property developers need to have a serious think about addressing.

Here is the original copy from that newsletter. If you are a property developer or project marketer and you would like to discuss what more you could be doing with your website or in broader online marketing, give me a call or send me an email.
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Barr Al Jissah is an exclusive development in Oman, positioned on the shores of the Arabian Sea with awe inspiring views. To market this extraordinary development, the Zubair Corporation and marketing agents PRDnationwide Oman required the very best in technology and web services and turned to Brightfox to meet those requirements.

Brightfox developed the Barr Al Jissah website so that it was both informative and attractive to view. However, to turn the website into a true sales tool Brightfox added some extraordinary new features that are sure to be implemented in other property development sites in the future.

Many websites are efficient in providing attractive images and information, but are generally out of date and act as poor sales tools.The Barr Al Jissah websites redefines what is possible with property development sites through an array of new features all designed to engage visitors, making them stay at the site for longer periods, visit more often and ultimately – to purchase.

What makes the Barr Al Jissah website possible? Seamless integration with foxEnterprise, the world’s leading CRM, Sales, Marketing and Contract Administration software. By integrating foxEnterprise with their new website, the Barr Al Jissah sales team can upload and maintain their properties on the site without advanced technical know-how.

While the Barr Al Jissah website has many extraordinary features, we have outlined a few key elements that give the website a distinct competitive advantage. These innovative features are what transform the Barr Al Jissah website into an effective sales tool, and will become the ‘must have’ features for leading Projects around the world.

Interactive master plan map
Visitors to the master plan can view the master plan map, and ultimately which properties are still available for sale. Further information can be obtained by clicking on the available property.
An informative window about the specific property pops up which contains pictures, floor plans, a photo gallery and price for the visitor to peruse. The visitor can also zoom in for a closer look at the properties
Photo Gallery & Slide Shows
Each individual property has its own photo gallery, which can be accessed via the Master Plan. Alternatively visitors to the Bar Al Jissah website can view individual images or a slide show about the area and the development.
Client Portal
Every purchaser is able to logon via the website and get access to secure private information on their own contracts. With purchasers around the world, this makes providing project updates, contract adjustments and other important contractual information easy and fast. Just as internet banking has taken the world by storm, secure client portals such as this will soon become standard in the industry.
Google Movie
Using Google Earth and Google technology, Brightfox was able to create a short movie display that highlighted Barr Al Jissah’s location, properties, facilities and master plan.

While these features are attractive and engaging for the visitor, they also aim to interact with the prospective buyer to facilitate the sale. The Barr Al Jissah has ensured that its first-class development is reflected in its premium website design, and we should not be surprised if its properties aren’t available for long.

To view the new Barr Al Jissah website, visit www.barraljissah.com

To enquire about Brightfox web design you can visit us as www.brightfox.ae

 

Web 2.0 continued…to blog or not to blog?

Another common web 2.0 ‘feature’ is the blog. While this concept has been around for many years, it only seems to be a recent feature for businesses. A blog is an online journal of commentary and chat, and usually people have written blogs regarding social ideas and life in general – for example travel blogs. However the corporate world has now taken up blogs as an innovative way to promote their company, products and services.

The best thing about a blog is that it enables organizations to build an informal dialogue with their clients and prospects. For example, General Motors runs a blog that discusses topics ranging from auto racing to car design. In the property industry, individual real estate agents are using blots to promote their experience in the market, property developers are keeping buyers in touch with new developments and so on.

Brightfox has built several websites recently that have incorporated the blogging feature, which enable the agencies with limited technical knowledge to blog for themselves as a way to keep in touch with their clients and maintain a leading edge.

Web 2.0 – changing the face of real estate as we know it?

Web 2.0? Who? What?

This subject is one of much debate among IT experts, but the general consensus is that web 2.0 is more of a concept than an actual tangible change. You have probably heard new jargon popping up at the meetings over the water cooler such as Facebook, MySpace, tagging, blogging and social networks – these are probably the most widely recognized aspects that are changing the internet – and being defined as ‘web 2.0’.

The ‘idea’ of web 2.0 involves the ability for internet users to generate and distribute content, often with the freedom to share and reuse. It does include a largely social element – but before you disregard this as your colleagues posting drunken nights out of themselves online, consider the economic potential for businesses – after all, word of mouth (albeit ‘virtual’) is an incredibly powerful sales and marketing tool.

One such example is YouTube. An online video sharing website, not only does it include the quirky videos sent around the office for fun, but also includes a more professional side. For example, politicians such as Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama are campaigning via YouTube.  So how can this affect the property industry? Already property developers and real estate agents are posting videos of themselves and their accomplishments onto YouTube. At Brightfox, a common feature we are now including for our clients’ websites are a video and news page where property firms can upload their YouTube videos onto their own corporate website.

Stay tuned – More information on Web 2.0 to come…