This opinion piece is written primarily to address a question that I seem to be hearing more and more from within the real estate industry.
It also has relevance to property owners looking to sell your property. That is because I believe many agents when presenting a marketing campaign will boast – “we will feature your property on 5 websites” – with the next agent boasting “well we will place it on 9 websites!”
The reality is the number of websites is completely irrelevant – you could be on a million websites and still be missing the most important website – that is the point – you have to be on the right site – not every site.
Additionally the idea that your house in particular or NZ property in general should be featured on a US or UK sites is a misnomer – people from overseas do not look for NZ property on a UK site or an American site – they are smarter than that and seek out a NZ site.
Lastly the notion of an “International Property” website is at best misleading, and at worst a waste of money – except if you consider Google to be “The International Property Website”.
Given this preamble here is my address to the real estate profession on this topic.
As a real estate professional you clearly have a responsibility to promote your client’s listings to the optimal extent you can. Clearly promotion these days involves the web as the key medium used by property buyers. However, a critical question should be asked as to how many websites you should feature those listing on?
One of the greatest benefits of the web is that it has almost limitless capacity – estimated these days in the region of over 1 trillion web pages! – but clearly within this number are a significant proportion that are never going to be viewed – with a classic 80:20 rule applying – potentially in the case of the web and any specific category on the web more like the 95:5 rule, or even the 99.99:0.01 rule!
It is for this reason that I believe that you should think before offering your listings to be presented on just any website that happens to come along. In my judgement there are a number of questions that you should ask yourself or the prospective website.
- A website is meaningless unless it has visitors – you should ask the owner of any website to provide statistics such as Nielsen or Google Analytics. The key metric is unique browsers, this measures unique visitors and should allow you to judge and compare websites based on true audited audiences. Another critical issue is true traffic – not how many visitors they think they will have or how many they had last year – how many last week or last month.
- A website is a business – you should ask the owner of any website how they make money to pay to support the site. Are they relying on advertising or are they expecting you to pay. The question you should ask at this stage is “who needs who, the most” – is this website looking to use your listings to attract an audience to then make money from advertising?
- A website needs to have a track record and a planned future – you should ask the owner of any website how long they have operated and how they will support the website in the future. You do not want to find that the website closes down in 2 months or worse still is sold to someone else that you have no relationship with.
- A website should have a clear policy on copyright – you should get a copy of any websites terms and conditions. Make sure that you retain copyright such that this website cannot “sell” your listings / content onto anyone else for their profit; nor can they alter or change any of the content without your permission.
The expression of “there is no such thing as a free lunch” applies equally to the web as it does to any other form of business; and just as in any other area of business you have to be honest and say to yourself – do you want to waste your time uploading, managing, reviewing and checking your listings on 6 or 10 websites when in reality more than half of them generate very little traffic, no enquiries, but do take up your time?
The consumer in today’s online world is getting smarter – they more and more turn to Google to answer their everyday questions. Google does one thing exceptionally well – it makes sense out of the complexity that is the mass of information available to us these days. It is Google’s stated aim to organise and make accessible the world’s information. That being the case why not let Google help you judge as to which websites to put your content on.
Think about your prospective buyers for your home or one of your listings. Think about the kind of question they would type into Google – now do that yourself. Have a look at the results – these results on the first page should be your guide, these are the websites you should be on.
If you were to be really clinical then there were only a few websites you should place your listings on.
Naturally every listing should be on your own company website as well as major property portals. The reason for this is the fact that people want ease of searching and value comprehensive content that is what a major property portals can offer you.
So don’t be suckered into the first offer that comes by email saying that they have just the site you have always been looking for! – after all if you had been looking for such a site would you not have already found it and be on it!!