With activity in the housing market set to pick up with the onset of spring, estate agents should be focusing on building a positive reputation online.
The best time to enter the housing market
There’s no time like spring. The sun is finally shining again, gardens across the country are in bloom and new life is sprouting up around us. As such, many people choose to enter the housing market in spring – whether as a buyer, seller, tenant or landlord.
What do people think of estate agents?
Households across the country are often reluctant to employ the services of an estate agent due to the notoriously bad reputation attached to the industry as a whole.
An article featured in The Sunday Times, which discuss recent figures released by The Property Ombudsman (TPO), shows there is evidence to support the negative view many people have of estate agents. The TPO figures reveal that between 1 October and 31 December 2014, there were nearly 4,000 property-related complaints lodged. Over half (57 per cent) of these were related to letting agents, of which 69 per cent of which were upheld by the Ombudsman.
The Sunday Times article also highlights some of the ‘dirty tricks’ typically believed to be employed by estate agents. These include featuring ‘outdated portal advertisements’ in order to win new business and advertising ‘glowing testimonials’ from fake sellers.
Estate agents need a positive reputation online
To attract, and retain customers, estate agents need to focus on building a good reputation both online and offline. An article on the Letting Agent Today website discussing ‘The Property Academy Home Moving Trends Survey for 2014’ – exploring people’s decision with regards to moving home, backs up this belief. According to the survey, 20% of the 4,506 respondents were ‘influenced’ by the ‘agent’s reputation’.
It is just as important for an estate agent to build a good reputation online, as it is offline. Data from Search Engine Land illustrates that 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, therefore if someone leaves a ‘negative’ review about an estate agent it is likely the comment will dissuade a potential client from using their services.
Focus on the first page of Google search results
How can an estate agent build a good reputation online? With more and more people using the Internet to search for new homes, one of the best ways for an estate agent to build a positive reputation online is to safeguard the first page of a Google search results for their name or key search terms. A study from Chitika shows information appearing in the page one search results receive more than 90% of all web traffic.
Tips to help estate agents build a positive reputation online
In order to build a positive reputation online an estate agent should:
Create online assets: By creating your company website, as well as social and professional media profiles such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (these rank particularly well on Google), you will be better placed to dominate the first page of Google search results. Creating a blog on sites such as WordPress and Blogspot will also help boost your online profile too.
- Optimise online assets: Optimising your websites, profiles and content with relevant search terms is essential. Your assets are more likely to rank if Google recognises the content as relevant i.e. relating to the search terms people are using to find you online.
- Create original, relevant content: Google strives to ensure appropriate content appears at the top of the search results. Add fresh, relevant content to your website and online profiles on a regular basis to ensure they rank. For example an estate agent could create articles about ‘tips for moving house,’ to publish on their blog. This type of content is both relevant to their readership, and helps to position the agent as a thought leader in their field.
- PR strategy: Press releases featured in local online news outlets are especially good for estate agents looking to interest customers in their local market. By distributing press releases, which are optimised for your key terms, to local online news sources, not only will you help your assets to rank in Google, but you will be working to promote your brand online.
- Encourage reviews: As mentioned earlier, customers trust online reviews. Google also recognises reviews as relevant content, so they are likely to rank well in your search results. Encouraging customers to leave positive reviews on your websites, social media accounts and blogs will help you promote your business to new clients.
- Promote best practice: Tricks like those highlighted in The Sunday Times article only lead to upset customers, and may lead them to post unwanted comments on review or forum sites. Abiding by estate agent best practises will help ensure that positive content appears on the first page of a search for your name.
Attract customers by building a good reputation online
With millions of property-related web searches being made every day, building a positive profile online is essential for estate agents. Creating and promoting relevant content, encouraging positive feedback from happy customers, and following best practice rules, will help you attract and retain new customers, and increase sales.