Street or screen?Property’s new digital battleground
It no longer matters which estate agent has the best high street office. Today it’s the agent with the best online presence who will reach new clients first.
As the rise of internet and hybrid estate agents has proved, a fancy shop in the middle of town is no longer the instruction winner it once was. Most estate agents report minimal levels of walk-in trade and, with the internet, smartphones, tablets and laptops removing any need to go outside and look in estate agents’ windows, the focus has shifted from the physical world to the digital one.
I suspect this could benefit the smaller independent estate agents the most, assuming they’re up for doing something that will get them noticed online. Freed from trying to compete against the larger, shinier offices of the big corporate companies, the independents can now set about creating an online presence that is tailored entirely to their neighbourhood and marketplace. And it’ll cost a whole lot less than the rent on a prime high street premises, which could well become quite a millstone for the big agents with big shops.
My thoughts are there are two potential online areas of exploration: property and community. You can choose whether you try to woo one or both.
If you are working with a particular type of property, or if your neighbourhood has some particularly interesting places to live, why not create a website full of detail about those properties? The more you write (assuming it makes sense), the more Google will love you and the more you’ll get noticed.
Or how about an online community page where you publicise local businesses? This will show off what there is to do in your neighbourhood and generate serious amounts of goodwill into the bargain. Again, more content mean more love from Google, Bing and other search engines.
The key is to be useful – do not start rambling on about how amazing you are! Provide content that is not on your website and that gives a helpful, engaging and enlightening insight into the world you are promoting. As a local estate agent you will probably have a lot more to say than you realise, so have a really good think about the knowledge you can impart.
It must be said that good writing is rewarded. Bad grammar and spelling mistakes will do you no favours, and nor will duplicate content. So if you’re considering simply stealing content from other websites (I have seen this done!), you will be punished by the search engines and relegated to the outer reaches of civilisation, otherwise known as “Page 2 and lower on Google”.
But done well, you have the opportunity to reach an entirely new marketplace and to plant yourself in front of anyone living in or moving to your area.