Most of us are slugging it out to rank our sites higher on search engines. Ranking higher gets your estate agency more search result impressions, more clicks and hopefully more business.
Free traffic is far better than paid traffic… because it’s free.
I’ve talked extensively in the past about how to get your estate agency to rank higher on Google.
In a nutshell, Search Engine Optimisation, SEO, is a tough task and for a lot of your efforts you won’t see the results for months if not years. SEO can also be expensive.
In this article to help estate agents with their marketing, we take a look at one of the big boys ranking well on Google already. We’ll assess what they rank for and how they did it.
Foxtons rank 1st for the term “estate agent” – I’m based in London, so Google is likely to have adjusted my results to be London focused.
Even so, ranking for the term “Estate agent” is amazing. It’s a high traffic keyword and is being searched by Foxtons target market (i.e. people looking for an estate agent!) 18,000 times a month in London alone.
Website title, meta description & tags
The thing that all estate agents should be doing (it’s really easy) is to name your site correctly.
In the Foxtons example they’ve used a title and description that’s ‘London estate agent’ focused.
Setting your site titles correctly isn’t going to make amazing changes to your rankings. But setting it incorrectly, not pointing to the type of audience you want, can create adverse effects.
Each page also has a header structure, usually based on
- H1 – This is the main header of your page, telling visitors (and Google) what your page is about. Usually your site should only have one of these
- H2 – The subheadings, commonly each subsection of your page should be flagged as a H2 header
- H3 – These are reserved for bullet points and smaller headings.
You should ask your site developers to double check that your site headers are optimised to the objectives of your site.
A backlink is when another site links to yours. It’s like a vote for your site that it’s a good site and relevant for a particular topic.
For an estate agency, the more backlinks you have from property or news related sites, the better. I talked previously on how backlinks will help your estate agency’s SEO and how to get them.
Foxtons have been very busy getting backlinks. They have 80,000 of them! If we compare that number to other agents:
- Purplebricks: 45,000
- Leaders: 34,000
- Connells: 41,000
Of course some will be from junk/spam sites or not relevant.
However, looking at some of the top backlinks Foxtons has received, they’re from amazing sources, including The NY Times, BBC and The Guardian.
Publishing property research
Publishing research gets attention. Linking to my previous point above, it’s a great way to generate backlinks. Backlinks then create a more reputable site and therefore better Google rankings.
Looking at an example, Foxtons published an article/research that talked about “Behind the doors of London’s £3 billion street”
This piece got included in an article called “The Top 10 Most Expensive Homes In The World!”
What’s amazing about this page is that it gets 7,000 visitors a month.
A proportion of these visitors will then click on the link to Foxtons, who then may turn into customers for the estate agency.
Even if they don’t, by visiting the Foxtons site, they’re not a bit more familiar with the company name, helping Foxtons brand recognition.
Content on their blog
Foxtons have done an amazing job placing property related content on their site.
They have an abundance of blog posts and guides.
Taking a look at the most recent blog posts, they are all centred around relevant up to date topics including greener homes and new pet regulations.
Plus they also often mention their key terms ‘London estate agents’ often (where appropriat, not just keyword stuffing)
In addition looking at the timings of their blog posts, Foxtons are very consistent posting 3-6 times a month on average. Keeping things fresh helps rankings for sure – no one likes an outdated, never updated set of articles.
Another section that Foxtons have created which targets individual towns, is to create a dedicated area guide.
Not every potential customer will be searching for an “estate agent in London”. They’ll instead be searching using their town name, “estate agent in Chiswick” for example.
Foxons have optimised their content to target these landlords & sellers.
Their area guides, targeting towns in London, explain local places to visit, properties for sale/rent in the specific area and a local area map to pinpoint local facilities.
This no doubt helps their SEO in cases where sellers & landlords are using their town name as part of their Google search term
Foxtons broken links
One opportunity missed for Foxtons is not not fixing their broken links. A broken link in this context is when another site links to one of your pages, but that page no longer exists.
Google doesn’t like this. It can indicate the site isn’t maintained and therefore damages the site’s reputation.
Foxtons currently has 119 broken links which should be fixed.
Some of which are old property listings which have probably been since taken down, but others are to past blog posts which may have had a URL change.
For your own site, you can easily check both internal and external broken backlinks. Simply use an automated auditing tool such as AHREFs to identify the broken links which you can then fix quite quickly.
Foxtons Page Speed
Google hates slow websites (and so do site visitors).
Slow sites ruin the user experience and as Google wants it’s search results to be beneficial for its users, it doesn’t push much organic traffic to slow loading sites.
Foxtons is in the high/medium category of the speed spectrum which is a great accomplishment considering the amount of content, features and video files they post on their main webpages.
A quick(ish) win for improving your site speed is checking where your servers are based. Most hosting options in the US. It’s likely most of your users are in the UK, therefore switching your servers to a UK based service will improve yoru speed in most cases.
Other things to consider if your site is slow is removing large resolution images/videos or resolving underlying code issues of a site.
Foxtons site navigation
If a site visitor leaves a site within a few seconds, it’s a bad sign for Google. It indicates that the page wasn’t what the user was expecting or there were issues with the site. If this is a consistent pattern, Google will start punishing the site’s rankings.
On the other hand, if a user spends quite a long time on a site and moves from page to page, it indicates to Google the site was exactly what the user was looking for, which it rewards by improving the site’s organic search result ranking.
Aside from amazing content, internal website links (when your own blog post links to another of your blog posts) and a clear navigation menu help to direct users to other parts of your site.
Foxton’s menu is broken down very well (I know this is simple stuff, but you’ll be surprised at how many sites get it wrong). The menu clearly distinguishes between buyers, sellers, landlords and so on.
Once clicked on, the subsections to each type of users are laid out very well also
They also manage their internal linking very well, ensuring their posts link to other sites, creating a clear and easy path for users to flow to other relevant posts.
Linking their posts to research
Articles that link to external pieces of research help build credibility for a post. Pointing to research also helps readers understand how points & conclusions are backed up.
Foxtons links to external research pieces to back up their content, from credible & known sites.
You’ll see on many sites, some posts are covered with external links that aren’t quite relevant to the article.
This is usually because the site has been paid to host a link for another site. This generates a small revenue, but can cause long term damage to a site’s SEO.
Foxtons – a job done well
Foxtons have done a great job in ranking well on Google.
Their site is well managed and structured. It has suitable naming conventions and speeds.
The content on the site is well constructed and targeted specifically to their target audience. In addition the content is consistent and well organised in a strict and concise menu to help users move from page to page.