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Internet Marketing for Estate Agents: Google Places

by James Cole

In my last article on internet marketing for estate agents I introduced PPC or Pay Per Click advertising using Google Adwords to put your business at the top of search results.

Today I’m going to be explaining how you can use Google Places to do the same thing – but for free!

The fundamental aim of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is building your website’s credibility in a way that Google sees fit to place it at the top of its search results for a given phrase.  For example if you are an Estate Agent in Knightsbridge and you think you’re customers are looking for estate agents on the web by typing in ‘estate agents in knightsbridge’ then you want to be top of the search results for that term – don’t you?

Luckily for small businesses Google has changed the way search results appear in recent years and we now see videos, news and other types of media streams within search results.  One introduction is Google Places – essentially the information about busiesses or places stored on Google Maps now finds its way into search results – and generally ABOVE natural search results for ‘localised’ searches (like ‘estate agents in Knightsbridge‘).

Google positions business listings for google places high in search results

Click the image above to view full size

So a Google Places entry can put you at or near the top of search results and help clients find your website in this way.  But Google Places results will display a number of estate agents in your area, and you want to be top!

Here we go again – more optimisation to get to the top of search results.  Read on to find out how (it’s easy).

Firstly - do you have a Google Local listing?  If not create one here.  If you do, have you claimed it?  This means you identify yourself as a representative of the business so you can edit the listing.

Second, add information to your Google Places business listing.  This will not only help Google decide to place your business higher in the search results but it will increase the number of visits from customers who instinctively click the business listings with more information.  The more photos and videos (yes videos) the better.

Third, reviews.  Yes its a dirty word in many quarters and many business owners shudder at the thought of disgruntled customers (yes at some point every business will have one) ranting about a poor experience online.  But you have lots of contented customers too – right?  Why not ask them politely if they’d submit a positive review of the experience and let other potential customers read about how great your service is?

I hope you enjoyed this basic introduction to Google Places, of course there is more to it than this but for now – go and claim your listing and add information!

To join my private email list to receive SEO tips for estate agents by email (not published on this blog) send me an email using the contact form entitled ‘Estate Agent SEO Tips please’.

Or, use the ‘subscribe by email link below’ to receive articles from this blog by email.

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Google Gets in on the Mortgage Game

by Sarah Halloran

Do those clever people at Google ever sleep?  It’s been reported that Google is piloting a UK mortgage comparison website.  You may have already seen its online advice service called Google Advisor and Mortgage Strategy.  This was launched in May in the US and the new pilot scheme in the UK, called Compare UK Mortgages is thought to be very similar.

The website works in much the same way as any other comparison website although Google has ensured you get to see their website before any others of the same nature.  If you were to search for ‘mortgage’ or ‘compare mortgage’ in Google for instance, you would see the Compare UK Mortgages link at the very top of the search results.  Just where you would expect to see any Google service in fact!

Many big names have got in on the ‘sponsored links’ action with Woolwich, Royal Bank of Scotland, ING Direct, NatWest and Lloyds TSB all showcasing their products with many more expected to follow.

In order to gauge feedback on the website, participants are able to take part in a customer survey.  Some of the questions featured include their thoughts on using a mortgage broker and how they have searched for a mortgage in the past.  Google seems to be taking this quite seriously and with good reason.  More and more consumers are using comparison sites for a wide range of financial products these days, but in an ocean of similar sites it’s still early days and Google has a lot of competition from established comparison sites.

Justin Rees, director of marketing and partnerships at LeadPoint UK, says: “Only time will tell how successful this service will be and what other products will be arriving in the UK.

“It will also be interesting to see how many of the direct marketers that spend millions of pounds each year generating financial services leads through Google react to this latest development.”

However, he did add how it will be a good initiative for the lead generation market as a whole.

“Usually when Google enters a new market it requires all the incumbents to step up in order to compete so hopefully this innovation will be good for consumers and the adviser community as the current lead generation companies will have to work even harder to improve their services.

“The UK has a strong tradition of intermediary-based advice and long may this remain so.”

Earlier in March this year Google bought BeatThatQuote.com for almost £40m.  When you consider how many consumers now use comparison websites it was only a matter of time before Google took the initiative to start offering their own mortgage comparison services.

It makes sense if you are looking to buy your first or next house to weigh up all the mortgage options.  More and more products are being released on a daily basis and you could find an excellent deal by spending five minutes entering a little information on a comparison website.  We’ll be keeping an eye on Google and will let you know of further developments and services they may be releasing.  Watch this space…

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Property Week: …online property marketing is changing fast

by admin

We were delighted to read an article in Property Week on friday about online property marketing referencing The Big Property List:

‘Piggy backing on google…the latest nationwide listings portal’

Read the full Property Week article below or if you’re a subscriber you can also read the Property Week article online.

Property Week mentions The Big Property List

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How do I upload my property adverts to The Big Property List?

by admin

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions that should answer this question, if it doesn’t or you have further questions then please get in touch.

How do I upload my properties to thebigpropertylist.co.uk?

The property adverts listed on The Big Property List come from Google Maps.

You may have heard that you can now see properties for sale and to rent on Google Maps – well, we take a feed from Google so if your adverts are displayed on Google Maps (and you opt in to ‘re-syndication), they will be displayed on The Big Property List too!

You can submit property listings to Google Maps in the UK

Search for property listings on Google Maps

How much does it cost to list my properties on The Big Property List?

Nothing, it’s free.  Free to list and free to receive enquiries.  We do ask that you link to our website and display our logo on your website to show that your customers that you are marketing their properties on The Big Property List.  You can download our logo here.  We will shortly be sending out marketing packs with window stickers too – so if you want one please send us your postal address.

We display properties listed for sale and to rent on Google Maps in our property portal

Adding property adverts to Google Maps

This can be done manually or by setting up a regular ‘feed’ in the Google Merchant Centre – the file types accepted are tab delimited (text or Excel spreadsheet), RSS and Atom files – these feeds can work in a similar way to the Rightmove feed but are not the same.  Your Estate Agent software provider or other partner portals may already be sending your feed to Google Maps, but it’s worth checking the quality of the information they are sending.  It is free to submit property adverts to Google Maps.

I’m not very technical, how do I send a feed to Google Maps?

The simplest place to start is to talk to your existing IT support, software vendor or portal about sending your feed to Google Maps – this may be just a click of a button for them.  If you do not have this support and would like us to help you set up and manage your feed then we can do this for a fee.  If you would like to know more about our feed set-up and optimisation services please get in touch.

Which property portals and software providers already send a feed to Google Maps?

These providers already send a feed to google Maps:

Software Vendors

  • Web Dadi
  • PropertyADD

Property Portals

  • Zoopla
  • Zoomf
  • Property Pal
  • Vebra
  • SmartNewHomes
  • Ezylet

…and others

Why do my property adverts show incorrect prices/ have missing information/ few photos or lack detail?

The property adverts at The Big Property List contain information exactly as provided in the ‘feed’ sent to Google Maps.  So if the feed lacks a price or contains only a one line description and no photos – this is what will appear in the property advert at The Big Property List.

This is why we recommend a full review of your feed – to get the most out of our free property portal and to maximise the number of enquiries you receive, include as much information in your feed as possible – this means a full description and lots of photos and an uploaded floor plan as a minimum!

If your feed does not contain enough information please get in touch with your IT support/ software provider to discuss it with them.

When I click ‘link to vendor’ on my adverts I don’t get taken to my website – why?

Whoever is submitting your feed to Google Maps (maybe an outside company such as your software provider or another portal) is not using your website address in the feed and may be using their own – so any enquiries and customers may be directed through their website instead of directly to you.  You should get in touch with them and request that the links in the feed correspond to the relevant property advert page on your website and that your email address is used as the main contact.

If you have further questions please do not hesitate to ask – we have been overwhelmed with enquiries since our recent launch and I hope you will understand that we will try to respond to everyone as promptly as we can.

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