Posts tagged: google
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…
As more of us start our home-buying search online there is a growing need for sources of local information.
The last few years have given us instant access to objective information such as sold house prices, bus routes, school catchment boundaries and distances from shops, restaurants and train stations, but we now have an appetite to digest the subjective information online as well.
Not only do we want to know the house prices trends for the area and what our target property sold for last time around but we want to get a feel for the area itself, and we want to hear it from people who live there.
Internet people call this ‘user generated content’ and it means that we write for each other. No more do we consult the a restaurant guidebook written by a professional critic but we ‘Google’ the restaurant and read reviews written by other diners. Word of mouth moves online.
The same applies to local area knowledge. We want to read what residents are saying about an area to put some depth and colour behind those dull statistics. Yes there may be 12 restaurants within a 10 minute walk – but are they any good? Has the map eaten there? The software? Perhaps the website dropped in for a coffee and croissant? I don’t think so.
The merging of mobile phones with personal computers has really put the ‘location’ into location-based search. Rather than typing a postcode into your office based computer you can, in theory, use an ‘app’ on your phone that already knows your exact location – and provides information relevant to it. You can be standing outside a flat you’re about to view and access the Ofcom score of the local school or read what residents think of the local library.
Property websites have recently woken up to the power of localised information, not only because house-hunters are demanding more access to it, but because the internet’s Chief Whip Google demands it.
In Google’s quest for localization, the search engine has started giving precedence in search results to websites that show that they have local relevance to queries. This means a search for ‘Hotels in Glasgow’ is less likely to return a list of national hotel booking websites and more likely to return a list of actual hotels in Glasgow, represented by the business’ own website.
Likewise a search for ‘houses for sale in Brighton’ may, in the future, be more likely to reveal the websites of estate agents in Brighton than a national property portal website.
To stay relevant and retain the enormous footfall they (we) receive from property-related search queries, property portals are developing local strategies online. In Rightmove’s case by developing a place to share local knowledge and reviews: Rightmove Places. Zoopla were ahead of this game with their AskMe! feature where you can ask and answer location-related questions and their recent acquisition of houseprices.co.uk will allow them to give customers access to sold house price data from the Land Registry should they so wish. Personally I could never buy a house without knowing how much the previous owner paid for it.
The property search engine Nestoria has a number of data sources that add flavour to the home search, if not colour – giving census information, healthcare facilities, house price trends, post office locations and other hard facts.
Findaproperty.com have a ‘how far is this from…’ tool allowing you to measure the distance of certain services from a given property.
For property portals serious about catering for the needs of their users, location based information services are more than a nice-to-have feature and not only adds to the experience of the online home-hunter – allowing them to do more of their research in one place – but will attract more home-hunters to the website by capturing more of the home-hunt research queries made in search engines.
For those without the time to do their own research, a new service called Check The Area uses a nationwide network of retired police officers ‘each tasked with using their local knowledge and investigative skills to research your potential new neighbourhood’. The service starts at £150 for their bronze package.
Their website claims that ‘ a bad neighbourhood can knock up to £30,000 off the value of your property’. Friends of mine recently pulled out of purchasing a flat at the 11th hour when they discovered, quite by accident, that the flat above was owned by a charity that re-homed ex-prisoners and recovering drug addicts. This flat shared an entrance and, stairway and hall and being in their early 60s and planning to retire to this flat my friends didn’t feel safe and backed out of the sale. Had they commissioned an area search earlier they could have made a significant saving in abortive solicitors’ fees.
If your budget will stretch to it, using a property buying agent can also reveal more about an area than you might have time to find out yourself. The Association of Property Finders and Buyers Agents could be a good place to start looking for one.
Online forums can also be a great place to get an inside view on an area – many hyper-local forums serving just a postcode or a whole town can reveal what residents are talking about whether it be crime or the local library.
If you know of any good online resources for local knowledge and house hunting research feel free to add them in the comments below.
(The hand-drawn map image in this post is used courtesy of Danny McL.)
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.
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!
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.
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:
- Web Dadi
- Property Pal
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.
The Big Property List has been quietly online for some time and although the blog has been running for over a year (and has become quite popular) we only opened up the main property portal a few weeks ago.
The initial feedback and response has been good and people are using the site to find properties for sale and to rent in their area.
We are also seeing a suprising number of enquiries being send to Vendors to request viewings – especially given the recent press about fears for the housing market.
Why not look to find out what properties are on the market in your area?
Press Release 11 August 2010 – revised version
LAUNCH OF THE BIG PROPERTY LIST SEES THE UK’S ONLINE PROPERTY REVOLUTION MOVE ON – BIG TIME
The Big Property List (www.thebigpropertylist.co.uk), a new, free-to-use property portal, has been launched, laying down the gauntlet to everyone in the business of buying, selling and renting property in the UK.
The Big Property List displays details of available property, which have been publicly listed on Google Maps the UK, in a familiar portal style, tackling head-on the critics that suggest that users and those looking for property do not like property displayed in a map format.
In June the search engine announced that users were able to search for properties on Google Maps. This announcement led to intense public debate in the property industry about the future of UK property portals such as Primelocation and Rightmove.
Many industry commentators and property portals have dismissed the threat posed by Google, saying that house hunters don’t want to search for property using the Google map view but prefer a list format. The Big Property List addresses this by presenting the information in a familiar listing design.
The Big Property List offers what everyone hunting or selling property wants – a nationwide listing service to match Rightmove, which is free to use by agents. It gives agents, home seekers and sellers on a budget, a no-cost, no frills, nationwide shop-window.
The Big Property List’s managing director, James Cole, says: “Any agent can send property details for free to Google Maps, and if they choose to syndicate this information then this will appear – for free – on The Big Property List.
He adds: “Estate agents fork out millions of pounds a year to advertise on nationwide sites. There will be no reason to do this anymore, with thebigpropertylist.co.uk providing a similar service, in a familiar style, for free.”
“At thebigpropertylist.co.uk we do not have to justify how we have to charge the fees normally paid by estate agents to a portal, allowing us to focus totally on what the consumer wants. If we help people find the property they want, this results in better quality enquiries for estate agents. So what benefits the consumer benefits the agent.”
Notes for editors:
· The Big Property List is an independent business and NOT a Google product or service.
· The Big Property List uses the Google Base API to display details of properties which have been publicly listed on Google Maps.
· Anyone choosing to list their property details on Google Maps can choose whether or not to syndicate this data.
· If a user chooses not to syndicate the data, the information regarding their property WILL NOT appear on The Big Property List. Submitting a listing to Google does not mean it will necessarily appear on any other website.
For further information please contact:
James Cole, The Big Property List +44 (0)7551 237 085 firstname.lastname@example.org www.thebigpropertylist.co.uk
Andrew Barber, Revolution Public Relations +44 (0)7989 553 903 email@example.com www.revolution-pr.co.uk
Estate Agency is changing. The world is changing. No matter what your stance or perspective you can’t disagree with this basic premise.
However for those at the forefront of the online migration the pace may seem faster than to those Estate Agents whose business model has remained more or less the same for the last 10 years. For those bringing up the rear the greatest changes will be the use of an online property portal to reach buyers – probably Rightmove and no other – and the use of email instead of fax and post.
I sat in an Estate Agent’s office a few months ago and asked what a secretary was doing – she was entering property details in triplicate – to three seperate systems. It doesn’t take A level maths to work out that a 66% time saving could be made by the introduction of a smarter system.
One of the simplest online advertising tools for an Estate Agent that doesn’t want to rely solely on Rightmove for it’s online marketing is Pay Per Click.
Essentially Pay Per Click (PPC) is a form of online advertising where you set a budget of say £20/day and your advert is displayed all over the internet – normally alongside search results (for example in Google) and on other websites that relate to your subject. When a user clicks on your advert and is redirected to your website, you pay for that click. Hence the name Pay Per Click.
The most favoured system is Google Adwords – a very clever system which a new user could set up and use in just a few hours, but that has the tools and features that an advanced user requires.
In our next article in this series we’ll show you how to set up a basic Google Adwords Pay Per Click online advertising campaign in a few simple steps.
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Ever since the property industry made its first bold steps online, the possibilities offered have been a gift for sellers and buyers alike. From basic search to widgets, from Google Maps integration to social media engagement, pioneers in the property world have seized upon digital developments to reap the benefits of their “revolutionary” vision. But how much of this has truly been revolutionary?
Every so often, we’re promised a real game-changer, but in almost all cases the changes are superficial and the game seems to stay the same. Recently, there’s been a lot of excitement over both Google and Tesco venturing into the industry. Again, we were led to believe this would herald a new era in online property sales. Again, we were disappointed.
For as long as the big players in the property world (old and new) invest their time and money into window dressing, we will always fail to address the issues that really need our attention: significantly reducing the stress and hassle people experience when buying a home, making the whole process quicker and easier, restoring trust in estate agents, dragging intimidating property auctions into the 21st century, and ending gazumping forever.
These issues cut to the heart of what matters to buyers. They should also make us question how we, as an industry, use the Internet not to simply promote properties but also to close the deal.
This is what I had in mind when I created Click to Purchase – a transactional platform that enables people to buy property online at the click of a button or via real-time auction. There’s no excessive haggling or negotiating. No recurrent visits to the agent’s office. No back room deals after an offer has been placed. As soon as a bid is accepted, the contract is immediately exchanged online. It’s like e-commerce for property.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I was told “no-one will ever buy property online”. But the platform has already been active in the commercial market for several months. During this time, it has generated sales in excess of £15 million and thrived despite the financial squeeze. There is obviously a hunger for this kind of innovation from buyers and I’m now hoping for this success to be shared across the residential market.
Very soon, all estate agents across the UK will have the option to invite their customers to buy via Click to Purchase. Now, I believe this really is something special. A game-changer. Dare I say, revolutionary?
Author Biography: Neil Singer
Neil Singer has worked in the commercial property industry for over 25 years. In recent years he has been inspired by the power of the Internet and its use in business. His passion for applying new technologies to traditional processes led him to create the Click to Purchase platform. Please visit the Click to Purchase website (http://clicktopurchase.com) and follow him on Twitter.