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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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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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Property & the Internet: a history of unfulfilled potential…

by admin

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?

Online Property has never lived up to expectations

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.

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