*”You can´t rely on properties to generate traffic; it´s not going to happen.”

 *Google+ “probably one of the most important to start working with” 

TheMoveChannel´s Property Inspector: Taking a closer look at real estate each month.

House hunting is increasingly becoming an online experience. While people calmly turn to portals or search in Google, sites are duking it out to see who can rank the highest. This month´s podcast discusses what SEO means for property portals.

As new sites such as Property Mutual and Agents´ Mutual launch with the aim of competing against established UK portals, SEO will be key to determining who ends up at the top of the real estate heap. How important is SEO when it comes to online marketing? Can it make or break big as well as small businesses? And what exactly are Google´s search algorithms looking for anyway?´s Property Inspector interrogates Ian SpencerSEO specialist and Marketing Manager of real estate lead generation network Lead Galaxy, to get to the bottom of the great Google mystery.

Property Inspector: How Important Is SEO For Property Portals?
Property Inspector: How Important Is SEO For Property Portals?

Click here to listen to the full investigation. An abridged transcript follows:

What is SEO? 

SEO is about making sure your website is seen by as many people as possible on the Internet. If you´ve got a site selling property, you want to make sure your site is coming up on the front page of all the search engines.

So is all online marketing effectively SEO? 

I would say rather than think of online marketing as part of SEO, think of SEO as part of online marketing. It´s part of the overall package.

There are new UK property portals launching now, or in the next year, with the aim of changing the current market balance. How important is SEO to them achieving that?

As important to them as it is to everyone else! What they need to concentrate on is not doing what everyone is doing. They´ve got to try and do something different, invest money in really good quality content – things that are going to put them above some of the big boys in the industry. They must make sure they´re considering everything rather than putting a site live and going out and getting as many links as possible.

So when it comes to search engines, content is king?

Absolutely. And Google prefers to see that original and unique content on your site. Google doesn´t like to see an article on your site and spread out across 10 article directories and 20 press release sites. That´s how it used to be. If you produce on article that everyone loves, links to, Facebook likes, that sort of thing, that will generate natural links. And Google is looking for natural links.

Do Google´s updates work? Are search results getting better?

Most of the updates affect between 1 and 2 per cent of the search results, which doesn´t sound massive, but when you think of how many search results there are, it´s quite big and rankings can change. If you´re searching “property in London”, because of the local maps and things, you´re probably not going to see much of a change. The updates are mainly looking at getting rid of spam from the search engines. As for whether the updates are fair, not always.

A report from Link Research Tools recently found that Halifax had seen a big drop in traffic, which suggests that Google´s updates can impact big and small companies alike.

Yeah, the reports that come out will normally pinpoint what someone thinks is wrong. There are many reasons why Halifax could have dropped traffic, nobody knows – was it a server issue that could have caused a drop in traffic? Without defending anybody, if a site puts their faith in an SEO company, that company will have their own techniques. You have to trust someone and sometimes that can cause a few problems.

For property portals, a lot of their content is similar because of syndicated listings. Lead Galaxy, for example, powers the same listings across lots of sites. What can portals do to be unique?

Your properties are your products. If you are selling watches, your watches are going to be the same as everyone else´s watches, so you´ve got to do something different: maybe introduce video reviews about the watches, or a blog, or FAQs from leading professionals in the industry. You can´t rely on properties to generate traffic; it´s not going to happen. If that property is on 10 other sites, it´s hit and miss if you´re going to get the credit for that, if anybody does. The properties are your biggest income earner but should almost be the thing you least worry about.

From Google´s perspective, they would rather see a really high quality article about the London property market, which shows you are an authority. If I type “property in London”, Google will work out which site is the most authoritative for that keyword.

How important is social media to all of this?

I believe it´s important, and Google+ is probably one of the most important to really start working with, but I wouldn´t put as much emphasis on them as some people do.

What tips would give to any property portal looking to rank higher in Google?

I think the biggest thing for any new site is patience: you´re not going to rank overnight. It can take a year to get really good rankings or even longer. It can be very easy to get disappointed. It comes back to the package: make sure you´ve got investment for AdWords, marketing, that kind of thing. It´s just patience, hard work and delivering the best you can for the user.

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