If an estate agent can tap in to that new mood music, they’re in business.
This means content is king on a website - just look at the vast amount I have ensured appears on my own Move iQ - and here are five reasons why I think you should make content key to your agency’s website too.
Firstly, you want to make sure vendors and buyers alike actually find you.
During the pandemic in particular, more people have been moving further afield - that’s the famous race for space as some fled the city for market towns and the country.
It’s highly likely that people will have Googled “estate agents in Devon” or “agents in Yorkshire” in addition to clocking on to Rightmove or Zoopla - and that’s a potential instruction or purchaser that you might lose if you don’t have a website with a strong SEO score.
Secondly, emphasis your brand. Agents often spend fortunes on new signage, smart boards and a snazzy interior for the office - they’re all very important. But so is a website, carrying through the same branding.
Unlike a portal, your own website gives you a unique opportunity to control content and ensure every page - and even the simplicity of navigation - demonstrate the values and techniques you want to identify with. Look at it this way: your website should treat its visitors precisely as you would treat people walking in to your bricks and mortar office.
Location, Location, Location
Thirdly, it’s key that you add value through extra content that people simply cannot find elsewhere - and these days that’s about community. Buyers moving greater distances than before may need help understanding what makes a place tick. You can help here.
I’ve spoken before in this column about the importance of blogs. If yours looks at local initiatives, school Ofsted results, what clubs and societies exist, local heroes producing food or great sports results or helping charities - these are the things making up a community.
Stamp Your Authority
Fourthly, show your website visitors that you know what you’re talking about.
We all know that housing markets vary by neighbourhood, sometimes even street to street. Show this with occasional market updates that go much further than simply rehashing the latest national house price index - use the data you will have at your disposal to show that you are the leading authority in the area on micro-markets, advise on which areas are right for landlords to buy, and what’s the best time to put a home on sale.
Dress To Impress
Fifthly, dress your website to impress with a clear brand, excellent images, and some of the best and most consumer friendly tools around.
As agents we always say first impressions count at a viewing, and it’s the same with a website. Expert guidance on presentation and navigation will give a visitor confidence that they are visiting something that exudes quality, competence and attractiveness.
Things may change in future but for now my sense is that too much emphasis on PropTech can be intimidating. Try not to force them into 3D virtual viewings or live-streaming as the only way of checking out a property - these are great but as an option not a necessity.
The best agents are doing all this already, of course, and matching this great content with SEO optimisation too. It’s easy for me to urge other agents to follow suit but I recognise it can be more difficult, time consuming and expensive on the ground.
However, it will be worthwhile, because with the stamp duty holiday over and possibly the arrival of harsher economic realities over the next few months, successful agents must seize every opportunity to stand out and above the competition. Autumn and winter are also great seasons to refresh a website, ahead of peak sales resuming in the spring.
So take an hour out and go online, checking rival agents or others you admire in different parts of the country. There’s no shame in picking the best features from others and giving them your individual virtual twist. Happy surfing…
* Phil Spencer is a presenter, author, businessman and property investor. Phil’s consumer advice platform Move iQ, is a website, YouTube channel and podcast. Each preserve and reflect the same impartiality that consumers trust and base their property moving plans. Coming soon: Move iQ Pro, Phil’s resource to support the property community. Stay tuned ready for launch!