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The Local Search Guide for Estate Agents

How and where Estate Agents need to be listed in the UK.

Challenges estate agents face in local search

Most people move home infrequently, so, when the need does arise for someone to look to buy, sell or rent a property, they may have little to no experience of working with the estate agents serving their area.  The local online presence and reputation of the estate agent is therefore crucial.

When people search for “Estate agent + location”, how and where you appear in local search is influenced by many factors, but two of the most important are the local listings sites where your agency is listed and local customer reviews.  Your website may look great, but what people find elsewhere may have more influence on whether they pick up the phone and call.

This article outlines the unique elements that influence how and where an estate agent appears in local search and what can be done to improve search performance.

How to list Estate agents

Local search is dependent on consistent Name, Address, Phone number (NAP), CategoryContent and Customer Reviews being consistently listed in LOCAL online directories and citation sites.  (See bottom of this article for estate agency local listing and local citation sites).

Estate agents need to follow these simple listing tips:

Name: list your business name as it would appear above the door. For example, “ABC Estate Agents”

Ensure that the name is consistently listed everywhere.  Do not be tempted to create a different listing with different keywords such as “ABC Property Management”.  Choose one name and stick to it.  If you have changed the name or taken over the premises of a previous estate agent, then be sure to look for the old names and either remove those listings or change the names accordingly.

If you provide different services at the same address, for example, Sales and Lettings, be very careful how you list this. It is possible to list different business services at the same address, but there must be clear NAP distinction between them. Our blog how to solve the problem of multiple listings for estate and letting agents provides some valuable insights in dealing with this challenge.

Address: Your address is extremely important as it is a major indicator that you are local. It needs to be listed consistently.  A problem for long established estate agents is that addresses can change very subtly, for example, different listings appear with slightly different street spellings on address formats, or the postcode may have changed.  Check your address with the Royal Mail Postcode checker then use that in the listing sites.

Phone Numbers: Use the same telephone number in all listing sites.  Do not use different numbers for different sites; this will only confuse search engines. Use the same number on your website branch page and highlight it in micro-format.  If you have changed your number, you need to find and update the sites that list the old one.

Opening Hours:  Incorrect opening hours are a dissatisfier, so keep them up-to-date.  Although most listing sites provide opening hours, the only ones that really matter are Google My Business and the primary property listing sites.

Category: Unsurprisingly, you need to be categorised as an “Estate Agent” or “Letting Agent”. Most sites, including Google, provide additional categories such as Commercial Property Agents, Apartment Sales and Lettings, Holiday Home Letting Agency etc.  Only use these if relevant. Focus on your main category.

Content:  Most listing sites provide space for a business description, images and weblinks.  Use these to their full potential by adding branding and key-word rich content that focus on your services and area. Avoid stock images, instead use location-specific images, for example of areas that you serve and of the team.

Customer Reviews: Customer Reviews associated with your specific address in Google My Business can influence local search performance and customer purchasing decisions.

Unfortunately, you don’t need to ask unhappy customers to write a bad review; aggrieved estate agency customers can go out of their way to write detailed negative reviews; however, you do need to encourage happy customers to write good reviews in your Google My Business listing, Facebook and other local review sites relevant to estate agencies.

Testimonials on your website are useful, but they do not influence your local search performance, and they won’t be read if people have been put off by poor reviews elsewhere first.  It is therefore crucial that you monitor, respond and fix issues highlighted in negative reviews.  Reviews on listings are permanent. They can grow or undermine your local reputation! Embrace them!

Local Listing strategies for Estate agents in the UK.

There are hundreds of local listing and citation sites in the UK alone. However, not all are useful or relevant to estate agents. So how do you decide on which listing sites to use?

We have grouped the listings below for you into Distributors, B2C Generic and Estate Agent specific sites, B2C Generic and distributors:

Estate Agents specific sites naturally perform better in local search results for “estate agents + location”. You should set-up and manage your NAP listing on these sites and, where possible, enhance it with content. In no particular order, these are:

Note: Some of these estate agencies listing sites may require you to pay for the listing or related service.

‘Distributors’ are important sites that feed NAP listing information to multiple sites. By updating these sites first, you will see some of the downstream directories updated over time.

These sites are:

  • Thomsonlocal
  • My118
  • Central Index
  • Local Data Search
  • Infoserve
  • Factual
  • Here.com
  • Royal Mail
  • Dun & Bradstreet

B2C Generic sites list different local services including estate agents. They vary in quality and usefulness; however, these are some of the main ones that estate agents can claim and manage;

  • Yell.com
  • Yelp
  • Cylex
  • Hotfrog
  • Freeindex
  • MisterWhat
  • Scoot
  • Touchlocal
  • 118.com
  • 192.com
  • iGroup

If you’ve put the effort into claim and manage your listings, be sure to check them periodically.  Unmanaged listings can change and eventually lose their content and value.

The Benefit

By managing your NAP information in the right places and encouraging customer reviews, you will improve your local search performance and increase the number of places that people find your information online.

If you are an estate and letting agent grappling with local search you will find this article useful too:

http://mishoplocal.co.uk/local-listing-optimisation/solve-problem-multiple-listings-estate-letting-agents/

If you need help with your estate agent listing, please call MiShop.local on 01273 987498 or email info@mishoplocal.co.uk or contact us using the form below

MiShop.local specialise in local presence management for estate agents.

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To find out how we can manage your local listings please complete the form below

    Local Citation Building – Quality or Quantity?

    We often get asked; which is better a few high quality citations or lots of citations, particularly as many local citation sites seem to be of low value?

    Our answer is “it depends on whether you are building citation for a new premises or a business that has been at the same address for years.

    Here’s why:

    1. Your NAP details may already be listed in multiple local listing sites (local citations), but if you are an established business are they correct?
    2. low value’ local citation site can actually perform very well in local search and are good for new businesses.

    1. Your NAP details may be listed already

    Due to the way that the local directory ecosystem works, your branch address data will eventually find its way onto multiple listing sites anyway.  In other words your business Name, Address and Phone number (NAP data) will appear on a significant number of listing sites whether you like it or not.  For this reason, it is essential that you control and manage what NAP data is distributed and where.

    As a rule of thumb, it is easy to create CLEAN local citations for a business opening new premises.  However, a business that has been at the same address for years may have changed its name and telephone number resulting in different NAP listings appearing across multiple directories for the same address.

    In other words, if you are opening new premises you are starting with a fresh listing and can therefore be relatively confident that subsequent distribution of your NAP data will be fairly consistent.  An established business does not have this luxury; it has a legacy of multiple NAP listings, some of which could be incorrect or contain conflicting information.

    2. Low value local listing sites can perform well in local search.

    Local listing sites are inherently ‘local’ and as such can perform well in particular searches over other sites.  This can be true even if the site itself has a low domain authority and page rank.

    From a conventional SEO perspective, some local citation sites may be dismissed as being low value, but in actual fact, they perform very well in local search.  A local sector listing site is very ‘niche’ and as such can get very little traffic, yet may outperform other sites for local search terms in a given area.

    You’ve just got to find them and ensure your NAP is correct on them.

    There are many local or sector specific listing sites which perform well in local search, but are actually using very out-dated NAP information and which do not receive regular ‘updated’ date files through conventional directory distribution channels.  You need to find these listings and fix them.

    In Summary:

    The answer to the question “quality or quantity of local citations?” is dependent on whether you are building citations for a business opening new premises, or a business that has been at the same address for years”.

    • If you are opening new business premises, you can focus on quality with fewer local citations.
    • If you are a business that has been at the same address for years you need to check for quantity and ensure that the NAP is clean; then you can worry about quality.

    Your NAP is out there! – Do you know where it is, and is it correct?

    If you need to get a new premises to appear in local search or need to clean up a legacy of old ones, please call us and find out how we can help.

    Reinvigorating the Great British High Street

    Released this month, The Digital High Street 2020 Report published by The Digital High Street Advisory Board, sets out a 5 year strategy to reinvigorate the UK’s traditional high street with a focus on the impact of digital technology and the digital future.

    The report makes 4 primary recommendations which they say, and we also believe, are crucial to the revitalisation and continued success of the high street in a digitally dominated world.

    Whilst the foundation of success for the High Street hasn’t changed (economically strong, convenient, engaging. Relevant, adaptive, authentic and diverse, and experiential- see full report for more information) the tools available have and will continue to change.

    Although, the high street has already weathered many changes including the impact of digital technologies, the challenges are not over. Digital technologies will continue to shape the high street.

    The recommendations are:

    1. Sufficient access through infrastructure- This sets out the aspiration for providing a digital infrastructure over the next five year, to be in line with the UK’s digital goals, so that all of our high streets can fully participate in the digital economy.
    2. Basic Digital Skills- As technologies develop, in order to fully participate, so do need the skills. Digital exclusion can hold back the individual and organisation from fully achieving their potential and competing in a technologically driven market.
    3. High Street Digital Lab- The creation of a centralised  aggregation of the general available technologies, digital applications, tools, methods and training programmes, in order to provide a platform for digital consumer services for each community across the UK on behalf of its local government, high street businesses and charities.
    4. High Street Digital Health Index- To make progress, these goals must be translated from qualitative aspirations into measurable indications of fitness. The adoption of the High Street Digital Health Index concepts will be a resource for both national and local governments.

    The report recognises that many high streets in the UK may be well underway in addressing these areas, however, for those who have yet to adapt and adjust to the digital age will quickly find they fall further behind.

    The report stresses that these solutions are interdependent and that the success of the high street relies on a complete solution rather than trying to treat a series of symptoms.

    We believe that this is a very important development in providing practical steps for the digital development of the High Streets and is a cause very close to our hearts.

    We think of Local SEO as a digital ‘bridge’ between the physical premises on the high street and its online presence.  For this reason, we are seeing a strong growth in the need for Local Listing Optimisation services as part of a local SEO strategy.

    You can read more on the full report and The Great British High Street here

    thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk

    Bad reviews can be good!

    Customer Reviews increasingly play an important role in our purchasing decisions.

    Reviews written on local listing sites associated with the NAP of a business location can influence its local organic search performance.   They not only raise the profile of the location within the listing site itself, they can provide key-word references for search engines.  Importantly, they are permanent!

    Colourful reviews which describe in detail the customer experience are more engaging and more influential.  Think of reviews as mini blogs written by your customers.

    Fundamentally, reviews are written by customers that are either happy or unhappy with your service.  You need to focus on delivering the good service and encourage them to write reviews. No amount of SEO activity can can fix bad reviews.

    Bad reviews can be good reviews!

    Prospective customers will read reviews and make a reasoned decision about whether to proceed to purchase.  People read the bad reviews.  The odd bad review amongst predominantly good reviews is unlikely to put them off, however, if the review is recent, detailed, scathing and appears genuine, then it can affect their decision.  We’ve seen examples of very unhappy customers going out of their way to write long bad reviews on several different listing sites, just to make sure that everyone got to read about their poor experience.

    However, and ironically, the way you handle a negative review as a business can positively influence customer decisions.  As the business owner, you can respond to the review via the listing site.  If you handle a bad review in a constructive and professional way, not only could you win back the aggrieved customer, but also win new ones!

    If you can resolve the customer’s issue to their satisfaction, many will go back and adjust the review to reflect this.

    A trade customer of ours said that a negative review led to more business as people were impressed by the way that he had handled it.

    The lesson is, listen to your customers and respond to the negative reviews!  (Responding to every positive review is too much and unnecessary)

    A few do’s and don’ts for managing customer reviews on local listings:

    Do:         

    • Encourage customers to write reviews in Google + Local and the listing sites.
    • Provide printed guidelines or prompts to remind customers to write a review, where to go and what to do.
    • Get into the habit of asking for reviews (ideally you want a steady stream of reviews rather than a surge and then nothing).
    • Monitor the reviews and respond to them; it shows that you care. Reviews can also provide valuable feedback and insights into what customers think about your business.
    • Think of reviews as a positive force. You can’t stop people writing about you, so go with it and use them to your advantage.
    • Get staff involved in understanding their value and how to encourage customers to write them.

    Don’t:

    • Ask customers to write reviews in store – or on the same device. Multiple reviews written on the same IP address will be penalised.
    • Absolutely do not write your own reviews.
    • Pay for, or reward customers to write reviews.