Best Estate Agency Websites 2023
On Saturday I was asked to contribute to an article for a leading property magazine, and the article was about technology and development trends for estate agency websites in 2023. Firstly, I am always surprised to be asked for my opinion, not because I feel inexperienced or unqualified to answer the questions, but because I am a small website agency and often the small business owners get overlooked, in favour of the big boys.
However, I spend a lot of time looking at Estate and Letting Agency websites, and I examine them closely, and I have a very strong opinion on what is NOT good, and what IS GOOD. So, I thought I would share my answers here, in case you are not subscribed to the magazine in question, or miss this particular edition.
What is it that your company specialises in?
I specialise in all things digital for the property industry, social media management, website design/build and content writing, newsletters, Google profile, SEO etc. I have been in the property industry since 1987 and understand how all elements of the digital mix work together for successful estate or letting agents. Below are 3 of my latest websites, I am proud to say they are all doing really well for their estate and letting agency owners!
How important is it for estate and letting agents to have an effective website?
It has to be a number one priority in 2023, as the vast majority of an agent’s clients will check them out online before working together. The premise of your website is to explain to Google and all search engines what the website is about (ie. what you do, what location, and your USPs) so that your site can be highly indexed in search engine results. This is where many agents fall down as their website is either too old, static (ie. not evolving daily with new content), has little or no SEO functionality and does not explain the basics to the client or the search engine bots/spiders/web crawlers. Speed and mobile responsiveness is key, but also having a call to action on every page, clear navigation and links from one page to the next relevant page to reduce bounce, plus a clear strategy for keeping the viewer engaged and on your site for as long as possible (ie. no jump off to other websites on your home page which many agents do – ValPal, Fixflo, Rightmove, etc. – don’t spend your efforts getting the traffic to your site only to push them off to another site immediately!).
What features/plug-ins and integrations would you say are an absolute must and how does this support an agent in lead generation/conversion and/or brand awareness?
Try to incorporate functionality into your own website, there are numerous ways to do this but having a simple calendar system for booking appointments (try Calendly), a good ‘forms’ section for data capture (Gravity Forms is good), live chat (with you not a third party if possible) or WhatsApp / Messenger Chat and a great SEO plug-in to help you get every page listing on SERPs (I use Rank Math Pro). Video content is good, you can use something like VideoAsk to give personality to your site and guide people or answer questions on different pages but remember that video will slow a site down.
Are there any recent or upcoming tech developments that agents need to be aware of and consider incorporating into their website?
Tech developments are always changing, so having a really good website company taking care of your site and offering you new features as they come up is key. A website should start its journey on the day it goes live, and so many agents have that day as their RIP day because nothing else gets added, updated, or renewed. I work with WordPress which is an open-source platform and has new features available daily, so you can add your review platforms, your social platforms and so much more.
Definitely have a blog section and write these yourself or get them outsourced by a bespoke content writer, there is nothing worse than buying content for your “postcode or area” which is also going to other agents across the Country – this is classed as duplicated content by Google/search engines and your site will be penalised. Read my blog on duplicated content HERE. There are now lots of AI platforms available to rewrite content and ensure it is not copied elsewhere on the internet, so is bespoke to your own site. I use Quillbot for my content writing, I write for loads of agents and every single article is 100% bespoke to the client and incorporates their keywords and phrases so that it ranks highly.
Another thing that is lacking on so many estate agency sites is that their images are not set up for Search Engines. By using a platform such as GeoImgr you can tag all of your images with your Google Business Profile and amend the META tags and Alt Texts (the part which tells Google what your photo is of) and that means all of the images on your website or property listings can point directly to your agency. Such a waste if this is not done. I would never build a website and NOT tag all images correctly.
How often should an agency review the performance of its site? How would they do this and at what point should they think about a new website?
If you take care of your website and regularly check its performance, you should just be able to grow your current site and see it get better and better. Check how well you are ranking by doing an “incognito search” on your keywords or phrases ie. “best estate agent in <your town>” (by going incognito you are removing your IP address – if you just search on your own computer at work or on your own phone the search engines will show your data higher as they know who you are, incognito will show you the SERPs as a new visitor would see them). Make sure that your Google Analytics is working and look at them to see where your traffic is coming from. Use a tool like Inspectlet on your website, so you can see how easily your visitors find what they are looking for (or don’t and bounce off unfulfilled).
What is the average cost of a new website for an estate/letting agent?
A good bespoke site from Social Angels is around £7,000 to £10,000. Something cheaper will probably be a template off-the-shelf site with limitations meaning it will not have great functionality and will probably need a refresh every few years.
What platform/CRM do you recommend and why?
As mentioned above I am a WordPress lover, my clients always love their new websites and can start building on them as they grow and need more functionality. WordPress CRM is so easy to use and has so many amazing features and I’ve never had any issues with it in the past 14 years since I built my first site.
Finally, I’d love to show you the websites that I think have some great features and look fab. These aren’t my sites, and, to be honest, running them through a Web Analyser, they have their faults (you can see the stats below each site) – but when I start on a new build project, they tend to come up as examples to show to clients, so that we can ‘steal’ little features and then make sure the “back-end” of our sites are more robust and built to last the test of time.
If you’d like to know more about our website services, or my content writing (yes, I can do the whole kit and caboodle for you) then just get in touch HERE.