Could Google Replace Rightmove?
10 April, 2018 | SEO
How we search has changed dramatically over the last few years, and is very likely to drastically change over the coming years too.
This is because technology is constantly being improved and evolving, and technologies that are considered ‘out there’ or not popular today are likely to be seen as the norm within a few short years.
So how might this affect estate agents?
At this time, property portals have taken over the mantle from print media as being the dominant marketing mechanism for property sales and rentals for the estate agency industry, not just in the UK, but around the world. Of course this doesn’t constitute the whole of the market, with surprising 1 in 10 adults in the UK having never used the internet, many still see the likes of Rightmove as being the go to starting point in the search for their dream home, and for the longest time it has appeared to be an unstoppable force, but is that still the case?
In the world of technology and the internet, nothing is guaranteed to last forever. For example, in recent weeks, Facebook has had its popularity threated causing the social giant to drop in value by billions of $ within hours. While this doesn’t mean the end of Facebook, the #deleteFacebook campaign does highlight the frailty of user loyalty to one of the world’s largest tech brands.
So what could contend with likes of Rightmove in the property industry?
Well there has been a lot of talk in the SEO world about the direction in which search is moving. Most experts agree that voice search is becoming increasingly popular with the enhancements of wearable technology, virtual assistances and smart home technology such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.
These devices will likely be in everyone’s homes and on everyone’s wrist within the next few years, just like smartphones are in everyone’s pockets right now.
Devices like the Apple Watch, Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo and Google Home, all function around personal virtual assistances like Siri, Alexa and Cortana.
These devices use Google and other search engines to deliver the results for the questions that the user has asked.
For example, you could be sat on the sofa with your Google Home device on the shelf, wondering if there are any new properties on the market and simply say “Hey Google, what new properties are on the market that I might like?”
Google would instantly search the web and display the properties via the device of your choice (Smartwatch, Smartphone, TV, Tablet or PC) within seconds.
These types of personal virtual assistances are continually enhancing, and as they are paired to your other accounts such as Google, they know a lot about you.
For example, your personal virtual assistant will know where you live from where your devices are connected, where you work by tracking your travel via Google Maps every day and what your purchasing characteristics and styles are from what you buy online.
The list of information tech companies know about you is significant and ongoing, making their knowledge and understanding of your habits, likes and dislikes practically limitless.
With this knowledge, when you ask Google to show you what properties you might be interested in, they would be able to bypass the property portals and get the information directly from the estate agent (via their website) and deliver relevant properties to you.
You wouldn’t need to type anything in or fill out any search filters such as the location, price or size because Google would already know what you want.
Alternatively, you could even ask Google “Hey Google, how much is my house worth?”
Google has been collecting data of every property that has been listed on the internet since its launch, giving the search engine vast knowledge of the property industry enabling them to be able to deliver reasonably accurate estimates, with very little effort from the user.
With these types of personal virtual assistants becoming more and more popular, voice search is going to impact the way everyone searches for everything, and SEO’s are already talking about how website owners should be beginning to write their content in a more conversational way in order to align themselves with voice search.
At present, people generally don’t type questions into Google, in the same way they would ask Google Home or Siri a question. For example, if you wanted to know what the weather was going to be like on the weekend, you’d go onto Google and type “Weather [Your Area)” and then view the forecast, however via Google Home you’d say “Hey Google, what’s the weather going to be like?”
To a search engine, these two phrases are very different and you will have to begin to think about what questions your customers and potential customers might ask in order to find your website such as “who’s the best agent?”
How to optimise your website for voice search?
Voice search is just a branch of regular search, so your website will need to be fully optimised for SEO, covering all the main factors that help you rank such as speed, mobile-friendliness and quality links.
However, there are two crucial things you must do to enable your website to be able to optimise for voice search:
1) Optimise for conversational keywords
Voice search is generally based around conversional words. It’s important to add these types of phrases to your website, and the best way to do this is by creating a question and answers page or FAQs page with questions that your audience may ask, such as “Can an estate agent disclose other offers?” or “Are estate agency fees negotiable?”.
2) Optimise for local queries
Claim your Google My Business listing and make sure you have filled out everything accurately such as opening hours and category.
Google is probably the biggest threat to the property portals, this may not be an immediate threat but tech giants like Google and similar platforms could make these portals obsolete in the near future.
Will the property portals go the same way as the newspapers? Only time will tell…