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Bob North

November 2009

Rightmove dominate

By BOB NORTH

RIGHTMOVE continue their dominant position in our latest portal comparison table, with Digital Property Group providing the major challenge and Property Finder still hanging in there but soon to change as they are absorbed into the Zoopla network.

The portal comparison has always been intended as a guide for agents to compare the major portals on an objective basis.

It allows them to look at some of the key figures and ratios in order to evaluate the costs and benefits of the various offerings.

I have always advocated that individual agents should use their own response figures to work out the real results for their agency and that will help them in analysing the cost benefit.

Agents can also use other figures to compare the results from their own website - and doing that has been made much easier with the tools provided by Google Analytics which provide any website user with key measurement metrics.

I have been looking recently at some of the top agent websites and it is interesting to compare the results with the traffic and leads provided by the major portals.

The main statistics that agents should look at are the number of unique visitors generated in a month coupled with the number of user sessions.

How many users are agents getting per office per month and how does that compare with the visitors from the various aggregators and portals?

The three major portal groups show some variance in the numbers of visitors per office that they generate.

Market leaders Rightmove show the way with some 563 unique visitors per office and nearly 3,400 user sessions per office.

DPG follow with 391 unique visitors per office and nearly 1,000 user sessions per office and Property Finder group come in at 307 unique visitors per office and some 550 user sessions per office.

As far as agencies are concerned, the undoubted market leaders in generating traffic per office are the London and Surrey agents Foxtons.

They operate sales and lettings services from all their 24 offices as well as operating a centralised new homes sales operation - effectively giving them 49 ‘office units’.

The traffic that they generate indicates how important their own website is to them in that they produce over 10,000 unique visitors per office and 20,000 user sessions per office - approximately 20 times the average number of visitors per office that they get from the portals.

These figures do of course include the portal-generated traffic and that has to be taken into account but even so it is obvious that they are generating substantial traffic in their own right.

Now you too can use these portal comparison stats to get a better understanding of the effectiveness of your own site.

I am often asked how does Globrix compare with the other major portals.

The first answer is that Globrix is not a portal and their model is not to attract traffic to the Globrix site but to pass the enquirer on directly to the agent.

Searchers can now view further details on the Globrix site but for full property details the link is direct to the agent’s own website - and the link is direct to the full particulars.

Now that these changes have been made, Globrix is starting to get recognition from the major traffic analysis sites and they have moved into fifth position on the ComScore activity ratings in August 2009.

Globrix has provided me with some of its traffic figures and it is now up to some four million page views on full particulars and has some 1.25 unique visitors per month.

One way of checking how important Globrix is as a source of traffic is to look at your ‘upstream’ traffic on sites like Alexa.

Using Foxtons as an example, 4.9 per cent of their traffic comes via Globrix - a significant amount.

For some others, it is even more in percentage terms. Manchester agents Edward Mellor have 17.65 per cent upstream traffic from Globrix, West Country agents Bradleys have 15 per cent and Connells a massive 17.98 per cent.

Help yourselves by analysing where your traffic comes from and how significant direct traffic is to your site.

Only then can you make further decisions on whether to continue to invest in portal-generated traffic or start to look at alternatives like pay-per-click leads via Google and other providers.

Square Bullit As previously reported, Zoopla are endeavouring to challenge the market leaders and they have just announced that all of the brands in the Zoopla portfolio — Propertyfinder.com, HotProperty.co.uk and ThinkProperty.com (recently acquired from Guardian Media Group) — will become ‘powered by’ Zoopla and there will be significantly increased marketing investment put behind the Zoopla.co.uk brand from November onwards.

There will be no change to fees for existing members but the combined group will now offer a unique dual pricing structure, giving agents the flexibility to choose between paying a fixed monthly fee for ‘unlimited’ leads or paying on a ‘pay-per-lead’ basis.

How this actually works in practice will be evolved in the next few weeks when agents will also be offered a range of new features.

Zoopla has also been named as the best UK Property Portal of 2009 and will now compete at the International Property Awards.

All the latest statistics on portal activity in our regular comparison survey table >>

• Bob North is a business consultant and a member of estate agency specialists GCG Consulting. He specialises in applied technology, including website functionality and the introduction of IT systems and applications.

Contact him by e-mail bobn@gcgconsulting.co.uk or by phone on 07831 576073.