Date Published 24 July 2012
As more people in the UK turn to the internet to organise, entertain and inform themselves so home hunting is going online at a breakneck pace.
Back in 2009 just 69% of the UK population used the internet but that's now 74% and is set to rise to 78% by 2015, according to emarketeer.com.
Such a seismic shift into digital is driving millions of people away from magazines, newspapers and direct mail and into the digital world of Google, property portals such as Rightmove.co.uk, PrimeLocation.com, Zoopla.co.uk and FindaProperty.com plus – to a certain extent – Facebook and Twitter.
1. On the move
Mobile smart phones are taking over the world, it would seem. No hand is complete without one but the question is, will they change the way people house hunt in the same way the PC did? One answer is this – the PC put the ‘search' online while smart phones, iPads and other tablets are moving that search out of the house (or office) and into the rest of people's lives.
And while online house hunting often goes ‘offline' when people start viewing properties, this too is being ‘digitalised' as properties are discussed, compared and rated by house hunters with friends and family using their devices, helped by the proliferation of mobile search apps with ‘share' facilities such as those recently launched by Zoopla.com, PrimeLocation.com and others.
But many websites are poorly prepared for mobile searchers. Incorrectly optimised websites drive away new business so developing a mobile site that works across all devices is essential for your business.
2. Going online
The decline of classified advertising in newspapers and magazines continues. Seven years ago £800m was spent on this type of advertising and a significant percentage of that was by agents. Today that has shrunk to around £300m while overall ‘internet spend' has increased from £250m in 2005 to some £1bn today. Online advertising currently represents a third of all spend across all industries.
3. What's SEO?
Such astounding growth has had one unintended effect – the rise of Google. Most property websites whether portals or agent ones draw up to 75% of their traffic from Google so understanding how search engine optimisation (SEO) works will soon be an essential skill for many agents. As well as understanding how featured property listings work, a knowledge of how keywords, linking and paid search all interact may soon be as important as understanding a property's potential sales or rental value.