• 22Jun

    Concluding this mini series looking at property sites, their traffic data and their sales data, we’re left with one question:

    What do we learn from this test?

    From the research we were able to make, Google’s figures can certainly be used as a general guide to a site’s overall performance. And in most cases would better serve your own research than asking the website itself – the figures are likely to be misleading or at worst just plain fraudulent.

    If we look at the top two sites, Kyero and Thinkspain, Kyero seems most comfortable with its performance. Their sales figures being surprisingly close to the public available statistics from google. Thinkspain on the other hand, while appearing to perform very well on google, provided figures much higher than that of google, and on closer inspection we can really rip those numbers apart.

    Firstly, Thinkspain being a multipurpose site were adamant that they did not have specific figures for their property section. Obviously this is not to be believed, and we can assume that if they released these figures it would show the property section to have a much lower than their overall site performance. Now to the figures themselves, taken from several emails:

    8.58 million overall page views per month

    14 million property views per month

    12,482,365 property views in April

    11,000 - 12,000 property enquires

    1,089,000 unique visitors to the site every month

    We stared, we pondered and we concluded that the figures made no sense at all. 8.6m overall page views somehow turns into 14m property page views, and those 14m property views results in a staggering conversion rate of 0.085%. If those figures were even remotely correct then Thinkspain are doing something seriously wrong … with that sort of conversion you can expect 1 enquiry for every 1166 viewings! And, they would be ripe for a takeover by a company capable of converting their visitors.

    I don’t wish to dwell on Thinkspain in particular (other sites were also boosting their figures, but perhaps not to such a large extent), and this is not intended as vitriol against them, but what this does demonstrate is that artificially inflating your figures can often be counterproductive. While many may be initially suckered in by the high numbers, eventually people will disappointed with the results, learn the truth and lose all trust in the company, taking their business with them. Overpromising and under delivering is a dangerous tactic and one that only upsets customers, we’re all for being sold to, just not being lied to … and until there is an industry standard audit, we’d recommend using the google data and cross checking with any site you plan to advertise and spend money with. If the numbers are way off, you know the sort of company you’ll be dealing with and you’ll then be in a stronger position to make your own decision.

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  • 16Jun

    After our last post, we return to our ongoing look at Spanish property portals, this time comparing publicly available figures with those presented by the portals themselves.

    We realised that, according to various analysis on the internet, google’s figures could be 50% different from the websites own web stat software. However, most would agree that standard web stat software is worryingly inaccurate itself, not distinguishing between real visitors and bots from search engines or automated programs.

    Nevertheless, we were pleased to be able to gain access to one site’s full analytics stats and compare them to google’s publicly released numbers, this gave mixed results. Our test site showing similar visits and page views (10% + or -), lower time on site (50% -) and higher unique visitors (10% + from est). If not entirely accurate, most private figures were within a realistic margin of those in the public domain and certainly acceptable for use in comparing sites head to head. It would be interesting to see just how far off the portals own marketing figures would be, or if they would even provide such data … so we anonymously emailed each of the portals requesting their visitor data.

    I say 10, you say 50

    Kyero was first to respond and we were pretty impressed with the figures, they provided a page view total of 4 million (marginally up from google’s 3.9m) and a visit total of 250,000 (down from google’s 290,000). It would appear to be a very honest response and gives added faith to the use of google’s statistics when comparing true traffic.

    Next up was Thinkspain, they quoted 1m visits a month and 8.6m page views … google’s figures were 240,000 and 1.6m respectively! Something was seriously wrong here, either google was way out or Thinkspain were simply making up the numbers. Unfortunately we have to believe it’s the latter, it’s very disappointing for them to be boosting their figues so much and especially when they are one of the better performers anyway.

    Propertysalespain and Inspain declined to provide figures, read into that what you will.

    Property-net-spain were very vague, only stating that they receive hundreds of visits a day and thousands per week.

    AmlaSpain then presented their figures without problem, stating 18,000 visits and 108,000 page views. Both of these figures were lower than their google equivalents of 30,000 and 200,000 respectively. We were very impressed with their straightforward reply, honesty and accuracy of statistics.

    All of the above portals responded within a few hours, so attention to service doesn’t appear to be problematic for any of the 6 responders. But, with no further responses forthcoming from the other 4, we decided to contact them again before analyzing further. But so far, we can group the responses into 3 categories – no comment, honest or false.

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  • 05Jun

    Some years back when we started to trade in Spanish property, our own website was sufficient to gain the sales and rentals we needed. But as the internet began to explode, and competition increased, it proved to be a tough and expensive battle to keep at the top of the search engines. At one point we were paying several hundred euros per month for optimisation with little improvement in results. It wasn’t long before we researched other alternatives and began to target the high ranking portals. Over the last few years we’ve paid for advertising on pretty much every property portal available, and with varying levels of success.

    How did we decide who to advertise with?

    Our general decision process stemmed from contacting the portals, requesting their marketing material and doing some of our own general research, which mainly consisted of seeing who ranks well for certain search terms.
    It was patently obvious that one of the real pains in comparing sites on the internet is the lack of true data about a site’s traffic volume and coverage. Each and every portal provided very positive statistics on the number of visitors they achieve and the number of enquiries they produce. How could we know whether what we were being told was true or not?

    While there are some statistical sites that provide general traffic data, their data was dubious or not relative to the Spanish market. For example, alexa.com makes it easy to compare sites but is totally reliant on a visitor having the Alexa toolbar installed - when the toolbar itself gets flagged as dangerous by anti-virus programs it’s unlikely to give a true reflection of a site’s traffic volume. Another example would be compete.com; unfortunately this is completely biased towards the American market and offers no valuable data for Spain or even Europe.

    So, we are really left with the portals own figures and, with experience of our website statistics, we know how easy it is to talk about hits and views rather than actual real visitors. Effectively we just made the plunge and crossed our fingers that we were being told the truth.

    Changing times?

    Recently there have been some positive changes, about a year ago globaledge.co.uk launched to monitor overseas property portals. For the first time they gave a breakdown of the major portals in Spain and their google rankings, all based on actual results for a set common keywords (e.g. malaga property, property for sale in malaga etc). At the time they indicated that this would be monthly, we envisaged a clear opinion on the state of each portal in direct comparison to another … this was not to be. The first breakdown has also been the last we’ve seen and global edge has transformed somewhat into a business portal designed to help real estate agents and property developers do business overseas, most information is mow for paid members only. We doubt putting their clients performance head to head so publicly would go down well either!

    More promisingly, google themselves have made available more of their data. Being ubiquitous to nearly all sites, google analytics is the eminent web stat software and most website owners use this as their primary metric for gauging their own site performance. Now a summary of this data is available through google trends … much to the delight of the public, but no doubt rather scary to site owners. Subsequently, having seen none of this information on the internet, we went about collating information on the ‘leading’ Spanish property portals – the results were as follows:

    Spanish property portal comparison

    Spanish property portal comparison (We’ve highlighted the highest performing figures in red)

    Although we weren’t too surprised by the two top performing sites, we were surprised by the relative lack of performance of their competitors. There is a marked difference in visitors and page views.

    So, Kyero.com and Thinkspain.com appear to rule the roost in Spanish property. Their lead over other sites is quite dramatic, with Kyero.com leading the way (these figures were taken in May 2009). One other notable point is that Kyero is a solely dedicated property portal whereas thinkspain covers news, jobs, classified and more. We’ve been unable to unearth the percentage of visitors looking only at property, so we would guesstimate that their true property viewing figures would be halved and Kyero really being the overall leader at this time.

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  • 28Jan

    One of the most common questions we get asked is “How do I maximise my rental income?” It may seem obvious but value for money has never gone out of fashion. There is no shortage of renters, just realistic prices. We have seen a 30% increase on holiday rentals this year, and the trend (touch wood) seems to be continuing. The road to successful rentals this year (and indeed every year) depends on solid marketing and value for money.

    Lets be clear, I am not advocating to discount rentals to basement prices, but I am saying,

    Everyone likes a good deal.
    Added value makes sense.
    Use a professional, they will save you time and maximise your rental potential.
    Be price sensitive, your customers are.

    There are plenty of examples in the market right now that offer clients great value, why leave it to the nationals to give the customer what they want.
    Complimentary welcome packs in quality homes are a must, as well as good local info on what’s on and where to go. A map of the area is also helpful. Meet your guests and show them how things work in the property, a local phone number for any questions they may have, and a list of emergency services. None of this costs a great deal, but will be appreciated by your customers. Check local pricing levels and put yourself in the renters shoes.
    Good luck!

    Visit my site if you want more from your holiday rentals.
    Martyn Brown is the proprietor of Prestige Property Spain.com

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  • 23Jan

    How do I achieve better rental income?

    With the present economic slowdown it is now more important than ever to effectively market your property. One thing is for sure, 2009 is going to be a very challenging year for holiday rentals.

    So, what to do?

    Most owners have probably thought of the internet as a solution, and to that end certain web sites offer cheap and (normally) effective advertising in the markets that they are working in. Assuming that the problems of having a local contact to monitor the property have been addressed, then the next step is to increase your advertising. And here’s the problem. Simply to increase ads on the same media is only going to appeal to the same audience that you are already advertising to. Result? It just costs more to do the same job.

    So what’s the answer?

    A good marketing strategy is paramount. To appeal to all your markets advertising must be directed to all your potential clients. Get your message out to all markets including those that don’t speak your language. Let other nationalities know that you exist.
    The secret always is to find the optimum web site for the country/language that you want to advertise in. Remember, in Europe’s 250 million population only 60 million are native English speakers, and although a great deal more CAN speak English, most will feel more comfortable surfing in their own language. That’s 190 million potential clients that you are not appealing to. And that’s just Europe! In the USA today there are many non English speakers, Spanish and French being only two of a huge bilingual market.

    Remember

    Target your clients.
    Use specialised local sites.
    Think like the holiday maker.
    Don’t rely on just one language.

    At this stage a professional in the industry is probably a good idea! Ask your local agent/real estate agent how they can help. However if you feel confident to give it a go yourself then online translation services maybe the answer. DIY marketing is not for the faint hearted, it requires hard work and dedication but the rewards can be rewarding both financially and emotionally.

    Martin Brown is the proprietor of Prestige Property Spain.

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