The team at Squiiz did an amazing job selling themselves and their concept to the industry to become partners in their yet to be released portal Squiiz.com.au. They gained the financial support from most of the national real estate groups and certainly the best wishes from the remainder. Groups like PRDnationwide, Belle Property, Century 21, Harcourts, IRENE (Independent Real Estate Network of Excellence), LJ Hooker, Ray White, Raine & Horne and REMAX became partners in the venture.
Because of those connections they launched in Mid November with more than 200,000 properties on day one..
It seemed to me and many others as the best opportunity for an industry owned portal to finally start gaining some traction and thus by default place competitive pressure on the commercial players like realestate.com.au and domain.com.au.
But its been two weeks now and its clear that something serious has gone wrong. Really really wrong.
They forgot to do even basic level seo on the website and the two main search engines, Google and Bing have essentially rejected them.
You can put up a website today and it can be indexed on google within minutes. So with well over 200,000 pages on day one how many of those are on Google and Bing some 2 weeks later ?
Google – 34 Pages
Bing – 16 Pages
In direct contrast the industry leader, realestate.com.au has over 20 million pages on Google. The have pages for property for sale, property for rent, property sold, property rented, suburbs. agencies and soon they will have profile pages for each salesperson and property manager as well.
We know from comments made in the past from ex CEO Simon Baker that Google delivers in excess of 30% of the traffic to realestate.com.au. Squiiz needs to hire an SEO consultant immediately and get this turned around if it thinks it is going to make headway.
So whats gone wrong? This stuff gets a little technical but for those interested here are some things I found with a 2 minute look.
There is no robots.txt file and no sitemap file. Now Google and Bing do not need these files to find and index your site, it just make it easier and quicker for the search engines to find your pages. In two weeks I would not have expected them to be ranking well in the search engines but I would have expected them to have their pages at least in the index. In my mind this omission shows that very little thought was put into the onpage seo and that is evidenced by the sheer lack of pages they have on the two biggest search engines.
Most traffic driven to property pages from outside of the navigation on the portal itself is when a buyer types in the address direct into the search engine. Squizz does not use address in the page title, page description, h1 or h2 tags or even body copy of the page itself. It finally shows up in just one place, a lonely h3 tag.
Given the fact that they are not using the suburb or the street address in key points in the seo code means they are going to struggle to even show up for when people search for the direct address, at least on Google.
If you have agents out there pushing the branding of Squizz when the buyers start searching on the internet if they dont see that brand show up in the SERP’s then how do you expect them to use the website. With a name like Squiiz you cant expect them all to remember the exact spelling to type it in themselves bypassing the search engines entirely… even this media release could not get the spelling right . ***Since been updated with the correct spelling***
When you see the handful of properties that have been lucky enough to be found on the search engines you can see why. Here is how the listing for 16 Milton Avenue, Fulham Gardens, SA 5024 is displayed on Google for Squiiz and for realestate.com.au.
So lets consider that they can even get all of those pages indexed by submitting a sitemap, be honest.. even if the top listing “Large Corner Block” showed up on the first page of Google which it probably wont, would you click on it? It has no indication that it is the property you are searching for.
A deeper analysis of the site would probasbly show much more but the numbers dont lie.. 34 pages listed out of 200,000+ needs to be improved.
Cmon guys.. !!! We all want you to succeed.
**** Update 08/12/2014 ****
Late last week Squiiz.com.au added a robots.txt file to the website which identified a sitemap.xml file which finally allowed Google and Bing to access all the property pages. Indexing started immediately and has been increasing every day.
As at the time of writing there are now 38,900 pages on the google index. Bing is a little slower to catch on but that is typical.
I think the thing to take away from this is the speed that this was fixed once it was identified. Whilst we cant go back in time and fix it before launch it is my opinion commendable how quickly they fix the problem. I hope that the team equally prioritise the onpage SEO so they can start generating some real traffic from the search engines.