Getting visitors but few enquiries - need enquiries.

Posted on 2005-04-01
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-27
Re http://www.bergerac-and-beyond.com/
This is an 18 month old website for property sales with the following problems...

1. Adequate visitor numbers (100+ a day on average) - but few enquiries.
2. Good search results (Top 10) on all search engines except Google.
3. AdWords produces many visitors - but again few enquiries.

The website has a standard HTML front page linking to a database.
The database automatically produces an HTML catalogue of ALL properties called BROWSE ALL  It is this page which is submitted to search engines - META tags request INDEX ALL (inc links - see next paragraph).

The database also produces standard HTML pages PER PROPERTY (each linked to from BROWSE ALL catalogue).
So, the entire site content should be indexed.

I run 24 such websites and all are re-submitted regularly (2-monthly) and this is the only one with with these problems.

Your help would be very much appreciated as I am getting into a negative mind-set (not worth running this site...) which is stupid.

Thanks friends

Question by:NicolasAllan
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 13686995
Nicolas -

>1. Adequate visitor numbers (100+ a day on average) - but few enquiries.

I don't think 100 visitors/day is anything like the potential for a site in this sector. However the number of enquires will always be a small percentage of the visitors because the vast majority of visitors will be 'dreaming' of a second home in France rather than actively searching for one.  

The strategy for sites like this should be firmly based on high traffic with low conversion expectancy. This means concentrating on and saturating the organic listings rather than PPC.

>2. Good search results (Top 10) on all search engines except Google.

I don't see that.  For very common searches like |property in France| or |French property| the site is nowhere in the first ten pages on Google, Yahoo or MSN.

>3. AdWords produces many visitors - but again few enquiries.

I am sure, as I say owning a house in France is a common dream and browsing properties is the closest most users get to fulfilment.

>I run 24 such websites and all are re-submitted regularly (2-monthly) and this is the only one with these problems.

Re-submission is totally unnecessary but I would be interested to know if the other sites are in the French property sector and if so can you provide the url of the one that you think is the most successful.

- duz

Author Comment

ID: 13687398
Hello Duz,
Many thanks for the rapid response.
I will add notes in the same order as my notes and your comments.

1. Visitor numbers
The site is for French realtors who wish to sell property to the English (no other countries) who seek a property in the Dordogne department of France (and adjoining departments).
The English prefer to live in the Dordogne in SW France - not Provence, not Paris, not France
So 100 - 200 a day we find is the norm across all our similar sites.

2. Search results for http://www.bergerac-and-beyond.com/
MSN search at http://search.msn.com
    property for sale in bergerac = 1st
    property for sale in dordogne = 10th
Last time I looked it was ditto on Yahoo.
I keep the text on the page relevant only to the Dordogne and near depts - see Note, below.
I do not aim to attract visitors looking for property in other departments, or even in the region (Aquitaine), or in the country (France, French etc).
That is, we and the realtors think we know the visitors who will buy.

Note: I submit the HTML full listing URL = http://www.bergerac-and-beyond.com/listings/
This is produced by the dbase and contains all 100+ properties.
Each property text starts with something like...
   Ref: 0362 : Property For Sale Dordogne
   Villa For Sale near Mussidan Dordogne Aquitaine France

Search on Google = nothing, absolutely nothing.
AdWord campaigns (when running) always in Top 2 of the Google sponsored list.

3. Other sites
Other (successful) sites are...

Note: I must add that the site design is not my favourite - the client has strong views.
Also, I feel that there is far too much text ( the French use 5 words where 1 will do ) - which, perhaps, allows visitors to make a decision (No) rather than just enough text to generate interest and an enquiry.

I value your help, Duz.

LVL 24

Accepted Solution

duz earned 2000 total points
ID: 13687987
Nicolas -

Well this is probably a matter for discussion some other time but the marketing strategy is seriously flawed. Here is a simple example of one of many propositions I could make (just one to get you thinking out of the box!). Take one common search |property in France|. If as you say the English prefer to live in the Dordogne they will click on the first few sites in the SERPs and then click on the drop downs for the Department of Dordogne and start looking. If there are say 2,000 'English' searches a day for |property in France| then that is 2,000 'Dordogne' targeted users missed. Repeat this across other common search terms and you will see that by concentrating on a highly targeted phrase(s) you are missing out on the vast bulk of potential visitors. You might argue that your highly targeted phrase(s) convert more easily but I would argue that a |property in France| search, followed by a Department of Dordogne selection, is just as targeted and of course there will be an order of magnitude more of them. And you need an order of magnitude more targeted visitors because conversion expectancy is low in this sector. I could go on for hours :) but you didn't come here for me to give you the low down on internet marketing.

Back to your problem.  Please have a look at Google's cache here  If you look at the source Google is truncating the page.  That is because it is too big and you will need to break it down into smaller pages.  Yahoo is truncating as well but it does so gracefully. I will check MSN tomorrow because I have to get some sleep now....

- duz
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Author Comment

ID: 13688052
Hello Duz,
Another satisfied Duz fan.
Problem understood and can be resolved.

1. I accept your argument, comments and advice re the marketing strategy.
2. Google's cache view. Amazing. Problem understood and can now be resolved.

If you ever want a holiday in Paris - just let me know and I will get you a special rate.
See http://www.halliger.com/

Many, many thanks


Author Comment

ID: 13688090
Hello Duz,
I clicked on the ACCEPT button but have back-tracked so that you can finish the Yahoo, MSN part - as it will be useful for me to know.
QUERY: Would reducing each properties TEXT content work ? Or is it more the NUMBER of properties ?

Author Comment

ID: 13688393
Hello Duz,
Hours later...
I went to the Google cache and clicked on the link for "text only" (I presume this is the text in cache) which is what I want to view. Pretty well empty as you say.
And it appears that the linked pages (the full detai of the property) are not cached at all (cache:search pages not found).

Thought I'd check non-dbase site.

I then opened the cache for a 5 page HTML static website (Home+5 linked pages)
Yes, with "text only" all text was in place on the Home page for Google - but on the Home page ONLY.
... the other 5 pages were ignored it seems (the pages were not found in a cache:www....page URL search)

Does this mean that the URL submitted is the vital one ? I thought links were followed - but should I submit diferent pages separately ?

LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 13691862
Nicolas -

Thank you for your kind remarks.

In no particular order.

>Does this mean that the URL submitted is the vital one ?

Submission is totally unnecessary. Once Google, Yahoo or MSN have found a page on your site they will visit at intervals to crawl the whole site.

>I thought links were followed

They are followed, provided they are not too long or complex. http://www.bergerac-and-beyond.com/listings/ is an example of a simple link that will be followed right away, http://www.bergerac-and-beyond.com/cgi/listman/exec/search.cgi?search=1&perpage=10&sort_order=5%2C123%2Creverse&marknew=1&euro_numbers=1&lfield2_match=&lfield1_keyword=&lfield7_keyword=&lfield5_min=&lfield5_max=150.000 is an example of link that is very unlikely to be followed.

You need to rewrite the urls to be search engine friendly or preferably design from the start with a content management system that produces search engine friendly urls automatically.

>should I submit diferent pages separately?

Forget all about submission.

>Would reducing each properties TEXT content work ? Or is it more the NUMBER of properties ?

Text is good for the search engines and it is better to have more than less.

http://www.bergerac-and-beyond.com/listings/ has approximately 107k of text, 318k of html and 994k of images. Compare this for example with Yahoo's front page with 30k of text, 25k html and 45k images. 75k or less per page should be the objective but of course on graphic intensive site like yours this is not always possible.  However it should still remain the objective and using external CSS and highly optimized images with less of them per page will help to get close.

As for the solving the immediate problem a quick and dirty solution is to just split http://www.bergerac-and-beyond.com/listings/ into (say) four pages and link to each one off the home page /property-listing-1 / ,  /property-listing-2/ etc.  I have to tell you though that if a client came to me with this site I would look to redesign the whole site from scratch.

- duz

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