Why do all real estate portals look the same?

Someone just tried it with me.

Someone on LinkedIn made a comment about how “all real estate websites in the world look the same” – highlighting footers with lots of links to internal pages.

He raised the question: is this what Google wants? (and after I commented, he said it provided little to no value… oh boy…)

Now the reason I’m sending this email is set the record straight.

For my existing subscribers, you know I go on about my SEO work at Property Finder a lot.

For new subscribers, you will quickly see how much I go on about my SEO work at Property Finder.

My head isn’t where the sun don’t shine.

It’s because it was my first time client-side and I literally surprised myself with how huge the SEO impact was on the business.

To get down to the point of the matter: do those huge footer links on real estate portals work? does it provide value to users?


Here’s why:
1. Links are how things come together ON THE INTERNET. Links on your site is how people and search engines discover content.

So if you don’t put links in places where people look, they aint discovering jack!

Don’t @ me about HTML sitemaps. Humans typically don’t venture there. In the case of Property Finder, no one’s going to go to an HTML sitemap to discover anything, trust me.

2. The reason those links are where they are, in the format they are in is because the homepage is JACKED UP with “link juice” (I hate saying that). So in order to effectively distribute link value, links from the homepage have to go to deeper pages (not just 1 click away but 2, even 3 clicks away).

3. For a site like Property Finder, it’s USELESS using simple anchor texts like “Dubai Marina” or “1 bedroom apartments” – WHY? Because that’s non-specific.

“Dubai Marina” could mean rentals or sales, it could mean any property type, it could mean properties of any size…

See what I mean?

If is obvious, there can be no doubt. 
This is why we opted for keyword rich anchor text for perhaps 99% of all internal links.

4. We used Hotjar to test user behaviour and sure as anything, people clicked on those links. That to me destroys the notion that there’s no value to users. Click maps aren’t perfect but if they weren’t any good, no one would use them. SO THERE.

5. Previously, there were just 10 links to internal pages. TEN. And not surprisingly, those 10 pages enjoyed top rankings. Everything else had to struggle and find its own way in the world. For a site with thousands of URLs, how is this a good idea? (SPOILER ALERT: IT ISN’T).

After implementing sitewide internal links and breadcrumbs, organic traffic grew ±35% and organic non brand traffic grew ±40% – this is the key metric because PF is already a well known brand so I would never claim direct traffic as a huge win.

Now the fact that people clicked on those links (clickmaps), more pages improved in rankings (higher visibility) and we saw overall traffic increase (almost 50% in some instances), it proves BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT that these ‘ugly’ links just work.

So my point here is: this implementation was specific to the situation I found PropertyFinder.ae (and sister sites) when I joined.

It made sense then, it makes sense now.

Is it pretty? Not always but we did a good job blending it in.
Does it provide value to humans? Yes.
Is it what Google wants? if it aids in content discovery, then yes.

The strategy is sound. The results speak for themselves. 

I will bet my bottom dirham on it.

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