Search Engine Visibility for Property Agency Websites

I have come up with a short research on search engine visibility of Hong Kong’s property agencies. The main aim of this research is to identify which property agency websites have achieved better keyword rankings than competitors and examine their characteristics that contribute to their search engine rankings.

Methodology
Keyword selection. I selected 67 generic keywords pertaining to Hong Kong properties. The basis for selecting these keywords is the keyword demand as shown in Google AdWords Keyword Tool. This indicates that terms in the list are among the most popularly searched terms for search engine users who are looking into Hong Kong property market. I didn’t include branded terms such as Robinson Heights or Le Saisons because not all property websites considered would be expected to feature such properties.

Website selection. Primarily I used the list found at Open Directory (dmoz.org). I filtered those websites that have listings for residential properties. Therefore, I didn’t include those that are focused on commercial or at least display residential properties in high-level structure such as Savills or Jones Lang LaSalle which uses another site for its residential property listings.

Search engine selection. I selected google.com by virtue of its popularity in both Hong Kong and global market. Target audience are a) locals who are looking for short term leases in Hong Kong and; b) expats looking to settle in Hong Kong and are looking for residential flats. It is assumed that Google is the primary search engine used by these visitors.

Website First 2nd-10th 11th-20th 21st-30th
expatflats.com 0 4 4 6
gohome.com.hk 1 8 12 5
habitat-property.com 0 0 0 0
hkp.com.hk 0 0 0 0
househunters.com.hk 0 0 0 0
landmarkasia.com.hk 1 9 2 5
midland.com.hk 3 1 2 0
principlesproperty.com 0 20 6 3
proway.com.hk 0 0 0 0
sinko-intl.com 0 0 0 0

Results
Keyword Ranking. Among the eleven websites whose rankings were measured, only three were able to achieve top rankings for five keywords. gohome.com.hk, landmarkasia.com.hk and midland.com.hk. All of them bear Hong Kong level domain names, but it’s hard to justify that this is the reason they rank on top. It’s because other websites with .com level domains also have significant rankings (albeit none in top rankings) such as principlesproperty.com and expatflats.com. Also, websites that don’t have any rankings within top 30 have both .com.hk and .com level domains.

Search Engine Visibility. In terms of search engine visibility, or the number of keywords ranked within top 30, principlesproperty.com led the way with 29 keywords, while gohome.com.hk have 26 keywords.

Characteristics
The following observations are noted among the websites that have high keyword rankings:
1. Custom page titles (although landmarkasia.com.hk has duplicate titles on some pages)
2. Keyword rich URLs didn’t seem necessary for pages to rank well
3. Content in general have significant amount of keyword-rich copy

The following observations are noted among websites that have zero search engine visibility
1. Lack of keyword presence in page title and in body copy
2. Default language is not English for hkp.com.hk (although gohome.com.hk also exhibit the same behavior)
3. Navigation menu for proway.com.hk is not search engine friendly
4. Property listing for proway.com.hk uses frames and provides property details in popup window.