99.co

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

-1. AngularJS

Angular is great for building out SPA and dynamic applications. However, this can lead to some issues with Googlebot.
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See also: http://www.browseo.net/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.99.co%2Fsingapore%2Frent%2Fcondos%2Fhillview-green%2F8Tiy9G8Xoi7zvUHXFU5YfW

There are some solutions to the AngularJS/SEO problem including services like http://www.brombone.com/ and https://prerender.io/js-seo/angularjs-seo-get-your-site-indexed-and-to-the-top-of-the-search-results/.

The main way to solve this problem is to pre-generate pages using a headless browser like PhantomJS and serve these to Google. I believe PhantomJS is really slow and a resource hog as well. The alternative way is to side step the issue and build the “hybrid” pages as mentioned in the Quora question.

0. URL and Country Structure

Generally speaking, having a specific ccTLD such as 99.sg for Singapore, 99.my for Malaysia, is the best and strongest indicator you can give to Google for knowing what pages to serve up for internationalisation.

However, going the subdomain or subfolder approach also works so long as you add each new country as a different site in Google Webmaster Tools and set the right geotargeting settings. Between the two, subfolder is probably better than subdomain for a variety of reasons. So having something like https://www.99.co/sg/rent/listings/jalan-keli-bishan-singapore-YKkxZcR3P7SYvtcLiCN5GF is okay.

However, there could be some issues with duplicate content with the current URL structure. Consider the following two URLS

Which has the canonical condo information landing page?

1. Landing Pages for Condominiums

If you do a search for the condo “Hillview Green”, using google.com.sg (which should be the default for most users in Singapore), this is the above-the-fold result on my MBA.

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PropertyGuru has two types of landing pages for that key phrase: 1) a project listing page and 2) a search results page.

The nearest 99.co equivalent is: https://www.99.co/singapore/rent/condos/hillview-green/8Tiy9G8Xoi7zvUHXFU5YfW. There doesn’t seem to be a default condo landing page that provides information about the condo itself.

The search term “hillview green” gets about 140 monthly local searches so it’ll be a good idea to have a dedicated landing page to each condo in the database, much like what PropertyGuru is doing at the moment.

2. Landing Pages for HDB Estates

The same strategy also applies to HDBs. New HDB clusters are normally grouped together. For example, Casa Clementi refers to a cluster of flats located at Clementi Avenue 1. In new estates such as Punggol, every group of flats are all named e.g. Punggol Spectra, Punggol Breeze etc.

These search terms are great because they can be generated from the database, are considered long tail and hence low in competition and reasonably sizeable in search volume.

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This is an area where 99.co can get a leg up on PropertyGuru. From what I can see, PropertyGuru does not have dedicated landing pages for these types of search terms and neither does 99.co.

85% of Singapore lives in public housing. The remaining 15% in private landed, condos or apartments. If we assume 10% to be the number of people living in condos, and that there are 2,500 condos in Singapore, then we can hazard a guess that there will be about 2500 * 8 = 20,000 as many HDB Estate names. Assuming each HDB Estate has a search volume of 100, that’s an addressable search volume of 4,950,000 searches per month.

3. Landing Pages for Every Single HDB Block

PropertyGuru builds out thin landing pages from their database. These HDB block landing pages look like this

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99.co should do the same but provide better content. Such content can include:

a) Transacted history
b) Floor plans
c) Information about amenities in the area
d) Photographs
e) Map showing other property in the locality.

This is where nearby.sg has done a pretty good job in generating content from their database. See http://www.nearby.sg/food-drink/cafes/coffee-house/1/1.382502/103.747102/212_Chua_Chu_Kang_Central_Singapore_680212.

Take an average search volume of 50 per block search term and multiply this by the number of HDB blocks in Singapore and you’ll arrive at the addressable number of monthly searches. It’s a lot.

The idea behind points 1 to 3 are simple: generate landing pages with exact URL and title match for content that has search volume. This increases the total number of pages that will be indexed by Google and thus increasing the likelihood of a 99.co pae being served up.

4. Content Targeting Home Sellers/Buyers/Landlord/Renters

Shopify has eCommerce university, Digital Ocean has tutorials. This use of content marketing allows them to be seen as an authority in their domain.

Similarly, 99.co can create up-to-date authoritative guides with the following titles:

a) The Definitive 2015 HDB Buyer Seller Guide
b) Everything You Need To Know About Renting a Condo in Singapore as an Expat
c) 15 Mistakes First HDB Buyers Make
d) The Ultimate Guide to Buying your First Home

Examples of good content can be seen at moneysmart, their link bait content picks up 1000s of shares.

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These can be created in the form of a blog post or a white paper that is updated whenever the rulings change.

99.co operates a marketplace. This set of content will address both halves – the buyer and the seller.

5. Content Targeting Agents

Likewise, there should also be content targeting the Agents. A lot of the this material can be sourced from the compulsory CEA course. In addition to that, agent specific content could be as follows:

a) HDB Buying Checklist for Agents
b) Condo Renting Checklist

These can be packaged up as a webpage or even an app (see point 9).

6. Events – Be Seen as a Thought Leader for “Property2.0″

The easiest way to get going is to schedule appoints with the various agencies for a “talk spot” which I know they organise. Me and Calvin pitched hellohome at such an event with Orangetee last year.

One person doing this well in building a personal brand is Thomas Tan. He’s a funny guy and also my teacher for the CEA course. However, he’s not really a digital kind of guy.

A lot of agents still belong to the old guard and don’t really grok the web like us. Therein, lies the importance of face to face interactions.

7. Agent CMS and Backlink Building

I wrote about this tactic before: https://pragmaticstartup.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/seo-growth-hack-on-propertyguru/.

In a nutshell, every agent that signs up gets their own “Agent Profile”. The Agent Profile gets seeded with a bunch of content with links back to 99.co. You can see an example of this here: http://www.98199199.com/agent-page/53785/buying-guide. The key phrases being targeted are obvious.

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99.co can do something similar but with better UI/UX. Don’t just treat it as a scalable back link acquisition tactic. My mom has been a property agent for about 10 years now. I’ve helped her set up her blog http://www.savvysgprop.com but she doesn’t use it very often. All she wants is a dead simple way to list her listings on her own domain and make simple blog entries.

Such functionality can also be connected to an Agent Mobile Listing App for greater adoption.

8. Backlinks

If you were to distill SEO down to the most important factor, it would be backlinks. The more backlinks you have from authoritative sources, the better. PropertyGuru has an advantage in that they have been operating for many years now and have built up a good natural backlink profile, which is also why so many of their pages show up on the first page of SERPs.

So how can 99.co fight this?

I mentioned a lot of content building earlier. The next step is really to reach out to relevant bloggers, news outlets and like to promote said content. It’s a well trodden path of SEO link building and an on-going effort.

Next, 99.co can “manufacture” backlinks by building out your own PBN. Either create subdomains such as thesail.99.co or register new domains such as thesail.sg. Then, build out n pages of content on each site and have a link back to the landing page dedicated to The Sail. Rinse and repeat for all 3500 condos in Singapore an viola, 99.co suddenly has 3500 backlinks.

9. Apps

When Calvin and I were looking at the property space with hellohome, I built out a bunch of calculator apps. Here is one that is doing well on the Finance category on the Singapore App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/progressive-payment-calculator/id844200225?mt=8

I wrote about this earlier in my blog: https://pragmaticstartup.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/what-i-learnt-building-6-real-estate-iphone-apps/

The Progressive Payment Calculator is used by new condo buyers and agents to calculate the amount of money that is required at each stage of the process.

The idea behind this is to simply build out a suite of apps that is useful to both agents, buyers, renters and so on.

This can be both applied to both mobile and web apps. See http://www.moneysmart.sg/tools/stamp-duty-calculator.

If it’s a web widget, make it embedabble such that other agents can post it on their blog. Here’s an example of a home property value calculator on stproperty.

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10. Images

I see that 99.co is already providing photography services to agents. I think this is a great idea. The images can be used to populate the landing pages I mentioned earlier. Also, every single image that is optimised correctly using the right img tags could also show up in Google SERPs.

But why stop there? Get original content in the form of good quality photography for all the properties. Pictures showing the car park basement, children’s playground, the mini mart, are often absent from property listings. Having such new original content is imperative in playing the Google SEO game.

So I have more ideas actually but I think I’ll stop here. I didn’t see a job posting for “user acquisition” on your jobs page but I’m looking for a job. So if you guys are keen, I’m happy to discuss more.

Acquisition, Behaviour, Conversion

If you use Google Analytics, you might notice that the interface hints towards a particular way of thinking about your data.

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Do you see it?

Acquisition -> Behaviour -> Conversion.

Acquisition: How do users find your website?
Key metric: source/medium of traffic.

Behaviour: Now that they have arrived on your website, what do they do?
Key metric: bounce rate of top landing pages.

Conversion: Does this behaviour result in any revenue or conversions?
Key metric: conversion rate

If you consider another popular analytics guideline, AARRR by DMC, it follows a similar vein. AARRR stands for: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue.

In some sense, the Acquisition, Activation and Revenue components of AARRR relate directly to Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversion.

How about Retention and Referral?

There are Retention based reports in Google Analytics already, most notably the Cohort Analysis report (which is still in beta).

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As for referral, this might be harder to track in GA as the referral/viral mechanisms vary from site to site. Perhaps this is where custom event tagging comes into play.

Case Study: PropertyGuru

Singapore Property  Property for Sale Rent  Singapore Real Estate   PropertyGuru

Previous Case Studies:

As I wrote before, PropertyGuru is quite aggressive with their SEO. They are absolutely killing it on the SEO play. Top 3 landing pages for a long tail keyword.

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Still, even a big established company like them can still yield improvements.

1. Responsive Email Templates

I check my mail from my phone alot. From direct observation, I know most working professionals do as well. In fact, according to this study, mobile devices drive 66% of email opens. So it’s important to have an email template the reads well both on the desktop and on mobile. In this area, ProperyGuru can be doing better.

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Contrast this with Quora, a site that is also heavy on content. Their font size and layout is much more readable compared to PropertyGuru.
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This brings me to the next point.

2. Bigger Font Size Please!

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Font size 11 is really unacceptable in this day and age of modern web design. AS mentioned by Smashing Magazine, font size 16 is the way to go.

Ok, 16 might be a bit big but you get the idea.

I think this is testament to how important a problem PropertyGuru is solving in the real estate market.

3. Better Content

PropertyGuru is sitting pretty at the top. They are flushed with cash and doing very well on SEO. They have the resources to create better content but they don’t. Instead they rely on all these thin content pages for some of their long tail keyword content.

Singapore Condo Guides   Condo For Sale  Condo For Rent   Property Guru

Advantages Of Living In A Condominium   Singapore Condo  Property Guides   Property Guru

If they want to cement their position at the top, they need to be producing much higher quality content. Shopify is very good at this. They have what they call “Ecommerce University” that constantly produces very high quality content for their users. They have completely own this knowledge domain and made it easily accessible to their users.

Ecommerce Training  Ebooks  Videos   Guides That Teach You to Sell Online    Ecommerce University

If I were PropertyGuru, I would come up with guides like:

1) The Ultimate Guide to Renting a Place as an Expat in Singapore
2) The Ultimate Guide to Buying Your First Home
3) The Ultimate Guide to Buying A Condo

The list goes on. So much opportunity here for large gains. But speaking of content…

4. Sponsored Content

This is a very slippery slope they are going down. Feels like a decision that came straight from the Chief of Monetisation.

How To Choose Flooring Tiles For Your HDB BTO Flat    Propertyguru

6 ways to beautify your boring balcony   Propertyguru

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As any SEO will know, Google takes a stern view on sponsored “dofollow” content. You can get away with this for a while if you’re a “brand” but still, a dangerous game to play.

Cast Study: Blogwith.co

Blogwith Evernote  Simplenote   Onenote

Previous Case Studies:

I’ve been asked by Bosslee.co to do a break of blogwith.co. So here are 5 improvements that can be done immediately.

1. Bigger Call-to-action (CTA)

The main action seems to the Connect Evernote button. This button should be much much more prominent. Right now it’s getting dwarfed by the words above which brings me to the 2nd point

Very clear call to action by Constant Contact

Effective Email Marketing   Constant Contact

2. USP needs fine tuning.

I’m not entirely sure what blogwith does. I can hazard a guess but that’s a copy fail on the landing page. Also, the white text on white notebook background doesn’t provide good contrast.

Here, the USP for Kissmetrics is clearly defined in a short sentence.
KISSmetrics Customer Intelligence   Web Analytics

3. Keywords not present

What must the user type into Google to find the web application? If there isn’t any search volume to indicate either a informational, navigational or transactional interest, then it either means your product mind blowingingly original or that there’s no need for it. In some cases, it could well be that SEO isn’t a good channel for your product. For example, inspirational sites such as Pinterest and Polyvore do not lend themselves to “utility” based search phrases that makes them discoverable. So what does a user need to type to find blogwith.co? This should also be taken into consideration when crafting your USP statement on the homepage.

4. Examples

When you’re selling a technical service, you absolutely have to explain how it works. Be it in the form of a video or using images. The best way to explain the product in most cases is through a demo.

For a long time, Dropbox’s homepage featured a video that explained what their service does.

5. Social Proof

Social proof can help increase the conversion rate of your landing pages. What if you’re a new company and you don’t have any? Fake it. Fake the testimonials. Fake the number of integrations. Fake the number of downloads. It then (hopefully) becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Social proof present below the fold at Zapier’s homepage.

The best apps. Better together.   Zapier

There are other things that can be tided up such as: missing meta descriptions, missing sitemap, ugly 404 pages. But the most important aspects for an MVP is to communicate clearly what the product/service does. Failing which, everything else is simply excess.

Case Study: Viki

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So, I’m going through product improvements for various companies in Singapore. Today is Viki.com

Previous Case Studies:

1. Google + Business Page

If you do it right, it should look like this

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Instead, Viki SERPs looks like this.Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.51.40 pm

2. Video Descriptions

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The video above is from Youtube. It contains meta information about the video including title and description. The Viki video doesn’t give anything away. Overlaying some information such as the title and video description and number of views could aid in improving play rates and ultimately higher CTR.

3. Img Tags

Using the channel landing page, a very important page, as an example, http://www.viki.com/tv/25563c-mischievous-kiss-2-love-in-tokyo

<img style=”float: left; height: 384px; width: 538px;” src=”http://0.viki.io/d/25563c/a3a52fccc9.jpg&#8221; alt=”” />

Can be re-written as

<img style=”float: left; height: 384px; width: 538px;” src=”http://0.viki.io/d/25563c/channel-name-a3a52fccc9.jpg&#8221; alt=”channel-name” />

4. Site Maps

This is the recommended format for a video sitemap

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This is Viki’s current video sitemap

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I would also probably restructure the sitemaps into major categories such as: channels, artists, videos etc.

5. Better Landing Pages for Long Tail Terms

Viki is on the right track targeting long tailed key terms like OST. An example of this would be the search term “Dream High OST”. But their landing pages leaves much to be desired. It’s not relevant to what the user is searching for. Given that bounce rate is highly rumoured to be a ranking factor in determining the quality score for Adwords, I would have thought the same would apply for organic search results as well.

Dream High OST   Watch Full Episodes Free   Korea   TV Shows   Viki

The user is not able to achieve what he wants to do — that is listen to the OST of the series. It’ll be even better to have a list of opening and ending songs for each season if it differs. This is quite common in anime.

While I’m at it, I would also build up landing pages targeting lyrics like “Dream High Series Lyrics” or “Dream High OST Lyrics” which as you might have guessed, has the lyrics. BONUS: have downloadable ring tones as an extra avenue of monetization.