War of words between property portals intensifies

Written on 26 March 2015 by Alistair Boscawen in Property News


OnTheMarket denies Zoopla claims that traffic to its site have slipped 25% in just a week.

The battle of the property portals has kicked off again, with Zoopla claiming new kid on the block OnTheMarket has experienced a 25% fall in traffic to its website in just seven days.

Quoting data from the independent internet monitoring service Hitwise, Zoopla says the number of visitors to OTM has been falling steadily for the past few days following the end of a six-week marketing campaign to promote the site’s launch.

According to Zoopla, there’s been an “apparent lack of engagement by those visiting OTM” with an average of just 1.5 pages viewed per visit last week compared with 7.1 on Zoopla.

property portals rightmove & zoopla
Battle of the property portals

And the established portal says its “total consumer engagement” last week was almost 100 times that of OTM, with 21 times more visits and five times more content viewed per visit.

However, OTM chief executive Ian Springett hit back saying the traffic figures circulated by Zoopla aren’t accurate and that “traffic levels have remained buoyant throughout March”.

The two websites have been tussling for traffic since OTM launched in January. Just after OTM made its debut, Zoopla founder and CEO Alex Chesterman labelled the estate agent-owned site a “regressive business model trying to stifle innovation”.

OTM was launched to provide an alternative to the duopoly enjoyed by RightMove and Zoopla. The latter seemed in particular danger because it has lower visitor numbers than RightMove.

The launch of OTM hit investor confidence in Zoopla, which saw its share price slide from above 240p in September to less than 150p earlier in the month. However, it is now starting to regain some of the ground it lost and was trading at 180p this week.

Zoopla’s communication spokesman Lawrence Hall says OTM “restricts its members from spending their marketing budgets freely” making “businesses less efficient and competitive”.

But Springett says that “the results of our multimillion pound marketing campaign are continuing to emerge and the property-seeking public are appreciating the faster, cleaner, fresher search experience which OTM offers”.

But Zoopla has poured cold water on those claims, saying that the new site does not appear on Google search results. Zoopla’s former head of search engine optimisation Simon Schnieders says the prize for topping the rankings is big, with 60% of all property portal traffic starting on a search page. Organic search traffic is still the largest upstream source for both Zoopla and RightMove, according to Schnieders, who says it’s going to be very difficult for OTM to compete when it comes to organic visibility.

Springett, however, counters this by explaining that “SEO has been at the heart of OTM’s business from day one of the website build” and that it’s “also investing in producing high-quality unique editorial content which is sharable across social media channels”.

The war of words between property portals can only be good news for vendors who list their property with Best Gapp. Keeping both sites in the property market news headlines is a tried and trusted way of generating more interest in both portals among property hunters. Long may the battles continue.

Alistair Boscawen

Alistair has 32 years’ experience as an estate agent, starting in the country house department of one of London’s main international agencies before moving to the Knightsbridge house department of the same agency and learning the difference in values between freehold, long lease and short lease houses in Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Chelsea and Mayfair.

All articles by Alistair Boscawen

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