Updated: May 15
I am a digital marketing consultant who works exclusively with Sotheby's International Realty agents and offices. I am principally engaged with Hunt Country SIR in the Washington, D.C. Metro area, but I have clients all over the US.
In terms of website solutions, I try to remain agnostic. Whatever solution my client has chosen, I do my best to leverage the unique characteristics of the platform. I have had clients on Placester, Homesnap, Agent Elite, Real Geeks, Sierra Interactive, BoomTown, and most recently Luxury Presence. It's somewhat rare that I single out a particular provider as a vendor to avoid. But given my client's experience over the past year with Luxury Presence, I feel compelled to issue just such a public warning.
I'll admit, Luxury Presence creates beautiful web sites, some of the most attractive and appealing in the industry. They've definitely got talent on the design side of the house. That is no doubt why they have been a popular option with SIR agents of late. Their upscale look and feel seems like a perfect fit for our luxury clientele.
However, your website isn't a framed print. Your website should be the heart of your marketing engine. Your website should bring you visitors through organic search. Your website should engage and potentially nurture your audience and ultimately assist in converting visitors to clients.
Let's get to it then. Luxury Presence is a terrible solution from an SEO perspective.
Let me prove the problem to you before I explain the causes. Do you have a Luxury Presence site? If so, do this:
Go to Google.com
Type "Site:" followed by your domain name, for example "Site:https://soldbysue.com" (For the record Sue Smith is not a client of mine, she's just another agent in our market who happens to use Luxury Presence)
Check out the results of your search, it should look something like this:
The "Site:" prefix tells Google to restrict your search to a particular domain. The fact that we didn't add any search terms after these parameters means we basically asked Google to search for everything on this website.
Google responds by telling us "About 59 results". This tells us that Google has only indexed 59 pages on this site. That's a laughably low number. Wouldn't you expect that every listing in your market would be indexed on your site? Wouldn't you expect hundreds or thousands of pages to be indexed?
The poor client that I'm referencing has had LESS than 10 pages indexed on their site. When we complained, here is the response we received:
My reply to this obnoxiously ignorant and unhelpful reply includeded:
While Luxury Presence may not have explicit CONTROL over what pages Google chooses to index, they do have responsibility for many technical pre-requisites that determine which pages Google crawls and ultimately indexes and ranks. Just for starters, it is the website hosting provider's responsibility to maintain and update an accurate XML sitemap which provides a roadmap to search engine spiders. Likewise it is the responsibility of the website hosting provider to create and maintain an accurate robots.txt file. This file contains critical instructions to the search engine spiders telling them which parts of the site to crawl and which parts to ignore. If either of these assets is defective in any way, that can have a catastrophic impact on the number of pages indexed by Google and Bing.
Clearly the support personnel who gave us this response is ignorant of their critical role in getting content indexed by search engines.
Why is Luxury Presence So Bad at SEO?
First and foremost this is a personnel / talent issue. Clearly the front line support folks have limited knowledge of SEO. That's a huge problem.
Luxury Presence has a very simplistic CMS that offers no active guidance to content creators on how to optimize their content. By comparison, WordPress based solutions can leverage the Yoast plugin which will provide real-time feedback on every aspect of on-page SEO from meta title length, to keyword density, alt-text content and presence of inbound / outbound links. Without such active feedback, a Realtor composing a blog post has virtually no chance of creating content that will rank on Google.
While Luxury Presence does connect their sites to Google Search Console, a critical tool for SEO, they don't go the extra mile to also connect their sites to Bing Webmaster Tools. Yes, Google has a huge share of total search volume... but as a marketer I also want to fight for every lead I can on Bing as well. Did you know that iPhone's SIRI gets her answers from Bing? As voice search continues to grow exponentially, I definitely want to make sure Bing has fully indexed my site as well.
Poor "On Page" Practices - Even an SEO novice knows that when you're building a web page, you want to take every opportunity to repeat keywords and keyword phrases that support your optimization. Those opportunities include body copy as well as alt-text and image file names. Right click on any image on a Luxury Presence site and decide for yourself if that image name was strategically chosen to support SEO. Here's an example:
Should the name of this image be middleburg-1.jpg? Would homes-for-sale-in-middleburg.jpg be better? You betcha! Duh!
Mobile rendering is too slow! Page performance is a huge part of Google's indexing criteria. If your site doesn't load quickly, Google simply will not serve it as a search result. Here is the Google PageSpeed Insights report for my client's Luxury Presence site:
For non-nerds, let me just say that you don't want "Failed" as the result of your Core Web Vitals Assessment.
Again, if you don't have experience reading PageSpeed Insights, let me quickly summarize this for you. It generally takes this site 5.5 seconds to load on mobile. Google gives this a rating of 40/100... which if I recall correctly from school is an F.
Backend / infrastructure. I don't know exactly what it is, but there's something fundamentally wrong with Luxury Presence's SEO infrastructure. Their XML sitemaps are crude and simplistic, although I can't yet prove a defect. Likewise their robots.txt file looks like something I might have handwritten in 1996. But for the moment, I haven't proven that's the issue yet either. It's clear that their sites are indexing a very small number of listing pages. Go back to the "Site:https://yourwebsite.com" exercise and look through the complete list of pages that is returned. In most cases, you'll find only a handful of listings. Something is broken.
Luxury Presence is Priced Like a Mercedes But Drives Like a '79 Ford Pinto
Luxury Presence is priced like a premium website platform. It isn't. They're priced as if you were getting a unique design, when in most cases they're simply populating an existing template with high resolution images that take too long to load. Although their sites outshine many other platforms from a design perspective, they lag grossly behind other solutions in terms of the things that really matter -- leads and conversions. (For the record, I did own a '79 Ford Pinto and that was not a compliment.)
What Should You Do If You're On Luxury Presence?
Move, as quickly as possible. Hopefully this blog post reaches the Luxury Presence management team and they quickly make investments in improving their platform and personnel. But this stuff isn't going to change quickly. Even if they were highly motivated, it would take a year or more to turn this ship around.
Who Do You Recommend?
There are many other viable solutions out there. I'm a big fan of Agent Elite and their WordPress backend. Real Geeks does a great job with indexing listing pages. And I've been totally blown away by the testimonials from clients of Sierra Interactive. Stay away from Placester, they have most of the same problems that I see with Luxury Presence.
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