Who comes out on top in the battle of the property portals?

Property portals organic traffic

The online property sector has undergone huge changes in a short space of time. Over the past couple of years we’ve charted the rise and fall in the fortunes of the industry’s two major players: Zoopla and Rightmove as well as the disruptive upstart, On The Market.

What’s new in the world of property portals?

This week, Zoopla has claimed that its brand dominance over main competitor Rightmove is growing. 1,043 adults were questioned in February on which property websites they could name. Zoopla scored 49% – this was 9% more than rival Rightmove, whilst On The Market was only known by 3% of people.

Such slights aren’t uncommon in the industry. However it’s also worth pointing out that the survey was commissioned on behalf of ZPG who own Zoopla.

The survey would suggest that Zoopla are the biggest competitor in the market, but is this really the case?

The conclusions can we draw from a search marketing perspective cast doubt on any such claim:

Organic Traffic

(KEY: Blue = Rightmove; Orange = Zoopla; Grey = On The Market)


The organic traffic data certainly backs up the survey’s implicit suggestion that On The Market are lightyears behind the two front runners in brand recognition.

However, the gulf between Zoopla and Rightmove is also stark. More than 20,000,000 people a month have landed on Rightmove through search since the start of the year – more than three times the figure of their closest rivals.

This contrasts starkly with On The Market who, despite their increased success in organic traffic, have yet to hit a million monthly users.

Whilst all sites have seen an increase in organic traffic since the start of the year, Rightmove’s has been the most pronounced and On The Market’s the least.

Not only that, but Rightmove also wins hands down when it comes to keyword rankings.

Number of Keywords rankings in Google

(KEY: Blue = Rightmove; Orange = Zoopla; Grey = On The Market)


Rightmove hit a peak of over one million organic search terms for the top twenty search results on Google in January. This contrasted with 662k keywords for Zoopla in what’s always the busiest month of the year for property portals.

The precise data from the past year can be seen below:

Rightmove.co.uk Zoopla.co.uk onthemarket.com
Month Organic Traffic Keywords Organic Traffic Keywords Organc Traffic Keywords
Apr-16 17062616 656866 5271613 456884 494802 124093
May-16 17030866 654518 5273715 454242 535094 129931
Jun-16 16989043 650958 5284428 456822 580563 125440
Jul-16 16762496 662119 5394550 474134 597147 124677
Aug-16 16844794 673841 5385163 488789 589219 125598
Sep-16 16862643 694375 5542910 487496 649158 128241
Oct-16 16889352 693831 5498610 478993 642727 127748
Nov-16 16841952 665857 5457688 462220 643308 126871
Dec-16 20388263 944106 6672840 663621 808028 179612
Jan-17 20727563 1002209 6771943 715078 849096 190261
Feb-17 20269261 893212 6815967 672725 805870 179187
Mar-17 20342434 890348 6620222 666745 787041 178850


Twenty months ago we discussed the ambitious attempts made by On The Market to break up the property portal duopoly as they sought to make ground by investing heavily in PPC and a multi-million pound offsite advertising campaign.

Measuring success by branding

This dream seems further away now than it did then.

Whilst all three sites have grown, building up a recognisable brand in such a competitive industry is no easy feat.  Exact match branded search terms in Google for On The Market stood at 301k, just over a third of their overall search engine traffic.

In comparison, that same figure stood at 3.35 million for Zoopla and 11.1 million for Rightmove.

Where does all this leave On The Market?

As Blueclaw’s Sales Director Luke Ormerod pointed out in 2015, branded traffic is important for companies as it means there’s no direct competition with other brands. This is as true now as it was then.

Branded organic traffic is also a powerful indication of a brand’s recognition. The fact that Rightmove is so far ahead of Zoopla by this metric too pours cold water on ZPG’s survey which suggests Zoopla is the more prominent of the brands.

Whilst they certainly caused major upset in 2015, the fact On The Market are so far behind in these stakes it remains difficult to see them competing on equal terms with the big two as far as organic traffic goes in the near future.



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