A return visit this week to London and in particular to the area in and around the City. The three websites I've visited – Square Mile Mortgage Finance, Shrink-Your-Mortgage and Mortgage Beaters – all have a different approach to the internet and make me wonder about the quality of advice that brokers are getting about how internet search engines work. Generally speaking, they don't like Flash technology and frames, so Square Mile and Mortgage Beaters must struggle for search engine positions. Square Mile isn't helping itself by having so little content either. Still, the sites are all pleasing to look at.
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Square Mile Mortgage Finance
At first glance this is a simple website, and if you want to have an internet presence, this style is as good as any. But don't expect to drive much lead traffic off the web. An introductory page before the homepage that uses Flash to rotate photos (of SMMF staff), and a dearth of content on each page link, does not give the search engines much to latch on to. And the absence of a calculator (how mortgage-buying web users like calculators), not to mention leaving the contact details to the end, don't support visitors when they do arrive. Good to see testimonials on most pages (not on the buy-to-let page, for some reason) but these are non-attributed, which always leaves a suspicion they might have been made up.
Now this is a different animal altogether. Owned and operated by Mortgage Design & Placement, it's a “specialist remortgage website”, although it covers other mortgages, loans and life insurance plus a link to an online conveyancing service. Following the remortgage route, you're drawn into a calculator to see how much you can save. To get the full details of the top buys suggested, you have to give your contact details, locking you into their service. There are calculators for checking how much you can borrow and for loans too. A contact telephone number is on every page and while I don't like menu bars at both the top and bottom of the page, navigation generally works well. A pity that the glossary is so well hidden, though.
Mortgage Beaters Ltd
The introduction to the company on the 'about us' page says it is “confident that our expertise and dedication to customer service cannot be beaten” – weak compared with the promise inherent in the firm's name. Fortunately, most of the site is supplied through Network Data's white label service – calculators, wizards and plenty of information. On the downside, using frames seems a good way of keeping your telephone number on screen but search engines don't like it – pity, as it's easy to have the number always visible when the banner has scrolled out of sight. And when you click through from the main headings on the homepage, sometimes you get a pop-up screen and other times the whole page changes, which is inconsistent and irritating.