June 1, 2017 1:08 am
In the last 15 years, most real estate agents have come to recognize the importance of online marketing to their bottom line. Many have set up a website to stay current with new technologies, but the results they gain are often less than expected. Why? Because they didn’t know the key factors that contribute to an effective real estate website. In this article, I will point out these essential factors and explain why they are the keys to a successful real estate website. Let’s get started.
A few decades ago, real estate leads were mainly word-of-mouth. A person (let’s call her Jane) got your contact from a friend, then she called you and that’s pretty much it. But today, it’s a different ball game. When Jane wants to buy or sell a house, she will most likely run a Google search for realtors and possibly ask her friends via phone, text, email, and social media. And even when Jane has received a list of contacts, she is not done there. She will then visit each realtor’s website to learn more about that agent before she decides which realtor to call. This basic research can be done in so little time that Jane’s final decision can be finalized rather quickly.
That said, in order to increase your chances with prospects like Jane, you need to establish an effective real estate website. You want to create a positive first impression with your prospects, then guide them through a helpful and friendly tour to convince them that you are THE realtor of choice. Here are the key factors, that when combined together, will boost your chance of being selected by prospects like Jane.
First, you need to establish a mobile-responsive website where your website’s layout and content are designed by the professional web designer to ensure the effectiveness of your presentation. This means that visitors to your website will find your site and information quickly and easily no matter which computing device they use. It’s important that viewers can find the information they want from their desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. For example, a potential buyer (let’s call him Joe) looks up your real estate website on his tablet. He would most likely look for a search box where he can explore listings in areas that appeal to him before he contacts you. Therefore, your site has to provide Joe with what he’s looking for without redirecting him to another website.
Using IDX software, listings can be pulled from the MLS onto your website so that Joe can view all available houses on YOUR website. If Joe wants further assistance from you, he can see your contact information right there on the web page. This is a great benefit to you as the realtor because you are seen as the specialist who has all the information in one place.
Meanwhile, if a home seller (Jane) arrives at your website, you need to validate your expertise with testimonials from your clients and other accolades to convince Jane that you are THE agent she should choose. Your site should demonstrate that you can help Jane sell her house quickly and at the highest rate of return. It’s important to understand the key factors that most home sellers look for in an ideal realtor and present them intelligently, and with clarity. For example, you could say “98% of our home listings sold within 3 weeks,” or “we help stage your home and post pictures on multiple websites to attract buyers,” or “we help you get the most from your sale.” You get the point. Remember, these have to be the true facts. You can’t just make them up.
Forget cheap or free website templates which defeat the purpose of increasing your chances with prospects like Jane and Joe. Just picture five real estate websites all assembled from a similar generic template and one site with a unique presentation that highlights helpful content. Which realtor would stand a better chance of being contacted by Joe and Jane? “Is it costly to custom design a real estate website?” Naturally, there is a cost, and it can be very reasonable, especially when considering the return on your investment.
Think of the real cost when someone finds your website, but quickly realizes that it is not as professional and easy to use as the other sites they had reviewed. They are gone, and you have lost an opportunity. Without the proper structure and analytic, you will not even know how many potential clients have looked at your site and left without interest. You will be better served by having the knowledge of who visited your site, how often, which pages they looked at, and how much time they spent there. This data allows you to make beneficial adjustments and draw greater attention to your site and the services you have to offer.
Second, many real estate agents are not aware that there are always two types of audiences visiting their websites. One audience is search engine spiders and the other is human. Most of the time, the second audience (home buyers & sellers) can only find your website if the first audience (search engine spiders) finds and categorizes your web pages correctly, and to your advantage. Therefore, your website needs to be optimized with good keywords, key phrases, and relevant content to help the search engines index your website under the right category and location. Without this step, the chance of being found by the buyers and sellers on search engines like Google.com and Bing.com will be very slim.
Third, when visitors arrive, your website should provide a helpful and friendly experience. The site needs to load fast and deliver information fast. My rule is not to exceed three clicks from anywhere on your site to find the information needed to make a decision. For example:
If a buyer (Joe) arrives at your website, here are the three components that should be prominently displayed for him:
- On your HOME page, I would create a search box with the highlighted text “Home Search” or “Find Your Ideal House.”
- On your HOMES FOR SALE page, I would integrate IDX and position your home listing details in an attractive way on your website (without sending them to an outside site).
- Next, to every listing on your website, I would boldly position your contact information so there’s no possibility to miss it.
If a seller (Jane) arrives at your website, here are the three features that would be quickly visible to her:
- On your HOME page, I would highlight three of your key strengths (or those of your agency) with a button “Sell Your Home” or “Sell Your Home Quickly” to direct Jane to an inside page where you provide more reasons why it’s wise to contact you.
- On most pages, I would have a Contact Us box and phone number ready for Jane to reach out to you easily.
- To further establish your credibility, I would give examples of houses you helped your clients sell in less than a few weeks. If that’s not possible, we would highlight an article that helps home sellers properly prepare and stage their homes for the sale. There are many ways we can help you substantiate your expertise and provide value to your viewers. Remember: Givers gain. You need to give before you receive.
Many realtors want to know the steps necessary to prepare their websites to convert viewers into clients. Here they are. When combining these factors, you will have a solid foundation for an effective real estate website. No matter how much money you invest to drive your target audience to your website, if these factors are not addressed, you can’t maximize the return on your marketing investment. To become a lead producer in today’s environment, you need to start first with your website. Period.
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