The purpose of establishing a web presence is three-fold: to share information about the personalized real estate services you offer, to build on your branding, and most importantly, to generate leads, bringing in business from visitors who find you in the search engines. A personalized real estate website can accomplish these goals far more effectively than a free company web page, for several reasons.
How a Realtor Website can Boost Your Business
Strong Search Engine Performance
Strong search engine performance for real estate websites is the best way to generate new leads and get your real estate business noticed. With the agent websites supplied by most brokers, real estate agents typically have to forward their domain name to their free web page on the broker website. This supplies their domain with absolutely no search engine value. In order to gain ranking with the top search engines, you must have your own real estate website hosted on your own domain name. A custom real estate website design, optimized for strong search engine performance, is the best way to gain leads from visitors during their online real estate searches.
Dynamic Real Estate Website Design
Your real estate website serves as your introduction to potential customers, so every element on your site should present you and your properties to your best advantage while showcasing the elements that make your services unique. The free websites offered by brokerages are often cluttered and visually unappealing, built with a “one-size-fits-all” mentality that presents agents as virtually interchangeable cogs in the brokerage’s machine. With a custom designed real estate website, you get a professional, attractive layout that highlights your exceptional qualities, with an innovative interface that draws in visitors and encourages return visits. Your personalized website puts the focus on you rather than on the brokerage firm, allowing you to create a direct connection with potential customers.
Mobile Real Estate Marketing
A large percentage of the real estate customers use their smartphones to search for properties and agents. Most free websites do not include a mobile-friendly version, which makes the cost of that free real estate website design quite expensive once you figure in the price of lost sales and missed connections with potential customers. An easy to navigate website, custom designed for mobile real estate marketing, will gain you repeat customers who appreciate the convenience of being able to browse desirable properties whenever they want using their smartphone or tablet.
Let’s check out some of the must-have features for a realtor website.
The functionality of a website is the interactive part of the site – that which allows the visitor to respond in some way, thus turning the visitor into a customer. For a typical realtor website, types of functionality include:
- Multiple Featured Properties
- Agents Module
- Custom Form
- Communities page – Additional Photos
- Communities page – Additional Links
- Property Filters
- Property Status
- Site Map
- Properties Page – Additional Photos
- Email Verification for Forms
A website without functionality is a one-way street. Since the Internet is designed to allow more than one channel of communication, it is pointless to have a website that does not provide some form of visitor interactivity.
That said, there are some important rules when deciding what type of functionality is best suited to your purposes:
- Don’t ask for visitors to disclose more about themselves than your information is worth.
- Keep it simple or you’ll lose too many potential customers half way through.
- Don’t require too many steps or visitors will get lost and give up.
- Don’t include functionality just because you can; it needs a purpose.
2. Responsive Design
Now-a-days, most of the business owners and companies want to build their website with a responsive website template. They want to build their virtual store for 24 hours in a day, so that they can get more customers and more profits from their business.
As more people are beginning to use mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, for every task that used to be only capable on desktop, one thing has become clear: mobile is taking over Internet surfing. And, it’s not even just surfing. It’s everything from browsing social media outlets, checking emails and doing some online shopping.
Because mobile Internet usage is increasing steadily, it’s extremely important that your website is mobile friendly. Usually this isn’t a major concern. You have a website designed for desktop users and another site specifically developed for mobile users. But, is it possible to have a site that is equally favorable for both desktop and mobile users?
There actually is a design that can handle both types of users. And it’s called responsive web design.
A responsive design simply means a website that has been constructed so that all of the content, images and structure of the site remains the same on any device. For example, when a user accesses a site on their desktop, they are getting the full view of the site. But when that same user goes to visit the site from their smartphone or tablet, the site will retract to fit on the smaller screen.
In other words, with a responsive website design, you don’t have to have worry about having different websites for various devices or making sure that your site runs properly on a mobile device.
In this modern day of trying to stand above the rest in the digital media world, ensuring a top-notch website is the key to attracting and retaining your real estate clientele. Personalizing your website can give you a custom approach to your marketing, but it can also help you specialize and showcase your real estate preferences that are ideal for your demographics of clients. Here are a few ideas to use when personalizing your website to appeal to your current and future clients.
- Custom Website Interface Options: Choosing a website design can be a daunting task! Whether you want a full branded look for your real estate business and want your site to reflect the same color palette or if you want to deviate and try a new color, try out multiple templates. This enables your real estate presence to come through in a professional and sophisticated manner.
- Unique Photo Gallery: When displaying your current listings on the market a photo gallery is essential. In fact most homebuyers and sellers look to online real estate websites first when looking for homes.
- Automatic MLS Updates to your Website: Whether you just listed new homes or you have sold properties recently, automatically update your website with current MLS listings. This means your clients can access the most up-to-date information without ever leaving your website.
- A Blog to Share Information to your Clients: Studies and opinion polls show that realtors that include a personal or professional blog on their websites help to connect in a different way with current and potential clients.
- Capture Leads with Lead Capture Features: When you are on the go meeting with clients, showing homes and following up on potential leads it’s important to know that your website is helping make life easier for you. The lead capture feature enables communication and delivery of contact information effortlessly through the web portal and to your email.
4. Clean & Simple Design
When it comes to realtor web design, it’s easier to add to a design rather than to take away from it. The challenge with minimalist layouts lies in the conundrum of making something beautiful with basic design elements – and with as few of them as possible.
Let’s put it straight – simplicity is more complex than you probably think it is. To design a web-site in user-friendly tones, presenting all information and removing unnecessary details isn’t easy. In fact, many designers don’t manage to find the right mix between details and their presentation on the screen, which usually results in an information overkill and/or decreased usability. However, there are lots of website templates with just the right balance, perfectly usable, elegant and clean with simple layouts. So keep it clean and simple!
5. Fast Site
How often do you abandon a page when it takes too long to load? Chances are that your customers and prospects are doing the same thing. People expect a fast user experience online, and when they don’t get it, they often bail. That’s because the way we consume media has changed dramatically. Most of it is consumed on the go, in the car, and in line at Starbucks. In other words, no one has the time or patience to wait for a slow page to load. Do everything you can do to create a comfortably fast realtor website.
6. No Index/Follow
With so much talk about getting into search engines, and achieving high rankings on a particular search engine, it may seem crazy to do anything which would prevent this from happening. However, there are times when you have a web site or page(s) within a web site which you don’t want to end up in a search engine.
You may say you don’t have to worry about this because you haven’t submitted your real estate site to any search engines. However, if someone else has put a link on their site to your site, the spiders that crawl their site will eventually end up crawling your site.
There are two parameters; “index” and “follow”. “Index” refers to whether or not you want that particular page to be indexed. “Follow” refers to whether or not you want the spider to follow the links on that page. You would decide whether you wanted the page indexed, and whether you wanted the links followed. Based on that decision, you would choose one of the above options for your realtor website.
7. QR Scan for Brochures
A QR code, or quick response code is a two dimensional barcode. QR codes can be read by scanners through the use of smartphone applications and can direct users to URLs or brochures. In the real estate world, QR codes are growing in popularity because they provide an easy way for potential buyers to visit your property listings or website directly from their phones. The effectiveness of QR codes in real estate can be measured by an analytics program such as Google Analytics.
If you’re not using QR codes in your real estate marketing, you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity to bridge the gap between the real world and the virtual world.
8. Social Media Presence
Social media management for your real estate business enables you to promote your company to a wider audience and motivate word of mouth advertising. Social media packages are meant to keep your fans and followers engaged. To keep your audience up-to-date with your latest offerings, promos and events, you can try daily or weekly social media postings and content sharing.
Integration of social media packages in your real estate website can:
• Improve the design and content of your social media profiles
• Create awareness about your company and your services
• Promote engagement within the online community
• Provide an online venue for feedback
• Gain more followers on all your social media profiles
• Gain more newsletter subscribers
• Drive more traffic to your real estate website
9. Run a Facebook Page
It’s no secret that in order to gain a competitive edge in Real Estate, or to simply keep up with the rest of the pack, agents must utilize social media. For realtors, Facebook in particular is arguably the best social media platform to use as a resource for self-branding, marketing all aspects of the business, gaining clientele and encouraging an increased referral rate.
Creating a Facebook landing tab for your Page, having consistent Page activity and networking with clients via the social network are all well-known and yes, very effective Facebook tips– but they only scratch the surface. Being good with social media is one thing, but learning to be savvy, smart and differentiated is another. Check out the below tips to learn how:
- Have good photos and detailed captions: People love good visuals, this cannot be stressed enough. If the photos posted on a realtor’s Facebook Page are not appealing, they house they’re selling won’t be, either. What’s more, instead of simply posting photos of a home, use the caption portion of a photo to sell the home.
- Brand your homes and recognize target client: Take advantage of the About Me portion of your Facebook Page. Rather than keeping it bare bones, realtors need to use the section to be honest, describe their niche homes and what homes are most appealing to them to sell. Although, this should be written in the least limiting style of language of course.
- Share good news about the economy: The poor economy is making it more difficult to sell homes. However, despite the rough times, when there is a sprout of good news or hope on the horizon, share it. As a realtor, posting good news about the economy on Facebook does two things: it inspires the faith and encourages folks to rethink or reconsider making a big purchase. Also, overall spreading positivity is a good thing to do as people tend to gravitate towards positive people.
- Be a part of the community: Sharing knowledge and relevant events about the community will help a real estate agent to develop deeper and more reliable connections with community members. Through being aware of the community’s surroundings and being tuned-in to what people are interested in, it’s another tactic for capturing the attention of prospective buyers and more importantly, it’s a way of becoming noticed as a community resource and well-rounded agent.
10. Marketing on Pinterest
Just like with all aspects of social media, Pinterest is more about engaging your followers and building trust. Simply put, you want your followers to look at you as the expert for all things real estate. You cannot do this by just drilling your listings in their face. This is a common theme among many Realtors who don’t understand why they never get anywhere with social media.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover” is not really a relevant statement in the real estate industry. Both buying and selling a home are processes that rely heavily on visuals. So, it makes sense that Pinterest – the social sharing site made up of virtual bulletin boards – is a useful visual marketing tool for real estate professionals. Indeed, this service can showcase amazing photos of properties, offer inspiration and lifestyle ideas to clients and make thousands aware of your brand simply because of your strategically curated boards.
11. YouTube Listings with Voice Overs
YouTube is now a major power in video delivery on the Web. YouTube videos turn up in top position in some searches based on their tags and content descriptions. You can’t just overlook YouTube as a resource in your Internet marketing plans. The visitors to your real estate website come from all around the country and the world. Many of them are looking for more information about the area to help them with a second home or a relocation decision. It is reasonable to expect that your site will be re-visited regularly if you provide local area information in detail.
Whether you’re doing nature shots, businesses, local parks, or other area sights, get some videos done with voice overs, and you can upload them to a free YouTube account for all to see. You place a link in your videos to your real estate website. When searching the YouTube video site with your local area keywords, your videos will be found by potential clients. Even if they’re not ready now, they will always have that link when viewing a video on YouTube. Knowing it’s a real estate site, that visitor must be focused on more real-estate related information if they click through from the video.
Put videos of your listings up on YouTube as well. It will impress your listing clients, plus you can use the titles and credits in the video to put out price and other information. If you’re blogging, there are several easy and free ways to embed a video into a post, or a player in the sidebar. Get out with that camera or camcorder and start building a YouTube Channel that markets your area and your business.
12. Twitter – Tweet Locale & Community Info
If you’re ignoring Twitter, you may be missing a great opportunity. Major advertise their business on TV, provide customer support with Twitter, and sell product and services with Tweets. It’s a great tool for real estate professionals as well.
By tweeting news about your market area, price trends, community news and events, and more, you become a destination to follow for the latest in community and real estate information. It all links back to your website or blog, and builds some SEO along the way. By taking advantage of third party apps, tying Twitter to your Facebook account, and using the content in multiple places, you can leverage your time and content for more exposure. It’s free, so you only have some time to risk in giving it a try.
13. Social Promotions – Contests & Giveaways
Provide an amazing way to create more engagement on your Facebook Page, and have fun with your Fans. You can use all kinds of contests to develop deeper relationships with your clients, get to know their likes and dislikes, and promote yourself as a realtor who listens. You can even use them as a way to market your listings, too!
Like Facebook, you can use contests, sweepstakes and group offers to create more engagement with your clients, and get your Tweets seen by their Followers. For example:
- Offer a free dinner at a neighborhood restaurant for entering a photo contest.
- Ask for a description of a great moving experience, using an essay contest, and offer a gift certificate to a local spa.
- Host a sweepstakes on Twitter, offering a home decor gift certificate, for viewing your Open House.
70% of U.S. Households now use the Internet as an information source when looking out for real estate properties. Findings also suggest the Internet is poised to surpass newspapers as a local shopping information resource. In this day and age, you can’t afford not to have a website!
Your website should make clear what’s special about you – your capabilities, your experience, and your unique value proposition. But a great real estate Web site can also be a terrific hub of information for people living in or interested in your community. With just the perfect realtor website you can expand your existing marketing efforts, retain clients longer, gain additional prospects, build an online presence, provide tools for buyers and sellers and much, much more.