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WordPress For Real Estate, a Beginners Guide

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Thanks to all the technological advancements, the real estate game has changed dramatically. Having a website, regardless of how simple or basic it might be, now serves as a “headquarters” so-to-speak. It gives buyers and sellers a convenient way of gathering information and the ability to get in contact with a real estate agent. The sheer convenience of going online and searching for homes or property without having to leave the house is not just a luxury anymore. This type of easy access is now part of basic expectations. Not having such a base of operation will make it very difficult to compete in the modern world.

Wordpress, Building a websiteIs it required that you build the site? Absolutely not. If you have it in the budget, hire out. But once you have the site, someone will have to “feed” it. That’s a Marketer. That doesn’t have to be you either. You can hire an administrative manager, plug them into a system like ‘The Ballen Method’ and have them implement the steps. The one thing you hold forever though, is the vision and the message of your brand. That’s important to remember as we proceed through the ‘how to’ of this book.

Now the big question comes into play. How much will it cost to hire a website designer and somebody who can run the site after it’s done? If you plan to hire a designer, you could spend thousands. That being said, there are many that will do it for under $1000 if you spend the time researching WordPress developers and designers. The straightforward answer is – it can cost you very little. Depending on the themes and plugins you use, it doesn’t have to cost you much to build a website. Using WordPress you can create the website yourself and keep it up to date without any outside help. Ultimately it will only cost you a little bit of time and effort if you so choose and possibly the fees for ‘bells and whistles’ when you get creative and want more tools. In this article we will cover all the important things you need to know on how to build a website from scratch and much more, because once the site is up and running the maintenance part is quick and easy. Of course, then the real work begins…. Creating The Content!

At the end of this article (ebook) you will have the knowledge to stay competitive in the modern real estate world. If you thought that building a website required experience with endless coding and IT lingo then think again. In this basic guide you will learn the secrets of creating a powerful platform to grow your online presence, how to utilize powerful plugins and how to make your real estate website look professional. The days of spending loads of money to hire a professional designer are over, because creating a basic website to help increase your real estate service is easier than ever. In fact, the process is actually a lot of fun.

Take nothing away from the professionals, because they can create the most magnificent, custom made websites you will ever see. But thanks to platforms such as WordPress you can also establish a site that can attract a significant amount of traffic. With just a little bit of patience and work you will be able to rest assured that potential clients are coming your way even while you are sleeping.

WordPress Dictionary Guide

This is a short guide to explain the basic principles you will be combining.

 

Themes:

The theme is the look and layout of your site. Once they are installed they have a pre-set color which designers thought would work best, but you can change this if you like. As a basic WP 101 guide we are going to be using the pre-set colors. Keep in mind that different themes will have different attributes. The front pages can differ along with the amount of widgets that can be used and the areas widgets can be placed.

 

Plugins:

Plugins are programs that help you run the website. The choices are endless and as we go into detail later on you will quickly learn how to choose the best ones and why they are so important.

 

Widgets:

The layout of the theme makes use of widgets. These are typically separated between “Header”, “Sidebar”, “Footer” and “Home”. They are used to display your most recent posts, videos, images and pretty much whatever else you want to feature.

 

Posts:

Posts don’t really need much explaining, because they are the heart of your website. All the new content you want to add to the website and want readers to see is done through posts.
Pages:

Pages are considered “Static Posts”. They stay consistent and are used to display information that hardly ever changes, such as contact information or a static homepage that features a welcome note.
Video Embedding:

Utilizing videos on your website requires embedding, but this isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds. Videos can be used on posts and pages, giving it that extra dimension.

 

Image Embedding:

Image embedding is the same as videos and can be used just about anywhere. In real estate images play a very important role and using them correctly is very important.

 

 

Choosing a Theme

Before you get started on the interface it’s recommended to decide on a theme first. You’ll have the option of installing themes that are free and WP premium themes for which you will have to pay. Luckily the premium themes aren’t very expensive and they make the process a lot simpler. The following are very popular and great to start with.

 

Free Themes:

There are some nice and more than capable themes you can use if you don’t want to spend any money. Themes change and of course it would be a much thicker book to list them all. You may enjoy browsing through these options in the beginning. When you first install WordPress, you will notice some included free themes you can play with.

The key to a great site however, won’t be how “pretty or flashy” it is, but rather by it’s functionality including it’s mobile friendly “responsive” design.

The Free themes in your WordPress system will be pretty “plug and play” ready to go. These other themes won’t generally look out of the box like you see here. They will require some configuration. Follow the theme instructions for set up.

While I have not myself tested all of these themes, they are popular in the industry. There are so many more. Simply go to your favorite search engine and type in “WordPress Real Estate Themes” and browse till you find one you love.

 

Themeforest.net has a wide variety of responsive (mobile friendly) themes you can browse:
http://themeforest.net/category/WordPress/real-estate

 

Agent Evolution has a selection of Genesis Child Themes that have been popular for real estate sites:
http://www.agentevolution.com/product-category/themes-blog/

 

AgentPress Pro

 

wpCasa Framework

 

Realty

 

Luxor

 

Real Property

 

Real Homes

 

WP Pro Real Estate 6 by Contempo

 

Decorum by Themeshift

 

Installing the Theme

When you install a theme you need to go to the “Appearance Tab” on your left options bar. Your screen should look like this:

Installing The WordPress Theme

At the top you get the option to “add new”, which will present several different themes to choose from. If you like the before mentioned themes then simply enter their names in the search screen, otherwise you can just enter a key word like “real estate” and many more will pop up. When you see one that fits your general idea then simply click on it. This will provide a preview and overview. After you are done window-shopping you click on the “install” tab. WP will automatically do the rest in terms of installation and when this is finished this screen will show up.

You can choose if you want to see the live preview or to activate it. When you active it then it will be your set theme and everything can now be previewed. Keep in mind that each

theme will have its advantages and different attributes. After the theme has been installed you will be re-directed to the theme customize page, which looks like this. Your theme will probably not look like it is “supposed” to until you add your widgets. Follow the Theme set up guide.

Installing a WordPress Theme Appearance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are not re-directed automatically then you simply go the “Appearance” tab in your options menu and select “Customize”.

For a start, drop down to the “Site Title & Tagline” menu. Enter the name of your company and the slogan. We will be returning to this menu a little later on to set the static front page. When you are done with the title and the slogan, then click on “Save and Publish” and return to your dashboard.

 

Wordpress Customization
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interface
When the theme is in place we move over to the interface of WordPress and get familiar with where to go and what to do. Your dashboard view should look like this.

 

Wordpress Interface

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing you will notice is your options on the left toolbar. It starts with “Dashboard” at the top and ends with “Settings”. In order to build a basic website you will only need a few of these tabs. Once you have established some comfort with WordPress you can explore the rest, but for now we are going to focus on the priority tabs.

 

A tip before getting started is to sketch a main outline of what the site should look like. Consider what categories you want to use and how you want them to be seen in the menus. For example, a dropdown “Main Menu” should feature all the important things like “For Sale”, “For Rent” and “New Listings”. An “About Us” us menu should feature things like “Contact Information”, “Services” and “Who We Are”. Think about whether you want to use videos along with images and where these should be located.

It can be quite a pain after you have already begun to go back and create a new path of categories. The more you can outline in the beginning, the better off you will be.

You won’t want to be deleting categories and pages as it will case broken links and return 404 pages to the customer. This is not good for the user experience or for search engine optimization.

Categories are great ways to search engine optimize your site as well. It’s a good idea to first do your Keyword Research to determine how you will name your categories, pages and posts based on how buyers and sellers search.

A simple outline when building an IDX focused real estate site might be to include a top category and then build categories UNDER the main category.

Example Outline for Real Estate:

  • Counties/Parish/Township Served
    • Cities Served
      • Master Planned Communities, Villages, Large Communities
        • Subdivisions
  • Zip codes Served
  • And under any of those (Cities or Communities)
    are your Niches:

    • Military Relocation
    • 55 Plus Communities
    • Waterfront
    • Luxury
    • Golf Course Communities
    • Historic Homes
    • Horse Zoned / Ranch Homes
    • Gated Communities / Guard Gated Communities
    • Townhomes / Condos / Flats / Lofts
  • And then there are by Feature:
    • By Price (Homes for sale in ___ $200,000 – $300,000)
    • By Amenity (Pool/Fireplace/Single Story/Boating)
    • By Style – (Ex. Contemporary, Victorian etc.)

And of course this list goes on and on and is custom to your area. Don’t forget a section for the Buying Process, and the Selling Process! You want to focus on getting Seller Listings right? That’s not done through IDX alone. You need content.

Dashboard

At this point there isn’t much activity on the “Dashboard” page, but after you start publishing your posts more and more things will show up here. The “Dashboard” basically serves as an overview. Here you will see how many people visit the site, recent posts and times when these posts were published. There is no real interaction that takes place in the “Dashboard”, however; after installing plugins you will start to utilize this section more.

 

Pages

Before going to the “Posts” section it’s better to start with the “Pages”. These are the structural posts you will be using to display your variable posts in a manner of speaking. As discussed before, information that is going to stay the same over long periods of time is posted on pages. But you have the option of editing a page after it has been published. In fact, you can change it 10 times a day should you desire. Another factor to consider in terms of pages will be the menus. Generally, only pages will be featured on your menus (or posts as links), but this will be discussed later on.

Start by creating a home page. After clicking on the “Pages” tab you will notice that WP has already published a home page, but we are going to delete this by simply ticking the box next to it, change the “Bulk Action” tab to “Move to Trash” and “Apply”. Then you select the “Add New” page.

Add A New Page WordPress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first section you can fill in is the title of the page. In this case it will be “Home” or “Main”. You can name it whatever you want really, but for customer navigation sake it’s best to keep it straightforward. Below the title section you can add content. Once again, you can insert whatever you feel like, but keep in mind this is the first page readers will see, so make it a warm welcome to your site. Images and videos can be added to this content section, which will be discussed later. For now, keep it simple.

 

On the right you will see the options to “Save as Draft”, “Publish” and “Preview”. Scrolling down will bring you to “Set Featured Image” tab. Given that this will be your home page it’s best to use a company logo or something in that area for the featured image, but this is up to you. This picture will be displayed above your content and title. Clicking on the “Set Featured Image” tab takes you to a menu where you can choose a picture from the media library or you can upload one. Given that there are no pictures in the media library you will need to upload one. Once it has been uploaded just click on the “Set as featured image” tab situated on the bottom right. Some agents choose to feature their broker logo in this area to cover local licensing requirements.

 

You will be redirected to your page edit automatically. If you are satisfied with your title, content and picture then click on the preview page. At this point we are going to use a static front page for the site, simply because it’s easier to maintain and just makes more sense. When your home page is published  then go to the “Customize” tab under “Appearance” and choose the “Static Front Page” dropdown. You will get the choice between a static front page or a latest post front page. Tick the static front page and at the “select page” drop down just below, select the home page you just published. When you get more accustomed to WP and you feel like showing your latest posts instead of a static front page you can change this.

 

Posts

The “Posts” tab is where you will publish your posts. Take note that there is a difference between “Posts” and “Pages” even though the interface looks the same. You will also need to delete the post published by WP and this is done exactly the same as with the pages. When you go to “Add New” post your screen should look like this.

Add A New Post WordPress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The difference you will find between the pages and posts can be seen on the right. First of all, the “Format” selection and the “Categories” section just below it. For the purpose of the basic guide we are going to skip the “Format” selection, so just keep it on standard. As for the categories, we are going to create only one. You can add more later, but for now just click on the “+Add New Category” and give it a title. Let’s call it “For Sale”. The rest of the post works exactly the same as with the page, but to test it out just write one or two lines like “This is one of our latest listings” and use a picture of a house for your featured image. Add a title like “Suburban House”. Before publishing the post make sure it is categorized (For Sale box ticked). You can also add tags, which can be found just beneath the category box. These are words the article is focused on and adding tags will help with SEO.

I’d like to remind you here though, as taught in The Ballen Method, that how you title your pages and posts does matter when it comes to SEO. You’ll want to not just put “Here are our Condos” but rather something like “Las Vegas High Rise Condos For Sale”. Use your Keyword Research to determine your title and be sure to not stuff in your keywords, but do focus on the overall message that will tell the consumer and the search engines what the post or page is about.

Now you have a homepage and a first post to work with. The next step is organizing them on the website itself, which will include “Menus” and “Widgets”

 

Widgets

Both the menus and widgets can be found under the “Appearance” tab. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose to use first, so we are going to start with the widgets. Selecting “Widgets” from the “Appearance” tab will bring up this screen.

Wordpress Widgets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to the theme that you chose, the far right section won’t look exactly the same, but it should have the same options more or less. We are going to use a sidebar, meaning that it will display on the side of your homepage. The sidebar can be on the left or right side, depending on the theme, and you can choose which one to use. But first, focus on the “Available Widgets”. We need a widget that will show your latest posts, so look for a widget that fits this description. When you click on the applicable widget you will get to choose the area in which to place it, in this case it is going to be the “Sidebar”. Note that there are widgets for pages as well.

 

On the far right you will see the widget has been added and now you need to edit it. Simply clicking on it will open up an edit section. Here you can add a title, choose how many posts should be displayed, which categories should be included and what position on the sidebar the widget should be. Just choose the “For Sale” category for now and keep it at the number 1 position. Remember that multiple widgets can be added on the sidebar for each category, which is nice if you want to keep your most recent posts separate from other categories.

 

Widgets will appear and disappear based on your theme. Some themes include certain widgets. In addition to themes bringing widgets along, so do plugins. As you go as a WordPress user, you will find plugins to grow your site and will find great use of widgets along the way

Example Widgets:

The Search Bar up top is a widget.
The IDX Quick Search on the right column is a widget.
The IDX Featured Showcase in the right column is a widget.

And Actually, even the IDX results in the main page is comprised of widgets.

Sample IDX Widgets in WordPress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Menus

A Menu is your list of offerings just like in a restaurant. This is an important piece of putting your website together. You get to choose what main items you believe your buyers and sellers are most interested in.

It’s a menu of your content.

I suggest test and measuring. Use tools that show you CLICKS through to your website so you can determine which menu items are being selected. This is a best practice in creating a great, customer centric website. After all, if it’s on your site, and not getting clicks, does it really belong there?

Tip: I’m using a Chrome extension called “Page Analytics” from Google Analytics that shows me clicks. It looks like this:

Wordpress Menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a new site so the numbers are low and we need more time to measure. But at first glance it’s clear that the  ‘NEW!!! LISTINGS ONLY 24 HOURS OLD is getting 18% of the click through traffic

The SELLER HOME VALUATION page is getting 4.5% (that’s really good. That means LISTINGS)

The FEATURED MLS LISTINGS is getting 32% of the click through traffic

Now, my other pages are ranking on Google and have traffic straight through from search, but that is not what this is measuring. It’s measuring how many people see that menu and which items they click on to access the inside of the site. I can now move the menu items around, remove non-performing menu items, change the titles and so on to improve my site.

 

Take a look at what the menu example here offers:

In this case, the pages in the Black Row are our main menu items. We don’t change those. The items in the Red are selected based on the pages we add as we build.

That ‘search this website’ field you see up top? That’s a widget!

Real Estate WordPress Website with Menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When creating menus for the header of your site you need to go to “Appearance” and select “Menus”. This is the page you will see.

 

Menu Structure in WordPress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before setting the location, click on the “Create a New Menu” tab. Let’s call this menu “Main Menu”. On your left are the pages you can add to the menu. At this point you only have the home page to add, but this will expand according to the pages you create. Once the page is added you can set the location. For now we are going to keep it on the “Top Primary Menu” and make sure the “Automatically add new top-level pages for this menu” is ticked. When you are done, just save the menu.

In conclusion, you have created a homepage, a post, a widget that displays your recent post for simple navigation from the homepage and a menu at the top, which brings you back to the homepage. These are considered the real basics of a website, and once you get the hang of doing this then everything starts to get much easier.

 

Adding Media to Media Library

How you want to use your media is purely up to you. You can upload all the pictures you want to use by selecting the “Add New” tab under “Media” in the main options menu, or you can upload them when working on a new post. If you want to upload everything at once then your menu looks like this.

Upload Picture in WordPress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just select the files you want to upload and let WP do its magic. After the media is uploaded it will be stored in the library, where you can use it in your posts and pages.

SEO TIP: Title your pictures and videos based on keywords used on your site, page, post or category. The search engines read the title of your media like a primary word on your content.

 

Inserting Pictures

Putting pictures into a post or page is very simple. This can either be done with an existing post or a new post. Given that you only have one post at the moment, let’s use it to test some pictures. Go to the “Posts” section on the left menu.

Wordpress Posts Dashboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All you have to do is click on your post entitled “Suburban House” (although I do hope you have titled this more keyword friendly) and it will take you to the post within an editorial view. Note that this works exactly the same with your pages, so use the same principles when you want to add media on them.

Where you want to insert the picture is your preference. Currently your post has one or two lines already written, so let’s put a picture just underneath the content. Leave a space between the content and the place where the picture is going to be. Then click on the “Add Media” situated on top of you your post. This will take you to your media library where you can choose a picture or upload one. After the photo has been added more content can be added which explains more about the photo. You can insert 2 photos or you can insert 50 photos, the choice is yours. For real estate agents these types of posts are very handy, especially when it comes to showing the preview of a house.
If you have a very long page or post, using small images can break up the chunky text.

 

For real estate listings, saving a set of the listing photos in a square (think back to the Brady Bunch Image) that loads as one image is a great strategy. It shows the features of the home without you having to load multiple pictures, which can be time consuming and slow down your webpage.

 

The ‘Click to view more photos’ is always an option as well.

Image Details in WordPress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of your image options:

Add a caption: This will box in the photo and add a caption for all to see under the photo.

Choose the size, you can edit the image to show as a thumbnail or as a very large image. Keep in mind the size of your images can slow down your website. Use images, but use them properly.

You can title and tag them. I title mine based on the page or post I am creating and include the keyword as an ‘image title attribute’ so the search engines will consider it as a keyword.

You can choose what happens when someone clicks on the image. It can do nothing, open as a bigger image (good for graphs and charts) or open to another page on your site via a custom URL. You get to choose.

You can also wrap the words around the picture by align the photo Left or Right

 

Inserting Videos

There are many different ways of inserting videos thanks to various plugins, but WP has made basic embedding very simple. It’s just like adding an image if you would like to show a video that is on your computer. All this requires is uploading a video like you would upload an image and placing it where ever you would like it to be seen between content. If you would like to use a video that is already on the internet, for example a YouTube video, then you are going to need an embedded code.

Notice that at the top right of the content block (the section where you write your post) there is a “Visual” tab and a “Text” tab. Up until now you have been doing everything in the “Visual” mode, but when you need to add code then you need to switch it to text. The visual tab is known as a WYSIWYG editor. It means you design and the system creates the code in the backend. You don’t have to know HTML code to design. When you click on the text tab, you can then see the code behind the design. Advanced WordPress users will frequently add or change the code.

 

Just in case you don’t know how to get an embedded code from YouTube, read on to see basic instructions.

 

Embedding a Video on WordPress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click to view the video you want to watch. Underneath the video is a share button and when you click on it a “share” code will appear.

Choose the size of your video. On some platforms, you may need the old embed code. Most platforms are now working the new code just fine. I suggest unchecking the Show suggested videos when finished.

All you need to do then is click on the “embed” tab above the link and the code will appear. Copy and paste the code into your content box while it’s in “Text” mode.

Entering Video on WordPress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you switch back to visual or choose to preview the page you will see the video player.

Video Player on WordPress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Videos give you the opportunity to take potential clients through a house without them having to leave their homes. You could record a tour and upload the video into your media library. From there you can add it to the post where content details of the house will be featured. Basically you will be presenting an open house to anybody without even having to make an appointment.

This is the basic way to place a video into a page or a post, but later on you can look at the different kinds of plugins that allow more options.

 

Thoughts and Tips on the Layout

Now that you have the basic outline of how to publish posts and pages along with media, here are some thoughts and tips you can use to make it look very professional.

Even though your homepage is static (which means it doesn’t change automatically vs. dynamic which would change on it’s own such as a blog feed or IDX listings) you can always add something on a weekly or even daily basis.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume you want to feature one specific house every week. Beneath your welcome note on the front page you create a heading, for example “This Week’s Featured Home For Sale in Mountains Edge”, and place some nice photos or videos beneath the heading.

The nice thing about posts and pages are that you can insert links to other pages or websites for that matter. If potential clients are interested in seeing more details of the house they can click the link and go directly to that page. Write a line underneath the photos or video, for instance, “If you want to see more details then simply click here”. All you need to do now is highlight the word “here” and click on the “Link” tag placed on the upper toolbar. You will get the option to insert a URL to another website or choose an existing page or post. Take note that the post of the house details needs to be published first in order for it to be linked.

The next thought is regarding the widgets you are going to use. It’s recommended to create a widget for every important category. Let’s say your first widget is set to display 3 of the latest “For Sale” houses and the widget below displays 3 of the latest “To Rent” houses. Don’t forget that the footer along with the home area can also be used for widgets.

Last but not least, let your header menu serve as navigation between your pages. If potential clients want to see older listings or bargain listings then let them have easy access to these pages through the menus. The main idea is to keep your site user friendly and posts easy to find. If you feel like giving the user more than one way of reaching a page then do it. The logic behind how everything works will kick in rather quickly and you’ll be surprised at how you can change the layout of everything.

As a precaution, test the website through multiple browsers or ask friends and family to go and test it. It doesn’t happen often, but there are cases where the site looks great on Chrome, but doesn’t work well with Mozilla. Always do proper testing before you start marketing the site.

Plugins

Like I mentioned before, there are thousands of plugins available and a wide variety of things can be implemented in your site, but for now we are going to focus on the basics that are aimed towards real estate.

Install Plug Ins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First things first, plugins install the same way the theme is installed. Go to the tab on your left toolbar, namely “Plugins”. You will see a list of plugins that are already installed, but they are probably not activated yet. Just like the themes, you can download a plugin without activating it, or you can deactivate it if you are not happy with the way it works. The option to activate or deactivate will be clear beneath the name of the plugin. Right now you are going to click on the “Add New” tab and search for a plugin by name.

On occasion, you may need to go to the plugin site, download and then upload to WordPress. It’s not complicated either. You will upload the entire .zip file after you download it and install from there and then activate.

This is a very small list of plugins and someday, I may need to create an e-book just on plugins. Do some research on your own by typing in “real estate plugins” or “popular WordPress plugins” and look for what you like.

WARNING: I would not get into too many plugins until you know how they relate to your themes. Not all plugins play well with all themes and your entire website could crash if not compatible.

In addition to a potential crash, plugins can slow down your site. Before adding any plugin, ‘Google it’ and see what others have said. If there are a lot of “help files” and discussions out there about errors, I would avoid that plugin. Just because it is on a WordPress endorsed site, does not mean it’s safe for you to use.

Test your page speed / site speed using a tool like the Page Analytics by Google Analytics before and after installing the plugin as a best practice for site optimization designed for a quality user experience.

WordPress Jetpack

The Jetpack plugin is going to show you how many people visit your site and what pages are viewed the most. This isn’t the only thing this plugin does, but at the basic level it’s all you

need. Install the plugin like you would install a theme. Feel free to look at the details first along with the features. I love Single Sign on and Related Posts just to name a few of it’s power packed features.

Once the plugin has been downloaded and installed you will be ask to activate it. Once activated you will be given further instructions on how to start it up and this can be seen on top of the plugin page right after installation. If perhaps you missed it, go to the installed plugins list, find the plugin and click on edit. The necessary steps will appear on top of the page. Not all plugins require further steps like these, but always look for them just in case. The effects of this plugin will be visible on your “Dashboard” tab.

 

Google XML Sitemaps

The next plugin you want to go and look up is “Google XML Sitemaps”. Do you need it? No. Can it improve your odds of being indexed by Google? Sure. Some say use it, some say don’t. You decide.

This plugin will increase your visibility on Google and every time a new post is published Google is notified. Some editing might be needed according to your preference, but simply going to the “Visit Plugin Site” will show you everything you need to do in order to optimize the plugin. Recently two other plugins were added to the XML sitemap plugin, namely “Google XML Sitemaps for Images” and “Google XML Sitemaps for Video”. You will definitely need the one for the images, but if you are not going to use videos then don’t worry about the last one. As the name suggests, the latter two helps crawlers to find images and videos on your site, seeing as search engines typically focus on content.

 

 

WordPress SEO by Yoast

The third plugin to be installed should be “WordPress SEO by Yoast”. This is a very helpful tool for optimizing the visibility of your content, but this will be discussed in the SEO chapter.

Now, I’ll caution you on over thinking this. If you are working The Ballen Method, you already know your formulas. You know to not overstuff your keywords. You know to do your Keyword research first, include it in the title and in the top of the content body. You know to include that keyword in your image and video tags. And you know to write quality content. If you do those things, you will achieve high search engine rankings.

Many need this tool as a reminder. Just don’t obsess with it. Google changes its algorithms all the time and some of the suggestions here may be “old school” SEO and not really relevant today.

This is why you want The Ballen Method system. I’m updating it constantly to keep you ‘In the Know’ based on Google’s updates.

The Ballen Method is White Hat SEO meaning everything we do, Google loves and rewards.

 

Google Analytics for WordPress by Yoast

This is an optional plugin and goes a little deeper than the analytics shown by Jetpack. The statistics provided here are as detailed as can be, showing you how many clicks take place per viewer, per day. It also shows you where your traffic is coming from. If you want to keep in depth track of who visits your site then consider this plugin.

 

WordPress Related Posts

At the end of each of your posts you will find a list of related articles, which will help to keep users engaged. This plugin is very handy if you want to keep users on your site for longer. It also offers some statistics regarding views and clicks. Of course if you have Jetpack installed, and activated, and the related posts turned on, you don’t need both plugins.

 

W3 Total Cache

The performance of your website can be a deciding factor when it comes to keeping your users happy. On average, users will leave a site if the pages do not load within 3 seconds and this is why millions of webmasters recommend using a plugin such as this. It boosts your site’s performance significantly, especially when you are using a lot of images and videos.

WARNING: I’ve crashed multiple sites using Cache plugins. I’d suggest you make sure it’s compatible with your theme and that you know what you are doing before you mess with any of these plug ins.

 

Get Social

It’s always a good idea to keep a social sharing button close at hand and this is exactly what this plugin does. The buttons float along as the user scrolls down, reminding them that if they like something it’s more than easy to share it. “Get Social” is very easy to install and works on just about any theme.

I have since switched to FLARE that is also a social share plugin. There are many. Choose your favorite.

 

 

Akismet

Chances are this plugin will already be installed on your site, but not activated. Spam comments will be flooding your site even when organic traffic isn’t, and initially it won’t be too much of a hassle to simply send these comments to the trash. However, after some time it will become irritating. This is where Akismet comes in. It will stop at least 95% of spam filling up your comment section, saving you a lot of time and inconvenience.

 

 

Simple Real Estate Pack

This is a convenient all-in-one plugin for real estate agents. It features a mortgage and affordability calculator, a widget that provides a list of schools within a certain area, live mortgage rates, market trends and statistics along with Google Maps that point out business locations. It’s a true gem for any real estate website.

 

FireStorm Professional Real Estate Plugin

Whether it serves the needs of an agency or sole agent, FireStorm provides an easy point-and-click management system along with great features for listings. What makes it unique is the stand-alone front end which is SEO optimized and you don’t need a post for every listing.

 

 

Real Estate Website Builder

If you don’t feel like using multiple plugins then you can opt for this one. It continually updates with MLS while providing a variety of features in terms of layout and highlighting certain posts. There is no limit to the amount of images that can be used per listing and you get international listing support for more than 240 countries.

 

WP-PropertyThis is the alternative to Real Estate Website Builder, because it also operates as a solo plugin for all your needs, but it mostly works with shortcodes. It’s not as popular as the above mentioned plugin, however; some prefer this option and the “Shortcode Cheatsheet” helps to make it easy to use.

Agent Directories – There are a few different plugins for this, but if you have a real estate team, or are building a broker wide site, you’ll need some sort of Agent Directory such as the

 

Genesis Agent Profiles Plug in.

 

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