This article will do everything from break down a real estate agent website and what it should have before and after it’s built, what’s important to Google and more importantly, to the customer, and which vendors are providing the best real estate agent website this year.
Real estate websites were the most important source of information when it comes to looking for a house to purchase (Source: NAR)
Now, you can find a top real estate websites builder there is. Maybe it’s even you!
- Build a website
- Goal of a Website
- ＃The “must have” list
- IDX Real Estate Listings
- Website Developers
- Things to Consider
- SEO Video
- How to Create an ADA Compliant website
- Improved User Experience For Your IDX Leads Using IDX Broker
- How and WHY to Embed Video on your Website or Blog in 2018
- New BREW Feature: Blog Content Blocks and Full Width Image
- How to Create Facebook Custom Audiences for Retargeting
- How to Update your IDX Broker Contact Info [Video Tutorial]
Build a website
Goal of a Website
If you are a real estate agent, clearly having a website is going to be a key staple in your business.
What you choose as a web platform, and who you choose to build it for you is going to make a big difference in your outcome.
Before we go into a list of the most popular real estate website developers, let’s discuss what a real estate website platform should do for you and what it should have for the user.
＃The “must have” list
- Fast Load Time A website must load quickly. While we would love to see every page load instantly, under 3 seconds is the average goal for a website. If your pages are taking longer than that to load, you may have sluggish hosting, large image files, or heavy WordPress Plugins. Here’s a link to a free tool where you can check your page speed. If you are on WordPress, and need hosting options, reach out to my company Ballen Brands.
- A mobile responsive theme This may seem like a given in this age and time, yet many websites have not yet made the transition. Some have adjusted to mobile responsive themes, yet still use non responsive elements ( like some form applications). What’s more, is that we need to think beyond simply size and shape of a design, but mobile CREATION. Breaking up heavy, chunky text, use of images and video, tables of contents, line breaks to scroll up, calls to action and value items and so forth will help create a better user experiences. One long scroll page isn’t going to cut it anymore on mobile.
- A strong, user friendly IDX
Buyers want to browse properties. They expect a clean, great performing shopping experience when browsing for real estate online. They want photos, tours, maps, details and options to search specifically by area, price, size, features, financing and so on. If your IDX underperforms, so will your website. You can hire a provider to create an IDX integration on your existing site, or choose an existing IDX real estate website.
- Contact Information
Make it easy for your buyers and sellers to find you. Contact information should be in the header, side columns and footer where applicable. It’s also a great idea to include contact us calls to action on your content pages. Provide quick easy access to your name, address, phone, brokerage information, email, and social channels.
- Home Value Offers Like it or not, Zillow has changed how home value estimates are provided. Sellers now know and expect to downloand an instant estimate online. It’s a best practice now for a broker website to include an instant valuation. Follow up email campaigns can do a great job of “combatting” the instant estimate and explaining why an agent opinion would be a much better solution. If you don’t offer it, Zillow will.
- Community Information (the more the better) The best way to beat the portals is to write in your own, local language. Nobody knows your backyard like you do. Prove to your users that you are the local specialist by providing amazing local information on the weather, transportation, jobs, communities, zip codes, schools and so on. A blog containing recurring local events is also valuable to your user (and therefore valuable to the search engines as well).
- Real Estate Advice Library Generating leads through your website is done by providing something helpful to the user. While buyers will often register to browse homes for sale ( 7% of visitors to your IDX pages will become a lead based on averages with forced registration based on our studies using various website platforms). You can generate seller leads and additional buyer leads through informative articles with offers and a call to action. A page about closing costs when buying or selling a house can be a powerful traffic earner and lead generator when done at a high level. Use your buyer and seller questions and answer them in blog or page form. This positions you again, as the expert.
- A Blog While you don’t need a blog, many find it a great tool for generating traffic from social and search engines. Pages on a website are typically designed to be evergreen content, timeless pieces. Blog posts can be a piece of the moment and cover local events, special loan programs, listings, local or real estate news and so on. A blog can also be a great platform for publishing general real estate articles. Using a site like Zapier.com, you can set up automatic posting from your blog to your social channels.
- Bonus: CRM
Although most developers are not also customer relationship management system builders, so most CRM’s are really subpar. It’s better to have a separate CRM that plays well with your site. (such as Infusionsoft’s Open API and integrations with software such as (Parsey.com). May websites are now integrating CRM and scoring systems (such as the infused BREW by Ballen Brands (call for quote 702-917-0755.)
- A Place to feature Reviews Brand mention is a strong signal with the search engines. Google is now listening to brand inflection. Reviews are a great way to gather positive opinion. In a social world, reviews are also in demand and considered heavily before making a purchase or decision on a service provider. Why share your Zillow review link sending buyer and sellers to Zillow?? It’s much better to gather these reviews on your own website and share that link as much as possible. While we love to have our customers post reviews on various platforms including social, gathering on our own website is still key. Here’s an example of a BREW with reviews. And here’s the Review Link to access the review page directly.
IDX Real Estate Listings
IDX definition is Internet Data Exchange. Simply Put, it allows real estate agents and brokers to show and feature show MLS listings on their agent websites.
If you have a broker provided website, you are probably using an IDX solution.
For those just wanting their real estate agent website to serve as validity, you may not need an IDX solution. If you simply want someplace to collect reviews, list your services, and possibly blog, you might pass on IDX.
If you don’t want to collect leads from your website, you may not need IDX.
One of the best lead generation tools is listings.
Potential buyers browse the internet looking for homes for sale. When they get to information they want such as details, maps, photos, advanced searches etc., they might register and give you their name, phone and/or email.
IDX allows you to build out pages on your website and insert a carousel, slideshow or grid of listings. These pages tend to rank very well on the search engines. The key here is having pages on your main website that contain the listings, not subdomains or subfolders designed ot rank. This requires some manual build out, and is worth it.
Let’s take a look at the analytics for BallenVegas.com, a real estate agent website ranking on the search engines through SEO focused community pages, IDX homes by feature, price, and style pages, and blog posts.
In this report, generated by Clicky Analytics, you’ll see a list of some keywords visitors have used to find the website.
Google locks up most of the keyword data. This tool is great for delivering some tracked keywords used by customers through search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
This Data tells a story.
What the Keyword Report Tells us:
➡ On July 4th, the visitor typed in “homes for sale in las vegas gated community” and found a page on this WordPress website that offers information and properties.
The listing showcases are created by IDX Broker, an advanced IDX solution.
IDX Broker was chosen for this website because of it’s ability to customize colors, styles, templates, result pages, maps and so forth.
IDX Broker also releases the IP address which allows tracking of the leads to a source and actions.
➡ ON July 4th, another visitor typed in “homes for sale country club hills las vegas nv 89134”. This is the exact phrase they typed into the search bar.
We can see here that the search was performed on Google.
Clearly, this user knows the neighborhood they want to live in. It’s also possible that this is a potential seller that is comparing home values to self determine their own home value.
This is very common and is another great reason to have IDX if you would like to generate seller leads.
➡ Also on July 4th, a website visitor typed in “homes for sale with casitas in las vegas nv“.
In this case, the visitor was using Bing as their search engine.
A casita, for those not familiar with the term, is a small, detached or attached home to a larger property. They are commonly referred to as mother in law quarters in other parts of the country.
Many local real estate agents are generating hundreds of organic (earned in, not paid) leads every month from long-tail phrases likes these.
A long-tail keyword is going to contain many keywords used together to give the user more specific results.
This is where IDX is so powerful. Remember though, it takes work. These pages require building.
Here’s more on How to Build a Real Estate Website with IDX BROKER.
Ballen Brands – 702.917.0755 (In full disclosure, this is my company, so I’m a bit bias on this one).
Ballen Brands is owned and operated by top real estate business owners and massive online lead generators.
After years of experience with various platforms, and training on The Ballen Method (a training system for real estate agents wanting to learn online marketing and get more leads online), Ballen Brands decided to offer a WordPress platform to help their clients build faster and on a stronger foundation. The BREW is a powerful real estate agent platform.
The team at Ballen Brands prides themselves on being different and on choosing function over fancy having tested and measured web performance and customer experience for nearly two decades. When you choose Ballen Brands, you choose proven results and a team that cares about your success. Ballen’s goal is to empower agents to take control of their marketing platform.
Choose what’s right for you. Interview several providers. Compare costs, features, and ownership. You’ll want to be sure you own the domain and content and that if you move brokers, your site moves with you. There’s not much worse for search engine rankings than starting over!
Ballen Real Estate Websites (702.917.0755)
We now sell these through our digital marketing company Ballen Brands. Ask about the new “House Brew” and “Infused House Brew”. The BREW (Ballen Real Estate Website) is a buyer AND seller real estate site powered by IDX Broker and WordPress.
Complete with analytics, a lead dashboard, custom templates for real estate market reports, community pages, and blog posts, a drag and drop home page editor, reviews content blog and page, cornerstone content and so much more.The Infused Brew will give you access to the robust CRM tools of Infusionsoft with lead cultivation campaigns.
The following is a list of additional solutions. Here’s a Google link to access these sites.
Things to Consider
Your real estate agent website should have NO Limitations.
Make sure your site is not limiting pages, plugins, categories, html elements, tracking codes, media and so forth.
In the beginning, a small, easy site may be fine.
As you grow though, and you or your assistants, or your marketing services team begin to add content to your site, frustrations will arise if you are limited in the development and design of your platform.
Ask your provider about these limitations.
YOAST has added a new Orphaned content feature. Learn More.
You should own the Content and the Domain
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, it’s imperative that you own the domain and the content.
Oh the sad stories we have heard of people that bought in hook, line and sinker to a website they loved with their favorite back end CRM and then suddenly realized when they stopped paying the hefty monthly fee, they no longer had any rights to anything that was created.
Oh the sad stories we have heard when someone once in love with their brokerage, adopted their brokerage site and putting everything into it for a few years, growing favor with the search engines, generating a lot of organic leads, and then something happened that caused them to end their relationship with the broker – which also ended the relationship with their website.
Don’t be confused by SEO and SEM
Many believe they are getting a real estate website that will do well in the search engines because the site is “search engine optimized”.
All “boxed” solutions for a real estate agent website that include paid hosting in 2018, should already have the basic on site SEO foundation provided.
Yet each piece of content you ad, every video, every page, will contain it’s own on page SEO. This will be your focus, or your content providers focus and will have little to do with the platform itself.
Content is what drives rankings in 2018, not a “platform”.
Now, if you are buying a website that is built out for real estate SEO, that’s another story altogether. You are purchasing a website with search engine optimized content and that’s great (as long as it’s unique content of course, owned only by you).
Many sites are actually driven by SEM (Search Engine Marketing) rather than SEO.
This means, out of your monthly fee, you are buying CLICKS to your websites from the search engines.
It means the links coming into you are paid rather than organic.It also means, as soon as you stop paying, your leads are gone, instantly.
It might be a good idea to find a nice blend of both. Search Engine Optimization for rankings takes a while.
If you are building content on a real estate agent website platform with a new domain, it could take 6 months, even a year before you have any rankings bringing in significant traffic.
SEM (Paid Clicks) can kick start your lead flow and give you the patience to build your organic rankings properly.