A user-friendly real estate website is an important element of your marketing strategy. Buyers, sellers, and renters all utilize the Internet for their research and a well-designed, properly functioning website will help establish a trusting relationship with prospective clients of all types. Your site is a source for repeat customers and their referrals as well as new clients and first impressions count. Adhering to best practices for the design of real estate websites is essential to putting your best foot forward and converting your site visitors.
Following general best practices for the design of professional websites is a must. Beyond those generalities, however, there are specific strategies for the real estate industry that make a difference in creating a captivating and trustworthy site. Here are some, but not all, best practices to help your real estate website convert new clients and retain loyal customers:
Create a clean and aesthetically pleasing website. Your top-level navigation should be intuitive and allow visitors to find what they are looking for straightaway without having to waste time hunting. Use a minimal number of buttons to help them navigate through your available homes and rentals and other information about your agency and all that you have to offer.
Different buyers have different priorities when searching for a home so be sure to include a search feature that allows visitors to quickly filter based on their personal preferences. Offer multiple ways to search for and then sort the available properties by such criteria as size, number of bedrooms, age, etc. Include filters that allow buyers to narrow down their search results as well. Filters should include common features and amenities like appliance finishes, attached or detached garage, master bath, and so on.
As the saying goes, pictures speak louder than words. Vivid images will help buyers see themselves living in a property. Use high-resolution photography to showcase properties. Professional photographers understand how best to make use of camera angles, lighting, and other considerations. 360-degree imaging and high-quality video tours are also a fabulous option for today’s video watching public. Houses that have the benefit of photos that show them at their best will sell more quickly and for a better price.
Keep visitors to your website engaged with interactive features. Provide area maps, mortgage calculators, and search features to help buyers find schools, grocery stores, parks, and other amenities near your property listings.
Provide value-added information by maintaining a blog on your website. Showcase what it is like to live in the areas you service, offer information about the buying and selling processes, the art of negotiation, and other topics relevant to the real estate industry. Establish yourself as an expert regarding the area you operate in. Highlight local events and other offerings that will be attractive to your target audience. Provide a solid understanding of the area culture, schools, neighborhoods, restaurants, and more.
Have built into your site the capability to capture leads by collecting email addresses and a bit of information about what each visitor is searching for. Collect potential client information when someone downloads content from your site, subscribes to your newsletter or blog, or requests information about a property.
Display prominent trust signals on your site such as national and local business associations, links to your social media accounts, and testimonials from previous clients. Let visitors see your engagement rates, interactions with other visitors, and anything else that will help establish that you are a trustworthy, successful, and professional real estate agent.
Speaking of testimonials – they are tremendous social proof of who you are as a real estate professional. Consumers trust peer recommendations. Feature relevant client testimonials on different pages of your website so buyers are seeing quotes from other buyers, sellers are seeing quotes from other sellers, and so on.
Feature an all-out About page that truly showcases who you are as a real estate agent and a person. Highlight any specialties, areas of focus, or certifications you have. Share the areas in which you offer extensive experience and what you can offer to your clients. Post-professional headshots of yourself and your team as well as any images that show your involvement in the local community. Visually establish yourself as the local expert and show your passion for helping clients buy and sell properties.
Provide your contact information on every page of your website. Show your phone numbers, email address, and social media accounts. Feature a dedicated Contact Page with an online contact form that requires minimal information from visitors to begin a conversation with you.
Have your website indexed to ensure that Google, Bing, and other search engines are aware of its existence. If the search engines don’t know about your site, they will never display it in searches. Focus on other Search Engine Optimization (SEO) elements like keywords, Alt text, and originality of content. The higher search engines rank your website, the more potential you have to be chosen over your competitors by people performing Internet searches.
Google Analytics can provide important information about site visitors. A critical piece of information is which pages are visited so you can identify where visitors are getting stuck or being held up in your site. On the other hand, this will also tell you which parts of your site are most visited and which types of listings are most popular. This information can inform your future postings so you are showcasing properties that people will be interested in. Even if you are not a “numbers person”, site analytics cannot be ignored because you can leverage the data to improve your website offerings and persuade more people to convert into clients.
Inbound links, or backlinks, are any link on a web page that points to your website or page. These links improve your ranking on search engines which enables home buyers and sellers to find you more easily and more quickly. By generating more traffic to your website, you are ultimately funneling more business to your office. While it sounds technical, building links is not a difficult task once you take the time to create and share content. That being said, quality links from authoritative sites are more important than large quantities of links from anywhere as low-quality links can harm your search ranking and online reputation.
Simple ways to create backlinks are to register your business online in a variety of places. Yelp, LinkedIn, YP.com are some examples of business databases that will create a new backlink when you register. You can also take advantage of relevant professional or business groups. By posting in those forums and interacting with other members you are also putting your site information out on the web. Another option is to connect with others in the real estate industry to be a guest blogger.
And speaking of blogs, excellent and informative content positions you as a leader in the real estate industry and at the same time, provides an opportunity for inbound links. Other real estate professionals are likely to share a piece that is thoughtful and engaging. These social shares of your content will result in inbound links to your website and, ultimately, more clients.
Establish social media profiles and then stay active on your accounts. Higher search engine rankings are strongly correlated to social media activity. Use your social accounts to post links to your property listings, blog posts, and other informational content on your site. (Another way to generate inbound links!) By engaging with your followers on a regular basis, you build relationships and will gain referrals and business.
Landing pages need special attention. Wherever you intend to send a visitor from your blog or social media accounts has got to be exciting, engaging and informative. A top-notch landing page has a narrow focus so they would be geared toward specific audiences (buyers, sellers, renters, etc.). Your headline should be attention-grabbing, the content concise, and a clear call to action featured all over the page. Don’t be afraid to include beautiful images and glowing testimonials. Landing pages are the key to conversion so create pages that speak to your potential customers.
More and more home buyers (sellers, renters, landlords, etc.) are using the Internet in their quest to acquire or sell properties. Real estate websites have become an integral part of the experience. As a result, it is an absolute given that real estate agents not only have an online presence, but have a website that is state of the art, professional, beautiful, and easy to use. Beyond that, an agent’s website is a marketing tool, a resource for information, and a communication channel.
The website experts at Strategy Driven Marketing understands the needs of the real estate market and how to effectively communicate the value proposition of your services. On top of that, our ability to create user-friendly, mobile responsive, beautifully designed websites will help you make the right impression on your target clientele. Contact us today to get started!