A website checklist for realtors in 2020. How's your website and online presence standing apart from the rest of the competition? Below we outline 10 things every realtors should have on their website in 2020.
It's a cut throat world out there in the real estate market, the virus is still here and the economy is really talking a hit. People are not buying houses like before and everyone is inside waiting and hiding. What does this mean? It means stop waiting as now is the perfect time for planning, preparing and taking care of things that normally are left as back burner items during booming times when things are roaring! Things like your website. Yes your website. While the real estate business is a mostly a "who knows who" and "you scratch my back, I scratch yours" world, websites still matter now more than ever. Websites are often a first impression of who you are as a realtor and as a realtor you know how important first impression are. This is why we compiled a website checklist, specifically for realtors so that you have a stunning website that actually gets traffic, leads and yes more house sales!
A website is an investment not an expense
Here are 10 things any realtor website should have so that you turn your website into a money making investment, rather than a "check of the box" tax expense write off.
1. Get A Professional Developer Involved
Sure there is website templates and WordPress plugins you can use to get some website up, maybe even for free or spending a few bucks on a premium WordPress theme. Do you really know what you are doing though, or his your friend, the part time developer or marketer? While there is a host of Real Estate templates out there where you can insert your profile, name, houses you sold, phone number, etc that website is going to look like every other "Cookie Cutter" website out there. How are you standing out from the crowd if you are using a generic template every real estate agent and there mother has access to? Even if you have the skills and the time to customize your theme do you really want to? Your are a realtor not a web developer right? Your time could be better spent going out there and meeting with potential clients, building connections and selling houses . There is a reason you spend monthly licensing fees and certification training and spending time in front of a computer to build an first time amateur website shouldn't be at the top of that list. So if I haven't convinced you yet to hire a professional developer here is 9 other reasons below
2. Branded Realtor SEO
What is SEO. A quick Google Search shows that SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimization" but what does that really mean? SEO means in a nutshell, "Will people see my website for what I want them to". A website without SEO is like having an invisible website. When people say I have had a website, and websites don't work, that is another way of saying "I created a template website and I expected to get leads magically and for free without knowing what the hell it is I am doing". People say this all the time, but a website with no SEO is like driving a car without tires. No matter how hard you press on the gas, you won't really get you to where you want to go. Having SEO, and having professional SEO by working with you to become the realtor you want in the area and niche you want to sell houses for makes all the difference. Carving out your niche, branding and an SEO strategy will put your website to work and make your website an long term and successful investment rather than a short term expense. This is true whether you are SEASONED 1% realtor or a just someone that finished there realtor licensing exam. In this day and age, any investment that helps you sell that next house or make that next big connection is a highly profitable return on investment that will also pay dividends for years to come. There are many facets of SEO. Technical SEO, high quality back links to authority sites, consistent quality content writing and social media posts are the best and most popular ways for your site to gain user traction
"Technical SEO" which include alt tags, meta tags and title tags on your website and performance optimization so that your website loads fast and is easy to index my Google Search Bots. Any technical errors on your site, slow sites or sites that are not secure are viewed less favourable and therefore less likely to be shown on the first page of Google or for keywords that you want to show up for.
"Social Posts" include posting regularly about the five "Ws". For realtors that includes
- The Who: Who are you and your experiences and qualifications
- The What: What you do and what services you offer and can offer me specifically
- The Where: Where can I find you and what locations or areas do you specialize in
- The When: When can we meet and when can you sell my house or find a house for me to buy
- The Why: Why should I go with you vs the other guy (or gal) down the street.
All five W's for realtors are of key importance. Especially the Why, which is your unique selling point
"Backlinks" in 2020 means reaching out to actual people from authority sites in your industry and asking them to link to your website in exchange for something that you or your website could offer. Organic high quality backlinks are a long term SEO strategy that helps your website gain more authority in the long term for keywords that important for you as a realtor.
"Content Writing" No SEO strategy is complete without high quality content writing. That means writing about stuff your readers find engaging, interesting and valuable. While it is hard to hit the sweet spot of meeting the trifecta of all three, as a realtor you need to write content that will bring in more leads and solidify you as the leading expert realtor in your niche market and location.
Doing SEO is extremely valuable, but it is also time consuming. That is why we recommend working with an realty SEO strategist to develop a game plan.
Running Ads on Facebook, Instagram, Google rounds out three main important things for realtor website. With Facebook, you have a targeted platform where you can run ads to a specific demographic or niche in market audience is looking for exactly what you have to offer. More impressions and unique link clicks on Facebook or Instagram leads to more brand awareness, landing page visits and phone calls. This is especially true when you use a Campaign planner and targeting to carve out an intended audience and have an effective remarketing strategy. With Google Search ads, you can participate in a keyword auction so that user search terms show your site ahead of organic traffic. This is especially important on mobile, where real estate is small and searches in the top 3 positions have the highest click through rates. Having ads is a crucial part of building your realtor brand and is yet another marketing channel for potential home buyers and sellers to reach you.
4. Website Chat
Website chat is an important feature that most realtor websites do not have. Why is web chat important ? For eCommerce and many other businesses, website chat has shown to increase conversions, leads and sales compare to other similar sites without it. We get realtors are busy and always on the go, which is why website chat is perfect for potential prospects to contact you when you are in a meeting or cannot pick up the phone. Website chat should be set up in a way that links to your messenger or text or WhatsApp account. With website chat you can also set up chat-bots to answer common or initial questions for your lead.
5. Contact Forms
If you are hesitant to have chat on your site, a realtor website should definitely have a contact form. A properly set up contact form will alert both the realtor and potential client of when a contact form is submitted on the realtor's website. For WordPress sites the defacto WP Plugiin "Contact Form 7" makes it easy to set up if you know what you are doing. The message sent to the client should include a tailored message with the prospects name, and the message sent to the realtor should include their email and phone number so you can follow up with them as soon as possible.
Any realtor is bound to have a list of prospects they want to keep in the loop with up to date info regarding the housing market, new listings, housing price trends and any other relevant updates. You likely have a data excel spreadsheet or lists of contacts floating around in several places. With MailChimp marketing campaigns you can grow your subscriber list and therefore your potential buyer and seller list and direct more visitors to your site. Mail Chimp serves to build your brand my reminding your readers that you are to go to realtor for them. Segment subscriber lists into different buckets and send out large lists of emails to make your workflow more efficient. You want to make sure your list is not too large and relevant to your reader to avoid your emails going straight to the spam folder. You can integrate MailChimp on your site so that when users subscribe on your website, they are automatically added to your new subscriber list.
7. SSL Certificates
The extra "S" on your website matters. You might have noticed that some sites on the top right next to the url either have a "lock symbol" while other say something like "not secure". SSL encrypts information sent from contact forms on your site and also serves as a digital certificate to authenticate the site. In a nutshell an SSL Certificate acts like an "electronic passport" verifying the identity of your site. The main benefit for SSL for realtor websites is SEO. For two similar websites, the one with SSL has a preferable ranking and is more likely to show up in a higher position in Google search. This means more potential traffic to your site.
8. MLS Listings
Having MLS listings on your site is an important component to the content on your site. The information on your site reflects what kind of realtor you are, the area and market you specialize in and the service you provide. As a realtor it makes since to display the current listings you have on your site and other listings that are in line with your niche market. There are an array of services and WordPress plugins out there that sell this kind of stuff. However, if you are not a developer you will have to figure out most of this yourself and spin up a WordPress site. The services too to get these listings are not cheap. They range from about $50/month for a plugin with MLS listings that are "inorganic" to over $1000 USD one time set up fees for so called "organic" MLS listings. The difference between the two has to do with the SEO impact it can have on your site. In the first case, the listings are pulled into your site on the client side via an API when the users visit your site. There is no SEO benefit here. For "organic" MLS listings the properties listed on your site are built server side which means Google can index these and help your site gain visibility for these properties.
9. Integrated Blog
WordPress is an amazing blogging platform especially for those creating their first website. For Realtors managing a website themselves I recommend WordPress, (specifically WordPress.org, not WordPress.com ) over other template website builders like WIX, SquareSpace, Go Daddy Website Builder and a host of other crappy cookie cutter alternatives. As a Realtor you want to look professional. and having the logos of those other like WIX and SquareSpace plastered on your site does not look professional. With any blog you will have to login to your website, create new posts or pages and write on a regular basis. If you are hiring a developer, I recommend looking into a content management solution (CMS) this allows you to write. manage and schedule the content of your site outside your website. Once a CMS is set up you can write articles and publish them in a way similar to writing something in Google Docs or Microsoft word document. If you need to migrate your site to a new domain or change up the style or your site completely, you have full control and can easily bring your content with you to another domain. Popular CMS solutions out there include Contentful and Butter CMS.
10. Domain and Hosting
No realtor site is complete without a domain name and hosting. A domain is a human readable address (aka the url) of your website, while hosting ensures that your site is up and running so that people can go to that address. I recommend buying a domain name on a domain name provider like NameCheap, where you can search for available domain names related to your brand or name. A TLD (top level domain) like .com is probably the safest bet which most users are familiar with and trust. You could also go with a .realtor or .realestate tld especially if you have a common realtor name or if the domain you wanted is already taken. For realtors in Canada, .ca is also good too if most of your business is in Canada.
I hope you enjoyed this realtor checklist article and have found this information valuable to help you with your next website.
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