Moving A Web Site - Can You Do That?

Education & Training with Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors

Moving a web site

In light of some of the problems out there with some real estate template providers these days, I have read with interest where some people are talking about moving their web site. So I thought this needed to be clarified. If you are using a template web site from one of the providers like Advanced Access, Point2Agent, and many others, sorry, but there is really nothing for you to move! You certainly own the custom content you wrote and put up inside their template, but you don't really own the entire site itself. They own the "look and feel" and even the copyright articles that they provide for you to display. In essence, you are merely "renting" your web site. (And we all know why "owning" is better than "renting".)

So again, this is something for you to think about. If that template provider just stops serving your template site because of long lasting internal problems, or merely decides to go out of business one day, there is not much you can do. Oh, you may have some recourse because many agreements might require a 30 day cancellation notice by either party. But your template site is gone and your real estate cyber-office is now closed to the public. Yes, you may have back-ups of your custom content that you first typed up in MS Word or any photos you posted, but that is about all that you have. And all of those hours and days you spent customizing and tweaking your template site just went up in a puff of electrons. Ha!

So what is your back up plan? If your real estate broker unexpectedly closed the company tomorrow, most of you already know where you might transfer your real estate license to get back in business in a matter of days. But what do you do if your template web site disappears?

Once again, not to harp too much on the reasons to have a custom web site, this isn't really the case when you own your own site. Two advantages are -

1. Usually your custom web designer would be happy to provide any client with a .zip file of all of the static pages and graphics (IDX pages or property databases are usually provided by outside vendors, so those wouldn't be included, but the hyperlinks embedded in your web pages to point to those IDX sections of your site certainly would). You own the site... not the designer - or at least you should check the fine print in your Design Agreement to make sure that you do! Or you could capture the site yourself with very easy to use free software from time to time to your own hard disk for safe keeping.

2. It is relatively easy to change to a new hosting company to now display your entire custom site (with some minor tweaks that may have to be made by the new company or your web designer to make sure the forms on your web site work properly on their servers - an hour or two worth of work), So you can pick up your "web house" and move it virtually anytime you wish. You may be out of action for a day or two, but usually no longer than that.

Again, when it comes to Internet marketing and your web presence, the old saying, "Penny-wise and pound-foolish" sort of comes to mind. While using a template provider for your web marketing may seem inexpensive now, in the long run, is it really? What do you really own? So what is your plan to keep your "web office" open and operating?

Comments (8)

Win Singleton
Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors - Falls Church, VA
Web Designer & Associate Broker

Hi Steve - you are correct. You own the domain name and all the stuff you typed up or created in your graphics software. But as I said, you don't own the "look and feel" and the copyrighted content of that template site. So you are starting all over once again with the next template provider. Copy and pasting in your text... uploading your photos or graphics... going into the back-end control panel to try to optimize the site using good Search Engine Optimization techniques (if that can even be done at all in that template), etc. So once more, you may spend another 20 to 100 hours getting this new site just right one more time. How much is your time worth? If even $20 per hour, (like what the entry salary is for a brand new employee) that could equate to upwards of $2,000 of your time just to reinvent your "wheel".

Yet, if this had been done in a custom site to begin with, all of that content and search engine optimization work would all still be right there! Nothing to really change. Just a new host to host the site. As I said, "Penny-wise and pound-foolish" is what comes to my mind. I hate doing the same work over and over again. Ha! 

May 27, 2007 04:28 AM
Tim Wade
RE/MAX Realty Champions - Wolfeboro, NH
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!
May 27, 2007 05:03 AM
Win Singleton
Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors - Falls Church, VA
Web Designer & Associate Broker

Hi again Steven!

You wrote, "There is the chance that the company might shut down, but if they are doing good business, then it is not likely." Well, tell that to the folks with template sites at Advanced Access who were down for several days this past week! All web servers, just like your personal computer, will crash! So what is the template provider's back-up plan? Obviously, they were caught napping this week.

Custom web designers just build sites. You, the client, can decide on where to have it hosted - with that designer or just about any hosting firm in the world! I have built many custom sites for clients who have left the "template world" behind because they wanted something much better, more destinctive and a site that could actually get found in the search engines to bring in listings and sales. Most clients have found that their new site more than paid for their custom design fee in the sales that have resulted. So virtually all are in the "black". And the designer does all the work... not the real estate agent.

Funny, as real estate agents, we tell the FSBO that they shouldn't really be doing this themselves... that they need a professional. Yet real estate agents insist on trying to be a "jack of all trades" instead of following their own advice that they give to others. Can a template site be fleshed out? Sure. Should it be done by an agent with no web design background? Maybe. Most Point2Agent sites rarely come up in the Top 30 results at least in the Washington DC area in Google, Yahoo! or MSN because the site owner/real esate agent doesn't have that knowledge on how to get it there in such a competitive marketplace. Yes, the site was free or next to free, but it is just 1 of millions of sites out there that will hardly ever be found in a search by consumers. In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream! ;-)

Your own Point2Agent site is targeting "East York Ontario Homes for Sale" in your Title tag. Yet in a search in Yahoo! for that phrase, the site doesn't come up for me at all in the Top 30. Your competitors - Anne and Louis Balkou, as well as Maureen Reed do - in both Yahoo! and MSN (the later being the easiest of the Big 3 to show up in). As a matter of fact, in doing a search in the Keyword Selector Tool (now owned by Yahoo!), it produces no searches being performed for by consumers that keyword phrase at all. So it is also very easy to rank high in the Top 30 for a search phrase that few people are typing in. Yet, if one of the main goals of having a real estate web site is to get listings and make sales to visitors, then maybe an agent's time is better spent doing what they do best - listing and selling real estate - and let a professional on the "team" create and manage a web site that visitors will love and want to do business with that agent.

But as my mom used to say, "That's why Baskins and Robbins has 31 flavors!" Thanks for commenting.

May 27, 2007 05:38 AM
Brad Carroll
Dakno Marketing - Knightdale, NC
Real Estate Web Designer
I agree 100%. But as the owner of a custom web design company, I have to admit that I am a little biased. In the long run there are so many more advantages of having a custom website (the SEO advantages along make it worth it). It's not that template sites are bad, it's just that most template companies already have a good client base and would rather milk that client base instead of creating innovative solutions to get past the template hurdles.
May 28, 2007 08:54 AM
Anthony Saunchez
Campa Properties - San Bernardino, CA
How can we be of service

Now you guys have me worried!!  I mean thinking. How do I switch? or do i run my templated site along my new custom site?

Dec 20, 2007 03:38 PM
Lupe Soto-Realtor
Realty Connection Group - Los Angeles, CA
Listing, Selling Burbank Palmdale & more


thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Happy Holidays from Burbank CA

Dec 20, 2007 03:51 PM