You Have A Website, Now What?

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty Diamond Partners Inc

 

They average one a day. I'm talking about the email messages from self-styled SEO experts who tell me they have analyzed my website and they would like to help me improve it so it will score higher on Google and Yahoo. I know there are some excellent Internet consultants who do a superb job and I don't want to malign them in the process. However if you are going to tell me my website sucks and you are the solution, tell me which one of my sites you have analyzed (if any).

I have a dozen or more websites, some of which are low priority that I make no attempt to optimize for rankings. I have other sites that already rank in the top ten on most key search phrases relevant to my market. The issue I want to address is not the sloppy marketing techniques of wannabee Internet consultants. I want to address the issue of what the average real estate professional should expect from their website

Agents are bombarded from every direction with dire threats of extinction if they are not “on the Internet”. The figures show that at least 90% of today’s home buyers utilize the Internet as a part of their home search. So, if you register a domain name and use one of the free template services to create a website, will you suddenly become more successful? Will you immediately begin receiving unsolicited inquiries from prospective buyers and sellers who want to retain your services?

Of course not. So, the question remains: what does it take to leverage a personal website to increase leads, listings, and closings?

To put it as simply as possible, if you expect a personal website to make a difference in your business, you should consider at least the following.

Whether you have a template site or a custom site; whether you hire a professional to design it or do it yourself; the site needs to be user friendly and include the things prospective buyers and sellers want.  Most people don’t want loud blaring music to bombard them or glitzy pictures to flash at them without warning. They are looking for answers to their questions: How much is my house worth? How much house can I afford to buy? What homes are available in my price range? and maybe some information about the community where the houses are located. If your site offers answers to these questions in a simple and straight forward fashion, they’ll stick around. Otherwise they will click on the next site on the google list.

They want to know that your site is current. If you have pictures of homes with snow on the ground in the summer; or a calendar of events that have already passed; or a site with broken links, they’ll quickly scroll to the next site on google.

But the above presumes that they found your site in the first place. Once they find it, you want them to stick around long enough to possibly become a client and you want them to be impressed enough that they will bookmark your site and return again and again. However, you have to get them before you can keep them there. In other words you have to have a way to drive traffic to your site. There are many ways to do this. Your URL should be prominently displayed on everything you publish or distribute, business cards, brochures, print ads, yard signs, and your car. Your email signature should also include a link to your website. Preferably your URL is aligned with your brand and easily remembered.

For some, the above techniques may be sufficient but if you want your website to be a lead generator you will need a way to capture a share of the search engine traffic. You can rely on Google AdWords Pay-per-click which will guarantee that your site will show up in the Sponsored Listings section of the search results. There are those who rely entirely on PPC and apparently their results match their expectations.

Others point out that PPC builds no brand equity and has no residual impact.  They strongly advise that the only reliable way to build long-term website visibility is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This involves a combination of steps that align your website with the algorithms used by the search engines to identify which sites will receive a high ranking when a search is entered.

I have tried both and generally favor a strategic combination of both methods. SEO is not an overnight solution. It takes time even for an established site to move up to the top ten regardless of the skill of the web designer. One approach would be to use PPC while you are working on SEO and when your site begins to show up in the non-sponsored list you can ease off on the PPC side.

If you want your website to help you with leads, listings, and closings, searchers have to find your site and they must be impressed enough when they find it to stick around and/or return often.

Comments (5)

Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

Solid advice John.  I get a few of those each week also.  Thanks for the post.

Jul 20, 2010 06:32 AM
Joni Bailey
101 Main St. Realty - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

Thanks for the post. I love to learn from others. Will go check out your websites (I notice you have more than one!)  right now!

Jul 20, 2010 06:33 AM
Joni Bailey
101 Main St. Realty - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

Oops! One is a blog!

Jul 20, 2010 06:34 AM
Sharon Paxson
Compass - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

Hi John - I get these calls all the time . . . do you want to be on page 1 of Google?

Jul 20, 2010 07:04 AM
John Cleek
Keller Williams Realty Diamond Partners Inc - Olathe, KS
Ph.D. GRI e-PRO, ABR, SFR

I guess I should have listed some of my websites that I actually work to get ranked on Google.

http://www.louisburgks.net  This is the Louisburg Community Website and Community Calendar that I established before I started working real estate. I'm just in the process of adding page sponsors and site sponsors to this one. It ranks pretty high (top 10) on most of the key search phrases relevant to my business.

http://www.crownplatinum.com  This has been my primary business brand site and it has move to top 10 on a number of phrases.

 

http://www.home-buying-made-easy.com  This is the site for my books, Seven Steps to Home Ownership and others to follow.

 

Feedback would be welcome.

 

Thanks.

 

 

 

Jul 20, 2010 08:17 AM