Your Business Website(s): Self-Hosted or Buy Them Canned?

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Here's a question I get a few times a week... "Should I do my own blog on my own web space or should I buy a "canned" real estate website?

Well, that depends on what you want your site to do? Most "canned" real estate sites are good, when it comes to having a web presence, and interfacing with your MLS and IDX -- but sometimes they lack flexibility. Let me explain.

The job of an effective website is get referrals -- plain and simple. Your future paycheck depends on how many referrals (hot or cold) you get on a daily basis. You want someone to raise their hand and ask for additional information on your site. This puts them in your paycheck pipline. But if you don't ask them multiple times on your site or make it easy for them to find and give you their contact information, you are ignoring them!

I have a friend that is a Entomologist, and she has a PhD in the study of bugs. (she loves her work and loves creepy crawly things even more!) She would think I was CRAZY to do a field study catching bugs & butterflies using a small guppy net. She would instead recommend a large butterfly net -- the bigger the better! Now, if I had 10 or 15 people out there helping me, each with a large net, I would get a better sample collection of bugs and butterflies! The same goes for websites...

Here's what I suggest to my coaching clients - Have a network of self-hosted branded and unbranded websites. I recommend at least 10 websites.

Okay, let's cover your first question -- Branded vs Unbranded. A branded site is one that has your name and photo all over it. An unbranded site is a site that Does Not have your name and photo all over it! "Are you crazy Jeffery!" -- well, that's what I hear sometimes! Then I reply, "I have seen agents jumpstart their business by 300% by adding this to their marketing plan."That gets their attention, then I can continue....

You have to satisfy two "people" out there with your websites, Google and your next client. If you miss the mark on either one, well you might as well as be a wallflower at the school dance -- you're not going to get noticed, let alone fill your dance card! A person (your future client) is slightly, maybe subconsciously threatened when they visit an official real estate agent's BRANDED site. Don't get me wrong, you need both! I suggest a 50/50 MIX of both.

Now let's dig into the actual websites. Google LOVES people that make blog entries on a frequent basis. The more you blog, the more they crawl your site and index your information! Thus, higher rankings on Google. (ahh, the games we have to play with Google) I don't know about you, but I would like to sit down and write once a month and get it over with, than have to write once a day or once a week!! Here is where you take control of the POWER of the self hosted Wordpress site. There are "plugins" that increase the functionality of a Wordpress site. By using the right combination of plugins you can basically automate a lot of things. One of the things that is a snap to automate is the the timed release of your articles (or "drip") on to your blog. Google and your future client sees that you post every few days at random times -- Google indexes and your client thinks your site is fresh! (and you aren't a slave to your website!) Everyone is happy! This is the BIG ring or loop that starts building our butterfly net -- now let's catch some butterflies with an effective net!

Ok, now your client is on your site -- now what? Do you have an opt-in box on your website? If you aren't ASKING for the referral, are you going to get it? NO! If you just ask once, how many are you going to get? Maybe a few. Here's another couple of plugins that I suggest you add to you site. First, you absolutely need this plugin....put it at the top of your list. Here's what it does. You spend time writing an engaging article, why not put a small box at the bottom of EACH article that says, "If you enjoyed this article, I'll send you weekly updates to your INBOX. Just enter your email below." Folks, if you don't ask for the referral, you are loosing money and turning away business.... Ask, Ask and Ask, again!

Here's my #2 & #3 plugin pick that will boost opt-ins to your site by 100%. Ever have someone ask you if you want a piece of gum? Well, you weren't thinking about gum, nor did you want any gum at the time, but YES gimmie that gum, now that you mention it! In fact if you don't have a piece of gum, my jaws are going to be thinking about that piece of gum ALL day! Same thing with your website. If you have a discrete timed pop-up AND a slide-up (from the bottom) ad that offers good, relevant information, people will raise their hand and give you their email address, and enter your paycheck pipeline! This is a proven fact through many, many split-tests between sites with a pop-up and slide up ad and ones without. Big net or BIGGER net?

"Okay, Okay, this sounds good -- but 10 or more sites?" Here's what I tell my clients... You serve the people in your town correct? Would you drive to the next town over to take a listing or sell a house? "Well, sure!" How about the other surrounding towns? "Of course, I want to dominate this whole surrounding area!" Great answer! Now let's use the search engines and geo targeted websites to help us bring you in 10+ times the referrals that just one canned site would bring you. You see, Google (the 900 pound gorilla of search engines) has moved toward geo-targeted searches. When you search for something, Google recognizes you by your IP address and serves up things that are close by you. That is the direction that Google has been headed lately, and, well, that is the direction we should head also! So here's the plan I teach my clients...

I tell them to pick 4 or 5 (or more) local subdivisions, suburbs or areas of town or even small towns around in the area you serve or, frankly, want to dominate and collect a paycheck from. Then build a branded and an unbranded site (that's 2 sites) that features keyword rich articles that tell of the local flavor or area of town. (keywords...write that down) Then sprinkle that article with photos that have captions & names, not numbers on them. (think Google images here & another plugin) Toss in a few videos (another plugin) of the town or area and you have a site that Google is going to move to the front of the line! (oh, yea -- post those videos on YouTube, the #2 search engine, also owned by Google -- duh!) And you will be at the top of the list when someone is searching about that subdivision, suburb, area of town or town.

So there you have it -- either you can go around swinging that little guppy net frantically chasing down and missing that butterfly, or you can get your "helpers" to systematically sweep the field and catch 10+ times as many bugs and butterflies -- and have them delivered to you each and every day! Chase the referrals or get them to come to you, the choice is yours.

So, you can see how if you did this one technique alone, you could double, triple or quadruple your productivity couldn't you? So, when are you going to start doing this? Nice!

Next week I have another webinar scheduled. The last one was shy of about 6 people from being full, so register now before you forget. We will be chatting about The Top 3 Things that you can implement today that will Jump-start Your real estate business. I will dive in and expand on what I have shared today in this blog post. I will name, names on the specific plugins that you need on your self-hosted Wordpress blogs.

If you are in the real estate industry and are interested in boosting your business an extra 300% then please register for this free webinar. (yes, this also works on home staging, mortgage loan, and other RE businesses) Here's the details...

Date: Tuesday, March 15th from 12 noon - 1:00 pm Clear your schedule and get in on this one!
I am limited to only 100 seats at this webinar
, so please register early.
Here's the link:

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As a Real Estate Agent, my main focus is helping others learn how to market themselves and their properties using online and offline methods, thus increasing sales.


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Mary Jo Quay
Remax Results - Edina, MN
I Move You Home

I have way too many holes in my net, just signed up for next week. I have no idea how anyone would hand 10 websites.  Maybe there are holes in my thinking too. 

Mar 09, 2011 02:22 PM #1
Brenda Whitman, Live in Laramie Real Estate
Live in Laramie Real Estate, Laramie, Wyoming - Laramie, WY
Broker/Co-Owner, Laramie, Wyoming

It's so much to comprehend!  But I know if I keep reading your posts that it will start to sink in......  Thanks!

Mar 09, 2011 02:59 PM #2
Jeffery Newton
Redlands, CA

@Mary Jo -- great! thanks for signing up early.  Marketing is a tough subject to master.  Toss in internet marketing and things get confusing-real confusing!  The trick is to set it up correctly once, (put in the hard work), then it is really easy to do light, simple maintenance after that - and still get a steady stream of referrals.

Here's Zig Zigler explaining it better than I can with "Prime the Pump" - 

@Brenda -- sorry if I laid all of it out in one big chunk.  But in a 1 page nutshell, that is the secret sauce for getting a steady stream of refferals from the internet.  I have been in the profession of marketing for a long time (more than I would like to admit, hehe) and on the internet since 1994, so maybe I just got on a roll and kept typing....sorry!   :-)   If you have any questions, just shoot me an email and I'll do my best to help you out.  Oh, and sign up for the webinar!

Mar 09, 2011 05:10 PM #3
Drew Meyers
Geek Estate - Seattle, WA
Drew Meyers

10 sites is quite a process to manage. I think most agents would get overwhelmed with trying to generate content for 10 blogs. Landing pages on one primary site for each hyper local area could accomplish much of what Google is looking for -- and then you're focusing all your seo link building on 1 domain rather than 10. Anyway, it could work for some people, but I wouldn't recommend that strategy for most agents unless they have someone managing their web presence for them.

Mar 13, 2011 05:09 PM #4
Jeffery Newton
Redlands, CA

@Drew -- I can understand your concerns....  Most agents would have trouble managing 10+ REGULAR blogs.  The key is in the setup and streamlining the content posting.  Self-hosted Wordpress blogs are very flexible and a very powerful tool when SET UP CORRECTLY. A generic WP install is just an empty canvas -- a WP blog that has effective plugins installed and quality content dripped throughout the month, well, that is something you can just sit back and admire.  Sure you have to perform monthly maintenance tasks, but it depends on what the purpose of the site is.  Have a forum for snappy & witty conversation or generate real estate leads?  Remember it's not about YOU, it's all about the CUSTOMER! Take the "I" out of any website and sales presentation, and you have buyers that buy.

Mar 14, 2011 01:01 PM #5
Cindy Lindgren
Cindy Lindgren, The Landlady - Ukiah, CA
Mendocino County Real Estate

Hi Jeffery,

I keep picking up more and more information as I find blog posts like yours and balance it with what I know already and what I read next, refining the dance I do on the web.  I have 4 websites now, two are just parked (with good meta-information) and pointing to my main site.  And I have WordPress and AR blogs.  I am not always mindful of Google's interest in keywords and content when I'm writing.  I never wrote, or sang, or painted exactly what the teacher wanted! Discipline, discipline.  Thanks for the helpful ideas.  I'll take a look at my web presence again.

Mar 24, 2011 09:33 AM #6
Jeffery Newton
Redlands, CA

@Cindy -- Thanks for reading the post.  I almost took the post down, as it seems a little overwhelming to "do it all" on the web and still take care of the RE business.  But that is (in a nutshell) how to set up your sites to bring in referrals. 

If you need a second set of eyes to look at your site(s) and make a few suggestions, let me know.  I also have a few favorite wordpress plugins that I can recommend that help to increase conversions to your optin list and automate a few tasks.  Shoot me an email.

Mar 24, 2011 10:34 AM #7
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Jeffrey-I just email you regarding your up coming webinars, sounds like good stuff. Thanks for the information.

Mar 25, 2011 12:45 PM #8
Jeffery Newton
Redlands, CA

Stay tuned, I am completely revamping and re-doing my website  I plan on having a lot of goodies available for download!

I have a great webinar planned -- I have 2 kids to deliver to college this week and next.  I'll get things scheduled after that!  :-)

Apr 05, 2011 10:08 AM #9
Rachell Lara & A List Properties
eXp Realty / 619.316.7445 - San Diego, CA
A List Properties - San Diego Neighborhood Experts

Thanks Jeffery, even though the article is a year old, still found it helpful.

Mar 28, 2012 03:41 PM #10
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