When I first began selling real estate in late 2007, I knew nothing. Not only was I entirely new to real estate, I was also new to the area. We had moved here from the Chicago suburbs and didn't know a soul. Tom was retired and my kids were home schooled. Are you starting to get the picture?
Other than people I met through my church, I knew no one. Suffice it to say, my sphere was non-existent. As such, it wasn't going to provide me with ANY business.
I joined a big box brokerage, Keller Williams, primarily for the training. But it did offer some other services like a website. Given that funds were low, that was a real money saver for me.
The majority of my business in the first year came from floor duty but as the years began to progress, floor duty offered fewer and fewer buyers and sellers. I knew I had to find another way to secure leads. Cold-calling FSBOs and expireds wasn't for me. That free broker's website was calling my name and I learned through someone in my office that I could build out the site to rank in the search engines.
I set about doing just that. I created dozens upon dozens of content pages on that site. Those pages included buyer's content, seller's content and neighborhood pages but my most visited pages were for neighborhood pages. Internet competition was far less back in 2009. It was so much easier to get the attention of Google. That coupled with my ActiveRain blog started to get me noticed.
Although, I was getting a little bit of traffic to my broker website, I didn't have indexable IDX or forced registration. People could see all the information and listings without providing me with any contact info.
Finally, in 2011, I knew I had to make a change. By this time, I had created over a hundred pages on my broker site. And to top it all off, I was considering making a move to a different brokerage.
My decision to leave KW was precipitated by several new listings I had coming on the market. I wanted those listings to be with my new brokerage. I went into KW to let them know I was leaving and before I had returned home, my broker website was gone. All that data lost.
I quickly found a template company that offered a website, indexable IDX and CRM all in one. Once again, I quickly began building out the pages. That site had forced registration and I began to acquire leads. Not many but a few.
What I didn't recognize at the time was that the site had a limit to the number of pages I could create. Unfortunately, I didn't realize it until I was two years into building out that site. Once again, I was going to be forced to make a change.
I know what you're thinking--I should have created a Wordpress site. While I'd learned a lot over the years about populating a website, creating a website from scratch wasn't for me. I think that's a wonderful option for some. I consciously decided not to go down that road.
The biggest advantage I had this time was what I'd learned from my previous website mistakes:
1. Indexable IDX was a must. There are two types of IDX; frame-in and indexable. Frame-in is not visible to Google. You could have a hundred listings on a page but if you have "frame-in" IDX that information is invisible to Google.
Indexable IDX can actually rank in the search engines. For example, below is a frame shot for the search term "Franklin TN homes for sale with hardwood floors." As you can see, our website ranks in five spots on page one of Google for this search term. (I performed this search "incognito" as not to skew the results.) That's because not only did Google search MY content, but they searched the content provided in the MLS description by the listing agents. Each agent included hardwood floors in his description. Therefore, MY indexable website ranked for that search term.
2. Forced registration was necessary. You'll have agents argue for and against forced registration. I am a strong proponent of forced registration. Buyers and sellers can look at hundreds of content pages on my site without registering but if they want to see a listing, they'll have to pay the toll which means they'll be forced to register. I get a lot of registrations each month. I don't believe this practice hurts my business in anyway.
My biggest mistake--using a broker's website. I currently spend $205 a month on my website. A mere pittance in comparison to the business this site has brought me in the last three years. Plus, a website is a lot less expensive than direct mail or print media.
The advice I give new agents now is spend the money and develop a website first. If done right, it will be a great lead generator for you. Don't waste your time with a Broker's free website or find a less expensive option until you get on your feet.
Do your research! Find a reputable website provider who can provide proof that their agent sites are found in the Google searches. Make sure they provide indexable IDX and forced registration as an option.
My website works for me 24/7/365. Even when I'm not working, it is. It will be the best money you've ever spent.