Not all IDX providers are created equal. The IDX provider you choose can influence the way your website looks and performs for lead generation, lead capture, and more. Find out why I chose IDX Broker, and follow the comprehensive guide for making the most of your real estate website.
THE BASICS OF IDX SYSTEMS
IDX stands for the International Data Exchange, a system that enables real estate agents to show MLS property listings on their websites.
MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service, a method by which real estate agents share information about properties and cooperate on transactions for compensation.
The IDX systems are what allow the MLS properties to be displayed on real estate agent websites.
MY PREFERRED SYSTEM | IDX BROKER
I believe that IDX should be part of every real estate website. A buyer site, and also a seller site because a person selling their house tends to go in and look at houses to compare with their own. A lot of times when you're generating web leads, you might be surprised to find out that those registered "buyers" are, in reality, sellers. They're just trying to do a self-comp or a self-analysis.
It's important to have real estate listings on our seller sites so users can self-compare and navigate. Hopefully, while they're there, they'll realize that we are the specialists in that community, or in that niche. By looking at our blog, seller and buyer articles, as well as our community information, users will realize that we are offering items of value.
I like IDX Broker for a lot of the things that it does. I love the widgets and the codes that IDX Broker gives us.
I'll go into IDX Broker, and I'll have it show me all of the homes:
- Located In the zip code 89128
- Listed in the last 24 hours (or in the last three days)
- Sized 2,000 square feet
- Priced under $200,000 (or between $100,000 and $200,000)
IDX Broker saves the widget and also gives me the code. I can then use that shortcode in WordPress. That code works on other platforms like BombBomb, as well. The widget also works on my Point2Agent site and eEdge.
I generated about 2,000 leads in a two-week time span of "seller leads" that wanted to know what their home was worth. When we did the data on it, only about 40% legally owned the house. Then when we went through that 40%, nearly half had just bought their home in the last year. The users just wanted to know if they got a good deal on their house, so they weren't leads; they were registrations.
I prefer to send users to a page that prompts them to provide their information. What happens is that if somebody takes the time to type in their address, put the condition of their house, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and spells out the description, then this is a serious potential listing. This user is somebody that probably really does want to sell.
The IDX Broker property description page has the title, the description, the ability to print for printable flyers, show more listings, etc. On the right-hand side, I have a widget and a quick search, and I use these features frequently on my website. You can also take the same widget and put it in your ActiveRain blog on the right-hand side so that people can search for homes. There are all kinds of places that you can use those widget codes if you get creative. They don't work everywhere. I've found a couple of spots they don't work, but I'm pleased with where they do work.
IDX Broker imports your registrants into the dashboard. You're able to view all the leads and sort by whether or not the user saved a search. It shows if they:
- Say they have an agent
- Subscribed or did not subscribe
- Saved a property
- Scheduled to receive property updates,
- Are active, etc.
IDX Broker also has a team version. If you paid to upgrade, they also have contact routing so you can route to your buyers' agents or your sellers' agents - just like the market leader site does, so you have a lot of ability.
I am using the Platinum version of the IDX Broker. It does not work on Facebook. The widget codes don't work, but the links do. You can do a search for all homes 89128, $200,000, $300,000, and it'll give you a link. You can go onto Facebook and put that link in addition to the text, "see all homes $100,000, $200,000" and it'll work.
Anywhere that takes HTML code, you should try your IDX Broker. If you're doing some great analytics and measuring the behavior of your leads, which I highly encourage, that's all on there for you as well.
And yes, if you use my link, you get a sign-up bonus: Click here to check out IDX Broker.
BENEFITS OF CREATING A CUSTOM SEARCH IN IDX
When you write a blog or a page on your website talking about a particular area, community, school zone, etc. you have the opportunity to display properties that are unique to the area.
Here's an example of linked IDX Pages:
If you write a hyperlocal blog post titled “The Best Places to Go Swimming in Las Vegas,” you can include a list of community pools and hotels with pools.
You can create multiple IDX widgets on SEPARATE pages that you can link to from this page.
When talking about one of the community pools, include a link that says, “View properties near this community pool” or “View properties within walking distance of this community pool.” That link should lead to a page with a list of houses (pulled from the IDX) displayed from a custom search you did of homes within the area near that community pool.
This way, if the visitor is interested in buying a house in that community, they can click on that page where they can peruse listings. The user can click around and potentially register for more information.
Here's an example of displayed IDX widgets:
If you are writing a community post about a particular school, you would only need one IDX search versus having multiple links as shown in the previous example. At the bottom of the page, include a list of properties zoned for that school. You can also add a carousel on the page. A carousel is a bar that displays about three listings at a time with arrows to slide to the next group of listings.
HOW TO BUILD AN IDX WIDGET
In this example, we are going to be creating a Zip Code widget. These can be used for multiple reasons — as shown in the previous examples. This example is going to be a widget created for a Zip Code Page such as, “89508 Homes for Sale.”
These pages will often include a break-down of homes in that zip code between specific price ranges, such as:
$100,000 - $200,000
$200,000 - $300,000
Each price range will be a unique page with the IDX search results displayed for that zip code within that price range.
You will title these pages something like, “Homes for Sale in 89508 | $100,000 - $200,000.”
CREATING THE WIDGET
- Log Into IDX Broker
- Click the “Designs” Button at the top of the page
- Click “Widgets” in the grey toolbar that appears beneath the buttons
- Select “Create” from the “Widgets” menu
- Select “Showcase” — This will display the listings in rows of about 4 or 5 for as many columns as you decide to display. (Click Here for an Example)
- Select “Custom Search”
- Select “Advanced Search” A form with multiple fields will appear — keep in mind that this may look different for you than what is displayed in the video, depending on how your IDX settings are set up.
- Under “City, County, Postal Code” type in the zip code that you want to include in your search. In this example, it would be 89508. You can include multiple zip codes in your search if you would like, if you are using this search for school zones or a similar topic.
- Under “Listing Price” type in your price range. In this example, that is going to be “100,000-199,999”
- Under “Results Per Page” you can choose how many listings you want to show. We suggest 25 results, otherwise your page may look cluttered.
- Under “Sorted By” select “Newest Listings”
- Under “Preferences” (if available) select “has image” so that all listings shown have an image displayed.
- Scroll to the bottom of the form and make sure that “Open Widget in a New Window” is open. If they click a listing, it will take them off of your site and put them on your IDX site. You always want your original site open in case they get “click-happy” and lose your site — your site will still be open in that original window.
- Name Your Widget — “Zip Code | Price Range”
- Under “Sorting Order” change it to “Order of Custom List” so it does not override your original sorting preferences made in step 12.
- Under “# Listings” type in 25.
- Click “Build Widget” at the bottom to generate your widget code.
PLACING THE WIDGET ON YOUR WEBSITE
- Copy the Code from IDX Broker
- Go Back to Your Zip Code Price Range Page in WordPress that matches the search you just did in IDX Broker.
- Add a name for the widget within the body of your page, such as “Homes for Sale in 89508 | $100,000-$200,000”
- In the upper right of the body on your WordPress Site, click on the “text” tab to enable html editing.
- Beneath the text you just typed in, paste the widget code that you copied from IDX Broker. You will not see anything when you switch back over to the “visual” tab, but your widget is there and will display when you view the post/page.
- Be sure to Publish the post/page when you are done or your changes will not be visible when visiting your site.
LINKING A WIDGET TO A PIECE OF TEXT
- Go to IDX Broker
- Click “Designs”
- Click “Widgets”
- From the list at the bottom, search for the widget that you are looking for using the search bar on the right side.
- When you’ve found the widget you want, click on the pencil that appears to the right of the widget title.
- You will see a button about 1/2 way down the page that says, “View Results in a New Window.” Click that button.
- Copy the url of the page that opens
- In WordPress, highlight the group of text that you would like to link to that page.
- Click the “link” button in the toolbar above the body of the post/page.
- Paste the url and make sure the checkbox is checked for “Open in New Window”
- Publish the post/page when you are done.
LINKING YOUR ZIP CODE PRICE RANGE PAGE TO YOUR ZIP CODE BREAK-DOWN PAGE
Remember when we created the “Homes for Sale in 89508” Page that had a list of price ranges?
We need to make sure that we take the page we created, “Homes for Sale in 89508 | $100,000 - $200,000” gets linked to that page.
- Go into your “Homes for Sale in 89508” page editor.
- Highlight the price range, “$100,000 - $200,000”
- Click on the “link” button in the toolbar above the body
Beneath the fields “URL” and “Link Text” you will see a search bar. Type in “homes for sale in 89508” and select the page with the matching price range that you just created.
It will link itself — make sure that you check the “open in new tab/window” option before adding the link.
- Click “add link” and you will see your text is now linked.
- Publish/Update to save changes.
IDX BROKER CUSTOM SORTING OF VIEW ALL LISTINGS
You can customize IDX Broker widgets to view highest to lowest, lowest to highest, or by newest listings. However, the search results page reverts to default settings. To make your widgets and search results match in sorting, follow the steps below:
- Find your widget in IDX Broker
- Click "Edit Widget", the pencil icon on the right
- Click "Edit by Hand", center tab at the top.
- At the end of the HTML code, type in: &srt=newest, or to sort by price, enter the code &srt=pra
HOW TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR IDX BROKER REGISTRATION FORM
Our goal is to generate and capture more leads when visitors land on our websites to view properties.
Your website can change based on the IDX provider that you choose. IDX providers function differently. Here are some of the various features influenced by IDX providers:
- How you save your favorites
- How you request more information
- How the photos look
- How the photo galleries work
- How customizable the templates are
I chose IDX Broker because of its ability to customize features, including the registration settings. Here are the steps for customizing your registration settings in IDX Broker:
- Click "Leads"
- Click "Lead Registration Preferences
- Click "Advanced" (second tab, top left)
Next, you can edit or add fields. But remember, the more fields you have, the less likely users are to register. I do, however, require a phone number, and here's why.
My team created a solution to a pain-point I was having. Although I was fabulous at generating leads, following up with those leads could be time-consuming, frustrating, and non-fruitful. To solve that problem, we created Autopilot ISA, an automated inside sales agent. I have learned that more people respond to text messages than any other form of communication. For that reason, Autopilot ISA communicates with clients in engaging conversations until such time that human interaction is required. Because I use Autopilot ISA, I do require a phone number from registrants.
When you edit or add fields to your IDX Broker registration settings, you have the option to make fields required or optional. You can either request registration or force registration.
Forced registration is where the viewer cannot access the information they sought without entering their information. Requested registration gives the user the option to register, or the ability to opt out and continue to the page they want to visit.
You can manage forced or requested registration on:
- Search pages
- Map search pages
- Results pages
- Details pages
- Photo gallery
Although IDX Broker offers a standard default registration message, I love the ability to create a custom message. When you select "custom message" you have access to a wysiwyg editor. Wysiwyg stands for "what you see is what you get." But the wysiwyg editor also has HTML text options for including additional code, such as embed codes for YouTube videos.
Yes! You can include YouTube videos in the custom message for your forced registration! Customizing your IDX Broker registration creates an informative and inviting registration form rather than a bold, "red flag" that makes lead capture obvious.
HOW TO GET REAL ESTATE LEADS WITH IDX PAGES AND SEO
In this video, I'll show you how to build simple IDX pages that drive organic search engine traffic. Buyers go to Google often and search phrases like "homes for sale in las vegas with a pool" or "gated communities in henderson". Community pages are among the highest performing lead generation strategies. You can dominate search in your area with this simple technique and time on task.
WHAT IS A COMMUNITY PAGE?
A community page is a page within your website that showcases particular properties by location, price, features, zip codes, school zones, and other specifications. To create a community page, an individual set of criteria is created within your IDX provider to plug in to your website for every type of property using widgets.
WHAT’S A WIDGET?
A widget is a bit of HTML code that you place into your website that pulls in the results from your IDX provider on your website. For this reason, community pages are also referred to as widget pages.
HOW IS A COMMUNITY PAGE OR WIDGET PAGE DIFFERENT FROM A WEBSITE SEARCH?
Many real estate websites offer the ability for a viewer to search properties by price, feature, location, etc. While this is wonderful for the viewer who is already on your website, the search feature has absolutely no benefit for organic SEO, or search engine optimization. In other words, when a viewer uses Google or other search engines, your properties are not revealed in the search engine results page, or SERP.
HOW TO USE COMMUNITY PAGES FOR SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
By creating individual community pages with clear titles, search engines are then able to recognize that page in your website as relative to a user’s search. For example, if you create a widget page with the title tag, “6 Bedroom House in Las Vegas with Swimming Pool and 3 Car Garage”, and then create a widget that displays properties matching that criteria, when a user searches the web for similar properties, your page may be displayed.
A title tag is the title of your page. That title is what search engines recognize when users search the web for real estate. If your title simply stated, “Homes for Sale in Las Vegas”, it would cast a wide net without capturing the attention of a user (or a search engine) who is looking for homes by price, location, etc.
As an added bonus, the more often users find and click on your link in a search engine results page, the search engines recognize your page as relevant to that search, adding authority to your page for higher search engine rankings.
EXAMPLES OF COMMUNITY PAGE CRITERIA:
- Las Vegas Gated Communities Homes for Sale
- A $400,000 House in Vegas
- Real Estate for Sale in Eagle Rock Summerlin
- Las Vegas Homes Under $89,000
- Henderson Vegas House for Sale Under $200,000
THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITY PAGES
The key to creating successful community pages is in being able to recognize how users search the web for real estate. By recognizing how users search the web, you are then able to establish yourself as an expert in your industry to creating pages specifically to match those searches.
By using a resource such as clicky.com, you can track search queries that led a viewer to your website. By reviewing the search phrases viewers are actually using, you can create title tags and widgets to match those queries.
NO CONTENT REQUIRED
Although it may be good practice and a boost to search engine relevance, it’s not necessary to include content on your community pages. Some real estate agents do provide short community descriptions up to about 300 words to entice the viewer. However, if a community page is properly set up with appropriate title tag and relative criteria in the widget, additional content is not required.
THE NUTS AND BOLTS: HOW TO CREATE A COMMUNITY PAGE
Using IDX Broker as an example, click:
You’ll then see a list of fields listed by features. If you don’t see a desired field, you can add fields by clicking advanced settings.
An option is also available for the number of rows to be displayed to the viewer. A single row reveals a single property. A double row shows two properties, each a little smaller. A third row reduces the size of the properties, but shows all three in a row on a website page.
Next, select how many property results you’d like displayed on a single page in your website. A good practice is to select 25 properties. By selecting 25 properties, you’re giving the viewer a healthy dose of what’s available, but still encouraging a click through to view additional properties.
The more often a viewer clicks links (takes action) on your website, the more relevance the search engines apply to that website.
Select each of the features that apply to the specific community page you’re creating. Name the widget accordingly (not visible to users), and then copy the html code provided.
Next, open the control panel (or back end) of your website. Using WordPress as an example, you’d create a new post, apply an appropriate title tag, and then copy the code into the post.
Take note in WordPress that there are two tabs for content. One tab says, “Visual”, the other tab says, “text”. When entering html code onto your page, enter the code in the tab that says, “text”. When you click back on the “visual” tab, you’ll see a small media icon. However, when you publish the post, viewers will see a list of homes matching the criteria you selected in your widget.
HOW MANY COMMUNITY PAGES ARE NECESSARY?
Here’s the deal: Theres no such thing as too many community pages. The more community pages you create, the better your results will be. You may choose to add the creation of a handful of community pages into your allotted lead generation time each day. Some real estate agents have hundreds upon hundreds of community pages, and continue adding on a daily basis for best results.
WHAT CONTENT SHOULD I ADD TO MY IDX PAGES?
When thinking about content for your IDX pages, think like a home-buyer new to the area. If you were moving to X location, what would you need to know? Although the listings are the nuts and bolts of the IDX pages, content can help -- can help the search engine rankings, and can help the consumer by providing value. Although viewers do want valuable information, they don't necessarily want to commit to a long read or a sales pitch. Try to create a community page around 300 words that include some or all of the following:
- Weather conditions
- Travel - public transportation, freeway access, etc.
- Schools - a list of schools zoned for the area
- Shops & Amenities
- Parks & Recreation
The IDX provider you choose, and the customization you do or do not include, change the way your real estate website performs with lead generation and lead capture. Ballen Brands works closely with IDX Broker so we can be your support system. Get in touch today at (702)917-0755 or shoot as an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can become your lead generation team.