Last Updated on April 9, 2017You’re a real estate professional in the 21st century, which means a website is a marketing necessity. But like most agents, you’re busy working with clients and don’t have time to keep up with all the latest and greatest “web marketing” strategies. Lucky for you, the folks at iHouse Web Solutions put together a “top 10 list” of proven, easy and effective strategies to turn your website into a profit center instead of a sunk cost. You can use these strategies on your current site or to start a brand new real estate website. Remember, a good website is a “destination” for homebuyers and homesellers that they bookmark and refer back to for helpful information. It provides the resources BUYERS want and need for home searching, and gives SELLERS information on their home value and how you can help. Then, it converts these visitors into leads, aids in the conversion process from lead to client, and gives clients the tools they need to complete their transaction. The strategies presented below are divided into 2 categories – Lead Generation and Lead Conversion, because even a destination website is pointless if it fails to achieve these two main objectives. PART 1 of this two part article will focus on Lead Generation for the first 6 of the “top 10” strategies (PART 2 will be closely behind):
How To Generate Real Estate Leads Online90% of the visitors to your real estate website will want to search for homes. Buyers will search for their dream home and sellers will want to keep tabs on home values in their neighborhood. This means you’re losing business if all you have is your phone number with a one-liner like: “contact me for current home prices.” If you want leads from the web, you need to give visitors to your site something valuable for them to exchange their contact information. Since the #1 thing visitors want is information about homes for sale, it’s critical to your web marketing success that your site has a tool to search the MLS listings right from your website. This is known as IDX search. IDX tools like IDXPro keep YOUR visitors on YOUR website, brand the MLS to you, and have numerous ways of converting traffic to leads. If you do not use IDX and instead are linking to REALTOR.com or using a free search link provided by your MLS, you may want to think twice about funneling visitors to those pages. Instead of taking them to the best lead conversion section of your website, you would be guiding them OFF your website, to someone else! Once you have an IDX search feature on your website, how do get visitors to notice and use it?
INTERNET STRATEGY #1: Add Your MLS Search Option to the HOMEPAGEBy including a homepage search, you prevent people from quickly bouncing off your site because they didn’t see what they were looking for. You’re also demonstrating how useful and easy-to-use your website is – two very important qualities for Internet users. The difficulty of incorporating an MLS Search module on your website will vary depending on your individual site. With most template website providers, this is not an option. For custom web developers, it is possible as long as you can acquire the listing data from your MLS board. We recommend you add an MLS search option “above the fold” – which means on the top part of your homepage so a visitor doesn’t have to scroll down to see it.
INTERNET STRATEGY #2: Get Your MLS Search Option NoticedAdding a search module to your homepage is important, but you should also do something to make it stand out. It’s not enough to include it as an option in the navigation. Instead, include an image or text that points out your search so visitors can’t miss it. It’s also important to channel your visitors to your MLS search option on every page of your website. Guiding visitors through your site will improve their experience and show them that you understand their needs. Your website visitors are interested in real estate, which is why they’re on your website to begin with… so don’t be shy with your MLS search option.
INTERNET STRATEGY #3: Use Custom Search Links To Grab AttentionIf you use an IDX search tool, another great way to catch visitors’ attention is to have links that take them directly to the exact listings they would be searching for, without them actually having to do the search. How is that possible? By using Custom Search Links, which are basically links to “saved searches.” Let’s say you notice that 7 out of 10 of your homebuyers search for a home that’s 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and under $300,000. Why not feature those listings up front? This will catch the attention of visitors and get them to stay on your site. Adding MLS search and Custom Search Links to your real estate website is a good start, but what else might visitors find interesting enough to contact me or register on my website? Do you remember our objective? To become the “destination” website in your local area. Here’s a powerful way to engage visitors, before you add a lot of content to your site…
INTERNET STRATEGY #4: Add WIDGETS To Your Web PagesIn the online world, a widget is a small application or piece of dynamic content that can easily be placed into a web page. Here are two main categories of widgets for real estate websites: A. Listing Display and Search widgets are available from a variety of sources, but the most prominent are Trulia and Zillow. These two websites have become wildly popular among homebuyers, sellers, and real estate professionals nationwide. Not only do they offer their own listing database search, but they have their own forums and communities and dozens of widgets to choose from. If your listings can be found on Zillow or Trulia, you can use their widgets to add slideshows, quick listing search boxes, lists of recently sold homes, and much more. To learn more about these widgets, visit these web pages: https://www.trulia.com/tools/ https://www.zillow.com/webtools/widgets/ B. Market Conditions widgets can also be used to enhance your website content. For example, you can also use a Zillow widget to provide home values, interactive polls and quizzes, and fun things like a list of expensive homes that will attract homebuyers and sellers to your site. Another resource to check out if you’re looking for the perfect widget is Widgetbox, which has a ton of widgets to choose from, including many mortgage and loan calculators you can quickly add to your site. WARNING: Keep the following in mind when adding external widgets to your website — always have a plan! Never add widgets to your website just for the sake of having widgets. Think about what you’re trying to achieve with the widget and how it will help you reach that goal. Are you trying to enhance the value of your site to visitors so they use the widget on your site? Or, are you giving them an option to leave your site? Be careful of implementing a widget that will just link back to their source website and may “steal” your website visitors out from under you! Getting back to our main goal — distinguishing yourself from other REALTORS® in your area by creating a destination website requires unique, original content. The operative question is…
“How do I get visitors to MY website instead of another agent’s site in my area?”If every other agent in your area has a simple website with no unique content, they won’t get a high search engine ranking and their websites will be indistinguishable to homebuyers. By offering information and opinions that are thoughtful, knowledgeable, and relevant your services will stand out. This type of unique content can be found in many forms, from blog posts, original videos, and links to other relevant resources. This leads us to the next set of strategies that focus on how to quickly create ORIGINAL CONTENT for your website…
INTERNET STRATEGY #5: Create Unique Articles On Your Web PagesTo show up in a search when a local buyer or seller searches for “[city] homes” or “[city] condos” … you need to provide quality information about your local real estate market that’s unique and relevant to the most common search terms. For most real estate professionals, this means brainstorming the main keyword phrases you’d like to have a high ranking for, and then plan a “content strategy” to create unique editorial content (articles) around a handful of key search phrases. Side note: Here’s a past real estate marketing article about this topic of keyword research. Once you have your primary keyword phrases, you will be creating and writing the content yourself focused on those topics. Sound intimidating? It probably does, but it doesn’t have to be all that difficult. Let’s cover how to get started. Content that focuses on your specialties, local area, and expert knowledge are a good place to start. Here’s a list of broad topics that should help guide your thinking, but don’t hesitate to get creative! After you’ve decided what to cover, it’s time to start writing. As you write, think about your target audience – potential buyers or sellers in your area. How does the content you are writing help them with their home buying or selling experience? Be specific, including lots of details and examples.
INTERNET STRATEGY #6: Add VIDEO To Your Web PagesHere are 4 reasons you should be using video on your website:
- Online Video creates a personal touch. When visitors feel like they know you and like you, you’ll have an easier time getting them to work with you.
- Online Video is exciting! It’s easy to stand out from the crowd with an interesting and interactive website.
- Online Video indicates expert knowledge of both real estate and the Internet that will extend to helping the visitor buy or sell a home.
- Online Video increases visitor traffic to your website. It’s a simple truth: video is a great way to get more visitors from the search engines and from searches directly in YouTube, which has over 300 million users – many from your local area – searching for information every day.
At this point you may be saying…“OK, I’ve learned about adding unique content in the form of articles and videos to my web pages to get a high ranking for local real estate searches, but I’m still not clear on how I get people to my site??” Here are 6 proven ways to get visitors (traffic) to your site without spending a lot of money:
- Print the URL of your website on all letters, postcards, and business cards
- Include the URL of your website in your email signature
- Create offers for free MLS searches or free reports in your monthly email newsletter
- Create a postcard campaign to announce your new or improved site to your past clients, friends, family members, and strategic partners
- Word of mouth — if you provide great content on your site, people will tell their friends
- Links to your site — again, if you create valuable information on your site, others will link to your website opening up new streams of unique visitors