10 Expert Real Estate Website Optimization Ideas for Agents
By Matthew Bushery
About Website Design
Here’s the plain truth about your real estate website: It’s a never-finished project. Setting it up, adding some blog posts, throwing together some neighborhood pages, and including your contact and brand info is just the start of what is an ongoing real estate marketing activity.
What’s required to see pronounced success with your site — lots of visitors daily and tons of leads generated monthly — is a concerted focus on enhancing your web presence routinely: publishing fresh content that enlightens and advises your home buyer and seller audience and keeps them coming back for more.
Discover 10 aspects of your real estate website you need to work on and improve consistently to get the most out of it below, where we use a Placester site as an example.
1) Prominently display listing photos, visual branding collateral, and contact info atop your homepage.
Your website homepage is the first digital interaction the bulk of your audience will have with you, so make sure it offers every detail they would want and need to know about your brand, including your agency name (ideally through a stunning logo), your social media accounts (through social sharing buttons), and your contact information. Moreover, you need to constantly update the photos featured on your homepage — ones that ideally showcase your latest listings if you’re a seller’s agent or the most notable (a.k.a. visually appealing or interesting) homes for sale in your area if you’re a buyer’s agent.
When optimizing your homepage, think of it as introducing yourself at a networking event to someone you’ve never met before. It’s your first opportunity to explain your brand in a clear and concise fashion, so you need to make the most of this chance and relay all of the important info you want the world to know. Get some of your friends, colleagues, or associates to look at your homepage and ask them if they get a complete picture of your brand’s value proposition and details: who you are, what you do/sell, where you’re located, how they can get in touch with you, where they can learn more about you, etc.
- Frequently change listing photos on your website’s homepage to keep it fresh and ensure it features the most attractive homes.
- Make sure all types of contact information — phone number, email address, and social media accounts — are listed atop the page.
- Put yourself in your audience’s shoes: Would they know who you are just by looking at your homepage? If not, adjust it accordingly.
2) Show off the most noteworthy real estate listings in your market — those you represent and/or otherwise.
Internet Data Exchange (IDX) integration, which allows you to add listings in your area via your local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), is paramount for your real estate website. Not only do you need to spotlight the latest, most intriguing homes for sale on your homepage, but it’s also best to have a listings page that shows all of the properties on the market nearby, yours and others’, as well as put together area and community pages that give the lowdown on specific streets, neighborhoods, and areas of your market and feature listings in those areas (more on how to do that below).
- Integrate with IDX to display the most recent and relevant homes for sale on the market in your community.
- Your homepage must exhibit at least a handful of listings, but don’t forget to spread them across your site as well.
- Visuals can significantly aid your click totals for featured listings, but property info needs to accompany each one.
3) Tease your blog by showcasing a small sample of your most recent articles.
In the age of the internet, one thing that can really separate you from the other agents in your market is content. No longer are the days when 300-word blog posts stuffed with half-relevant keywords can distinguish yourself from the pack and help your website make headway with search engine optimization (SEO). Instead, you need a robust editorial calendar for each month that includes lots of interesting, in-depth content your home buyer and seller audience will want to click on, consume, and — in turn — make them come back for more.
By teasing some of this detailed content on your homepage, you can drive traffic to your real estate blog: the place where all of your articles, ebooks, infographics, and other long-form content should exist. Just as with your homepage photos, though, you need a fresh stream of content created routinely so you can feature new blog posts there often. Visitors who come back to your site’s homepage after visiting a couple of weeks earlier only to find the same articles from months earlier will find out you’re not providing regular articles, market updates, and other revealing content — and then they’ll seek out agents who do offer this content.
- Do you want to be perceived as the all-knowing agent for your market? Create content and tease it on your homepage!
- Leave short, keyword-stuffed blog posts back in the early ‘00s where they belong. Craft consistent, comprehensive, compelling content.
- Ensure you have a fresh stream of content to share with your visitors and promote on your homepage to keep them coming back.
4) A contact form on every page is a must to capture lots of home buyer and seller leads.
Only after the first few months your website is live and you’ve conducted the necessary promotion and implemented the necessary SEO strategy can you truly understand which pages work best (generate the most traffic and leads), which need work, and which need to go altogether. One thing that needs to happen from the first day your site is operational, though, is to place a contact form on each and every page. This constant element on each page will give you a crystal-clear picture as to which pages are performing up to your standards, enhancing your prospecting goals, and loading up your customer relationship management (CRM) database with new real estate leads to nurture with your drip marketing.
Think of it this way: If you include one of these forms on every site page and one page generates far more leads from the form than any other page, you can take a deeper dive into what makes that page so special and, eventually, mimic its layout, content, and/or form location (among other possible factors) on other pages to try to replicate that success. And just like that, you’ve performed one A/B test for your site — one of about a dozen real estate website experiments you should conduct to ensure it’s working the way you want and need it to.
- Contact forms offer one of the best means for you to collect new real estate lead information and add new prospects to your CRM database.
- Add one of these contact forms to every page and, over time, you’ll be able to determine on which pages it works best.
- You won’t get many contact form fillouts if you don’t promote each page and optimize them for search, so plan your site marketing accordingly.
5) Spotlight social proof on every page to earn your audience’s trust.
Roughly nine in 10 consumers read online reviews from other consumers to determine the quality of a business and whether they should buy from that business. That means reviews and testimonials from your clients, case studies of those clients, and even video interviews with those clients need to be conspicuous components of your real estate website. While including the basic info about your business atop your homepage and on your about page is crucial, so too are these highly convincing forms of social proof, so don’t forget to incorporate them across your site, chiefly via their own dedicated landing page featuring feedback from past buyers and sellers whom you’ve worked with.
Securing positive comments for your agency generally requires outreach on your part. It’s a rarity for many agents to have clients immediately sign their closing papers and say, “Now I’ll give you a 1,000-word review!” So, implement a marketing plan following each deal you close to get in touch with your clients and ask them (politely) for some praise for your work in the form of either an in-person interview (one that can be recorded), a phone conversation, or an email exchange. Assuming they’re happy with your help, your buyer and seller clients should be willing to give you at least a few-sentence review that you can use across multiple marketing channels. If you can get longer responses, though, do so.
- Consumers — including home buyers and sellers — want to see lots of positive reviews for agents, so get as many as possible for your site.
- Remember that reviews can come in many forms — testimonials, case studies, video reviews, etc. — so get a variety to promote online.
- Few clients (if any) will come to you to offer their insights about your brand. Reach out to them shortly after closing to request a review.
6) Share many IDX listings — and intricate search options for them — on your website.
As noted, your homepage is just one of a few key places to list homes for sale in your market on your website. A dedicated listings page can allow you to show dozens (or even hundreds) of listings nearby in whichever order you prefer. What’s more is area and community pages that emphasize the pros of living in different neighborhoods, developments, and regions within your market can feature select listings from those locales as well, making it easier for those interested in moving there to know what types of properties are listed in and around them.
Despite the myriad ways in which you can present homes for sale on your site, though, few visitors will stick around if they don’t have the option to filter down listing results and search for property features and keywords related to the types of residences they’re looking for. Natural language and map search along with dropdown search functions for things like neighborhood, dimensions, and home features greatly aid home buyers’ online search, as 69% of home shoppers who take action on a real estate agent website start searching for listings by entering a local housing market term. If your current site doesn’t offer these search options, find out if you can add them to your site. If you can’t, it may be time to ditch it and move to another provider.
- A page that features all listings in your market — ones you represent and from other agents — affords buyer visitors a great user experience.
- The best real estate websites offer plenty of search functionality, so if yours doesn’t offer numerous filtering options, adjust your site accordingly.
- More than two-thirds of home buyers take action on agents’ websites during their property search, but they won’t stick around if it’s not simple to do so.
7) Is the website for your entire agency? Ensure bios are posted for each team member.
Some agencies prefer to have one uniform website for all of their team members, with individual pages for each agent that acts as an abridged version of their own real estate website. This is certainly fine, as each agency has its own unique online marketing plan. What needs to be included on this site, however, are exhaustive bios for each agent. Home buyers and sellers looking for representation won’t be able to discern which agent is best for them if they don’t receive any background info on each one, including niche real estate specialties, sales history, and — yes — even personality traits (one of the not-as-often-discussed factors in agent selection for would-be buyers and sellers).
Don’t be afraid to get personal with these bios. If you run your agency (or at least your agency’s site), ask each agent to give you 10 facts about themselves you can include on the bio page, along with a few testimonials from past clients and links to their personal social media accounts. Additionally, ensure each agent has a professional headshot that can be included on this page. Your best bet is to hire a professional real estate photographer to snap shots of each agent in one session so every headshot has the same aesthetic — something that can greatly aid the firm’s overall branding on top of those for each individual agent.
- If you decide to have an agency site instead of individual ones for each team member, just be sure to include an in-depth bio page.
- In addition to relaying professional accolades and social proof, incorporate some personal details and factoids for staff members.
- Getting agent headshots taken by a pro photographer is arguably the best means to brand the agency as a whole and each agent.
8) Blogging is the cornerstone of any brand’s digital marketing strategy, so get writing!
If you’ve been to any big-time real estate conference, you’ve likely been to at least a session or two on the merits and benefits of moving your real estate marketing plan online — specifically, by setting up a website and writing routine blog posts of interest to local home buyers and sellers. What you may not have learned in these sessions, though, is there are different stages of the sales cycle (or, in digital speak, the inbound funnel) for which you need to create content.
Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) marketing is how you get your audience “in the door,” so to speak: content that explains broad real estate concepts and enlightens your audience on the ins and outs of your market (from where to get the best burgers to the hottest companies to set up shop in town). Middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) content, meanwhile, gives general advice on home buying and selling (especially as it pertains to your market) and gives advice on things like how prospective buyers can get mortgages and sellers can prep their homes for listing. And finally, there’s bottom-of-the-funnel (you guessed it: BOFU) marketing — the last stage that more overtly pushes buyers and sellers to make their final choices pertaining to their particular housing decision. Mostly, this content should aim to show your audience the benefits of working with you (e.g. a blog post featuring an interview with a client who noted their happiness with how quickly you sold their residence).
- Blogging may be a scary proposition for your online marketing aspirations, but it’s essential to creating a successful digital presence.
- Each stage of the inbound funnel necessitates a different brand of real estate content marketing collateral, so plan plenty for each one.
- Understand what your buyer and seller audiences want to hear about based on where they’re at in the funnel to flesh out your editorial calendar.
9) Testimonials, reviews, and case studies deserve their own dedicated page on your site.
Though these forms of social proof can also be developed as posts for your real estate agent blog, any testimonial, review, or case study for your business needs to be comprehensive, paint the picture of what it’s like working with you, and have its own dedicated landing page on your site. One page where all of the accolades for and accomplishments of your company can be prominently displays can go a long way in convincing site visitors (including soon-to-be and existing leads) you have a track record of completing deals for buyers and sellers that helps them accomplish one of their biggest life endeavors.
Lots of legwork is needed to secure this promotional brand collateral before you can focus on setting up the page, of course, so make sure you have the processes in place to get feedback from those you work with following your deals with them. One means to do this is via your drip real estate email marketing. Whenever a deal is closed, you can add that client’s email address to a drip campaign that automatically sends them a request for a review in the days afterward.
- Allow your digital audience to locate all reviews, testimonials, and case studies from and about clients in one corner of your real estate agent website.
- Buyers and sellers need to know whomever they hire for representation is an esteemed, trustworthy pro — meaning reviews can only help your cause.
- Not all clients will be willing to fork over hundreds of words worth of commendation for your work, but you won’t know if they’re willing to if you don’t ask.
10) Offer lots of listing specs — and spotlight notable listings with single property sites.
Single property sites (SPS) are growing in popularity among many agents and brokers nationwide. One primary reason for this growth in preference for these sites is because they allow industry pros to flaunt their most astounding listings: everything from million-dollar mansions and beach-side villas to mountain-hugging cabins and rural retreats. The problem arises, however, in that not all real estate website design is created equal. Some providers don’t offer SPS options, meaning it’s simply not possible to spotlight notable homes for sale with their own respective site and custom domain name.
If you really want to take your digital presence to the next level, though, find a way to exhibit special properties with their own SPS and include dozens of intricate details for the listing in question. You can never be too meticulous in terms of the number of specs you list on an SPS, so go nuts and include every tidbit about the property you have available to you via the MLS description and include as many photos and videos as you can that allow visitors to take virtual tours of the residences whenever they please, and you’ll end up with lots of traction for the home for sale.
- Some listings are worth promoting more than others, and one of the premier ways to spread word about these unique properties is with an SPS.
- No detail should be considered too small or insignificant on these sites, so add in all facts and list all facets of the home for sale.
- Photos and videos can help push BOFU leads interested in the property to call or email you, so add lots of revealing ones to the site.
Watch our real estate website optimization webinar to learn how you can get more traffic to — and leads from — your IDX site.
Share how you regularly update your IDX website and modify it accordingly with us in the comments below!
Published on December 9, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.