9 Signs Your Real Estate Website Needs New Love
By Matthew Bushery
About Website Design
Let’s say you’re an avid vintage car fan. You even have one that you enjoy using for weekend getaways. You don’t simply let your fancy ride fall into disrepair by avoiding check-ups and letting Mother Nature have at it. Quite the opposite, actually: You take your ride in for regular maintenance, wash it once every couple of weeks, and ensure it’s primed to make an impact when out on the road (in other words, making people’s jaws drop).
This is the exact kind of care your real estate website needs, too.
Signing up for a new website, filling in some bare-bones content to get it up and running, leaving it alone for weeks (or even months), and assuming it’ll be a real estate lead generation machine just isn’t how successful real estate agents operate today. These agents spend a great deal of time on website maintenance, making sure their blogs and landing pages bring in visitors and their calls to action (CTAs) generate leads.
Check out these 10 signs below to determine if it’s time to give a much-needed makeover to your real estate agent website.
Sign #1: It’s not optimized for mobile devices.
Responsive design is the present and future of mobile browsing. When Google data shows three-quarters of Internet users want mobile-optimized websites, it’s time to take that as a sign that your real estate website needs to look just as great on smartphones, tablets, and phablets as it does on desktop. Take the Santa Barbara–based Village Properties Realtors’ responsive website, for instance. Note how uniform the mobile and desktop versions of the site are in terms of layout, elements, and branding:
This is the type of real estate agent website buyers and sellers want: one with easy-to-maneuver navigation, a clear value proposition on the homepage, and features that allow for quick and simple property searches that are effortless to use on any device.
Sign #2: It still uses Flash software.
Once upon a time, websites that used Flash software were all the rage. They had (what was then) ahead-of-their-time design elements that made for unique user experiences.
That’s not the case anymore.
The main reason you don’t see Flash on many websites these days is because it prevents sites from fully optimizing for search. This is a problem if you (like 99.9% of other professionals and brands with business websites) want your audience to easily find you online.
Flash also causes slow page loading times. Your site visitors won’t stick around long if they’re waiting for a Flash animation to load. Worst of all, Apple no longer supports Flash on all of its devices, so iPhone, iPad, and Mac users won’t be able to use your site.
The answer is simple: Remove Flash from your site ASAP if it’s still in use.
Sign #3: It’s not helping you rank highly in search engines.
As noted, a poor site structure can be an SEO killer. In other words, if you don’t have the proper structure for your site, including the right navigation setup and internal linking and URL structure, it won’t get close to page one of search engine results pages (SERPs). Ensure your site structure allows for your real estate website to be indexed properly by all major search engines (especially Google). Go to your Webmaster Tools dashboard to make sure all of your website’s pages are indexed. To get your pages indexed more accurately by Google, there are a couple things you can do:
- Download sitemap plug-ins: If you have a WordPress real estate website, there are many plug-ins at your disposal that automatically add new site pages to your sitemap, meaning Google will automatically know about your new pages shortly after they’re created and index them accordingly.
- Add links across social media: Do you have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other big social channels? Publish links to your website in the “about” sections of your profiles and in posts
Sign #4: You don’t regularly publish content to it.
We don’t just mean blog posts. Adding new landing pages has proven to bring in lots of traffic and leads for brands. Companies that have more than 40 landing pages earned 12 times as many leads than businesses with one to five landing pages. While you may not want that many landing pages on your site, the point is that the more pages you have that offer information your audience searches for, along with optimized long-tail keywords, the better the chances your site will generate numerous leads.
Having said that, creating high-quality real estate blog content and other content types, like ebooks and infographics, is beneficial as well. After publishing an infographic, websites see an average 12% rise in website traffic. Even if you may not be the most creative person, use graphic-creation services like Canva and PicMonkey for some design assistance.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
— Winston Churchill
Long-form content also proves helpful for a real estate agent website, as it’s often favored more by Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Simply put, the longer your content, the more likely it’ll rank highly in SERPs. Research from SEO analysis firm serpIQ shows just how long page-1 content tends to be (in words):
Sign #5: It looks woefully outdated.
The impact your website’s layout has on user experience can’t be overstated. If the navigation is confusing and your content, buttons, and other widgets are randomly scattered across your webpages, visitors won’t stick around for more than a few seconds. Get a brand-new real estate website design that makes your site both more aesthetically pleasing, and allows you to add and adjust page elements, like widgets that show recent blog posts or featured listings. Roughly 94% of respondents to a health website survey noted poor website design is the top reason they mistrust or reject sites. Other ways to make your site more modern-looking include:
- Professional-looking photography: Featuring appealing photos on your homepage is a great way to keep visitors perusing your real estate website. Hire a pro to get great shots, find appealing imagery on stock photo sites, or learn the art of photography yourself to fill your site with eye-catching pictures.
- Create branded real estate videos: Promote your company by shooting an explanatory “about us” video, record video of your real estate listings, turn blog posts into 2-minute video summaries — your options for video real estate marketing are seemingly endless (as are the benefits).
- Maximize conversions with minimal add-ons: While you can and should add widgets across your website that boost user engagement, don’t go overboard with them. Test out different widgets on different pages to see which garner the most clicks. Eliminate ones that don’t convert well and add ones that do across other pages.
Sign #6: It takes far too long to load.
Just as visitors will flee your real estate website immediately if it looks like the first website ever created, they’ll also bail if the load times take too long. Data from the HTTP Archive’s year-end report in 2013 showed the average site’s page weight increased 32% from the year before. Page weight refers to how large the total files account for on the website, so the more images, videos, widgets, plug-ins, and other elements you have on your site, the larger the page weight tends to be. Not only do you want to avoid making your pages look too busy to make them easier on the eye, but you also want to prevent overloading them with elements and upping your page load times to unbearable lengths — ones that visitors won’t wait around for.
Sign #7: It can’t display many (or any) IDX listings.
Arguably the most important reason for real estate websites for agents is so they can show off local listings that are in their IDX. Without displaying appealing, relevant properties on your site, you can kiss your real estate lead generation efforts goodbye. If your site doesn’t allow for IDX listings to populate on your homepage and other pages, or if it doesn’t have a search function that makes it simple for visitors to find homes for sale based on their various preferences, it’s time to make a change. Take a peek at this real estate website example (using a Placester template) that capably shows featured listings on the homepage and allows for specific searches on the listings page:
Sign #8: It doesn’t help you secure leads.
Are you missing out on earning leads from your real estate website? It’s likely because you’re missing too many key page elements that affect lead generation. For instance, if you don’t have several CTAs and forms across your site — like those that offer free content or resources to buyers and sellers — you won’t be able to get visitors to provide their personal information and officially become a contact in your customer relationship management database (CRM). And don’t forget about the power of social sharing buttons, either. Getting your audience to your social accounts is vital for lead generation and, eventually, nurturing leads.
Sign #9: You’re not using a high-converting, modern-looking theme.
Lastly, if you have an ancient website design — for instance, one that doesn’t allow you to add widgets — it’s time to make a change. Take these 25 gorgeous WordPress-based real estate websites as a prime example of what you can achieve with a sleek, multi-functional theme. Note how each of these sites features imagery as a major component on the homepage, yet there’s still more-than-ample space for listings with copy, promotional content, and other features, like maps.
Learn How to Launch Your Real Estate Website with a Bang by checking out our in-depth Academy post.
How do you optimize your real estate agent website for search, structure, and other site elements? Share with us below!
Published on September 18, 2014
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.