RE-Thinking Your REALTOR® Website
By: Amanda Sue Piltz
You probably already know that the majority of home buyers begin their search online. You also probably know it is important to have a website; but do you know how to use your website as a lead-generating machine? Here’s a hint: It has very little to do with listings. 10 years ago, agent websites were the only source consumers had to access crucial listing data, but it doesn’t work like that anymore. With realtor.com, Trulia, and other listing syndication websites gaining popularity by the day, agent websites need to adapt.
Having listing data on your website is important, but you need to do more. Your website is an important tool and can help generate leads; here’s how:
1) Get potential clients to visit your website. There are a number of ways to drive traffic to your website. The first is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. You have probably already heard about SEO, and it is a hot topic for good reasons: A new study from NAR and Google found that real estate related searches on Google.com grew 253 percent over the past four years. More and more people are using search engines to find what they need. REALTORS® need to take advantage of this to drive traffic to their websites.
There are a few things you can do to increase your rankings on search engines. SEO is divided into two categories: organic and paid. Organic means you are naturally increasing your search engine rankings by creating unique and valuable content. Increase your search engine ranking by focusing on hyper local issues. There are plenty of websites that can answer the query “Cleveland homes for sale”, but how many of them can answer “best Cleveland neighborhoods for dog lovers”? By focusing on local issues, you stop competing with the Zillows and Trulias of the world. Find your niche and you will be amazed at how much traffic you see! Creating content for organic SEO can be a rewarding process, but it takes commitment and is not right for everyone. In that case, paid SEO may be a better option. Using GoogleAdwords, you can decide how much you want to spend to get people to click through to your website from the Google search engine, as well as what terms you want to pay for. Other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo also offer similar capabilities.
In addition to SEO, you can drive traffic to your website through paid advertisements on other popular websites. Here are some ideas to get you started: local HOAs, home improvement supply stores, DIY blogs, or websites about local activities may offer advertising space. Don’t be afraid to advertise on the big listing syndicators either: they may be your competition in some aspects, but consumers still need REALTORS® to help them navigate through the home buying and selling transaction.
2) Once you get potential clients to your website, engage them! Getting home buyers and sellers to your website is only a small part. Once they are there, you need to engage them! The climate of real estate and sales in general is changing; people don’t like being sold to and they hesitate to give away any information about themselves. In order to use your website to capture leads, consumers need to feel comfortable and feel like they are receiving value. Here are three guidelines to help get you started:
- Never require registration to access content: You need to provide value first, and ask for their information later.
- Have a way to contact you without leaving your website: Having to copy your e-mail address, open up their own e-mail, then paste your e-mail address….. it’s too much work! Make it easy!
- Offer to help them: Offer to send new listings that meet their specifications once a week, or ask if they would like a “nosy neighbor” report so they know what’s happening in their area.
Your website needs, at minimum, a short and easy-to-use contact form. Live chats are also an option; these can be built-in to your site on the lower right-hand corner in order to offer a non-intrusive way for your website visitors to connect with you. If you use this, try to be online and accessible as often as possible – everyone loves instant gratification! As mentioned, listing data is an important component to any agent’s website. Let your visitors search the MLS “like a REALTOR®” using IDX (which stands for Internet Data Exchange). There are a number of IDX providers that offer customizations and even lead-capturing tools. Take advantage of the tools offered to you! Check with your broker to see if there is a preferred IDX provider.
Content is king. You are a REALTOR® for a reason: you care about your community and know it better than anyone else. You enjoy helping people achieve the dream of home ownership. You enjoy the thrill of getting your clients homes sold for the best price possible. Don’t be afraid to show it! Find your niche.
3) Turn those leads into clients. Your website gave you the lead, and now it’s up to you to turn that lead into a client. Show them your value! Think about the benefits you have as a REALTOR®, and think about what those mean to potential clients. Show off FIND and how you can find in-depth demographic and school information about their desired neighborhood. You have all the tools you need! Go get ‘em! We’re here to help.