It used to be that the “calling card” we left behind in any social situation was exactly that: a piece of paper. Most of the time, this generic card was stuffed in some pocket, never to be looked at again. Today, we’ve moved past the business card and put our calling cards online.
Image credit: Wikiimages via Pixabay.com
But just because real estate professionals have gone digital doesn’t mean they’re making the right impression.
First, let’s think about how you connect with the people you meet. Do you tell them to visit your website? Search for your name online? Connect with you on Facebook? If you’ve tried any of these methods, you know the odds of follow-through are slim. And even if they do end up on your site or profile, will they be inspired by what they see, or excited to learn more?
Your website is your best opportunity to quickly make a lasting impression online, provided that you follow a few simple steps.
1. Build a Better Real Estate Website
Cost and technical expertise are no longer reasonable excuses for a poor web presence. It’s never been easier or more affordable to plan, design, and create a real estate website. Service providers like Placester, Squarespace, and Wix have made it possible to launch a beautiful website in less than an hour, even with limited web experience. Simply select a template and design theme, then integrate your IDX listings, images, copy, and social media accounts. Once your basic framework is set up, you can easily customize your site according to your target demographic, geographic focus, property type specialty, and more.
2. Own It
How many times have you visited an awful website and come away with negative thoughts about the person or business? Like the clothes you wear and the “clean” car you tour clients in, your website is an extension of your overall brand presentation. It’s a window for showcasing your marketing skills and making a connection with your target audience. By creating an engaging website that promotes your skill set and unique characteristics as a real estate professional, you can establish credibility with potential buyers and sellers before you ever speak to them.
3. Don’t Just Show Your Listings; Tie Them Up With a Bow
Of course, many real estate websites are about showcasing one of your greatest assets: listings. Yet many agents don’t use listings to their full potential. Instead of simply making listings available to browse on your website, try building content around them. Pre-launch a property with its own landing page. Showcase sold listings in your monthly e-mail newsletter. Use your blog to highlight the best listings your community has to offer. Give your visitors more than just a search page, and you’ll make a lasting impression.
4. Give Away Your Secrets
We all rely on the web to help us make our buying decisions. In fact, today 70 to 90 percent of the buyer’s journey is complete prior to contacting a vendor. Nevertheless, you can still influence consumers early on by offering them a way to answer their own questions online — and your real estate website is the perfect venue. As a local agent, you’re an expert in the processes and challenges of buying and selling a home and the ins and outs of the communities you serve. Your website is the ideal platform for sharing the “special sauce” that makes you worth working with.
5. Focus on Local Search
More than ever, your ranking in Google search results depends on location-specific keywords and signals. To optimize your website for local search, start by setting up profiles with your physical address (also called citations) on all the major local search websites and directories: Google+ Local, Bing, Yahoo Local, Yelp, and the major real estate portals. Connect these profiles to the customer reviews your past clients have left you, then link everything to your personal real estate website so prospects and clients can find you.
6. Invest in Mobile
If you have a smartphone, you know first hand that the mobile web is increasingly the norm. What you might not know is that local searches performed on mobile devices generate 47 percent more same-day store visits than their desktop counterparts. According to one comScore report, 79 percent of mobile phone owners use their devices to conduct local searches, while 78 percent of all local searches turn into offline purchases. This is great news for locally focused real estate professionals. To take advantage these numbers, you need to build a website that mobile users can not only find but also use. You can start by making sure your website is responsive and works on all devices, from smartphones and “phablets” to tablets and laptop computers.
Not long ago, creating a real estate website was a complicated, expensive, and frustrating experience. Today, the best vendors are making things simpler by breaking down the technical barriers, enabling any real estate professional to quickly build a great website. The flip side, of course, is that there’s no longer any excuse for not having an effective website. So don’t wait: Start building and marketing your online brand now.