“What makes a good real esate agent, broker, or Realtor® web page?”
People ask me this all the time, though they often encounter difficulty boiling the question down to so few words.
You, like any serious real estate agent, want to know how to create and maintain the best possible agent website that nets you the most buyer and seller leads and prospects.
The following “commandments” represent the ideals towards which every new or existing real estate agent website should aspire.
1. Thou Shalt Have Purpose
Clearly define your site’s purpose and ensure all content, graphics, and text tightly focus on that purpose.
For example, don’t mix your seller and buyer reports on the same page since prospects for selling or listing a home are not interested in your buyer reports right now. Keep them focused.
Discard all extraneous or distracting material and regularly revisit your site to ensure all changes fit with the site’s primary purpose.
2. Thou Shalt Be Lightweight
Many realtors are tempted to use lots of “eye-candy” graphics, flash and other large files to make their pages “look good.”
Don’t fall into this trap.
Use only fast-loading graphics and other elements.
If you must use large graphics use thumbnails and image slicing to diminish the size of every file to lessen load times.
Though the majority of buyer and seller prospects now carry high-speed access, avoid any content that requires them to download special, non-standard “plug-ins” to view your content.
3. Thou Shalt Load Fast
Each and every entry or “landing” page on your site should weigh in under 50-100KB total, including graphics and navigation.
Interior pages (where you detail subdivisions, services, or other exntended information) can run larger, but the “front doors” to your site should not make buyers or sellers wait long to start interacting with your site.
4. Thou Shalt Not Use False Code
You should only use html or asp to create your web pages.
Many agents get sold a “bill of goods” by webmasters who want to build up their billable hours with complicated programming and animation.
Never use java, xml, dhtml or other forms of code that require a surfer to keep their browser set up “correctly” to accommodate your page.
You’re targeting “mom and pop” buyers and sellers -not “geeks” and “techno-nerds” -so ignoring this rule will only lose you buyer and seller prospects.
5. Thou Shalt Respect the Search Engines
If you want free buyer and seller prospects from the search engines, use whole web pages that don’t incorporate frames or large amounts of code unrelated to your content.
Also, if you want search traffic, actively cultivate linking relationships with other real estate sites in your area, such as: mortgage brokers, title companies, insurance agents, architects, interior designers, etc.
Any real estate related sites that don’t compete with you make great potential link partners.
6. Love Thy Surfers and Visitors
Design for “last year’s” technology so buyer and seller prospects using older computers and slower connections can download your content and use your site quickly and easily.
Designing for the “bleeding edge” will only cause buyers and sellers to move on to the next agent’s website that doesn’t give them any technical challenges.
7. Thou Shalt Not Annoy
Use only stationary text and graphical layout elements.
No Scrolling text, marquees, or large Flash animations of any kind, including those annoying, full-page Flash home pages that say “Skip Intro.”
Webmasters love to try selling these expensive intros to feed an agent’s ego, but they do nothing to help convert website visitors into buyer and seller prospects.
This “eye candy” rarely adds to a site’s main purpose and often causes your visitors to miss something or leave in frustration.
8. Thou Shalt Not Scroll Sideways
Design your pages so they never force a visitor to scroll left or right no matter what the resolution settings on their monitor.
Sites that read “best viewed at 1024 x 768” really say “look at it my way because I don’t care about your preferences or limitations.”
9. Thou Shalt Stay Consistent
Include a standard navigational structure on every page.
Though it may mean a serious challenge for the “artsy” designer, buyers and sellers should only need to click once to find every major section of your real estate site.
This includes using standard link colors in all text links. Blue: hyperlink; Purple: visited hyperlink; Red: active hyperlink.
10. Thou Shalt Cultivate Leads
Nothing floods your website with targeted traffic like sending an email message to your email list.
Whether for your new listing, an office listing announcement, or price reduction, that list of buyer and seller prospects represents your most valuable online business asset.
Make sure your website actively cultivates leads by giving them multiple opportunities to sign up for reports, listing announcements, property searches and more.
Then, make it worth their while to pay attention to you on a regular basis.
Whether you’re a new agent fresh to the business or a seasoned real estate veteran with 20+ years experience, these “commandments” will guide you to eternal online prospecting happiness and prosperity.