As more and more people are using the internet to find information, it’s not a surprise realtors are using websites to leverage their business online, especially in the current downturn in the real estate market. Every advantage over the competition matters.
Having a solid website is a great extension of the traditional realtor’s offline marketing approach. Not only does a realtor look personable and professional in the eyes of their clients, but also to visitors online who come across their site. Unfortunately, realtors who launch their websites end up with ones that aren’t optimal to their businesses.
After spending years in web development and internet marketing for realtors, I’ve taken notice in flaws in realtor websites that affect a realtor’s online performance in lead generation appear again and again.
Below are the top 10 common mistakes many realtors make with their websites:
LACK OF CONTACT INFORMATION
This is perhaps the worse mistake any realtor can make. There are a few realtors who have their contact information completely missing on their websites, which is the worse case scenario, but the real culprit here is the contact information that is DIFFICULT to find.
Some realtors spend thousands of dollars on beautifully designed websites, but when it comes to highlighting their phone number or their contact form, it’s a tiny little piece of text or link that makes “Where’s Waldo” easy to find.
After all, if you don’t have your contact information readily available, who can call you to ask for your services?
No wonder many realtors are frustrated about not getting leads online!
As they say, pictures are worth 1,000 words and add a lot of value to your website.
Unless, your pictures are really bad.
Then, your pictures would be screaming 4 words, “This has no use!”. I’ve noticed some realtors who use photos that may be significant to their personal life, but to someone who is moving from a different area or even other side of town, it makes no sense. These kinds of photos simply have no value.
Also, I still haven’t figured out why many realtors (or their website developers) like to use teeny-tiny thumbnailed dimensions for their main photos. If they expanded on a click, that’s great, but many do not.
You wouldn’t put a small picture on a listing flyer, would you?
The purpose of a blog on a realtor’s site is the online equivalent of getting to know the realtor in person and reading their profile. By posting regularly updated information on listings, the area and the communities, the local real estate market and your personal entries, you build trust with your visitors and they will think you are a smart and personable realtor. You become the go-to person for answers.
In reality, many realtors still do not have blogs or a way to display their character and knowledge on their website, but expect every visitor to contact them for their real estate services because they have an awesome profile picture.
Why would anyone contact a realtor they barely know?
A lot of realtors like to emphasize on many important topics on their website, such as buying and selling, and usually include it in their main navigation bar. However, the problem many run into is having TOO many important items, which make everything less important and confusing.
What’s even worse than having too many items in the navigation bar?
Too many items under each primary navigation menu!
Just imagine driving down the road and at the stop sign, you see 50 arrows and destinations pointing in multiple directions. It’s the same concept online.
It may seem intuitive to many realtors to cram as much information as they can into one menu item for their visitors to read, but the reality is that it adds complication and the visitor ultimately ends up lost.
Imagine yourself back in high school, taking your dreaded history or science class and your assignment is to read this very long, dull book.
Ok, are you there?…Good.
That’s exactly the feeling most visitors get when stumbling upon articles on many realtor websites. The primary reason for this is instead of sitting down and manually writing solid, engaging articles, the majority of realtors aggregate their main content from some super technical real estate source. This is beneficial to the search engines, but for humans, this type of content makes their sites snooze or lose their visitors.
Visitors don’t care to read long, treacherous research articles; they will ask realtors these questions anyway.
RELYING HEAVILY ON IDX/MLS SOLUTIONS
I hear this all the time. Every time I hear a realtor wanting their own website, the 1st question that comes out of their mouth almost always starts with:
“Does it have an IDX solution?” or “Can I have thousands of MLS listings on my site?”
I’m not saying an IDX/MLS system is bad – I think it’s great and can help enhance the user experience and even improve your SEO. The problem is that it ends up being the main focus of the site instead of being a secondary tool. Many realtors have this misconception of this massive listing solution automatically giving them more phone calls and leads.
I find this ironic. The realtor’s job is to personalize their client’s experience, right?
NOT SEO FRIENDLY
Fact: Unless you are a celebrity, people don’t care who you are or what your realty is about.
It’s frustrating to visit many realtor websites and can’t help notice that they mention their realty name 20,000 times in their title tags to their headings. This is detrimental to their chances of being found in Google, Yahoo, or Bing, as the only thing they can be found under is their realty name!
Instead, if realtors want quality search engine traffic, many of them should be focusing on targeted, high volume keywords and having an optimized website with lots of fresh content and backlinks from other websites.
If you want great examples of SEO friendly websites, just search in any search engine for a real estate term in any geographical area and note the top 10 positions.
LACKING SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook and Twitter are currently the hottest fads in the social media market and if done correctly, can really get your name out there to prospective clients and provide updates and customer service to your current ones. You can say it’s the online version of networking with others in person.
The two mistakes I see here is either the realtor doesn’t have a social media outlet, or doesn’t know how to implement it on their site. How else can someone connect with you directly online, real-time?
MISSING ADMIN AREA
Back in the day, webpages were built from scratch and if you wanted to make a change to all the pages on your website, you would have to go in and manually modify the code for each page or find some macro that automated that process for you.
Nowadays, with advanced content management systems, you can log into an admin area on your website, type in what you need changed and never have to touch a piece of code. You can even add and remove pages with a click of a button. If this sounds fascinating to you, chances are you probably don’t have a backend system like this for your realtor website.
What’s worse, you may be overpaying your web developer buddy to make simple changes that are intuitive with a content management system, but takes 2 weeks to implement because he’s “busy” playing World of Warcraft.
Not all things can be accomplished through a content management system, as customization may require code modifications, but it will get you at least 90% of the way and less dependant on other people.
The year is 2010 as I’m writing this, yet I continue to see many realtor websites that look like they have been designed in 1995. You know what I mean – scrolling marquee text across the screen, flashing buttons, and cheesy tiled backgrounds included in Windows 95 are just a few crimes that destroy your visitors’ eyesight, but sadly, continue to still be in use today.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a clean, simple page that tells visitors exactly what they want to know. However, website facelifts are recommended every few years to make yourself look professional and that you are actually a smart person.
Still don’t believe you need an updated website? Then answer this question:
If your friend came in the door wearing overalls with a Freddy Krueger-styled striped shirt underneath, would you take him or her seriously?
Don’t let your website end up like this.
John Yang is an SEO consultant, entreprenuer and the founder of Realtor Biz Builder. Realtor Biz Builder was founded on the goal of making realtor websites easy to build and manage for realtors, and solves many issues that plague many real estate websites today. Check it out at: http://www.realtorbizbuilder.com/