The Ultimate Guide to Building a Real Estate Website


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The Ultimate Guide to Building a Real Estate Website

  1. 1. Your real estate website is more than justa website: it’s the most powerful tool in yourmarketing arsenal. Look at any major brand(real estate or otherwise) on Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, Google+, or Pinterest: there’s alwaysa link back to their website. To be sure, socialnetworks are great for sharing your contentand engaging with consumers. But in mostinstances, your prospective customers aren’tdiscovering your business in these places:they’re discovering you through search, andoftentimes the first point of contact they havewith you is your website.IntroductionChapter1
  2. 2. 3As the hub of your online universe, your website serves a variety of purposes.From instilling trust, to amplifying brand awareness, to nurturing prospective clients through yoursales cycle, a well-conceived, artfully-designed website can truly do wonders for your business.Still not convinced that dedicating the time and energy to building (or improving) a real estatewebsite is worth it? Just have a look at the numbers...
  3. 3. If you’re like the majority of real estate professionals, youalready understand the importance of having a website.According to the National Association of REALTORS®,62 percent of realtors have personal websites for realestate business purposes, separate from the websites oftheir parent companies. What we can’t glean from thisstatistic, however, is how many real estate professionalshave GREAT websites.A great real estate website... • is designed for SEO • serves as a resource for buyers & sellers • has IDX/MLS search built in • encourages engagement • captures leads • positions your brand in a positive way• showcases content your customers love • has a beautiful design562% of realtorshave websites
  4. 4. With so many real estate websites out there competing for attention, you want your site to stand out. You want yoursite to be the one that folks take action on, not the one they overlook. This eBook is dedicated to showing youhow you can achieve those goals.This eBook will show you:7 • How to choose a domain name that drives traffic • Where you can buy a domain name • Which website design solution is best for your business • Best practices for real estate website design • Why having a mobile-friendly site is a must • How IDX/MLS integration works and why it’s important • A list of popular IDX providers • Best practices for creating content for your website Next Chapter: What’s in a (Domain) Name? >>>
  5. 5. We hate to be the ones to break it to you,but most prospective homebuyers aren’tsearching for YOU on the web: they’researching for properties. They’re not going toGoogle (or Bing or Yahoo!) and typing in “JoeAgent real estate.” Instead, they’re typing inthings like “Boston homes for sale” and“houses for sale in Boston.” It’s not the “who” that they’re focused on, it’s the “where.” So,when choosing a domain name for your realestate website, what kinds of search terms doyou think you should you focus on? If the word“LOCAL” just popped into your head, you’re100 percent correct.What’s in a (Domain) Name?Chapter2
  6. 6. Of course, not all successful real estate websites followthis location-based approach to choosing a domainname. For example, Corcoran* ( andStribling** ( are two of the most popular realestate firms serving New York City, yet their websitedomain names don’t mention location. Here’s the thing: ifyou have a strong brand name - a name that isrecognized by thousands - you can certainly use thatname for your domain and still have a successfulwebsite. But, when considered strictly from an SEOperspective, it’s not ideal.*Its important to note that Corcoran spends a significantamount of marketing dollars building awareness of theirbrand and associating themselves with local, usefulcontent. (Just take a look at their efforts on Foursquare.)**Besides the power of their brand in the upper echelonsof the power elite in NYC, Stribling has chosen todifferentiate themselves with magazine-class,professional photography for every listing that theyshowcase. As a result, they have some of the mostbeautiful housing images on the web.“If the URL for your name or the name of yourcompany is out there, you should definitely own it.That being said, it shouldn’t necessarily be the primaryway people find your site...The fact is that whileexisting clients might be able to remember your name,it’s unlikely that anyone else will know the name of anagent they have never met. More realistically, yourprospects won’t be searching for you. Instead, they’llbe searching for what you have to offer.”-Seth Price, Director of Sales & Marketing - Placester10
  7. 7. 1. Start with the location you want to target (e.g. Boston) 2. Add what you have to offer (e.g. homes for sale, luxury condos, etc.) 3. Do your research! Use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to see how much monthly traffic your search terms receive (e.g. “Boston homes for sale, “Boston luxury condos,” etc.) 4. Choose a few of the highest-ranking keyword combinations, add “.com” to the ends, and do a quick search to make sure they’re not already taken. Pro tip: if you’re having trouble finding available domain names, try adding on a word that describes you or your brand. A great example of this is The Phoenix Real Estate Guy’s domain name ( Step-by-Step Guide to Choosinga Real Estate Domain Name
  8. 8. 5. Head to a site like or Enter in your domain name candidates and you’ll get an idea of how much each domain name is going to cost you. 6. Pull the trigger. Once you’ve decided on a search engine-optimized domain name that fits your budget, buy it from an online vendor.Here are some of the most popular domain name vendor options:12••••••••••••
  9. 9. 13Domain Name Do’s and Don’tsDO focus on localAnd don’t be afraid to get creative. Add a bit of your personal brand to the localsearch terms you’re targeting (e.g. be specificLots of folks sell real estate in Boston, but far fewer specialize in selling luxurycondos. In this case, “” would help you drive moretargeted traffic than a more generic option like “”DO act quicklyOnce you’ve decided on a domain name, buy it right away and get it setup.Google trusts older domain names more so than younger ones, so getting yourdomain name in Google’s database as soon as possible will help with SEO.DO make it easy to spellUse the phone call test: call a friend, say your domain name out loud, then askyour friend to spell it. If they struggle, you might want to consider simplifying thename.
  10. 10. 14Domain Name Do’s and Don’tsDON’T use hyphensThere’s no proven SEO value in using hyphens. Search engines can recognizethe individual words in “,” so breaking it up into“” will only make the domain name clunkier andharder to say out loud.DON’T make it too longA short domain name is a memorable domain name.“” is an example of an overly longname.DON’T choose a “.net,” or “.org,” extension over “.com”.com is popular, it’s got history on its side, and people naturally type it in whenthey’re visiting a website directly (i.e. not searching).
  11. 11. If you want to learn more about best practices for choosing a real estate domain name,check out some of the following resources in our Real Estate Marketing Academy: • Guide to Choosing the Right Real Estate Domain Name • Checklist for Choosing a Real Estate URL • [Interview] Secrets from a Domain Name Broker: Choosing the Right URL for Your WebsiteNext Chapter: Diving into Design >>>15
  12. 12. The look and feel of your real estatewebsite is critically important to its success.Even with a great domain name that drivestons of search traffic, a website will ultimatelyfail if visitors aren’t engaged. Clutteredheaders, ugly colors schemes, confusing (orbroken) navigation links...these things can allcause visitors to bounce from your site andmove on to the next option (the next optionbeing your competition!). When building a realestate website, it’s important to balance artwith science. In addition to looking beautiful,your site needs to perform beautifully so thatvisitors are engaged and encouraged to takeaction.Diving into DesignChapter3
  13. 13. “Im amazed at how a beautiful site can draw someone in - humans are visual creatures after all. But ifthe site is too unwieldy, cumbersome, or filled with broken links, theyre gone. The science in sitedesign should be about making sure it works, then using analytics to float relevant content to the top.”-Nobu Hata, Director of Digital Engagement - National Association of REALTORS®17
  14. 14. The majority of website design solutions belong to oneof two broad categories: custom or personalized. Acustom site is created “from scratch,” in the sense that aweb designer starts with a blank canvas and can build asite according to a client’s precise specifications. Incomparison, a personalized site starts with a templateddesign, which you can then add to and adjust.There are benefits and drawbacks associated with eachoption. With a custom site, you’re getting somethingthat’s entirely unique. However, you also have to doleout a lot of dough for a web designer, and the designprocess can take months. With a personalized site, youcan add your logo, change the color scheme, createyour own navigation links, and add widgets to sidebarsand other areas of your site. However, unlike a customsite, a personalized site isn’t 100 percent unique, asother real estate professionals may opt to build theirsites using the same template that you use.One of the major benefits of a personalized site - inaddition to being considerably less expensive - is thatyou can set it up yourself in a matter of minutes, whichis great if you want to get your online business up andrunning as soon as possible. And while altering thedesign of a custom site typically requires that you re-hire(and re-pay) a web designer to make the changes, witha personalized site you can make changes and/orswitch to a different template all by yourself.18Choosing a Real EstateWebsite Design Solution
  15. 15. Popular Personalized WebsiteSolutionsFor a non-industry-specific website solution, Wix andWeebly are two of the most popular options. Both offerfree plans as well as premium plans that includeadditional features and functionality. Shopify andSquarespace are two of the leading personalized websitesolutions for e-commerce sites. Both solutions let youcreate online stores so you can sell to consumersdirectly.(Note: At Placester, we’ve taken the personalizedwebsite solution model and have applied it to real estate.Using the Placester platform, real estate professionalscan get WordPress-powered websites up and running inminutes and then integrate with their MLSs.)Personalized + Custom CSSThere’s also a hybrid option for creating a real websitethat allows you to reap the benefits of both custom andpersonalized solutions. Here’s how it works: you startwith a personalized solution and use that as yourwebsite’s platform. Then, you work with a third-partydesigner who can customize your site using CSS(cascading style sheets), which is a computer languagethat defines a website’s look and formatting. With thehybrid option, you can get a more customized designthan you could with a personalized solution on its ownand it’s still less expensive (and faster) than having awebsite designed from scratch.20
  16. 16. Alright, so it’s not ALL in your header. You’ve also got footers, sidebars, and the main bodies of your webpages toconsider. That being said, visitors will naturally look to the top of a webpage first. That means you need to have a well-branded header that lets your visitors know they’re in the right place. Any confusion about what you’re offering (orwhere you’re offering it) may cause folks to bounce from your site. In conclusion: weak header, weak website.It’s All in Your Header21
  17. 17. How to Build an Effective Header in 3 Easy StepsStep 1: Start with your logo. Don’t have a logo? You can hire a designer to make one for you, or you can find a fontand color that you like and make a simple, text-based logo yourself.  There are several programs you can use to dothis: PowerPoint, Keynote, and Photoshop are just a few.Step 2: Add a short description or tagline. Here are some real-world examples: • Exceptional properties...exceptional results (My Hampton Homes) • Finding NYC Apartments Just Got Easier! (Naked Apartments) • The Evolution of Real Estate (Core) • Phoenix Real Estate - Anything & Everything About It. Plus Random Musings... (The Phoenix Real Estate Guy)22
  18. 18. Step 3: Add navigation links. Make it easy for visitors to get around your site and find what they’re looking for byincluding navigation links in your header. “Home,” “Search,” “Buy,” “Sell,” “About,” “Blog,” and “Contact” are some ofthe most popular links for real estate site headers.Bonus Step: Add social media buttons and contact info. It’s important to keep your header uncluttered so visitorsdon’t become overwhelmed or confused. However, even after completing the three steps we just mentioned, there willlikely be plenty of space for adding other engaging elements. For example, having your email address and/or phonenumber in the header makes it convenient for folks to reach out to you, as they won’t need to navigate to your contactpage to find your contact info. If you have a presence on social media (which you absolutely should!), putting buttonsthat link to your brand/company pages is great for encouraging folks to engage with you there.23
  19. 19. Keep in mind that the stepswe’ve outlined are meant to serveas a loose guide, as manysuccessful real estate websitesdon’t include all of the headerelements we’ve mentioned. Somesites - like Philip House - don’tinclude headers at all and insteadrely on sidebars for displaying theirbranding and navigation.24
  20. 20. Just because it’s at the bottom of the page doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Your website’s footer is more than just acontainer for copyright notices and credit links: it’s valuable real estate that you can use to drive engagement.Some visitors will search diligently through your site and - inevitably - scroll to the bottoms of your webpages. By fillingyour footer with attention-grabbing elements, you can make it easy for these folks to engage.Fill Your Footer25
  21. 21. Four Features of aUser-Friendly Footer1. Navigation: Don’t make visitors scroll all the wayback up to your header so they can find what they’relooking for on your site. Adding navigation links to yourfooter helps eliminate scrolling, which is a majorconvenience for your site’s visitors.2. Contact Info: Just like you don’t want visitorsscrolling like mad to find a particular page on your site,you don’t want them scrambling to find your contactinfo. Make it as easy as possible for folks to contact you:put your name, email address, physical address, andphone number in the footer.3. Social Buttons: Give your visitors every opportunityto share your brand’s message and engage with you ontheir social networks by putting Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest buttons in your footer.4. Secondary Call-to-Action: While visitors might behesitant to give you their email address when they firstarrive on your site, after scrolling through some of yourcontent - and reaching the footer - they might beconvinced. That’s why the footer is a great spot for asecondary call-to-action, such as a prompt to sign up fora newsletter.26
  22. 22. Of course, there are many successful real estate websites that don’t use all four of thefooter elements we’ve outlined. Furthermore, these four elements are by no means theonly elements you can include in your footer. Abbreviated “about” sections, agentphotos, and even videos have found their way into the footers of successful sites.27Shown above: footer fromthe Core website homepage
  23. 23. A real estate website’s sidebar can serve a variety offunctions. From aiding in navigation to displayingcontent, the opportunities are endless. That being said,it’s important to think about what’s relevant to youraudience before you start filling your sidebar withwidgets and images. As a general rule, if an elementdoesn’t add value to your site or help engage visitors, itshouldn’t be in your sidebar.A Brief Guide to StockingYour Sidebar
  24. 24. 7 Sidebar Elements thatServe a Purpose1. Quick searchwidget: A veryfunctional featurethat makes it easyfor visitors to diveright into a search.2. Recent listings:Did somebody sayeye candy?Highlighting recentlistings in yoursidebar can helpentice your visitorsto engage.3. Featured blogposts: Putting yourbest blog posts ondisplay in your sidebarcan help you positionyourself as a trustedresource.4. Contact form: Nevermiss an opportunity to haveyour site’s visitors reach out.Put a simple contact form inyour sidebar and promptvisitors to send you amessage if they have anyquestions.29
  25. 25. 5. Testimonials: By including testimonials from satisfiedcustomers in your sidebar, you’re letting visitors knowthat you have experience. This social proof can go a longway in developing trust amongst your visitors.6. Contact info: Your contact info should always beeasy to find, regardless of where your visitors are on yoursite. Put it at the top of the page (in your header), at thebottom of your page (in your footer), and in the middle ofthe page (in your sidebar).7. Social media widgets: Displaying the number ofFacebook “likes” you have and/or recent tweets fromyour Twitter stream in your sidebar shows your visitorsthat you have an active presence on social media. Liketestimonials, these widgets can help instill trust.30
  26. 26. We’ve covered the tops, bottoms, and sides of a successful real estate website design. Now it’s time to turn ourattention to the prime real estate in the middle of a site’s homepage - that “center stage” that lives right beneath yourheader. What do you put there?Front & Center31
  27. 27. Before we get into specifics, let’s establish what youshould be trying to accomplish with that space. Asuccessful “center stage” homepage element should...• immediately capture a visitor’s attention• highlight your brand and/or the areayou serve• feature a call-to-action or otheropportunity for engagementOne of the most popular options for this valuable spaceon your homepage is to embed a slideshow of photos.The reasoning behind this choice is fairly obvious. Forstarters, photos are visually engaging, which makesthem great for grabbing the attention of your visitors.Second, by showcasing photos from the area your serve- or photos that reflect the ambiance or feel of that area -you can make it easy for visitors to understand what youand your website are all about.For example, if you sold homes in Cape Cod,Massachusetts, your slideshow could feature photos ofbeaches, cottages, lighthouses, etc.Finally, by making your photos clickable or by overlayingsome navigation/calls-to-action on your photos, you canuse them to drive visitors to a listings search page or toother areas of your site.32
  28. 28. 33The most important thingto remember when using aslideshow on your real estate siteis image quality. A slideshow losesits luster when photos are blurry,pixelated, or otherwise distorted.So while you may be tempted tosnap some photos on yoursmartphone and throw them upon your site, professional, high-quality photographs are essentialfor bringing your real estate site tothat “next level” of excellence.High-quality photo of Boston (above); Low-quality photo of Boston (below)GOODBAD
  29. 29. Another popular option for that center stage area of your homepage is a map. While it may be less visuallyengaging or less beautiful than a slideshow of high-quality photographs, a map (as you might expect) doesa great job of highlighting the geographic areas you serve. Furthermore, by making different sections orneighborhoods on the map clickable, your visitors can navigate directly to the places they want to explore.34
  30. 30. Of course, there are many other elements that you can display front and center on your real estate site. TheHawaii Life website, for example, has a slideshow of high-quality photos running in the background, andthen has a clickable map overlay on top. The result is both innovative and beautiful.35
  31. 31. Just as a cluttered, confusing layout can cause visitorsto leave your site, so can an ugly or distracting colorscheme. Sure, color isn’t THAT integral to your site’ssuccess when compared to things like IDX and greatcontent (which we’ll discuss in chapters 4 and 5 of thiseBook respectively), but having a pleasant, agreeablecolor scheme will only add to your site’s value.Color Considerations36
  32. 32. 5 Tips for a Pleasing Website Palette1. Start with your logo. Let your logo define the prominent color you use on your site. Have an orange logo? Use thatsame orange hue for other elements on your site (example: the Unity Realty Group website).2. Play with saturation and brightness. Using the exact same shade of a color EVERYWHERE on your site can geta bit repetitive. To switch it up, keep the hue (tone of the color) the same, but change the saturation (intensity of thecolor) and/or the brightness (amount of black or white in the color).37
  33. 33. 3. Use a complementary color. Even with changes tosaturation and brightness, a single-tone site can comeacross as boring or uninspired. Incorporating a second colorinto your site - one that doesn’t clash with your logo’s color -can help add a bit more excitement to your site’s design.4. Just don’t go too crazy with colors. The more colors you add to your site, the more likely it is that your site willcome off looking childish and unprofessional. Remember: the goal is to make your site vibrant and don’twant it looking like the Crayola factory exploded on your homepage.5. Pay attention to contrast: Just as using too many colors can negatively affect your website’s design, so can usingcolors in the wrong places. As a general rule, always put dark-colored text on a light background and always put light-colored text on a dark background. This contrast in color will make navigation links and copy easier to read.38Dark TextLight BackgroundLight TextDark Background
  34. 34. Before we move on to the next chapter, we wanted totouch on one of the more recent changes affecting realestate website design: the mobile revolution. In caseyou’ve had your head buried in a desktop computer forthe past five years, this is what you’ve missed:Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices arefast-becoming the most popular means for browsingthe web and - more pertinently for you - for searchingfor real estate.A Quick Minute on Mobile39
  35. 35. When it comes to optimizing a real estate website formobile, there are three main options to choose from.First, there’s the mobile-only option, which is a mobile-optimized site that is built separately from your desktopsite and that typically has some of the desktop site’sfeatures and functionality stripped out.Next, there’s the mobile app, which is similar to amobile-only site - the main difference being that visitorsneed to download it from an app store in order to use it.Finally, there’s responsive design, which employs thesame architecture for both desktop and mobile. When avisitor views a responsive design site on a mobile device,the site automatically adjusts to fit the screen size, whichmeans no loss of functionality and no downloadingnecessary.For a more in-depth look at mobile-optimized websites and responsivedesign, check out our eBook: ResponsiveDesign for Real Estate: How to Choose aMobile Theme that Drives Sales41
  36. 36. To learn more about best practices for real estate website design, there are severalresources available in our Real Estate Marketing Academy, including... • Guide to Choosing a Real Estate Website Solution • Building a Real Estate Website? Know What It’s Going to Cost • Real Estate Website Redesign Kit• [Slideshow] Website Development Checklist for Real Estate• [Infographic] The Anatomy of a Real Estate Marketing WebsiteNext Chapter: IDX Explained >>>42
  37. 37. Let’s get right to the point: if visitors can’tsearch for property listings on your website,what reason do they have for being there?Even with a great, locally-focused domainname and a beautiful, easy-to-navigate design,your real estate site isn’t going to be valuableto buyers and sellers if it can’t pull listing datafrom an MLS (Multiple Listing Service). An MLSaggregates all of the property listings in aparticular area and stores them in a database.And while you could search through thatdatabase and add listings to your sitemanually, there are several reasons why thisisn’t the best idea.IDX ExplainedChapter4
  38. 38. Why Manual Integration StinksFor starters, manual integration is time-consuming: youhave to search through the database for each and everylisting you want to display and then copy each and everybit of data associated with those listings. Furthermore,because you’re cutting the data off from its originalsource when you enter it manually, the listings on yoursite won’t change when the MLS is updated. As a result,keeping your listings up-to-date is virtually impossible,since you’d have to monitor the MLS non-stop to checkfor new listings.So, how do you get MLS data onto your site quickly andeasily, without having to worry about out-of-date listings?IDX is the answer.IDX to the RescueIDX (Internet Data Exchange) is the exchange of databetween an MLS and a real estate website. In manyinstances, “IDX” is used to refer to a specific technologyor solution for achieving that data exchange. Just likeGoogle crawls the web, gathers data, and then puts thatdata in a searchable format, an IDX solution crawls anMLS database, gathers listing data, and then puts thatlisting data in a searchable format. With an IDX-poweredwebsite, visitors can search an MLS on your turf, whichmeans they won’t need to go to a national listings sitelike Trulia, Zillow, or to learn more about aproperty: you’ll have everything they’re looking for.44
  39. 39. iframe: An iframe, or inline frame, is an HTML element that lets you embed HTMLdocuments - like MLS search windows - on your website. Technically speaking, however,an iframed MLS search window doesn’t qualify as IDX technology. This is because whenyou use an iframe, listing data is never actually transferred from the MLS to your site.Instead, the iframe just displays the listing data. Think of it like a projected image: Theactual image data is in the projector (the MLS), but people can see the image when it’sprojected on a screen (your website).Unfortunately, while an iframe is super simple to use - you just copy and paste an embedcode to install it - it is a poor choice from a marketing and site optimization perspective.Since there’s no actual transfer of data, your listings don’t show up in search results,making it harder for people to find you online. And because you have little control over thelook and feel  of the iframe, there’s no guarantee that it will mesh with your site’s design ormatch with its color scheme.45Types of IDX Technology: iframe
  40. 40. FTP (File Transfer Protocol): FTP is a standard for exchanging program and data filesacross a network. Implemented before RETS (which we’ll talk about next), an FTP-basedIDX solution synchronizes your real estate website with an MLS database. Updateshappen at specific time intervals, such as once every 12 hours, meaning your listingsalways stay relatively up-to-date. And because data is actually transferred from one host(the MLS) to another (your website), the listings on your site show up in search results,making it easier for potential customers to find you.One of the downsides to FTP is that there are no set FTP standards amongst MLSs: eachhas its own unique way of doing things, which makes the integration process both morecomplicated and more costly in comparison to other options. And while FTP doessynchronize your site with an MLS database, updates happen less frequently - and lessefficiently - than with the more modern RETS standard. As a result, a RETS integrationyields higher SEO benefits.46Types of IDX Technology: FTP
  41. 41. RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard): MLSs nationwide are moving to adoptRETS as the industry standard for IDX integration. In comparison to FTP, RETS allows forsimpler and less expensive integrations. RETS is also the better option for boosting your“SEO juice,” as updates occur as frequently as once every hour. This means new,searchable listings are constantly being added to your site. And unlike FTP, whichupdates your site by re-sending all of the old MLS data along with the new data, RETSjust sends the updated data. This more efficient data transfer process allows for a faster,higher-performing IDX integration.The one drawback to RETS is that - on its own - RETS data is essentially useless. Inorder to deploy RETS data effectively, you need additional software or a trainedprofessional to make sense of it.47Types of IDX Technology: RETS
  42. 42. Choosing the Right IDXSolutionIt’s clear that RETS is the best option when it comes tochoosing an IDX technology. From a marketingperspective, it offers better SEO benefits than an iframeor FTP, and it also provides the most up-to-date listingdata. From a user experience perspective, RETS isfaster, easier-to-use, and more customizable. It shouldalso be taken into consideration that of all the IDXtechnologies available, RETS is the most widely used,with approximately 80% of MLSs supporting it.Once you’ve decided that RETS is the way to go, you’llnext have to decide on an IDX service provider who willtransfer RETS listing data from the MLS database to yourwebsite. There are many options out there and costs canvary tremendously from provider to provider.To help you narrow down your search,we’ve created a list of some of the mostpopular providers:• Diverse Solutions• IDX Broker• Displet• iHomeFinder• Real Geeks• Real Estate Webmasters• Placester49
  43. 43. Before pulling the trigger on an IDX provider, make sure you spend time reading the fine print and understanding termsand conditions. Some questions that you might want to ask yourself when evaluating a provider include: • Does the provider cover the MLS integration fee (or do I)? • Is there a mandatory minimum contract / subscription period, or can I cancel anytime? • Is the IDX interface elegant, intuitive, and optimized for mobile? • Are unique URLs generated for each listing? • Can you customize search criteria? • And last but not least, how much does it cost?50
  44. 44. If you want to learn more about IDX, check out some of these resources in our RealEstate Marketing Academy: • Understanding Real Estate Listing Data: The Difference Between IDX and RETS • Why Integration Is the Key to a Successful Real Estate Website • Content Is King, Part 1: Foundation ContentNext Chapter: Creating Content >>>51
  45. 45. By filling your real estate site withsearchable listing data, IDX is able to accountfor the first half of a successful contentmarketing strategy: namely, your foundationcontent. Foundation content stems from acompany’s products and/or services and isoften the main reason why a consumersearches that company out in the first place.An online bike store, for example, relies on itsinventory of bikes as its foundation content:Folks who are interested in buying bikes go tothe site to view product specs, prices, images,and so on.Creating ContentChapter5
  46. 46. As a real estate professional with an IDX-powered website, you’re blessed with having a continuouslyupdated stream of foundation content: MLS listing data. Once you have that IDX integration set up, you could- theoretically - never change a single thing on your site again and still have a site with fresh, discoverablecontent. And while it may be tempting to take this “set it and forget it” approach to your content, there areseveral reasons why creating additional content can be beneficial to your online success.53
  47. 47. 54Building on Top of YourFoundationYour foundation content is a reflection of your productofferings, as it shows your site’s visitors what you havefor sale. And since this content is supplied by an MLS,you really don’t have too much control over it: you can’tchange or enhance the details of MLS property listings(without being dishonest). What you can control,however, is the context in which listings are presented.If you think of foundation content as your product, youcan think of created content - the copy, images, andvideos that YOU produce - as your product’s packaging.Created content allows you to supplement, enhance,and highlight your foundation content, making the listingson your site more appealing to potential homebuyers.“Created content is as much about selling yourself as itis about selling your product. Whether the informationit presents is useful, entertaining, provocative, or somecombination of all three, great created content willshow leads you’re worth paying attention to anddoing business with.”-Seth Price, Director of Sales & Marketing - Placester
  48. 48. First Things First: Create YourPermanent PagesWhen visitors arrive on your site (and are pleased todiscover an intuitive MLS search window for searchinglistings!), they’ll likely want to know more about youbefore reaching out. After all, buying (or selling) a home istypically the largest transaction of a person’s life, so folksare going to want to know that you’re someone they cantrust before they decide to do business with you.One of the best ways to build trust on your website isthrough your permanent pages, which visitors cantypically get to via the navigation links in your header.These pages are meant to gives visitors a sense of whoyou are, what experience you have, what services youprovide, and what areas you cover. Keeping that in mind,here’s a list of best practices for some of the mostpopular permanent pages for real estate. AboutEvery website should have an about page. This is thespace where you tell your visitors about you and/or yourcompany. For a personal realtor site, where you’re from,where you went to school, and where/when you gotstarted in the industry are all relevant tidbits to include.You might also want to include your personal missionstatement, any awards or accolades you’ve received,and - for a bit of color - your interests and hobbies.When creating an about page for a company withmultiple employees, the copy should be more team-focused and emphasize the values and goals of thecompany as a whole.55
  49. 49. ServicesInstead of getting into the nitty gritty of the services youprovide in your website’s about page, create a separate“services” page where you can go more in-depth. Manyreal estate professionals divide their services intodifferent sections (buy, sell, rent, etc.) and then createseparate pages for each. A buyer’s page, for example,provides information that is specifically geared towardprospective homebuyers, such as how your knowledgeof the market can help buyers get the best deals, or howyour innovative approach to purchasing can simplify theprocess.NeighborhoodsCreating a page (or pages) for highlighting the areas youcover is a great way to position yourself as a local expert.From a copy standpoint, schools, parks, restaurants,and local attractions are all great things to write about.But don’t limit yourself to words: including maps andphoto galleries can help give your site’s visitors a bettertaste of the local flavor.56
  50. 50. By now, many real estate professionals know that they should be blogging on their site AT LEAST a few times permonth - the more frequently, the better. It’s become clear that the benefits of blogging definitely outweigh the time andenergy it takes to craft and publish posts.Blogging for Real Estate 10157
  51. 51. For those real estate professionals out there who are still unconvinced that blogging is worth it, let’s quickly go oversome of the main benefits of blogging for real estate.• Trust-building: When visitors can see that you’re actively authoring and updating content on your site, your siteseems more legitimate and trustworthy.• Positioning yourself as an expert: A thoughtfully researched, well-written blog that adds value to prospectivehomebuyers, sellers, and renters will help folks identify you as an expert in the space.• Boosting your “SEO juice”:  Search engines love new content. Every time you publish a new blog post, you’recreating a new page that search engines can index (as well as a new page that a prospective client can discoverduring a search).• Increasing your social presence: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest shouldn’t just be channelsfor sharing your listings - they should be channels for sharing your knowledge. When you have a regularly updatedblog, you have a wealth of content that you can share.Once you’ve decided to start a blog on your real estate site (good call!), a big question will likely begin to loom over yourhead: “What the heck should I write about?” The short answer: You should write about topics that your prospectiveclients will find valuable. Try putting yourself in your clients’ shoes: What problems are they facing? What are theyconfused about? What questions do they have? The goal of your blog should be to solve their problems, alleviate theirconfusion, and answer their questions.58
  52. 52. 5 Topic Ideas for Your RealEstate Blog1. Industry insight: Keep your prospective clientsinformed of the latest studies, surveys, and stats with anindustry-focused blog post. Make sureto add context: don’t just copyand paste data into a post andhit publish - explain what thedata means and why it’simportant.2. Homebuyer how-to: Help prospective homebuyersprepare by giving them a step-by-step guide on how thebuying process works (cleaning up your credit, gettingpre-approved, finding your pricerange, etc.). Given the broadnature of the topic, you couldeasily split this up into severalposts.3. Tips for sellers: Help sellers preparetheir homes for sale with some experttips and tricks. Home improvement,staging, appraisals, and pricing are allgreat sub-topics you could explore.4. Local lowdown: Further prove yourchops as a local expert by writing aboutyour “adventures” around town. Fromreviewing a new restaurant to documentingyour day at the park, your blog is a greatplace to put your knowledge ofneighborhood happenings on display.5. Property promotion: While your blogshould primarily serve as a resource, don’tbe afraid to use it for promoting new orspecial properties you have in yourinventory.59
  53. 53. Of course, your blog (and other site pages) shouldn’tbe limited to text: graphics and photos are incrediblyvaluable when it comes to attracting attention andenticing your site’s visitors to engage. In addition, youcan share the graphics and photos you create on siteslike Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr to increase yoursite’s social presence.Pixel Perfect:Creating Visual Content60
  54. 54. Here are a few examples of how youcan use visual content on your realestate site:Neighborhood scenes: Take photosof all of the cool places in thecommunities you cover and weavethem into your blog posts and/orneighborhood pages.Eye on architecture: Head back outinto the community with your camera,but this time focus on the differenthouse styles you see. You canincorporate the photos you take into ablog post (or page) on localarchitecture.61
  55. 55. Office antics: Take photos of yourbustling office so visitors can see youin action. If you work with a team ofemployees, make sure to includesome group shots. You’ll also want totake individual headshots so you canset up a “team” page. It’s amazinghow powerful these photos can bewhen it comes to “humanizing” yourwebsite.Slideshows: With a program likePowerPoint or Keynote, you canquickly and easily tell a visual storythrough a slideshow. Whether you’resharing market data or providing ahow-to guide, a slideshow offers amore interactive alternative to atraditional, text-based blog post. Bestof all, you can use SlideShare toembed and share your slideshows.62
  56. 56. Video is increasingly becoming an important aspect ofsuccessful content marketing strategies. This isespecially true for real estate, which is an incrediblyvisual industry that deals in physical, three-dimensionalspaces. And while you can certainly be successfulsticking to text, photos, and graphics, creating videocontent can help you get an edge over yourcompetitors. In addition to simply embedding videocontent on your site, you can share it through socialchannels like YouTube and Vimeo to help increase youronline presence.Lights, Camera, Action:Creating Video Content63
  57. 57. Here are a few example of how youcan use video content on your site:Property tours: A picture’s worth athousand words, but when it comesto getting a sense of the layout,sound, and feel of a property, video isdefinitely better.Neighborhood tours: Why stop thecamera rolling once you stepoutside? Shoot some video of theproperty’s exterior, then take a stroll(or drive) so you can give prospectivebuyers a feel for the culture andcharacter of the neighborhood.64
  58. 58. VIP interviews: Find local businessleaders, politicians, school principals,and other notable residents for someon-camera interviews. Have them talkabout the area, what’s special aboutit, what their favorite local restaurantsare, etc.Testimonials: You’ve made manyclients happy over the years - whynot ask a few of them if they’d bewilling to go on camera and talkabout their experiences working withyou?65
  59. 59. Regardless of the types of content you choose tocreate, coming up with a content schedule - andsticking to it - will do wonders for your productivity.Start small: if you’ve never blogged before, aim for twoposts a month (one post every two weeks) and makesure you set aside time on your calendar to brainstormand execute. Don’t assume you’ll remember: write itdown! The toughest part of content marketing isn’tgetting started - it’s keeping it going.To help you stay on track, we’ve created a contentmarketing editorial calendar specifically designed forreal estate professionals.Sticking to a Schedule66
  60. 60. If you want to learn more about content marketing for real estate, check out some ofthese resources in our Real Estate Marketing Academy: • Content Is King, Part 2: Created Content • Guide to Creating Killer Content for Real Estate Marketing • 10 Ways to Build Links with Your Real Estate Marketing Content Next Chapter: Conclusion >>>67
  61. 61. Your real estate website is the mostpowerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Justremember that it isn’t something you “set andforget.” After choosing a domain name,perfecting the design, and integrating IDX,you’ll need to produce content and updateyour site regularly in order to stay competitive.You’ll also want to measure the performance ofyour site, which is something we explore in-depth in our eBook, An Introduction to GoogleAnalytics for Real Estate.ConclusionChapter6
  62. 62. And remember, this guide is a starting point: if you really want your real estate site to stand out from thecompetition, you need to keep innovating. New tools and technologies are always popping up. Stayingabreast of the latest breakthroughs can help you stay on the cutting-edge.“There are only so many ways you can take the same information and make it ‘prettier.’ So knock itoff. Stop taking the easy way out and reproducing what your competition is doing, and instead dowhat theyre NOT. Be original.”-Nobu Hata, Director of Digital Engagement for the National Association of REALTORS®69
  63. 63. Books• Real Estate Rocket Fuel: Internet Marketing for RealEstate for the 21st Century and Beyond. MikeCarraway. May 21, 2012.• The Ultimate WordPress Real Estate Website. JimKimmons. Sep 23, 2012.• The Constant Agent: 32 Proven Real Estate MarketingIdeas to Build into Your Business Daily. LindaSchneider. Nov 14, 2012.ArticlesBest Practices for Real Estate Websites. Julie Collins.Sep 21, 2011.Best Practices for Your Real Estate Website Homepage.Stefanie Hahn. Feb 2013.Guide to Real Estate SEO. Emily Cote. July 3, 2012.How To Set Up Your Very Own Real Estate Website.Frank DeFazio. Jan 18, 2013.70Further Reading
  64. 64. ContributorsSeth Price: Director of Sales & Marketing - PlacesterSeth has a rich and diverse background spanning various industries, both online and off, andis a veteran relationship builder, innovator, and thought leader. In particular, his experience inreal estate allows him to uniquely navigate the ambiguous facets of our space, creating valuefor customers and clients.Nobu Hata: Director of Digital Engagement - National Association of REALTORS®An industry veteran since 1996, Nobu is a student of marketing, communications trends,social media, and technology in the real estate industry. He speaks from experienceresearching, implementing, and adapting various new school techniques to his brick andmortar business.Chris Smith: Co-founder - Curaytor.comChris is a highly sought after consultant, speaker and blogger in the real estate space. He co-founded the award winning blog Tech Savvy Agent, served as chief evangelist for InmanNews, and was named the most influential person in the real estate industry.71
  65. 65. Thank You!Thanks for checking out our Ultimate Guide to Building a Real Estate Website eBook. Formore insight into the world of real estate marketing, be sure to visit our Real EstateMarketing Academy.Looking to set up a new real estate website with built-in IDX/MLS search, premiumthemes, and indexable property pages? Head to and get started with a15-day free trial.72