A great website is a brokerage's way of properly introducing itself to the world, and any real estate professionals who have had success know such a site is a good way to generate leads. However, simply having a website in place often isn't enough to properly engage would-be buyers and sellers: Those sites need to be attractive and memorable, and moreover, they need to be updated on a regular basis. Fortunately, it doesn't take much work to keep a brokerage's site looking fresh all year long.
Perhaps the first thing to consider for any brokers as they look at ways to improve their websites is the intended audience, according to web design expert Jon Persson. Simply designing every aspect of a site by asking the question, "Will this speak to the target buyers or sellers?" is a good way to start the process. Here, a little work to look at demographics of recent clients and potentially who's clicking through to the site itself on social media, can go a long way toward informing the best design and feature decisions.
Furthermore, those in charge of website design should make sure they know what the effort intends to accomplish and how they can best achieve those ends.
What does that mean?
Having a website is more than just throwing up some contact information and maybe a few listings; it's generally recommended that these sites fit into a company's overall branding strategy and gently funnel visitors toward information that will help them start the real estate sales process on the right foot. But it should be information for the "right" kind of visitors - that is, those who are within the target audiences - that will help them make the most informed decision possible.
If a website is the start of a broker/client relationship, giving them unique insights via blog posts and other content goes a long way toward establishing the broker's expertise in their area.
Under the hood
It's also important that brokerages make their sites locally focused, according to Inman. That means including a lot of keywords, metadata, links and so on with words and terms that are focused on things people tend to search for about the areas: specific neighborhoods, local attractions and the like.
In addition, it's absolutely imperative that websites be "responsive," meaning they are designed to look attractive on any device. People spend more time browsing the internet on their smartphones or tablets these days than they used to, so having a site that scales all the content on it to fit those screens is crucial to appearing authoritative. It's also a good idea to include plenty of links to brokers' or individual agents' social media pages so there's something of a crossover effect that leads to more client engagement.
Once a site is set up or updated, though, it's important to revisit everything on it regularly to ensure that it's keeping up with industry norms. It's easier - and quicker - than some brokers may think to keep a website updated regularly, and the value doing so provides cannot be understated.
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