When to update your real estate website

The five must-haves for a real estate website are: who, what, when, where and why. Day three of this series on the 5Ws of Internet marketing answers the “when”— “when to update my real estate website.”

When to update your real estate website depends on your goals.

If your goal is to get found by qualified traffic and capture more leads, then update your site with search engine friendly content regularly.

What if you’re goal is to earn more referrals?  Take Broker Christina Ngas a case in point.  With more than 20 years of field experience, Ng is well versed in what sells:  one-to-one marketing.  “I get 80 percent of my business from referrals,” Ng said.

In 2004, Ng broke a record with 36 transactions.  The average price of San Mateo County homes: $1.2 million.

Ng’s commitment to client satisfaction means breaking her own record: working 14 months with a fickle buyer.

Put simply, she’s omnipresent and onmniscient. To this end, Ng uses her real estate website to market her knowledge. Today, Internet consumers can search real estate databases for free. “To be more competitive, I have to offer more content to keep them there, keep them coming back to me, and eventually open communication,” she said.

What follows is a Q & A interview with Ng where she identifies her clients’ needs, assesses her home page, and then develops an ongoing content building strategy.  Her first step:  measuring the marketing effectiveness of her real estate website.  To evaluate site traffic and search engine optimization, Ng uses a free SEO tool.  During our brainstorming session, Ng eliminates a costly and ineffective traditional marketing practice for open houses. We encourage you to join this conversation by posting comments.

One customer at a time

PropertyMinder (PM): “What is your goal?”

Christina Ng (CN): “I don’t know where to start. Maybe we can start with my [HubSpot Website Grader] report card and how to implement their recommendations.

PM: “How do prospects use your real estate website?”

CN:  As far as my clients using my website, I told them about it and signed them up. But I’m not reaching out enough to even know what other people are looking for.  Most site visitors are looking for properties and conduct their own MLS searches…. Site visitors go to the website and find information that is of value and then start a conversation with me.  However, prospects can now do their own MLS searches for free….  To be more competitive, I have to offer more content to keep them there, keep them coming back to me, and eventually open communication.

PM:  “Why do you refer clients to your website?”

Yesterday, I got a referral from a past client.  I talked to the prospect via telephone to qualify her needs and recommended relevant properties in her price range.  Using my [PropertyMinder AccelerAgent] website, I set up an automated custom search; it automatically generates results to the prospect.  That’s how I usually do it….

If Internet consumers go into my website and conduct a search, they may not know the neighborhoods as well as I do … and will end up picking anything in their price range.  Sometimes, for a certain client who does not know what he wants, less search restrictions are better.  Then after talking with him 3 or 4 times, I can begin to eliminate certain areas and make personal recommendations. At that point, I can modify searches… and that takes a lot of communication on an ongoing basis.

PM:  You said that schools are your primary selling point.  How can you make this information more accessible for your user?  For example, why not profile each school in your neighborhood?  How about creating an online forum for clients to rate and review their schools on your website? This information is of great value to your prospects that no one else can offer.  In doing so, you also follow up with former clients (allowing you to market to 100 percent to your referral base.)  By marketing your knowledge, you gain a competitive advantage over free search engines.  And you save your customers valuable time, which is arguably our scarcest resource in an attention economy.

CN:  At an open house, we offer a binder that includes information about the community — such as schools, neighborhood profiles, restaurants, cleaners etc.

PM: So it’s essentially the same information you would find in your hotel room per say. And you’re a concierge of sorts….

CN:  Right…. The binder lists all the schools…. I also include some schools in a supplemental description packet. I definitely will ask sellers what school(s) their children attend. The binder lists all the schools but does not tell you the exact schools for that specific address.  API scores are already included….

[Ng hands me a 2-inch thick binder, divided into subheadings. I politely flip through the resource manual before saying, “No thank you.”]

Bertha Sandoval (REALTOR® and assistant):  What I’m noticing is that people don’t want to go through a binder. When I get to open houses, I realize this and wonder why didn’t I research this and put this information into the flyer (i.e. the name of the schools, API scores, etc.).

CN:  We can create a two-sided flyer….

PM:  How about just telling me what I need to know?  What’s in it for me?  Can you shorten the description, getting rid of the “huff and puff” (e.g. floral adjectives) and provide me with just the facts? How about a one-page color PDF file or HTML-based email with ‘pix appeal’ (and outbound links) that I can download from your real estate website and/or automated email? Provide buyers with competitive intelligence about the feeding schools for that specific address (i.e. test scores).  Include information about the nearby private schools as points of comparison.

CN:  If we go on the website and put all that information on every listing, that would be a lot of information….

PM:  Perhaps the solution is to include a neighborhood profile for your featured listing as an entry point into that community.  By focusing on your goal (selling your feature listing quickly and at a high price), you can improve the user experience.  Why not configure your sidebar navigation around your target prospect’s needs?  I don’t recommend changing your “design” but rather optimizing your content for search engines.  Your new sidebar might look like:

  1. About Me
  2. Testimonials
  3. Featured Listing
  4. Neighborhood Profile
  5. Market Snapshot
  6. School Report Cards
  7. San Mateo County
  8. Find a Home
  9. For Sellers
  10. For Buyers

Basically, only give the user what he needs to know to get a prospect to pick up the phone.   In an attention economy, 15 seconds is the difference between capturing a lead or losing a site visitor.

CN:  Yeah, that’s true. I agree…. What about a blog? Should I blog?

As a sequel to this post, we will debate the value of blogging and ROI. In summary, blogs outrank websites by directly feeding search engines new content more often — which increases rankings on Google, Yahoo! and MSN.

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