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What Do the Best Real Estate Websites for Agents Have in Common?
Competition is fierce in the real estate industry. Naturally, agents focus on doing things that make themselves and their brand stand out, like clever marketing, creating flashy ads and handing out branded freebies. But your real estate website is just as important, if not more so. Anyone who searches for you will land on Google and then continue to your website. It only takes a single impression to hold their attention or lose their business. Getting it right is essential in preventing consumers from leaving your site too quickly. If they're engaged, they'll gain value from your content, have more confidence in your brand and ultimately convert into a lead. There are six common traits that the best real estate websites for agents have in common. These include usability and content features that meet consumer expectations, as well as specific tools that help real estate agents capture leads' contact information. Get these right and your website will be ready for prime time.
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The Top 10 Ways to Drive New Traffic to Your Real Estate Website
As a real estate agent, one of your primary goals and constant challenge is driving consumers to your website. Your real estate website is like your online store, so it's vital to your success to explore strategies that increase traffic to your website. Real estate is a numbers game. More traffic to your website means more opportunities to convert a consumer into a lead. The more leads, the more opportunity for clients, and the more clients means more income and more referrals. When you brainstorm ways to drive more traffic to your website, think of ways your target audience consumes information and how you can intercept their attention. In this article, you'll discover 10 marketing tactics used to drive new website visitor traffic to your website.
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9 Ways to Use Social Media to Make Your Website a Better Lead Engine
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How to Get Search Engines to Come Crawling Back
In this article for Delta Media Group's real estate industry publication, Real Estate Marketing and Technology Magazine, Aaron Geh discusses how SEO helps your real estate website attract more traffic and better quality leads. Whether searching for a sales associate or going on a house hunt, most people start their search online. Search engine results are a huge potential source of traffic for your real estate website, which leads to fierce competition for the top positions in search rankings. That's where search engine optimization (SEO) enters the picture. SEO is one of the most powerful tools for growing your real estate firm online, but SEO's complexity means that not everyone understands it. Let's look at these SEO tips to help your business attract more traffic and better quality leads.
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7 Ways to Simplify Your Real Estate Website to Increase Lead Generation
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Website SEO Tips
Bondilyn Jolly, VP of Marketing at Elevate, interviews CJ Hays of Agent Reputation on his top tips for driving amazing SEO on Google. If you are looking for your website "to be found" on Google searches, tune into this discussion on tactical blogging, original content, IDX indelibility, reviews and more. CJ packs TONS of great tips into 14 minutes, so be ready to hit the "replay" button! Want MORE great website SEO tips? Download Elevate's FREE "Website SEO Guide" at: TryElevate.com/websiteseoguide/
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Website SEO Guide [FREE Download]
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Answering Your Questions About SEO and Your Real Estate Website
I have spent over 20 years helping a wide variety of companies grow their businesses on the Internet. Here are two of the most frequently asked questions I receive and their answers: What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Why does SEO need to be approached differently within the real estate industry? What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? First, let me define what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is from my perspective. SEO techniques are used on and off websites to make a site more appealing to search engines. The more search engines like a website, the more they visit to index its pages. The result of SEO work done correctly--search engines push your website higher in search results for specific key phrases associated with your products and/services. Traffic generated from SEO is called "organic traffic." SEO in the Early Days Over the years, SEO has evolved, but I'd argue the core fundamentals have not changed that much. Early on in the infancy stage of SEO, it was the Wild West (late 1990s). Many people resorted to keyword stuffing or paying link farms to create thousands of links back to a site. While this process resulted in short term gains for these companies, any advancement made was quickly replaced with penalties once search engines caught on to their spammy techniques. Even during these Wild West days, savvy developers and online marketers understood it was all about designing sites for the end user. Eventually, search engines started publishing best practices, many of which still apply today. SEO Best Practices You need to build a site that is easy to use and navigate. The website needs to be technically sound. It needs to perform well speed-wise. The website needs designing with the end-user in mind, not the search engines. It needs to have unique and engaging content. You need to research high authority 'complementary' sites and obtain links back to your site. It needs to be trustworthy Add on-page optimization and internal linking throughout your website to help search engines better understand what the site is about and to navigate it easier. This last point is evolving a bit as the search engines are becoming smarter and don't need as much assistance. There are different approaches to SEO if you are a B2B or B2C company, but at the end of the day, the goals for any SEO campaign should be to increase traffic and leads/sales. Why Is SEO for the Real Estate Industry Approached Differently? Within most other industries, whether you are B2B or B2C, you are dealing with information that does not change often. For example, if you are a carpet cleaning company, your services will not change much over time. Or if you have an online store, products are added or discontinued over time, but generally speaking, your offerings stay pretty consistent. The consistency in these two examples allows the marketer to focus more intently on specific products and/or services, building out valuable content and links over time around the core services or products. The most significant difference with a real estate website is the lack of consistency with the products: homes, buildings, land, etc. Each property has a unique SKU number, so to speak, so it makes things even more challenging; the properties are only online until they sell. In major markets, we are talking thousands of property listings turning over quickly. Instead of trying to optimize each listing individually, many marketers in the real estate industry will focus on areas--states, counties, cities, neighborhoods, school districts, subdivisions, etc. For example, if you are a real estate firm in Sarasota, Fla., you may create a landing page with listings for Sarasota. And from that page, you'll drill down and create additional pages for neighborhoods within Sarasota. Consequently, you would use SEO tactics on all of those pages. This process is a fairly common practice within the real estate industry. The downside to this approach is that you will be missing out on visitors searching for a specific home for sale. Surprisingly, we have found that single address property searches equate to a significant amount of monthly traffic. Some of our clients see nearly 50 percent of their traffic originating from single address property search--i.e., 123 Main Street, Sarasota. Moreover, when it comes to recruiting and retaining, a firm with real estate listings displayed on the first page of Google has a distinct advantage over local competitors who cannot. To stay ahead of the curve, you should review your current website from two different aspects. 1. Technical Aspect of SEO The technical aspects of SEO (the how and why behind search engines crawling and indexing a site) are even more important with real estate sites than other industries because of the sheer amount of data processed daily. Clear paths for search engines need to be created to crawl from page-to-page, gathering pertinent information throughout your site. I have found that many real estate websites struggle in this area. To determine if your site has technical issues, look at how many pages you have indexed in Google (example: type site: www.hpw.com into Google search). Based on the number of listings and other content throughout your site, if the number of indexed pages seems low, there may be underlying issues. 2. Content Aspect of SEO Within the real estate industry, content is essential given the industry's competitive nature and some of the previously mentioned challenges. Blogging is a popular way to grow your site's visibility in search engines. As a rule of thumb, blogs should support the site's overall SEO strategy. However, in many cases, blogs are the only area where SEO is leveraged. For example, if your website is not ranking for the markets you serve, a blog may be your only avenue to publish optimized content for better visibility. Unless you are willing to invest significantly in time and money to make an impact, this option may not be ideal for you. Some companies do it and are successful, but having a better understanding of the website's shortfalls and correcting them will save you time and money in the long run. Taking a Look at the Competition I also wanted to touch on the industry's competitive nature and attempt to set proper expectations if you are a local firm engaging in SEO. The real estate industry is competitive, REALLY competitive. You have portals led by Zillow, corporate franchises, and then all of the local firms all competing for the number one position within the search results. The more competitive the market is in general (e.g., Dallas or San Francisco), the bigger the hill is to climb because there are even more online competitors. Realistically speaking, most local firms are not going to outrank the portals or even corporate franchises for phrases like "Dallas real estate," for example. These sites have an enormous amount of content because they have a national presence and all of the listings and associated content to go along with it. That is a big deal and one that is tough to beat. It's not impossible to outrank bigger players because many of our clients do. The clients that do tend to be very large and have spent years investing in SEO and content strategies. A realistic approach is to focus on less competitive phrases and ensure that your listing shows up on the first page of results. Less competitive phrases revolve around neighborhoods, subdivisions, and school districts. If you are successful and climb to the top for these phrases, it generally produces better quality traffic and leads. Also, visitors using these types of search phrases have narrowed their focus and are a bit more qualified. With SEO, Patience Is a Virtue... Really! A word to the wise: SEO is a long-term play, meaning don't expect immediate results. My rule of thumb is that if you don't at least stick it out for a year, look to invest your marketing dollars elsewhere. We are fortunate that we can move the needle fairly quickly for most of our clients. However, we run into some cases where it takes a bit longer, and that requires patience. Many factors determine SEO success. Every market and every company is different even though we are all in the real estate industry. So be patient and look at it as a long term investment. If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is Be cautious of companies making wild guarantees like: "We will get your site to the first position in Google for 'real estate.'" This sounds great to someone that is not too familiar with SEO, but realistically, most have no shot. When communicating with a potential partner, you need to feel like you can trust them, know what they are doing, and have your best interest at heart. If it doesn't seem logical or feel realistic, you should probably be concerned. Finally, just because a company claims "to do" SEO, be highly skeptical, especially in the real estate space. It's vital to understand precisely how these companies "do" SEO, and what success looks like based on data they have collected over time. Remember, SEO is about increasing traffic and leads. If they cannot provide you data on how they have helped other firms–run! It's also essential to understand the retention rate for the clients they currently serve. If they cannot retain clients, they are not providing value. So do your homework. Aaron Geh is a featured content contributor for Delta Media Group's industry magazine, Real Estate Marketing & Technology. Sign up today to receive your free subscription to Real Estate Marketing & Technology. To view the original article, visit the Delta Media Group blog.
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How to Master Local SEO for Real Estate Success
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Why Real Estate Agent Websites Need a Privacy Policy
If you work in real estate, you have probably experienced the satisfaction of helping clients navigate the various challenges of finding a new home or putting one up for sale. To be successful, it is critical to not only build relationships of trust and understanding with clients, but also assure your clients that you have the expertise to fulfill their needs. It is likely the case that you did not expect privacy compliance to be a major concern for your business. Nevertheless, this is a reality for not just those working in the real estate industry, but for businesses of all kinds.
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Social Media Ideas Certain to Bring Love to Your Website
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5 Things Every Real Estate Website Should Have
There are a lot of elements that must be in place for your real estate website to generate leads. Your SEO needs to be on point. Your site should be easy to use, but above all else, you need to have the right content.
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The Power of a High Functioning Website
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Top Real Estate Website Issues and How to Fix Them
Creating a real estate website nowadays can be easy, if you have the right set of tools. A specialized platform for real estate with IDX features helps pave the path toward a converting website. But once we have our website up and running, we might face some issues down the road. These issues can affect our marketing and lead generation. Some of these hurdles are very technical and can take some time to cope with on your own. Technical SEO issues can be outsourced, so the website admin can focus on the actual business of generating and converting leads to clients. Most common issues, however, can be taken care of on your own without the need to be tech savvy. Here are five common issues with real estate estate websites and how to fix them:
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Real Estate Website Tips: Why Page Load Time Matters
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3 Things Every Agent Needs in Their 2020 Marketing Arsenal
It's amazing how many companies are vying for the real estate agent's dollar. From trying to sell you leads to showing off the latest shiny object guaranteed to boost your marketing power, it seems like everyone wants to stick their fingers into your pocketbook. What good do these wonder tools do, though, if you lack the systems to put them to work? What is the benefit of marketing to attract new clients if the chances are really good that they'll fall through a crack in your system? If you don't have the basics of your arsenal in place, it's time to concentrate on doing so. 1. A cleaned-up, organized CRM New agents often ask what tools they'll need when they first hit the ground in the real estate world. Aside from a smart phone and a mentor, a robust customer relationship management system (CRM) is a must. Established agents understand the value of a CRM but many allow theirs to become cluttered, disorganized and, very often, ineffective. "Garbage in, garbage out" is what they end up with. Take the time to thoroughly clean up your CRM. This includes: Categorizing the entries in a way that makes sense to you. This may be something as simple as categorizing each entry by their location within the sales funnel (lead, prospect or client) and whether the lead or prospect is cold, warm or hot. Sellers and buyers should be segmented as well. Checking for duplicate entries and then merging or deleting them. Removing contacts that are impossible to contact. These are the ones who submitted a phony email address or phone number, have been in your database for some time and there is no hope of ever contacting them. Ensuring that every contact is on an appropriate touch campaign. 2. A powerful, lead-generating website While the NAR doesn't tell us how many of their members own a website, they do let on that 51 percent have had a website for at least five years. That's a rather paltry number, considering that a website should be one of the main tools in an agent's marketing arsenal. A real estate website can be a giant lead magnet, if done right. By blogging consistently and promoting your posts on social media, you drive traffic back to your site where you can employ additional magnets to capture those leads. But there are other bonuses offered by an agent website: A website offers a place to showcase your testimonials. It helps build awareness of your brand. A website provides a place for potential clients to get to know and trust you. It offers a spot for you to demonstrate authority. Agent websites offer value by providing information that real estate consumers are seeking. Your website can be a tool to help build a targeted mailing list to stay in touch with your sphere of influence. 3. In-depth knowledge of your target market If your target market is "likely buyers and sellers," we feel for you. "Everyone" isn't a target audience and appealing to "everyone" is almost impossible. For marketing to be successful, you simply must know who you are trying to reach. And this determination must be the result of a carefully thought-out process. There are many ways to choose a target market. The easiest is to target the type of client you've most enjoyed working with over the past year or two. Are they members of the military or landlords looking to sell? Maybe they were the first-time homebuyers or downsizing baby boomers. Add to your knowledge of this group of real estate consumers. What is the market like for them right now? Look for pain points that you can address and solve. Where do they hang out online? These are advertising mediums that present an ideal way to reach your audience. Even if you choose only one of the three aforementioned tips, you'll be ahead of your marketing game in 2020.
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How to Promote Yourself and Stay Connected with Clients
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9 Underutilized Websites that Can Help You Generate Real Estate Leads
Online real estate lead generation can be a grind. Everyone knows the main strategies: Google and Facebook ads, Instagram posts, etc. It can be difficult to get an edge because the competition is fierce, not to mention the cost. But not everyone needs to market on oversaturated social networks and platforms. In fact, there are plenty of underutilized websites that can help you generate real estate leads. Here are nine examples that are ready for a savvy real estate agent to exploit.
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Who is Your Ideal Real Estate Customer and How Does Your Website Serve Them?
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5 Components of the Best Agent Websites
A real estate agent's website says a lot. It can either be helpful to its audience of prospects, or not. It can either contribute to an agent's goals of building an online brand and generating leads, or not. The best agent websites have the boxes checked in both of these categories. Now the question is, what do the best agent websites look like? What components do they have that set them apart? And most importantly, how do you get the best real estate website that will benefit your business? Let's examine the features that make an agent website stand out from the crowd, and how you can get it:
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10 Things Google Loves About Your Website
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10 SEO Hacks for Your Real Estate Website
No matter where you're based or what your specialty is, most of your future real estate clients will find you online. Search Engine Optimization – usually called SEO – makes the difference in whether they discover you or a competitor with comparable offerings. SEO is a series of techniques combining best practices in digital marketing and website design. It has two main purposes:
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Building Effective Real Estate Community Pages
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Do You Need a Real Estate Website?
As a real estate professional, you know searching for real estate-related information on the Internet has become an important part of the home buying process. Whether it's to find an agent, view listings or educate themselves about real estate, home buyers are exploring online content more frequently to find what they need. According to the 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, as shared by the National Association of Realtors®: 44% of prospective buyers looked online at properties for sale as their first step in the home buying process 88% of prospects that used the internet considered their agent's online website as the most useful source of information 87% of buyers that used the internet found photos to be useful and 85% found detailed information about listings to be very useful Having a real estate agent website makes it possible to supply these potential clients with information they are searching for and establish a connection in doing so. However, if that is not enough. Here are four specific reasons why all agents should have a personal real estate website:
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How to Boost Your Real Estate Website Traffic 10x with Pinterest
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Planning Your Real Estate Website Success
Most agents and brokers count on their real estate website to support their business growth and close a certain number of transactions per year. It would be nice if you could just set up a real estate website with IDX property search to make this happen, but that's not enough. That would be similar to launching a successful retail store without a business plan.
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How to Create the Perfect Neighborhood Guide for Your Real Estate Website
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10 Reasons Real Estate Agents Need Their Own Websites
Every modern real estate business needs its own website, from the smallest brokerages to the biggest brands. Your website is the face of your business online, and the place where customers come to learn what you have to offer. But it's also so much more. Check out our ten reasons why real estate agents need their own website.
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17 Common Real Estate Website Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)
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Is Your Real Estate Seller Content Hitting the Mark?
The real estate seller is a prime prospect, as listings are known to be the best business building tool for real estate professionals. They also can feel like they're the targets of tons of marketing, emails, and repetitive advice. When you're pursued by a throng of real estate agents, it feels like a pack, and your attention is mostly in getting away; nobody stands out.
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The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Keywords
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5 Essential Strategies for Your Real Estate IDX Website
The ability to stand out in an increasingly competitive market is a challenge. What can you do to compete online? Our new content series will be focusing on the unique value that a real estate website gives you and how to get the most out of it. Just having a local real estate website isn't going to get you too far. It's like having a car but not putting gas in it. If you don't invest even a little bit of time and money, you'll probably not get the most of it. It's very easy to mis-spend, and just because you spend a lot of money on a fancy website, it doesn't necessarily mean you are guaranteed success.
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Know Your Numbers to Get Analytics Working for You!
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Best Tips for Driving Traffic to Your Real Estate Website
Creating your real estate website is an exciting process. You carefully choose the look and craft the content. Following this, you send your beautiful new website out into the World Wide Web. But then what? If you're not driving traffic to your real estate website, what good is its elegant design and terrific listings? Setting up your website is the first step to building a valuable online presence. This will create more leads for you as an agent. But driving traffic to your website is just as important! As a result, we will discuss the best ways to drive traffic to your real estate website.
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How to Spring Clean Your Real Estate Website
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Real Estate Website Testimonials Done Right
Do you have client testimonials on your real estate website? If so, where are they on the site? This is the top navigation bar from a real estate website, and many sites are much the same. You get solicited and unsolicited testimonials from past customers and place them all on the Testimonials page for interested site visitors to read through them. You're getting very little value from the good ones in this way.
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Google Flags Websites that Are Not HTTPS as Not Secure
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Power of a High Functioning Website
This is a digital age, where the minute a prospective buyer learns of your name, they rush to Google to plug your name in – and what comes up will ultimately determine their next steps. Ninety-two percent of homebuyers use the Internet as part of their home search, and you only get one chance at a digital first impression. So if your website is representing you around the clock – are you making it count? Here are essential items to consider for an agent website that converts on its clicks.
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Consider a Lifestyle Section for Your Real Estate Website
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Win Quality Leads by Building Awareness and an Online Presence
In today's market, it's about becoming the resource for your clients while creating your personal brand. The internet has become an important resource in the home search process. Real estate agents who do not have a website will miss great opportunities. In the 2018 Properties Online Real Estate Tech Trends, almost 95 percent of home buyers search for homes online. There is a huge shift to a mobile internet; agents need to stay in the game by increasing their web presence. It's important to establish name recognition and brand awareness through your website. Having your own real estate website is the best way to generate quality leads and maximize the growth of your business.
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How to Do Keyword Research for Your Real Estate Website
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Building a Real Estate Website? Start Here.
A staggering 95 percent of people looking for homes used online websites during their search. Yet, while buyers are using websites to find homes, nearly half of all real estate firms say keeping up with technology is one of their biggest challenges. It doesn't have to be. Here are several do's and don'ts to make sure your website attracts clients and generates leads.
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Your Website: The Key to Real Estate Success
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Real Estate Website Statistics Are Valuable if You Use Them
What value is there in the analysis of real estate website statistics? If you want to see eyes glaze over, mention website statistics or analytics when Realtors are talking about online marketing. Most of them spend their days dealing with numbers related to transactions and client deals. Spending their nights dealing with statistics and numbers on their website traffic isn't something that gets them excited. It's interesting listening to these conversations, as many real estate agents and brokerages are very interested in creating content for their sites and working for better search engine positioning. "Keywords," "Key Phrases," and other SEO-related terms are the topics, and content that works is desired. So, what can you learn from your site's analytics or onboard statistics that will help?
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The Destination Real Estate Website vs. the Billboard Site
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How to Snag Your .realestate Website Domain Before Your Competition
A new website domain extension is set to debut next week, and Realtors looking for a memorable web address with plenty of SEO potential should take notice. Website names with a .realestate domain extension go on pre-sale Tuesday, Sept. 18. That means Realtors will be able to purchase domains like Chattanooga.RealEstate or SmithandBrooks.RealEstate.
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Effective Real Estate Website Calls-to-Action for Lead Generation
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3 Ways to Refresh Your Tired Real Estate Website
How long has the anchor content on your website been up on the web? Take a trip through your real estate website with an eye on how many images and how much text could be updated for a fresh new look and better usability. As you look through the site, keep one question top-of-mind: If I am a regular visitor, would I be bored having seen this content over and over? Here are some tips and ideas for refreshing your site that will make it more interesting, especially for repeat visitors. You could also generate more leads.
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How to Build Your Real Estate Company's Website Authority in 90 Days
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Neighborhood Profile Pages for More Real Estate Buyer Leads
What can you do to get more real estate buyer leads? Listings are wonderful, but the more business the better, so buyer leads are important as well. Take a trip through your website to see if you're providing the assets that buyers, and particularly first-time buyers, want. With younger buyers re-entering the homebuying market due to better job prospects in a growing economy, providing them the information they want when they want it will lead to more buyer leads.
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Does SEO Make Sense for the Average Agent's Website?
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Five Website Features for Real Estate Agents and Brokers
Did you know that only 5 percent of real estate firms do not have a website? This means you need a website to showcase your real estate knowledge and persuade them you are the best agent to work with. These five website features are must haves designed for individual agents, new agents, experienced agents, agent teams and small brokerages.
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How to Get Free, Relevant Real Estate Website Content
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Why Should U.S. Agents and Brokers Care about GDPR?
General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is finally getting the most buzz among U.S. businesses. More so than just about anything that's happened in Europe since the European Union went after Microsoft for antitrust concerns. GDPR takes effect May 25, 2018 and covers how European residents' information can be collected and stored online, as well as EU residents' ability to access and restrict that data. It covers what is known in the U.S. as Personally Identifiable Information, see here. This new law also requires companies to notify its European users of any data breach swiftly. So why all the U.S. interest? Here's why: This law applies to every U.S. real estate website, blog or app if at any point it collects personal information from a European resident. The resident only needs to be in Europe when the data is collected. A financial transaction does not have to take place.
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Is Your Real Estate Website Outdated?
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Turn Your Website into a Personal Promotion Power Tool
Chances are, you already have a website. The National Association of Realtors reports that more than 90 percent of real estate firms do. But does your current website do a good job of selling you to potential customers? In a service-based business, YOU are the product, and many agents are uncomfortable (or simply don't know how) to promote themselves online. In this blog post, we will explore: Why "looks matter" when it comes to websites The crucial jobs every agent needs their website to perform The three most important elements for personal promotion According to the National Association of Realtors, the majority of buyers begin their home search online. Even clients who were referred by a friend or relative are probably going to visit your website before they call you. Your website is often your first chance to make a good impression, so don't waste it.
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10 Must-Haves to Include on Your Real Estate Website
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Four Best Practices for Real Estate Agent Websites (with Examples)
Whether you have a real estate agent website or are looking to get one, take a few minutes to understand these important best practices and take a look at some examples provided. An agent website that ticks all four of these boxes – answers questions, captures leads, features listings and works well on all devices – can help you build your online brand, stand out from your competition and generate a significant amount of sales.
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You Down With O.O.P.? Yeah, You Should Be...
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What's Your Real Estate Website Plan for Next Year?
Website age is one component of Google SEO placement, but what about old real estate website content? No matter how much work, time and money you put into your website when you built it, letting it age doesn't make it better like fine wine. Coming to the end of a calendar year, usually when real estate business slows down, is a great time to take a trip through your website to see what you can do to update content, improve navigation, and in general improve the value of the site through a new revised real estate website plan.
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Use Your Real Estate Website to Boost Your Brand
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Why Making Your Website ADA Compliant Is a Double Win
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, became law in 1990, and added web access guidelines in 1999. Recently, there's been a rapid growth in ADA Title III lawsuits over websites. As a result, today, many real estate agents and brokerages are exposed to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, as well as penalties. Because of the increased legal activity, there's a buzz in the industry to get your website fixed. If you attended a recent workshop or webinar on making your website ADA complaint, you probably heard a lot about this "stick" being used to motivate folks to update their websites to meet the requirements. But what about the "carrot" – the extremely valuable business reason you should update your website to be ADA compliant? Did you know that one in five Americans (22 percent), or almost 57 million people, and one in four women, have a disability? What real estate agents can appreciate from these stats is the business opportunities that emerge by investing in making one's website ADA compliant. So let's look at what it takes to become what's called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) compliant, and what makes this a double win for an agent's and brokerage's business. What's required? The purpose of the ADA guidelines is to simply make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. The word "content" generally means information on a web page or in a web application. This included images, text, sounds, but it can also mean the code that defines the structure of the web page or app because of what is presented on the page to the user. To break it down more simply, the guidelines focus on these primary elements: Text alternatives for images Captions for videos or other multimedia Presenting content in different ways Making content easier to see and hear Making it easier for everyone to use and navigate Website use from a keyboard Giving users enough time to read and use the content Making sure the content you present doesn't cause seizures Having text that's readable and understandable Consistency of content and navigation throughout the site Use of error messages and ways to get back to where one started Content is compatible with various web browsers Now if you looked at these guidelines and didn't know they were related to an ADA compliance requirement, wouldn't you want your website to meet these guidelines anyway? That's the irony about so many of these guidelines: many of them are already website best practices! The penalties So what could happen if you don't have a website or web app that meets WCAG 2.0? According to the legal firm Porter Wright, publishers of Employer Law Report, the U.S. Justice Department has delayed implementation of the rulemaking for the guidelines until sometime next year in 2018. But, they note, that has not stopped legal aggression. They point out that law firms have targeted retailers about web accessibility, writing, "A typical approach involves a letter from a law firm asserting that the retailer's website is not accessible and offering to discuss an 'agreed plan' for bringing the website into compliance. The threat typically also insists on payment of significant attorney's fees and sometimes alleged damages as terms to settle." While many initial lawsuits have been dismissed because of the Justice Department's delay, in June, the first Federal Court, a Florida District Court, ruled against grocery chain Winn-Dixie that having an inaccessible website violates Title III Of The ADA. The Judge issued a 13-page Verdict and Order finding that grocer Winn-Dixie violated Title III of the ADA by having a website that was not useable by a blind plaintiff to download coupons, order prescriptions, and find store locations. The growing concern among experts is a flurry of lawsuits. Litigators will sue when companies and people are exposed and they see a financial opportunity. It's certainly not just real estate that has websites that are not ADA complaint – nearly every major industry, from retail to financial services is scrambling to be prepared. The challenge for real estate is that 93 percent of all brokerages and nearly every real estate agent has a website. Overlay the fact that 88 percent of buyers use websites to find a home. The importance of a website is paramount in a path to purchase, says the data from the NAR. A market opportunity The bigger win comes from the carrot, not the stick: you are creating a huge market opportunity for your business by making your website ADA complaint. Just think about the numbers, and not just those who are legally disabled, but those who also have limitations: Nearly 10 million Americans are blind or visually impaired, 37.2 million Americans adults are hearing impaired, and in terms of physical disabilities: 77 million Americas have at least one basic actions difficulty or complex activity limitation. When you look at the aging Baby Boomer generation and the growing trend of longevity in America – we are living longer and more likely as a country to deal with more limitations and more disabilities in the future – there is a huge and compelling marketing opportunity to become ADA compliant! Making sure your website reaches the largest number of buyers is often what real estate agents tell sellers they work hard to do. Making one's website ADA compliant helps deliver on that promise. It's a wise business investment that supports your ability to extend your market reach. It's a double win When a business website becomes ADA compliant, it's a double win: a business is protected and so is one's pocketbook from potential lawsuits. The time and money that can be wasted from a lawsuit is avoided. That's a win. But more importantly, the bigger win comes from the terrific market opportunity that comes from reaching more people. Being ADA compliant reaches people in a way that personally connects them to one's business and shows them a business that is not only up-to-date but cares about its customer. And that's the kind of message most real estate agents and brokerages want to share with their marketplace. Tricia Stamper is director of technology with Florida REALTORS®, which owns Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.
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