Websites come in all shapes and sizes. Everyday, there is some new technology to explore or widget to add. Fortunately, you don’t need to engage with all of it to see results in your marketing. If you get the basics right, you’ll have a functional website that helps you score business without being left in the dust of the digital revolution. The following is our Top 10 list of website assets to focus on to improve your real estate website.
1. Logo + Tagline
For any website, the first thing we want to do is show who owns it and what they do. Typically, we want to include a logo and tagline so it is seen readily. As much as possible the logo and tagline should be unique to you to the extent that no body else could use it to describe their business.
For the sake of clarity, and respect to the logo, we try to leave as much space to the sides of the logo as possible. The top-left and top-center positions are visually the most important. That doesn’t mean that’s the first thing people will see, but that is the position of the highest esteem. Take advantage of that and keep the space around the logo clear. That will allow your visitors to see your logo and tagline without distraction.
Page headings, or titles, bring a lot of meaning to the user experience. They confirm to a user which page they are on. They are especially important if they enter your site anywhere but the home page. Also important: headings provide relevant text for search engines. When Google and others see that your text is tagged as a headline style, they give it more weight, with the assumption that the page’s content is summarized by that heading.
Captions are a nice element to work into the design for punctuation. They are used in the print world all the time with a positive impact on comprehension. Captions allow you to tell the reader what you want them to take away from the photo. They also provide more content for search engines to collect from your website about your topic.
4. Alt Tags
These little nuggets of text are associated with images, videos and Flash files. Like captions, alt tags provide an opportunity to reinforce search engines’ understanding of what a page is about. Unlike captions, they are hidden to the average user but are very visible to search engines. They are easy to apply and only need to be done once.
5. Image Slide Show
Slide shows have the power to be very enjoyable. In our entertainment-seeking world, they provide information about your subject matter in a sit-back-and-relax manner. There are many slide show packages available for real estate websites. Look for one that has auto-play and pause controls, thumbnail previews, mobile-friendly and full-screen options. Some allow for video and interesting transitions like fade, pan-and-zoom to help retain your visitor’s attention longer. Slideshows can pull in images automatically from your MLS and be integrated to work with WordPress.
6. Social/Sharing Buttons
At this point, it is likely that all of the social/sharing widgets include the major players: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Depending on how your website is built, it can be a simple task to integrate the sharing buttons. They can but put at a site-wide level, or an individual page level. The best option depends on the content you have to share.
7. Pre-saved Searches
Clicks, typing, selecting from drop-downs, radio buttons, etc, all require time to read, process and act upon. If you know what your visitors are looking for, the best practice is to provide them with links directly to that information. As a rule of thumb, the fewer inputs you require from a user, the fewer opportunities they have to say ‘no’ and the better user experience they will have. Provide the most commonly searched for items as simple links that they can click on. That will allow them find the information that they need more quickly with less effort and with fewer distractions.
8. Advanced Search
If you provide pre-saved searches for your visitors, you can go a step beyond and provide an advanced search option for power users looking to refine their search. If you are able to combine the two methods, e.g. click for quick links, then refine that with an advanced search option, that’s even better.
9. Request Information from Agent
When a visitor is ready to reach out, you want to make it as easy as possible. The main options you have are:
- provide a phone number
- provide an email link
- provide a form
The first two are the simplest and self-explanatory, just remember that the information should be highly visible and inviting. For option 3, if your website is sophisticated enough, it can provide a context-sensitive form which fills in some information about the page which the user is on, e.g. a real estate listing, or a particular home model. When that information is filled for the user you can be sure to capture important information without asking your visitor to do anything other than put in their name and contact info. The less you ask them to do, the better.
10. Search Terms
Search engines typically don’t provide synonyms for user search. For instance, if a user is looking for “home builder charlottesville”, don’t be surprised if you don’t show up when the closest thing you have to that is “contractor central virginia”
In summary, all of the above items are achievable on any site. The majority of them are simple steps that can increase traffic through search and social connections and improve the experience of your website visitors. Please feel free to call or write for questions on any of these items.