How To Choose A Company To Build Your Real Estate Website In 2017

Did you know that most of the big real estate website design companies hold your content hostage if you leave? It’s sad, but 100% true. In this article, I’m going to show you how to choose the right company to build your real estate website.

 

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They Build Real Estate Websites For Agents

…And Agents Only

 

This is what I hear all too often… The agent hired a web designer who wasn’t familiar with real estate, so the website looked pretty, but it was functionally useless. The other scenario? The agent hired a real estate web designer, so the site was highly functional, but the design was extremely ugly.

 

This is why it’s so important to hire a website designer who builds websites exclusively for Realtors. They need to understand both design and real estate in order to provide you with a fully functional site.

 

 

They Build On The WordPress Platform

…The Most Popular Platform on the Planet

 

People spend thousands of dollars designing custom sites, but WordPress (a free platform) is the only one that I can recommend in good conscious. It’s open source, which means that it’s not owned by any company. So they will never go out of business and they won’t secede to shareholder demands.

 

It’s also SEO friendly, which means that Google loves WordPress. So you can rest assured that your site will always be compliant and easy for Google to search and find.

 

WordPress is also the most widely used platform to build websites on, which means that it’s easy to transfer sites from one hosting company to another. And since most website designers and developers are familiar with WordPress, finding someone to maintain your site is a snap.

 

And since WordPress is the most popular platform, almost all of the best extensions are built for it. This means that if your website doesn’t have something that you need right out of the box, you can usually find a plugin to fill the gap… for free!

 

 

They Build Real Estate Websites That Are Modern

…Because Modern Design Focuses On The User

 

Yes, modern websites are beautiful and pretty – But that isn’t why I recommend having a modern design. I recommend it because modern design symbolizes the essence of simplicity, user experience, and credibility.

 

When you land on a website that’s outdated, it’s usually filled with flashing lights, bad fonts, text everywhere, dark color schemes, and sometimes even music… Eek.

 

But design has come a long way since then. Now, designers create digital products that are both clean and easy to navigate. In short, modern websites focus on the user’s experience, not the designer’s whims. As a result, modern design builds credibility faster than a dated site does.

 

 

They Include A Powerful IDX Feed

…So You Can Run Ads And Capture Leads

 

Not all IDX Feeds are created equal. If your IDX provider doesn’t allow you to create custom searches and landing pages, it isn’t worth using.

 

These days, you need to be able to build curated lists of homes for your visitors. People want to see lists of things – like open houses or homes with a view. So your IDX provider needs to be able to accommodate this.

 

We recommend IDX Broker. They are the only IDX provider that allows you to really dig deep on these lists. One of our clients has actually used it to create a list of homes for sale that face east – which is huge in the Fung Shui community. If your website doesn’t allow you to create searches like this, you should consider switching.

 

 

They Include A Blog

…So You Can Get Ranked In Google

 

Most agents don’t realize that their blog is the key to ranking in Google. Google loves websites that are updated on a consistent basis. And the easiest way to do this is to attach a blog to your website!

 

When you update your attached blog, Google will increase your rankings across your entire website over time as well. If you want people to Google your name and find you at the top of the search results, then your website has to have a blog – It’s not even an option.

 

One word of caution here, if any company tells you that they can increase your Google rankings for a fee, run. The only way to increase your Gooogle rankings is to blog on a WordPress website… consistently. That’s it.

 

 

Their Websites Are Mobile Friendly

…So People Won’t Leave Your Website After 3 Seconds

 

This is a big one. Agents usually think that if their website is mobile responsive, it’s mobile friendly. But there’s a big difference between the two.

 

Mobile responsive just means that your website’s pictures, fonts, and elements are resized when someone comes to your site via a mobile device. On the contrary, mobile friendly means that the site was actually built with mobile users in mind.

 

If your visitors have to thumb scroll endlessly, or if they can’t find any of the navigation links, or if things aren’t in the right order, or there are full-screen popups that they can’t close, or if your site just looks plain ugly on mobile…. This is an indication that your site isn’t mobile friendly – And your visitors will leave.

 

So make sure that whichever website provider you choose, you visite their demo on a mobile device first.

 

 

They Are Not Affiliated With Your Broker

…So You Don’t Lose Everything When You Leave

 

Yes, your broker’s website may be free. Yes, your broker’s website may provide setup and training. But using your broker’s provided website is probably the worse decision you can make regarding your online marketing strategy.

 

First, your broker’s site is usually shared with the other agents in your office. So if you direct traffic to your page, the lead may find a different agent that they liked better. I’ve seen the most ridiculous things happen! (i.e. they picked the agent based on their photo or because the agent came up first alphabetically.)

 

Second, even if your broker provides you with a website of your own, it’s not free. Most of the time, if you want all of the bells and whistles, you have to upgrade to various packages that cost a fortune.

 

Third, if you ever leave your broker, you have to start all over again. Yes, your broker keeps all of your content, which means that you have to create all of those blog posts over again. You can say goodbye to your hard work and to your Google rankings.

 

So make sure that you are choosing a website provider that is independentnt of your broker.

 

 

They Provide Training After Handoff

…So You Don’t Get Lost

 

I can’t tell you how many times, an agent has asked me to run their new website for them. When I ask them why, they always tell me the same thing….

 

“I love my new site, but I have no idea how to use it.”

 

This has got to stop. If your real estate website doesn’t come with trainings or support, you’re not going to use it. You can’t. Running the backend of a website is complex and highly technical. If someone doesn’t show you what to do, there’s very little chance that you’ll be able to wing it.

 

So make sure that whoever you choose, spends time with you so that you know how to blog, upload pictures, and anything else that you need to do.

 

 

They Allow You To Add Or Change Elements

…Without Nickel And Diming You Along The Way

 

A major secret in this industry is that you are supposed to charge clients for everything along the way. I can understand major website changes, but for quick fixes, you shouldn’t be charged.

 

Once the design is complete, you may want to add a link to an important resource. Or maybe you specialize in niche and you’d like to highlight some aspects of your website more than others. These things are quite common, and most designers charge by the hour, or force you to upgrade to a support package, as a result.  Make sure you ask these questions beforehand.

 

 

They Include Unlimited Landing Pages

…To Accommodate Facebook Advertising

 

First and foremost, your website needs to be able to capture leads. Without this feature, your site is nothing more than a digital business card. In order to turn your website into a lead generation machine, you need to be able to build landing pages and run ads to them.

 

These days, Facebook advertising is the method of choice. People want lists of single story homes, horse properties, 4 bedrooms, pool homes, seller guides, etc. But in order to capture these leads, your IDX pages need to be gated by a landing page.

 

The landing page allows users to opt in for valuable information that you’re offering. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. They get the info they want, you get their contact information in exchange. So make sure that this feature is included with whatever provider you choose.

 

 

They Are Affordable

…Because These Days, No One Needs A $10,000 Website

 

Back in the day, it was quite common to have a custom website built for upwards of 10 grand or more. But these days, that’s just ridiculous.

 

If a web designer attempts to sell you on design package that costs thousands of dollars up front, run. Run far, far away!

 

If your designer is using WordPress – and they should be – there’s no need to build a custom site from the grand up. First, Google hates these expensive custom websites, so your rankings will definitely be impacted.

 

Second, these sites are usually built with a creative designer in mind, but fail to account for functionality. So user experience will also be impacted.

 

Finally, these sites have to be serviced and maintained by the person that built it, because no other designer or developer is going to understand how to run it. So at best, you’re a slave to your designer. And at worst, you’re going to be paying through the nose to hire the best developers in the world to figure out your website’s ridiculous matrix.

 

 

If You Leave, They Let You Keep Your Content

…So You Aren’t Held Hostage

 

Most agents don’t realize that when they choose a company to design their real estate website, they are signing their lives away. The company claims that it doesn’t have long-term contracts, but in reality…. you can never leave, because if you do, they keep all of your content.

 

That’s right, all of your blogs, all of your landing pages, all of your links, all of your SEO rankings – They keep it all. Since all of your hard work is lost when leave, no one ever does. And that’s how they get you.

 

So make sure that whatever company you choose, they allow you to keep your creative content. They can easily send you a file with all of your posts and pictures if you leave. But again, most won’t in hopes that you’ll be coerced into staying. So ask this question up front!

 

 

#HoneyBarBuzz

Now it’s your turn! And I want to hear from you. Which one of these facts shocked you the most?

 

 

2017-04-09T15:51:25+00:00

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Aarin. I help real estate agents get leads, sales, and referrals (without cold calling or door knocking). Through the lens of my experience working as a marketing consultant for top producing real estate agents, I share what's working (and what isn't) in the complex world of online lead generation. To learn more, check out my website at Honey Bar Media.

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