If it’s been a while since you last took a look at your MC Website, now is a good time.
THE HARDEST PART
Sit down and put together an outline of the basic sections or pages of your website – Think about the message – Think about ALL the services you offer through your Market Center or Market Center network.
Content Requirements Defined: For each type of content identify the following:
- What is the purpose of the content? What are your goals? How do you make money?
- What behaviors best support your business goals? What is the website’s purpose?
- Does the content already exist in some other format (i.e. doc, xls, pdf, jpg, gif)?
- Who owns this content and where is it?
- Who maintains and updates it? How often?
- Is this content static – not changing or does it need to be available for only certain periods of time?
- Who are your most formidable competitors? What are they doing? Is it working?
- Who is the audience for this content? (first time buyers, investors, buyers, sellers, recruits)
- If the site is bilingual, is the content translated? Does it need to be?
As you identify requirements, watch out for the tendency to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. I often hear – “I want our website to do exactly what Bob’s website from Bob’s real estate does.” Or when we ask the field why they want a certain requirement, they respond that we must have this because ‘bob’s real estate is doing this’. Just because someone else is doing something, doesn’t mean it’s the best approach.
Find out what keywords are hot for the industry and your area – plan on sprinkling these throughout your content. https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal used for adword campaigns – will give you an idea what to focus on or bid on for your business – lots of keyword tools out there – go to google and type in keyword tool
Google’s beta search based keyword tool http://www.google.com/sktool/
Don’t overpopulate your content with keywords. It’s actually painful to read a website where someone went keyword happy and context of the message is nowhere to be found
Bottom Line – Remember why the customer visits your website – the website’s main purpose is to be a portal for the customer to access listings and information about the Market Center. Does your site do that? How many clicks away is all of this information?
The internet is really the most trusted place to get information on real estate listings these days. The consumer can go to multiple places to see the same listings. There’s a big overlap – We want them to know that they can go to many places, but want them to feel comfortable at our sites.
TALK TO THE CUSTOMER –
Picture yourself talking 1:1 with the client. Stay away from why your business is the best. When you meet with your client the first time, would you list off the many reasons why you are qualified or would you ask questions to get a better idea of the services you can offer?
Consider writing with personality – don’t be afraid to let the human come out of the web page. An, energetic, conversational tone can make visitors feel more comfortable
- Focus on the many different services that can all be obtained from one place – the one stop shop. Keep the benefits in mind. Remember to highlight what the customer gets, rather than focusing solely on what your business does.
- Use paragraphs and bullet points. Web writing is different than other marketing copywriting. You need to keep content short and punchy, and formatted so it’s easy on the eye. – customers don’t read – they scan.
- Use the word “free” and other similar catch words in the call to action, it’s a great way to tell clients that you offer a free consultation. Or if you have a contest going, put a headline on your home page to prompt people to enter the contest for a free product.
- Work with a graphic designer to visually present your message – create a graphical call to action – Don’t forget your ‘alt tags’ if you use images to represent your business
- Use an attention-grabbing headlines for each page. Instead of “Houses for Sale” you could try something like “Distinctive Homes for Discerning Individuals.”
- Whether you’ve composed your content in the WYSIWYG editor or in another word processing application, please spell check before you publish.
GET THE CUSTOMER TO THE LISTING SEARCH
Start and end each page with a ‘call to action’ – offer multiple opportunities for the customer to get to the listing search
Offer many types of listing searches- Custom IDX – maybe the customer didn’t think about a search criteria that you can offer them. Dedicate entire pages to searches – exactly what we did on the last web conference.
ADD SOME BLING
Get the user to some hyperlocal content, Market Trends, Neighborhood news, Upcoming Events, Foreclosures, News & Updates, School information.
Give the customer the ability to instantly chat or text a real estate professional.
Give the customer the ability to calculate moving expenses, mortgage and investment calculations
Add a slideshow or an embedded flash movie. –
- A video that is overly long and/or contains overly technical content is a thorn in the users side. A main page video should be short and concise and get to the main points. A good video will communicate what your business is about with a concise voice-over, or with selectively chosen sound bites, and will further tell why someone should do business with you. Time is valuable.
- Tell them what it’s about first (above or next to it). “Please watch this one minute video about the events that will happen when a custom walks through our doors”
***Have an impartial, third party click on the site, and get their opinion on how the site looks, how easy it is to navigate and get their overall take on it.
This dominant reading pattern (for site visitors) looks somewhat like an F and has the following three components:
- Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
- Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
- Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. – Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F’s stem. Check out the heatmap images
The top part of the F is scanning the topic/headline. The middle part is scanning the body for relevant information. Upon failing to find what you were looking for, you quickly scan down the left side hoping to find something relevant. – This is a good rule
Don’t go over 500 words on overview pages. If you need to go into detail, put it on subsequent pages to break up the content.
Pop ups and online advertising have exhausted our customers. Watch the advertising – or items that seem like ads targeting the customers. If things fly across the screen at whoever is browsing the site, they might click away.
Avoid atypical fonts and crazy colors schemes – Although it’s vital to catch the viewer’s attention right away, don’t rely on strange or trendy fonts to do so. Stick with a standard set of fonts
Don’t copy the competition’s website – Google doesn’t like it. Review competitors’ websites, but be careful not to copy-paste text. You want to get an idea of how their copy sounds and what their site is telling prospective clients. Use competitor sites as a reference and make yours stand out from there.
FOLLOW THE BASIC SEO RULES –
Put keywords in the title. Try to place keywords relevant to the site in the page title. This will give the search engines a better idea of what the site is about and allow searchers to quickly determine whether the site is relevant to them. Don’t name each page the same thing.
Use headings. (H1, H2) – Headings give some structure to the page and make searching for relevant information quick. Search engines love headings. Try to place some relevant keywords in the headings, which give search engines and the readers a clue as to what is in the text that follow. Use the Heading 1 and Heading 2 tags under the Format pull down in the WYSIWYG
Use alternative text tags in images. Image content can’t really be understood by search engines (YET), so you should provide a description of the image in text. You can do this by adding the ‘Alternative Text’ in the appropriate field within the pop-up when you add the picture to the page on your website within the WYSIWYG
Use META tags. META tags within the page describe what the document is about, provide relevant keywords and define a language.
Encourage link-backs, you don’t get if you don’t ask!
- Give something valuable
- Tell them why this is important and beneficial
- Ask your visitor to share
- Give clear and easy instructions
GO VIRAL – SAY ‘YES’ TO SOCIAL MEDIA!!!
GET THE MESSAGE OUT THERE
If you want your traffic to and your SEO grow, and you want your fans to do it for you. – Use new ideas that will catch on and spread (go viral)
The more of these factors you have, the greater chance of spreading:
- Easy to understand – Plain language, short sentences, one idea/theme/concept per page
- Is “remarkable” in some way – You will not get buzz from your site if it is the same-old story. What makes your information newsworthy and worth linking to or blogging about?
- Easy to receive and pass along – use features that can share your content with social networks and blogs (sharethis, addthis, etc)
- Easy to remember – Tell stories. Use pictures.
- Beneficial to pass along – Even if the visitor just gets kudos from mentioning your content, page or website, they have to get something out of it.
Compared to word of mouth, spreading ideas via your blog and social media has
- Greater reach – ideas now spread worldwide as easily as locally
- Accelerated speed – say something online and people see it right away
- Less friction – it is so easy for someone to link to you, forward an email, etc
- Fewer barriers – in the past only the famous could spread ideas this well, now any Joe in their underwear can reach a sizable audience
- Better sticking power – the internet has a LONG memory
I put this section together so that we can get ready for a few MC Website changes that should be rolling out pretty soon.
- Ensure that all of the pages display unique page titles.
- Extend Page Title to 100 characters
- Restrict the State/Province drop-down in the quick search to the “doing business in” field selections
- CNAME Functionality
Google Webmaster Tools