laptop work deskWebsites are the public faces of real estate professionals.  No other single marketing tool comes close to equalling the importance of a  website.  They deliver the first images and words about an agent or a brokerage that prospective clients and customers see.

If a site doesn’t connect with  consumers in a matter of seconds; that first impression could be a real estate professional’s last chance to win a new account.  Sites that consistently fail to be compelling can do serious damage to a perfectly competent real estate practice.

Yet hundreds of thousands of agents and brokers publish sites that miss the mark by miles.   After spending thousands to build and host a site, they spend even more for canned content that can do more harm than good.

News you can’t use

Some use services that carry national or regional economic news feeds that provide “national” or “regional” information on market trends.  Other sites use “how to” content written for the broadest possible audience in terms of geography, price tier, age group.  The chances are good that much, if not most, canned content misses the mark for three reasons:

  • It’s so generic that it doesn’t convey that the site’s owner has any particular expertise or focus;
  • Competing agents and brokers in the same market may carry the same canned content, which creates confusion and defeats the purpose of the site; and
  • It occupies space on your site that could be put to much better use.

What consumers want

As you think about how to make your website more effective, begin with the basics.  Here’s what consumers want, according to the most recent NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:

  • Buyers are looking for someone who is honest and has integrity, is responsive, has knowledge of the purchase process, and who has knowledge of the real estate market.
  • Sellers are looking for someone who can reach potential buyers, sell their home within a specific timeframe and price their home competitively.

Content that connects

Content that demonstrates knowledge of the local market,  expertise in delivering the services consumers want and examples of values like honesty and integrity are more likely to hit consumers’ sweet spot.  Some suggestions on how to create content that connects:

Tell stories.  Write short (300-500 words), personal narratives recounting how you are delivering the services consumers want.  Be entertaining but avoid the hype.  Work in humor, especially when you can poke fun at yourself.  Keep them fresh by adding one or two a week.  In no time, you will have a library of blogs that together paint a revealing and refreshing personal picture of who you and what you do.

Go micro.   Consumers don’t buy and sell houses in a “national”, regional or metro real estate market. They care most about micro markets—communities, neighborhoods, and subdivisions where properties have a distinctive feeling, identity, and market value.  In spite of the gigabytes of real estate data available today, virtually none of it is available to consumers on a block by block level that is timely, useful and accurate.  Both buyers and sellers place a high priority on an agent who really knows what’s going on at a micro level.

Translate trends into advice.  Consumers want more that micro level data.  They want a trusted professional who can advise them on what to do.  Don’t just post a bunch of monthly tables and charts from your MLS.  Translate them into actionable advice, e.g.,”A pool of new homes are coming soon to the Parkside neighborhoods as sellers take advantage of rising values,” or “Prices now have hit all-time peak levels in the 20904 Zip code.  Even if you bought your home at the peak of the boom, if you’ve have been thinking about selling, give me a call to talk about what price you might expect in today’s market”.

Sell neighborhoods.  Include news and nugget about schools, recreation, local celebrities, new retail openings, infrastructure improvements, and more that will help sell readers on your micro markets.

Post local photos.  Illustrate your site with photos of local landmarks, great restaurants, and schools, parks, and scenery. After all, you are not just selling a home but also a neighborhood experience.

Use voice recognition software.  It’s OK if you don’t write like Ernest Hemingway.  With today’s voice recognition software, you can dictate your thoughts and then refine the words on the screen.

Turn your narratives into social media posts.  Use Facebook, Twitter, and online communities like Active Rain to push out your new narratives as you publish them to build your SEO.

Redoing your site is easy.

It doesn’t take a geek to use a WordPress template to create just the right site for your real estate practice.  Don’t procrastinate.  Take a hard look at your site today and decide it generates the traffic and “stickiness” you would expect.  Search for sites that you like and that fit the criteria discussed above.  Look for ideas that will work well with your business and try them out on your site.