There are many ways to make your real estate website more effective, however here I just want to speak about the basics. These are of no particular order although usability is number one for a reason.

1. Usability
The majority of visitors to your site come to get property information, so make sure you make it as easy as possible to get to the information they want. If you have less than 50-60 properties at any one time, ditch the search facility and just provide a nice clean informative list of your properties. In other words, don’t waste your visitors time. A user of your site should be able to get whereever they want on your site from wherever they are.

2. Design
Make sure your website shows where you want to position yourself in the marketplace. Your website tells your visitors a great deal about your company and leaves a lasting impression. Clean, fast and efficient design does not mean it cannot look good too. Make sure you employ a designer with experience in developing real estate sites.

3. Contacting you
Make it easy for users of your site to contact you. You want them to contact you do not make the user fill in too much information. Stick to the basics and make it easy for them to contact you. Clear contact numbers, easy to fill in forms.

4. Search Engine Friendly
Make sure your site is search engine friendly and is built using a standards based platform. Make sure every page on your site is unique with meta tags. Having the same meta tags on every page of your site, is not smart (0ver 90% of real estate sites have the same meta tags on each page).

You can view your meta tags for each page by clicking ‘view’ and then ‘source’ in your browser. A good developer will be able to automate the meta tags for each property listing, saving you the time needed to concentrate on updating your site and listings. The most important element is making sure your page title and description are unique.

Here are some things you can do with Google to see how your site is currently performing.

Link popularity check is one of the best ways to quantifiably and independently measure your website’s online awareness and overall visibility. Simply put, link popularity refers to the total number of links or “votes” that a search engine has found for your website.

In the Google search box type in link:www.yoursite.com.au this will tell you who is linking to your website.

Search Engine Saturation simply refers to the number of pages a given search engine has in its index for your website domain. Not all search engines report this information but enough of them do to create some meaningful benchmarks for your search engine marketing campaigns.

In the Google search box type in site:www.yoursite.com.au inurl:www.yoursite.com.au

5. Statistics
Understanding your visitors and their habits will help you understand what needs to be done to make your site better for your users. Google offers a FREE analytics program which can easily be installed by your developer in under 30 minutes. Go to http://www.google.com/analytics and register to get this FREE program, it may take a few weeks before Google gives you an invitation, and when you do get your web developer to implement this code, you will not regret it!

6. Photography
Make sure all of your property photography is done in 800 x 600 pixels, all of the major portals support this size. Making this a standard size throughout your site makes your site look so much more professional.

If you do not employ a professional photographer make sure your staff understand the camera they are using and even buy them books to help them get the most out of their digital photography. I think it is best that all staff have the same camera as it helps more proficient staff show others how to make the most of their photography.

Your vendors (current/potential) look at the way your present properties when they make a decision and it shows just how much you ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to providing an all round professional service to your vendors.

7. Property information
Make sure you give a detailed (not too long) description of each and every property you display online. Too little information and all you will get is phone calls asking for more information, wasting your staff’s time. Some agents thinks that this is a good thing (getting contact) , but I can tell you from a recent survey I did from over 1000 users that this is the most frustrating thing about how some agents display information.

So make sure you provide at least 3 short paragraphs for each property, with an overview, property features and summary. Every residential property should detail suburb, price, headline, description, property type, bed, bath, car, land size and building size. Keep it consistent throughout your site and make sure your listing staff have basic guidelines on what to provide for each and every property.

8. Search Engine Marketing
If you don’t already, get into advertising online because that is where your buyers are and it is by far the most cost effective form of advertising out there. Google Adwords is easily the best from of online marketing and can cost as little as a couple of dollars a day. Forget about other forms of online advertising Google Adwords is the best by so far it is not funny.

9. Be a Smart Marketer
Sure newspaper guides, yellow pages and other forms of traditional marketing make you feel good, but they don’t sell properties. Scale back your offline advertising to branding and pointing. Brand your company and point al listings to your website, if done correctly you will see results from this in less than 3 months (get Google Analytics software). Make sure all forms of offline marketing clearly display your website, be it signs, brochures, letterheads, business cards, yellow pages or newspaper guides.

10. ‘All this Technology is so hard to understand”
Get over it, if you don’t understand the basics of the Internet you are behind your competitors already. This is no longer an excuse you can use, your vendors demand you know your marketing and the Internet is your marketing these days.

So if you dont know technology, you dont know your marketing – it is that simple – enrol in a course or spend some time getting to know it better. There are some great resources online. Internet Basic Bee is a good start (about 30 minutes of reading) and can be fun. Expand your knowledge and have more confidence when vendors or buyers ask you specific questions. It will also help you when technology companies come knocking promising the world!

Well that is all for today, I may have missed some things here but this a good primer.

Next: Creating Content that Resonates »