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Good News, Bad News and More Bad News about your Real Estate Website

Real Estate Websites



Given the choice, which would you choose, Good News or Bad News First? I mean, if someone came to you and said “I have good news and bad news for you…which would you like first?” Which would you choose?  The Good News Right? I’m a former business development manager fro a national title insurance company and I have some good news for you about your real estate website!

The Good News

You have one. Congratulations.  That is awesome. I remember just 4 short years ago, most real estate agents I talked to didn’t have a website.  Crazy huh. To be fair, a website for a real estate agent was not a no brainer like it is today. That’s because consumer behavior has changed. It has shifted. Today, over 90% of consumers go to the Internet FIRST when looking for real estate. Actually, real estate is a real estate agent industry term, consumers look for homes. So, congratulations on being forward thinking enough to have a real estate website.

The Bad News

It most likely sucks. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but your website most likely does. Do nothing. Nothing good anyway. Now I know this is a little hard to absorb, and I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it’s better that I tell you now than for you to keep paying that $30, 35, 40, 150 dollars a month to that template website provider and getting nothing in return. Let’s explore some of the things I have heard from agents when the uncomfortable discussion of their website rears its ugly head.

My Website Works, There Is Nothing Wrong With It.

You are right, it does work and there is nothing wrong with it if its purpose is to be an electronic billboard or business card online. Unless you own (notice I used the term OWN, not LEASE) one of the very few real estate agent websites that actually gets visitors and cause them to take action – to contact you, your website is probably not producing the leads your real estate business needs to survive. Remember the stat – “90% of consumers are going online to search for homes”? If you, or rather your website is not there, you are reduced to competing for the 10% that live under a rock. Many agents I have talked to say “online marketing doesn’t work” or Internet leads suck” What they may not realize is that it’s their website that is to blame.

It’s all about you

In the off chance that you are one of the real estate agents that actually gets visitors to their website (tracked through Google analytics or something equivalent) your website is not comfortable or engaging. Even worse, if its anything like the traditional real estate agent marketing, “It’s All About You”. You may subscribe to the theory that consumers want to now they are working with a competent real estate agent that invests in his/her education. While this is true, that is not why they came to your website. They ended up on your website (most likely) from a search engine like Google. And how were they rewarded? With a big photo shopped glamor shot of you, standing tall, arms folded with some cheesy tag-line like “results for you”.  Don’t get me wrong, your education is important, but I would submit that investing in your education is an expectation, not a benefit to the consumer. Your alphabet soup of designations and list of your accomplishments really says that it’s all about you. EXAMPLE – Imagine you are in the market for a new LEXUS. Exciting isn’t it? So you go to the Internet, {like a smart consumer would} to do your research. You can’t wait to see the pictures, watch the video, hear about all the safety features, available colors, max speed, types of leather, gas mileage and instead you are rewarded with information about the sales person. Would that be a buzz kill or what? It might confuse or anger you enough to buy from a different dealership. {Which is most likely what they do by the way}. Consumers come to your website to search for homes, to gather information about homes, about the real estate industry/market – give it to them. Oh and one more thing – requiring a consumer to register on your website to see homes that are available on 50,000 other real estate websites is a bad idea. Trust me, if a consumer sees value in you or the information you provide, they will contact you.

It’s So Pretty!

Remember the old saying “if a tree falls in the woods when no one is around, does it make a sound”? Well, does it matter if your website is pretty if no one sees it? Good websites should focus on FUNCTION over LOOKS. Look at CraigsList. It’s ugly as all hell, yet millions of people use it monthly. Why? The Content. The Function. The Value. EXAMPLE: Fellas, have you ever met a girl that is drop dead gorgeous? You take a stroll over, you get up close, you make small talk about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and she leans her head to the side, brushes her hair out of her face, releases a cute little giggle and says “what does nuclear mean?” Remember what a huge turnoff that was after a year or so? :-) Well your website is the same way. It doesn’t matter how pretty it is if it doesn’t deliver the goods. The goods in this case is information. Another problem with pretty real estate agent websites is they often have FLASH. Not only is it harder for search engines to read/index flash it also is not supported by apple. That means anyone with an apple mobile device – iPad, iPhone, iPod won’t see/feel the full functionality of your website. Instead, they will get what I call “the blue box of death”. Lose the flash.

Your Website Is Not Mobile Ready

More bad news about your real estate website. It’s not mobile ready. Question – when you walk down the street, any street in America, not just NYC or LA but the small towns of Montana and Mississippi where are people looking? Down, right? At their smart phones. Today, more and more consumers are surfing the Internet on a mobile device – smart phone, iPad, Kindle, Droid, HTC, etc. Your website should be mobile ready. Today consumers are searching for businesses with their mobile devices. In fact, the latest research says that that nearly 16% of all searches in 2011 will be on mobile phones. In addition, , Google data U.S. smart phone users shows that 88% of people looking for local information have taken action within 24 hours. Businesses with a mobile-ready site are more likely to avoid losing potential customers that are ready to take action. Recent research from Omniture found that: “mobile-optimized experiences produced an average 75% higher rate of engagements per visit for mobile users.” Even better, mobile ready websites focus on providing the mobile consumer exactly what they need on the go: bedrooms, bathrooms, square feet, price, phone number, address, email address.

My Website Has An IDX Solution

Great! I hear this one all the time. Having an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) solution on your website isn’t going to bring traffic (consumers) from search engines. The content (properties in this case) is typically displayed in an iFrame, which means it is not indexed by the search engines, instead the iFrame offers a portal to another website or server where the information is housed. Even if you have an IDX solution that indexes the content (properties) on your website, it will be duplicate content. Search engines love unique content. An IDX solution that indexes the properties on your website is most likely doing the same thing with the same data for hundreds if not thousands of other real estate agents, which over time, loses its effectiveness because it is duplicate content. 

Your Website Has No Engine

Gas is to a car what content is to your website. Without gas, a car will not run. Well, without fresh content your website will not run either. Let’s put consumers on the side for a moment. Search engines require unique content to work. When you go to a search engine like Google you expect the latest, relevant results for your search. You don’t expect results from 2 years ago or even 2 months ago, and if you kept getting information that was old and cheesy, you would probably stop using that search engine and look for another. Same thing with search engines. There is no incentive to crawl your website (indexing content) if your content is old. So, the search engines stop coming through. And your website stops getting ranked or moves to the 3rd or 4th page of Google, which is invisible.  Like search engines, consumers require regular updated content as well. Not just up to date content but dynamic, engaging content. The fact us, if a consumer gets to your website, they expect the content they asked Google for and not much else.

No Keywords

Keywords are words and often times phrases, that consumers type into search engines. Keywords and keyphrases are the words on your website that match those search terms. Before you can create content, you have to understand who you are talking to and ultimately what they will look for when searching online.   Once you know what a 1st time home buyer would most likely look for online, you can write dynamic, engaging, keyword rich content to attract them.

Well now you know some of the reasons your website is no bueno (no good for the Spanish impaired). Question is, what are you going to do about it?

Stephen Garner is a former business development manager for a national title insurance company and co-founder of PRO-Found Marketing. PRO-Found is an inbound marketing company that specializes in websites {that work}, SEO, SEM, SMO, content creation and syndication.




Hi I'm Stephen Garner, I'm just a guy in the title industry {in Phoenix} trying to change how real estate agents market themselves and their services. To that end, I teach my clients HOW TO leverage sales technologies like WordPress, Content, Video, Camtasia, Final Cut X, iMovie and indexable IDX solutions to convey value and help your ideal client find you online when they are most interested in learning about you and your services. I work for escrows. Hire me!

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