Building a successful real estate website isn’t just about adding listings and contact information, it’s about marketing your brand and being found. One of the best ways to do this is through real estate community pages.
A community page can help establish your brand as the local market expert and set you apart from the competition.
It will also help you be found in search. Community pages will help you get hyper-local so you can focus your attention on the area you serve and not on trying to compete with sites like Zillow and Redfin.
Do I Really Need Real Estate Community Pages on my Website?
A lot of new agents ask this question and the short answer is yes. It’s a lot of work but it can really pay off.
How exactly does it pay off and why is it so important?
You’ll Establish Yourself as the Local Authority
Real Estate Community pages give you, the local expert, an opportunity to show potential customers that you are an authority on the area you serve. It’s a great way to establish your local brand.
- Buyers will be looking for your insider knowledge of the area. A practical guide showcasing your knowledge the local market, schools, attractions, restaurants, and other small details will set you apart from your competition.
- Sellers will look to your site for information on current home prices and market conditions. They will also be able to use the details you provide about the community to create selling points when it’s time to market their house.
A popular expression in real estate is ‘location, location, location’. So, show them you know the location.
You’ll Have a New Marketing Tool
A well designed community page can be a great marketing tool to share across social media, landing pages, email marketing campaigns and print.
You’ll Be Found Where it Matters Most, Online
If establishing yourself as a local expert isn’t enough of an incentive think about your biggest customer online, Google. When someone decides to buy a home they’ll usually start with Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, or Realtor.com. If they don’t already have a realtor the first place they will go is Google.
To find someone local they’ll use a search term that includes the neighborhood, city, or area. If you don’t have any unique content to be indexed you may have trouble showing up in Google search. Sure you may show up a few pages down the list if you include some keywords and meta data in your website but that won’t do you any good.
Why is Google so important?
Let me put it this way, 93% of browsing experiences start with search. 87.35 % of the search engine market is Google. There’s a reason ‘Google it’ has become a part of our vernacular.
The first page of results gets 95% of the traffic which means you need to be found early. Since most customers are going to search for an agent based on an area you should have content in your site that reflects the area.
You’ll probably have several real estate community pages on your website so deciding on a format will help with the planning.
Here are a few simple ideas to help you plan it out:
- Start by writing down all of the things you think home buyers will care about.
A few suggestions:
- Communities marketed to families might include school information, activities for kids, parks, and crime statistics.
- An urban setting may focus more on restaurants, attractions, WalkScore and transportation.
- Coastal communities may want to focus more on weather, beaches, and recreation.
- Determine which communities you want to create pages for. Small cities may be their own page while larger cities may require you break pages up into neighborhoods or areas.
There are three basic types of community pages:
- Community pages created for an entire county won’t be as hyper-local as a neighborhood but is useful for larger teams and brokerages.
- City, town, and municipality. These are particularly useful in detailing the lesser-known suburban neighborhoods as larger cities have likely been covered elsewhere.
- Neighborhoods and districts. This is where an agent can really stand out. The big sites have all covered the larger areas in great detail and competing with their SEO is an expensive uphill battle. Going hyper-local will reduce the competition and give you an opportunity to show new information that Google hasn’t seen before.
- Check out your local competition to see what they are writing about their communities.
- Take your list and break it down into sections. A page design will be easier to scan if it’s broken into sections.
- Figure out what search criteria you want to use if you plan to include IDX listings.
- Find an existing design you like or sketch one out.
What should be included in a Community Page?
SEO experts recommend having 300-500 words of unique content for optimal indexing.
When organizing your content be sure to make it original.
Copying text from a local page will only hurt you. In addition to possible copyright infringement you will be penalized by Google. Remember, content is king, and Google prioritizes compelling and useful content.
Keeping in mind that community page content will vary depending on the area there are several things which can be included.
A few suggestions to include in your community profile:
- Start with a few paragraphs giving a high level overview of the community, its demographics, market type, employment, attractions, etc.
- An up to date, relevant market overview with a few charts to illustrate a few key statistics like ‘average days on market’, and ‘average sales price’. Need market data? Try Showingtime.
- Prominent Architectural styles buyers will find in the area.
- Types of property available. Residential, commercial, land, investment, etc.
- A description of schools in the area. Highlighting the top performers can be a great selling point for potential shoppers. For a list of schools in the area with a breakdown of their ratings check out Great Schools.
- A list of Things to do. Local historic sites, parks, movie theaters, restaurants, beaches, etc. To attract families be sure to include ‘kid friendly’ activities.
- Highlight access to local urban centers and proximity to popular local attractions, airports, hospitals, etc.
- An IDX feed. Be sure to include a selection of hot new listings for your community page and there is no better tool for the job than IDX Broker.
- Social follow and share links, a call to action, and contact form.
Keeping customers on your site
To keep potential clients from leaving your site consider video, images, and internal links.
Bounce rate is a measurement of a websites ability to retain users interest beyond the pages they came in at. In other words, when someone comes to your site you want them to stay and look around.
In addition to compelling content there are a few simple tricks that can reduce your sites bounce rate:
- If you have a video putting it at the top of the page is a great way to reduce the bounce rate by as much as 34%. Since people are wired to perceive videos as entertainment rather than work they are more inclined to stick around and engage with your content. Another advantage of video is the link-back potential for SEO. If you host your video on YouTube be sure to include a link to you site below.
- Seems obvious but a gallery of high quality images can get a potential clients attention and help sell a community. Images, like videos also help reduce a pages bounce rate.
- Internal links further reduce bounce rate by engaging to user to further investigate other areas of your site. Community pages should have links to links to similar and neighboring communities.
A few words about using IDX Broker for your real estate community pages
IDX Broker is a great tool but good SEO requires more than just listings
IDX Broker allows you to display your MLS data on your real estate website.
Creating lots of neighborhood pages stuffed full of IDX listings and nothing else won’t cut it with search. Google knows this trick and may even penalize you for it. It’s referred to as ‘thin’, or ‘duplicate’ content.
When using IDX Broker there are two basic approaches that can be used, both have pros and cons:
- Create an IDX page that have a map at the top and some listings below.
- Pros: Easy to set up. Good looking pages with map and pin features. Externally hosted.
- Cons: Pages are hosted on an IDX subdomain, not your primary domain. No SEO value.
- Create a WordPress page and add IDX widgets.
- Pros: Pages are hosted on your primary domain. Unique custom content can easily be added to WordPress pages. Great SEO potential.
- Cons: A little more work to set up. You will need the Platinum IDX Broker subscription if you want to add the map feature using a widget.
Other items to include on your real estate community page:
Highlights. I like to include a few key bullet points promoting some of the communities best features as well as general information. A few examples:
- Rated #1 in Best places to live
- Top rated schools
- Tourist attractions
- Farmers markets
- Miles of beaches
- Hiking trails nearby
Real Estate Resources:
- Mortgage Lender
- Home Inspector
Home Resources. Give your readers a list of well-reviewed resources. They are thinking about moving here so connect them with their new neighbors. This is also a great way to promote people in the area who will appreciate it and may end up being your client one day. A few examples:
Helpful links for resources in the area.
- Restaurant guide
- City website
- Events calendar
- School District
Livability Score. AreaVibes will give you a list of all the statistics you need from amenities, cost of living, crime, employment, housing, schools and demographics.
Transportation. An overview of traffic in the region along with commuting options like bus, rail, bike lanes, and a WalkScore can influence a potential buyers decision. Proximity to airports can also be useful.
Weather. If weather a relevant selling point in your area consider including a chart of monthly temperature and precipitation averages.
There are some helpful widgets that can be used to fill out a page
Widgets can make a nice addition to any real estate community page but don’t overdo it. A few widgets can compliment a site nicely but there is no substitute for original content.
- Yelp – Add local reviews and make your own recommendations to you customers.
- Events calendar – create and manage your own community event calendar.
- Great Schools – A national non-profit providing information about PK-12 schools in communities all over the U.S.
- Walkscore – Add the local Walk Score using a simple shortcode widget that can be put anywhere on the page.
- Weather – Add shortcode widgets from free services like WeatherWidget.io and Booked.net. There are also several ownloadable WordPress widget options if you don’t want to deal with the shortcode. A couple of popular options include Weather Atlas Widget and Weather Station.
Sound good but I don’t have a lot of time for writing
Writing your own content about the areas you know and love will reflect in the details. However, it is time consuming and you may need some help.
Use local content writers
An obvious solution to this is to find content writers online. The problem with this, besides trying to find a quality content writer, is it may not sound authentic. A good writer may deliver well-structured content full of relevant information from online sources like Wikipedia and your local city website but they won’t sound like a local.
Try to find local content writers and help guide the work.
Let YouTube help
Sometimes writing about a subject can be a laborious task. When this happens the writer runs the risk of not sounding genuine. The work can seem overly crafted and canned. If you want to create content that sounds authentic, like your real voice, one neat little trick I’ve seen used to good effect is video.
Creating YouTube content is a great option for any website and it has SEO value. Plus, it can help with your writing.
Wait! Did you just suggest using video to help with my writing?
You heard right. All you need to do is create a video of you talking about the community, it’s characteristics, the local real estate market, and some of your favorite places.
YouTube has a transcription option that you can use to get a written copy of the video. You’ll need to clean it up a bit, take out the ums and ahs, add some punctuation, a few headers and images and you are all set. I’ve seen entire web pages created this way.
However your decide to build out your real estate community pages be sure to make it your own.
Ultimately you want to get a lead and a well-crafted page will engage the user, build trust and get them excited about their new neighborhood. Show them you are the local authority and they will want to give you their contact information.