Why Do You Want These Things On Your Real Estate Website?
We talk in great length about all the things you need on your website. So, when we had a few clients over the last couple of weeks ask for some ‘interesting’ customizations to their website, we found ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time explaining why they don’t need those ‘interesting’ widgets, gadgets and doohickies littering their Real Estate Website.
Too often Real Estate Agents and Brokers suffer from an affliction called SOS…or more commonly known as Shiny Object Syndrome.
Today’s Real Estate Website has grown up and evolved into something quite different from its earlier predecessors. Gone are the days of ‘Glam Sites’ with fun little ‘flash based’ animation pieces once thought cool and attractive.
Yes, the modern Real Estate Website must be clean, simple and designed to capture the attention of the Real Estate consumer with easy to see search features. It’s these Real Estate Websites that attract the Millennials and the X & Y Generation home buyers and sellers.
Keep Your Real Estate Website Clean and Simple!
We’ve been told, when the average Real Estate Website visitor is forced to click more than a few times just to get to where they want to go, they are likely off to another site that will let them do what they came to do…SEARCH FOR HOMES!
There’s absolutely no need to over think this. We are confident that consumers and visitors that find your real estate website are neither impressed nor even aware of all those extras that are blocking them from what they are looking for.
Consider your Real Estate Website design with a more minimalistic approach. Drawing the eye of your visitor to what they really came to see (Home Search) is vital in keeping them on your site. The longer they stay, the better chance you have of getting them to know, like and trust your real estate website.
Ask yourself; Why do I want this on my site? What goal will it accomplish?
Things You Do Not Want…or Need on Your Real Estate Website
Take into account one of the indices of a successful real estate website is Bounce Rate. This is a measure in which it’s calculated how quickly a visitor is on and then off your site. The higher the bounce rate, the less likely you are of that visitor getting what they came for or ever coming back…Remember, just like in life, your real estate website has one shot at making a good first impression.
1. Unnecessary Links
In the attempt to give our visitors information about ancillary features such as local portals for news, weather or community events, we are inadvertently allowing our highly sought after visitors, we worked so hard to get, to easily click off our real estate website. These are commonly known in the web design business as ‘Leaks’.
This is certainly the case when it comes to adding those Zillow or Trulia badges to your site. Now, we are not saying there’s anything wrong with advertising that you’re in the top 1% of this or rated a 5 Star Agent for that. These are all very important to your overall marketing. What we’re saying is you don’t need to use their code they so conveniently gave you to add to your site. All this does is gives your visitors an easy way to click on to their site and off of yours.
Worse than that, most of these unsuspecting Brokers and Agents don’t realize these codes do not create a blank_target or open in a new browser so when your visitor decides they’ve seen enough and ‘X out’ of that site…they’ve also closed the tab on your site as well!
2. Unnecessary Widgets
In the same vein as links, many of these companies give you a bevy of widgets that seem harmless enough.
Sure, some of these widgets might be worth something or give some useful information but again, the idea here is to avoid losing them to a cool looking widget or worse, simply becoming a resource to drive traffic to another website…in most cases, a real estate website that you don’t necessarily want your visitors going to!
Try and stay away from things that allow visitors to click and go to another site
3. IDX that uses iframing
The old adage, “If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.” Well, that is no more true than when you find a Home Search company that offers an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) solution using iframing or iframe code.
We get a fair amount of inquiries from folks who are interested in just using an iframed resource given to them by their MLS or that their Brokerage offers a no cost option and ability to create their own iframe code and add it directly to that agents real estate website.
In plain English, when using this technique, what you’re doing is laying their site on to your site. Put more simply, imagine taking the old-fashioned overhead projectors that used the plastic sheets and grease pencils. Now, add a bunch of writing and then take a second plastic sheet and lay that over the first, what you have is essentially ‘Chicken Scratch’…and that’s what the Search Engines see.
Mind you, they do their best to disseminate what’s on your page but if they can not, they simply will not index your page. Have enough iframed code on your site and it’s likely the search engines may just ignore your site all together.
4. Flash based animation
We recently relaunched a site for a customer who’s site was loaded with ‘Flash Animation’. In fact, it even played some funky elevator music when you first logged on. You’ve seen them before…neat looking things in motion happening all over the page.
Seems like a nice touch but if you don’t have Adobe Reader installed or are using an Apple Product like a Mac or iPad, that site is likely not going to look or function right.
4.a Auto Play Videos or Music
Please do not make me watch or listen to something I do not want to… especially if I am babysitting or at work. That unexpected noise blast will force me to shut your site down.
5. Lastly, try to keep your Social Media Icons and Like Boxes inconspicuous and below the fold
*Unless you have a strong lead generation system, or an abnormally strong community feel to your social media accounts
Naturally, we all want to show our visitors we are Social Media Credible and allow them to see our Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google Plus pages. But, that may be a mistake.
Giving folks a link to check out your Social Media pages usually leads them straight off your real estate website and on to their Social Media sites where they quickly forget all about you and why they were on your site entirely.
Instead, add your like and tweet boxes on a sidebar. Put your Social Media Icons in the footer with your contact info or have them stand alone and ask folks to connect with you…preferably after they’re done searching for homes and reading all those awesome blog posts…like this one!
Give your Visitors a Reason to Stay on your Real Estate Website
Beyond the reasons explained above, visitors to your website should have other content and information to keep them engaged. Little can make that happen more than great blog posts and dynamic pages. Working on utilizing contact forms, e-book downloads and links inside your own site to infographs and video tutorials are always a win-win.
Give your visitors an opportunity to sign up for your weekly e-Newsletter or to get a monthly market report. Not only do these add tremendous value to you and your website but it also works very effectively as a lead capture resource.
Creating an environment where visitors can do so much more than just search for home gives you the opportunity to build relationships and get your visitors to that KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST place we all work so hard to do.