Are you building a new real estate website or looking to improve on your existing one? Hold up - be sure to read these real estate website tips before you proceed!
This month, we interviewed Josh Cobb of Stepps, a real estate web design and digital marketing company. Josh also hosts the iTunes top-ranked weekly podcast Real Estate Pros and is the Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2017 for Marketing, PR & Events.
Without further ado, here are Josh’s top real estate website tips (full transcript below):
1. Provide the best answers to every question
The first thing you should ask yourself is “do we have the best page on the internet for a particular question that someone has about our industry?”. This might be around what to do when a tenant breaks their lease or how to identify a great property manager.
If you’re able to answer specific questions that landlords and vendors have, you’ll be able to attract a lot more website traffic than most real estate websites as you’re providing information that people are actually searching for.
2. Don’t prioritise listings
One of the most common real estate website mistakes is prioritising listings and turning your real estate website into a mini version of Realestate.com.au or Domain.com.au. Not only will this make it near impossible for your website to compete for traffic but it also means your website is built for buyers.
Your website should be built for your target audience. For property managers, this often means landlords and vendors rather than buyers. Instead of prioritising listings, showcase reviews and testimonials on every page of your website to help reinforce your skills and reputation.
3. Make sure your website is mobile responsive
Another real estate website tip is to ensure your website is mobile responsive. We live in the mobile era and it’s important to make sure your website looks just as good on mobile as it does on desktop. Otherwise, you’ll be losing a lot of potential customers.
4. Ensure your website is secure
The easiest way to find out if your website is secure is to check the URL. A secure website has https:// instead of http:// before the URL. The extra ‘s’ stands for secure and means that your web developer has installed a SSL certificate.
This is really important as Google Chrome displays a warning if you have a form asking for personal information but your website isn’t secure. Additionally, Google considers secure websites in its search ranking algorithm; secure websites will rank higher than those that aren’t secure.
5. Stay on top of search rankings
According to studies, the top position in Google search gets 32.5% of search traffic, the second position gets 17.6% of traffic and the third position gets 11.4%. That’s why it’s important to consistently keep on top of search rankings as it can greatly affect your website traffic.
To do this, you can listen to podcasts on digital marketing, read articles or have someone in your business who understands the importance of digital marketing so that they can do it for you.
It’s more important now than ever that you’re driving traffic to your real estate website. Otherwise, you’re going to have to rely on different platforms such as Realestate.com.au, Domain.com.au and lead generation platforms for new business opportunities.
“Fall in love with your website and think of it as the most important digital platform for your business.”
Full Interview Transcript:
Silvia: Hi Josh, thanks for making the time to chat with us. Can you tell us a little more about Stepps?
Josh: We’re a digital marketing company that focuses on the real estate space. The three main services that we provide to the industry are digital marketing training and advisory to individual agents and agencies, content marketing services for content creation and promotion and custom website design and development services that tie the other two things in as well.
S: Cool, how about a little more about yourself Josh? I know you have over 12 years of real estate industry experience and you launched Stepps in 2014 so you’re really a real estate pro - which also happens to be the name of your podcast!
J: Yes, I’ve been in the real estate industry for most of my working life. I started as a property manager many, many, many years ago and how I got into digital marketing was because I was frustrated with how marketing and sales were being taught in the industry.
It was uncomfortable for me to interrupt people’s lives, knock on their doors, make cold calls and all the other things we’re taught in real estate. So content marketing was something that interested me simply because it wasn’t about interrupting people’s lives.
It’s a marketing strategy that’s about becoming what people are interested in, rather than interrupting them. So content marketing and digital marketing was a natural progression for me personally.
S: Yes, most people start their real estate search online now so it’s so important to have a great real estate website and great content to create value straight off the bat. So what are some things to keep in mind prior to building or rebuilding a real estate website?
J: The problem with most real estate websites is that they’re built for the wrong audience. And what I mean by that is that 84%, according to some research that we did two years ago, 84% of people looking to buy or rent a property never visit a real estate agency or agent website at any stage during that consideration process.
J: But when you go to most real estate websites, they’re built for buyers. There are properties everywhere and even a property search functionality. They’re basically mini versions of Realestate.com.au or Domain.com.au which doesn’t make sense because they can’t compete for traffic. So that’s the problem with real estate websites here in Australia.
The first thing that people need to think about is, “is our website actually built for the right people?”. If you’re thinking about your website for landlords and vendors then you should be thinking about what kind of information they want to see when they come to your website. And it’s probably not listings yet. They probably just want some information about the auction clearance rates or it might be around topics like “I’ve got a tenant who’s not paying my rent - what do I do?”, “how do I make sure my property manager is doing the right thing?” or “I have a tenant who wants to break their lease - what’s the process involved in that?”.
Those are the things that most people are going to the internet for. They’re looking for answers to specific questions. So think of your website as the Google of real estate for your local market and start answering people’s questions on your website. This way you are going to drive an enormous amount more traffic than most real estate websites because you’re providing information that people actually want. And not just using your website as a business card or a brochure for your business.
Lastly, property management companies and sales teams really need to think of their real estate website as a salesperson or BDM on the road. If it’s not generating results for their business, or worse, if they don’t know if it is, then they need to fix that. Otherwise, their website is simply a cost and it’s not an investment.
S: So just to summarise: don’t think of your website as a property listing portal, create valuable content on your website and think of your website as a salesperson on the road. Keeping those in mind, what are your top real estate website tips?
J: The first thing - and it kind of ties in with all of the things that we just spoke about Silvia - is to ask, “do we have the best page on the internet for a particular question that someone has about our industry?”. It might be about breaking a lease in real estate or buying or selling a house. Whatever that question is, “do we have the best pages on the internet for the questions people are asking?”. And if the answer is no, you need to fix that. Otherwise, you’re not relevant and people won’t come to your website.
Secondly, it would be not prioritising your listings. Instead, showcase your reviews and testimonials on every page. Make sure that you don’t just have one page that’s a big long list of reviews and testimonials because no one reads that page anyway. And we’ve got staff that have proved testimonial pages on real estate websites are the least visited page. The only people that are visiting those pages are the people in the office. And that makes sense to most people.
So instead, consider putting your testimonials throughout your website. For example, right under where you’re saying how great you are and why someone should list their home with you, whether that’s a rental or a sale, insert a testimonial to back up that claim. Scatter the reviews around your website so that people are constantly reminded why they should consider you while they’re reading.
Number three would certainly be mobile design. The real estate website must be just as good on a mobile device as it is on a desktop. This is a non-negotiable now - I don’t even know why I’m giving that as a tip. That’s so 2012, that statement.
S: I think a lot of people might not know this, especially if they’re new to website design and marketing.
J: Yes, absolutely. That’s number three. Number four would be making sure you get your web developer to ensure that your website is secure. And what I mean by that is making sure the web developer has installed what’s called an SSL certificate.
The easiest way to see if a website is secure is to look at the URL. You would usually have http:// and then the website URL. A secure website has https:// and the ‘s’ stands for secure. And if a website has that at the start of a URL, that means there’s an SSL certificate installed on the website.
This is really important for two reasons. One, if you don’t have that installed on your website but you have a form where you’re asking for personal information, Google Chrome will now display a warning that the website is not secure. This will tell people to reconsider filling in the form because the website is not secure, which is really bad for branding.
And the other reason why you want to install an SSL certificate is because Google now considers secure websites in their Google search ranking algorithm. It’s been proven that websites that are secure will actually rank higher in Google search. So that’s number four.
Number five, make sure you’re consistently keeping on top of search ranking factors. Be sure to listen to podcasts on digital marketing, read articles or have someone in the business who understands the importance of digital marketing so that they can do it for you. It’s more important now than ever that real estate businesses are driving traffic to their website.
You need to love your real estate website and think of it as the first touchpoint of your business. Otherwise you’re going to have to rely on Realestate.com.au, Domain.com.au, ratings and reviews websites, lead generation platforms etc. for new business opportunities. On those sites, you’re one of 100 agents, instead of when someone is on your website where you have their full and undivided attention.
If you get people to your website, you are going to win that game of attention and you’re going to do that by implementing the other four things I just mentioned. I hope that helps.
S: Great, thanks Josh. So just to sum it up, here are your top real estate website tips:
- Provide the best answers to specific questions
- Don’t prioritise listings. Instead showcase reviews and testimonials on every page of your website
- Make sure your entire website is mobile responsive
- Ensure your web developer has installed an SSL certificate on your website so that it’s secure
- Consistently keep on top of search rankings or have someone do it for you
Lastly, if you just had one quick takeaway for our audience, what would it be?
J: It would be to fall in love with your website. Otherwise, you’ll continually rely on other platforms to win new business opportunities. There’s no better place to get someone's attention and hold that attention than your own website. Fall in love with your website and think of it as the most important digital platform for your business.
S: Thank you so much for your time Josh. You really packed in a lot of real estate website tips in a few minutes!
Hopefully you enjoyed this blog post on real estate website tips with Josh Cobb. If you’re planning on building a new website or revamping your existing one, be sure to check out Stepps and subscribe to Real Estate Pros.
You might also be interested in 52 Ways to Grow Your Rent Roll, 10 Incredibly Useful Tech Tools Every Agent Needs and How to Increase Property Enquiries for Less than $50.
Did we miss a real estate website tip? Please let us know in the comments below.