You want your agent website to promote your service and help you gain more clients. Right?
If it doesn’t accomplish that goal, it isn’t doing you much good.
With that in mind, consider these best practices for your agent website
Being a “secret agent” isn’t going to gain you many clients, so let people know who you are! Put your name and photo right there on the home page! If all your site reveals is the name of the franchise or office you’re with, it might help promote them, but will do nothing for you personally.
Strangely, I’ve even seen several “about” pages now that only promote the agency. They don’t mention individual names.
Second, your agent website should reveal your location.
You could fill your website with outstanding advice for buyers and sellers, and it won’t help you one bit if visitors don’t know you serve their geographic area.
In browsing real estate websites this week, I saw many that didn’t reveal their location:
- Not on the home page
- Not on the about me page
- Not even on the contact page
Really – I visited several contact pages, thinking that if the location wasn’t anywhere else, it would be there. Nope. Instead I found only a box inviting me to enter my name, contact information, and a question. And I don’t know about you – but I quit filling those out a long time ago. My experience with those boxes is that I should not expect a reply. Not that day or any day In the future.
On several sites, the only hint was in the phone number listed. Locals would know they were in the right place. And, an out-of-area visitor could do a search for the area code and find out what city (or state) they’re in. But would they bother?
Some agent websites reveal neither the agent’s name nor their location…
So what is their purpose?
The next two requirements for your agent website go hand in hand.
- Good content
- Easy readability
What does “Good content” mean?
It means content that is interesting and useful to your readers.
When you build your agent website, don’t settle for the canned content your franchise might provide. Add your own content, and make it relevant to both your niche and your community.
Include community pages. Help your visitors distinguish between different communities in your area, or simply let them know enough about your target community to make them want to call it home. Here are tips on how to write community pages they’ll read. Hint: It’s NOT by copying from Wikipedia!
Include advice that will be valuable to your target clients. For instance, if you are a probate expert, include pages that explain some of the steps that executors must take during probate. Include cautions. Include a resource list of service providers who will help with estate sales, cleaning, etc. If you sell waterfront, include information on setbacks and other rules and regulations. Every niche has something specific that buyers and sellers need to know.
Buyer and seller advice can always be better – and your recommendations should change as the market changes. Some of the advice that was valid ten years ago isn’t relevant today.
Use your blog to expand on the other pages in your agent website.
Write about topics that will be interesting and/or useful to both current residents and people who are considering a move to your area. That could include everything from restaurant reviews, to news of new developments under construction, to alerts about changes in the market, to notices about non-profit fundraising events and subdivision-wide yard sales.
Easy readability is a must.
Without it, you might as well offer blank pages.
Readability includes everything from font size, to color, to graphics and the arrangement of words on the page.
Agent website readability errors I saw just last week…
White or gray print on a black background.
This is fine when used as a large font header, but not when used for the main copy. It’s simply too hard on a reader’s eyes. It gets even worse when the font is small. In fact, I came across one real estate website this week that I didn’t even attempt to read. I probably am not the only one who reacted that way.
The “Wall of Words.”
A whole page of words with no paragraph breaks is almost impossible to read on line. So why would any visitor stay and try when there are other websites to visit? Most will not. Would you read the copy in the graphic below? It says the same words as what you’ve been reading, but…
- Do use short paragraphs. Experts disagree on whether 5 lines or 7 should be the maximum. I prefer to stick with 5 or fewer.
- Do leave white space between paragraphs. It makes it far easier for your reader to keep his or her place when reading a whole page of copy.
- Do use sub-headlines, and (sparingly) bold important words and use italics or all caps. These help your reader focus in on what is most important.
- Do add graphics. These further break up the page, making it easier to read.
- Do use bullet points. Plenty of people prefer to skim before choosing how much to read – or settling down to read an entire page. Bullet points help them see what your content is all about.
Use care in choosing your fonts…
Keep readability in mind – and go back to read what you’ve posted. Script is nice, but only in small doses. When it’s whole paragraphs, it becomes difficult to read. And, as I’m sure you’ve heard before, using all caps looks like you’re shouting at people. Use them sparingly, for emphasis.
Then consider size. Too small and many will skip over it rather than strain to read it. Too large and readers will feel assaulted. So look at it. If you have especially sharp eyes, ask friends or family members to take a look.
You may have heard that search engines will only rank pages with long copy. That’s been proven untrue. What search engines like is copy that gives the reader what they want. Say what you have to say, using as many or as few words as it takes to say it. Don’t add fluff just to add word count.
If you need more verification of this, check out Heather Lloyd Martin’s post on Word Count.
Trying to impress with a sophisticated vocabulary.
This could be effective if you’re writing for a very small, select group of individuals. However, copy on a real estate website should be understood by everyone. Again experts disagree – some say to write for 7th grade comprehension. Others say that’s changed in recent years, so we should aim for 5th grade.
I don’t know the answer, but there is a rule in copywriting: If you have a choice, use the smaller word. For instance, say “use,” not “utilize.”
Remember that even some of your very high-end buyers and sellers are not grammarians. Also remember that when you use words that people don’t fully comprehend, you make them feel lacking – and nobody wants to feel that way.
The amusing thing about people who try to impress with vocabulary is that they sometimes use the wrong words. Every now and then I run across a word and think “That doesn’t fit.” But then I think “Maybe I’m wrong,” so I look it up. Once in a while I learn a new word, but most of the time I just get a chuckle over use of a word that is clearly out of place. Either way, causing your reader to question the meaning of a word is not the way to keep your message flowing.
The true purpose of your agent website:
The true purpose is to cause your readers to believe that YOU are the agent they want and need. To make that happen, your words should flow easily from your pages into their minds. The errors mentioned above cause roadblocks that prevent that flow. So avoid them!