In March, I talked about the Open Directory (www.dmoz.org), which is one of the most important places on the web to get your site listed. It is also one of the most difficult. In fact, a few people wrote to me after the article came out and agreed that it had been almost impossible for them to get listed in the Open Directory. Several of these people were realtors and when I was doing some research to help them out, I ran across this statement from someone who judges sites for the OD:
‚Äúthere is one type of site that is becoming increasingly difficult to list: local real estate agents.‚Äù
The writer went on to explain that this was because most real estate sites nowadays were just bad, and for a number of reasons. So, for those who e-mailed, and for others out there, this month‚Äôs column can simply be titled: ‚ÄúHow to Build a Great Real Estate Website‚Äù.
1) Do make your site personal. Have the contact details and a photo of the agent selling the house at the bottom of every listing. You need to associate yourself as closely as possible with your product.
2) Don‚Äôt use templates. Your company doesn‚Äôt have the same logo and the same staff as your rivals and so you shouldn‚Äôt have the same website. Also, the photos of the houses at the top of the template are often taken in California, Las Vegas or another part of the country. You are not selling those kinds of houses ‚Äì you need photos of houses in North Georgia on the front page.
3) Do add a complete biography for all your agents. People want to see what you bring to the table. Often people who use templates will change one or two words in the biography and leave the rest untouched. I‚Äôve seen one agent‚Äôs photo and life story repeated on multiple sites.
4) Don‚Äôt use the content provided by the company that you are working with. Search Engines such as Google and Yahoo, plus listings directories don‚Äôt like sites that are cookie-cutter versions of other website. Oh, and did I mention that customers also hate to see the same text and the same articles everywhere they surf on the web?
5) Do invest in your website. 2 out of every 3 homebuyers is looking online for houses and 2 out of 3 homebuyers are using the Internet to research their new home and find a real estate agent. A 2002 Realtor.org study revealed that these Internet Homebuyers spend more money and make their buying decision quicker than non-internet users. For less than price of one billboard by the highway, you have the opportunity to generate a lot of quality leads.