In these digital, modern times it’s nearly impossible to build a business without a website. And as an investor, having a real estate website that boosts your credibility, as well as collect motivated seller leads, is a vital part of your digital marketing toolbox.
The trouble remains: Many investors, especially those without a solid tech background, get overwhelmed when it comes to building a website. How do they get started? What key elements does their real estate website need? Perhaps even more importantly, what doesn’t their website need? And which parts of a website should they outsource? And which do they need to do themselves?
Whether you’re a website novice or an HTML veteran, here’s a quick guide to getting your real estate website up and running in three hours or less.
4 Steps To Creating A Real Estate Website
1. Choose Your Domain Name
Before you install a single theme or write a single line of code for your website, you need to choose and register a domain name. (Example: www.domainname.com.)
What you decide on will be equal-parts practicality and personality, but here are a couple of tips:
- Go with branding over keywords: There was a time, when the Internet was brand new, when creating websites with keywords stuffed in them would help tremendously with your search engine visibility. These days, however, it’s better to establish credibility by choosing a domain name that aligns with your company name, rather than some long-tail keyword. (Example: EvergladesRealty.com.)
- Keyword domains work great as landing pages: Keyword domains, such as “SellDenverForeclosure.com” work great as dedicated lead-capture pages (and you should use them that way), but not as your primary website for real estate networking.
- Make the domain easy to spell: This means avoiding hyphens or weird spellings. It should be super-easy to spell for any would-be lead.
- Register your domain ASAP: Companies such as Namecheap or GoDaddy can help you lock down your domain. But don’t wait too long. You want to get it done as soon as possible.
2. Installing Your Site & Choosing A Hosting Company
You have quite a few choices when it comes to setting up your website, such as Drupal, Joomla or Weebly. But the most popular, and most versatile, platform is WordPress. Not only is it easy-to-use — and there are a ton of plugins that work with it — but it’s also free (though a nice-looking theme may cost you money).
Now, hosting a website is separate from installing a website. A web-host, such as HostGator or BlueHost, provides you server space for your website to live on, while WordPress, or another platform such as Blogger, is the engine of your website. You need both, but they do different jobs.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about setting up site and hosting service:
- Outsource it if you can: On Fiverr, you can find freelancers who will set up your site and configure your hosting, for a few dollars. There are better uses for your time than installing a website.
- Most hosting companies all sell the same stuff: Choose one that has good customer service reviews. You can change your hosting option at any time; no matter what they tell you.
- Install website analytics and tracking scripts as early as you can: Tools like Google Analytics and Facebook retargeting are vital for a real estate investor. Get somebody (or yourself) to install them as early as possible on your site (so you can start collecting data from day one).
3. Choose A Nifty Design For Your Website
Setting up your website is just the first step. At some point you need to come up with a website design that catches the eye and converts visitors.
Now, there are many different strategies for honing in on a design for your website, but here are a couple things to keep in mind:
- Find websites you like: Compile a directory of links you can share with either a designer or someone on your street team. Then use the “view page source” feature — right-click on a webpage to access — to find out what kind of theme or template they’re using (and which one will help you learn how to find motivated sellers).
- Buy templates; don’t build them: It can be expensive to build a website from scratch. Instead, use a template gallery, such as Theme Forest or Wix, to find exactly what you want.
- Make sure it’s responsive: Whatever template you choose, be sure it plays well with mobile devices. All the pretty websites in the world won’t help if people can’t see your content on their device of choice.
4. Fill Your Site With Content
You don’t need to have hundreds of pages of content ready when you launch your website. But there are some key “must-haves” you should put in place when it comes time to turn the lights on. And they include:
- “About Us” page: Use photos and (some) personal details
- “Contact Us” Page: Make it easy for people to reach you
- Home page video (or introductory post): Something that explains who you are and what your company is about
- Social sharing icons
- (Optional) How-to content posts: These can come later, but it’s always helpful to “teach first, then market.” Walk people through the homebuying/selling process, and they might just give you their business.
One Byte At A Time
You don’t have to know how to change a spark plug in order to drive a car, and the same principle applies to building a website. You don’t have to know how to code or install templates to generate leads with your real estate website.
Just have a clear idea of what you want (and don’t want), create simple pieces of helpful content — and find freelancers to handle the heavy lifting — and you might just find all those bits and bytes turn into a 24-hour marketing machine that never sleeps (even when you do).