Hacker Connect January 16 in New York
An event for and by the real estate tech community

WordPress is a wonderful open-source platform, flexible enough to power a Realtor’s blog or a robust broker site and intranet. The real estate community has embraced WordPress with many notable industry sites and blogs running the software.

In fact, Inman News has covered various WordPress topics and held informative WordPress workshops at its Real Estate Connect and Agent Reboot events.

We’ve been utilizing WordPress at our brokerage for some time now — developing projects such as blogs, community sites, intranets, and deploying unique property websites to our sales associates.

The ability to create a unique property website is not only a fantastic listing tool, but an effective way to compete in search with national syndication sites, including Trulia and Zillow.

Sellers and real estate developers are beginning to understand the importance of search. They want to know what your company’s search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) strategy is going to be.

From luxury homes to new construction developments, we create property websites in WordPress to market all sorts of projects. Out of the box, the WordPress framework is very SEO-friendly, and with a few handy plug-ins and some good content, you can develop a pretty potent website.

The entire process can be streamlined utilizing WordPress or a self-hosted solution. For this article, let’s take a look at the self-hosted approach.

Step 1: Purchase a custom domain name

Utilizing a custom domain name is advantageous both online and offline. A custom domain name such as "123mainstreet.com" can be put on a sign rider or in print to convert offline users to online.

Although there is some debate regarding the effectiveness of brand names vs. keywords in domain names for SEO purposes, having a simple domain name that properly describes the property or community can be beneficial.

Purchasing domain names is pretty inexpensive these days, and is typically under $10. I use 1and1, though there are many registrars including Register.com, Network Solutions, Go Daddy and more.

Step 2: Web hosting

There are many affordable Web-hosting companies that specialize in WordPress and make installation a breeze. Among these hosting solutions are Fantastico or Simple Scripts, which allow you to install WordPress in two or three clicks.

I’ve always had a good experience with BlueHost, which is $5.95 a month and includes both Simple Scripts and Fantastico. They also have terrific customer service and tech support.

Step 3: Themes

After you have purchased a domain name, Web hosting and installed WordPress, it is now time to customize the layout and design of the site. The third version of WordPress has made customizing your blog or site pretty easy. You can change colors, add images, pages, etc.

However, there are literally millions of fantastic themes available, both free and paid. There are also popular extended themes that enhance the WordPress platform and make customizing a site super easy by adding drag-and-drop options — no coding required!

Thesis and PageLines are among the more popular services/themes.

Step 4: Plug-ins

One of the most powerful features of WordPress is the plug-ins. A plug-in is a piece of software that can enhance the capabilities of a platform, and WordPress has some fantastic plug-ins.

Plug-ins are available for free or a paid premium. There are a few crucial plug-ins that I use for every property site I develop in WordPress.

They include:

There are other plug-ins for slide shows, social media and rich content available as well. You can browse the WordPress Plug-in Directory here.

Also, Reggie Nicolay, director of social media for the National Association of Realtors’ Realtors Property Resource (RPR), compiled a great list of premium plug-ins.

Step 5: Content

Content is still king. Developing multiple pages for a property website and solid copy that includes keywords and quality links is imperative. WordPress supports other engaging content such as video, photography and floor plans.

Be sure to include visible call-to-actions. Utilizing the "All in One SEO" plug-in will allow you to add custom metadata to each page, optimizing your content for Google and other search engines.

There are certainly proprietary services available for publishing property websites. However, we’ve had great success creating them in WordPress. Also, multiple listing service guidelines vary from market to market. Be conscious of any branding guidelines and MLS regulations.

Tom Flanagan is the director of information technology at Residential Properties Ltd. in Providence, R.I. You can contact him at tflanagan@residentialproperties.com or @tflan on Twitter.

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