Virtually all real estate professionals have a Web site — what can you do to make your Web site stand out from the crowd?
Many agent Web sites already use “mashups.” According to Wikipedia, a mashup “is a Web application that combines data and/or functionality from more than one source.” In other words, if you have multiple photos on your Web site, a virtual tour, and mapping, you already are using a mashup. If you lack these features, it’s important to add them to your existing site if you want to truly stand out from the competition.
Widgets are also important in helping you stand out from competitors. A Web widget is a short chunk of “ready-to-use” HTML code that can be copied on a Web page or blog to provide a specific function. Examples include video, mortgage calculators or streaming news data from sources such as Inman News. Widgets make your Web site or blog more interesting for the consumer. They also add useful functionality without having to spend extra money for special programming.
Optimizing your Web site is also critical. With the release of the iPhone, it will become increasingly important to optimize your Web site for iPhone users. Without optimization, your listing data appears as a tiny postage-sized image.
The folks at RealBird have a suite of solutions that address each of these issues. In addition to their mapping, social bookmarking and syndication to eight other listing portals, RealBird property Web sites are also optimized for the new Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. Instead of a postage-sized image, the RealBird solution displays your listings on a full screen. Your phone number is also automatically converted to a hotlink. By tapping on it, iPhone users can call you directly from your listing presentation page.
According to Gabe Gross of RealBird, you can increase how long consumers stay on your site by incorporating a number of the RealBird widgets. Their “featured listing map widget” provides a map showing the agent’s featured listings. The “listing slide show widget” allows you to embed an automated slideshow of a featured listing in your Web site or blog. They also have widgets that allow you to embed aerial photos, local points of interest, as well as printable driving directions private labeled with your contact information.
To reach more consumers in their native language, RealBird provides a built-in translation feature that translates listing data into 10 different languages. Additional features include a solution that displays listings on Facebook as well as information about local schools. They also have a feature that allows you to post open house data.
One of the most intriguing solutions available to agents through RealBird is access to a site called Clicky (http://getclicky.com). Very few agents track where their Web leads originate. They also do not know which pages on their site receive the most traffic. By tracking Web analytics, agents can better target their client base. They can also monitor which aspects of their Web marketing campaign are working and which are not. While Google and other companies provide some Web analytics, Clicky’s Web analytics are much more robust.
One challenge many agents face is accurately tracking the number of people visiting their blog. For example, Typepad blogs provide page view data daily. They don’t display how many unique visitors you have nor do they show how much traffic you receive from their RSS feed. With Clicky you get juicy details about each visitor to your site including their location, their operating system, and a host of other data. Clicky also lets you see exactly where visitors click while visiting your site.
Another important service that Clicky provides is a tag cloud. Instead of showing you the most highly searched terms in a table, a tag cloud shows you the terms in a group. The more searches a term receives, the larger the size of the term will be in the tag cloud. This is important because it lets you track which search terms generate the most traffic. As a result, you can target your advertising more accurately. In the past, you would have to pay someone who specializes in search engine optimization to discover this data.
Clicky also allows you to “spy” on exactly what Web visitors are doing on your Web site in real time. You can track which sites refer you business, integrate Google Maps, plus select from a host of other solutions. Best of all, their premium service is less than $2 per month.
If you’re not taking advantage of these services, you’re missing a huge opportunity to better serve your current Web visitors plus making your site more viral (i.e., attractive enough that your users will tell others about it.) Furthermore, monitoring your Web traffic is one of the best ways to keep your Web business strong.
Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.