How long has it been since you updated your Web site? If you’re still running with the same old site that you’ve had forever, it may be time for a facelift.
Your Web site is your professional face online. It’s the place where people can go to learn about who you are as a real estate professional. The information on your Web site also determines your search-engine placement. If you are ready to attract and convert more leads from your Web site, this list of tips can help you do it.
1. The Google Golden Triangle
A new eye-tracking study by Eyetools examined how Web visitors scan Web sites. The research showed that users focus in the upper left-hand corner of the Web site. This is sometimes called the "Google Golden Triangle" because it applies to both Web searches as well as to how people view Web sites.
When someone visits your site, their eyes scan about halfway across the page and then move down. The overall shape of the scan is a triangle. In other words, if you draw a triangle in the upper left-hand corner of any Web page, that’s where the bulk of eyeballs will focus when they visit that site. The Eyetools research also demonstrated that Web visitors move across the triangle in an "F"-shape pattern.
Their findings have important implications for anyone using a Web site to market their services. According to Enquiro’s Gord Hotchkiss, "… there’s a huge importance placed on where eyeballs end up on the page. Clicks happen pretty quickly. It just shows that search marketing is a real estate game. It’s all about location, location, location."
Consequently, look at your Web site. What do you have in the Golden Triangle? If it’s your picture, remove it immediately and place it on the "About Us" page of your Web site. Instead, use this highly valuable area to give consumers the information they want. According to NAR, the primary reason consumers visit agent Web sites is to obtain listing information and sales prices. Make sure that your Web site visitors can find that data easily. Consumers also want community information, mortgage rates, as well as information on the lifestyle in your area. They expect your site to be about what they are searching for — not an infomercial for you.
2. Headlines and bullet points
Older Web sites had massive amounts of text. Today’s Web users, especially those who are accustomed to text messaging or are active on Twitter, want their information in bite-sized chunks of 140 characters or less. To address this shift, change your home page to a series of headlines and bullet points that link to more detailed information. If the Web visitor wants detailed information, he or she will click through to reach it.
3. "This site is all about me and my lifestyle!"
Michael Russer, in his "Online Dominance" course, emphasizes the importance of serving a specific niche rather than being a generalist. Your goal is to have your Web site visitors say, "This site is all about me and my lifestyle!" Provide a wealth of information about each niche you serve. …CONTINUED
For example, if you specialize in selling historic homes, provide profiles of the different historic homes in your area. When were they constructed? What makes them unique? How does the city regulate restorations? Where can owners go to purchase authentic fixtures? Which architects and builders specialize in doing authentic restoration? Providing answers to these questions identifies you as the go-to expert on historical homes in your area. Two other examples of Web sites designed for specific niches are www.MiamiCondoLifestyle.com and www.GoArmyHomes.com.
4. Pictures, pictures and more pictures
Two studies conducted by Point2Agent in 2007 and 2008 showed that the optimum number of pictures to create the most Web views is a minimum of 20. Their research also showed that the difference between having 15 and 16 pictures is 33 percent more page views. If your site is weak on pictures, get your camera out and start snapping photos now.
5. Dump the music and the flash on your site
Google now has the ability to search the audio portions of your Web site and to use them in evaluating your search-engine ranking. This means if you are using video or audio on your site, it’s smart to dump the music and to replace it with words. Also, many agents use flash applications on their home page. These typically take longer to load. The longer your site takes to load, the more likely the visitor is to surf elsewhere. Furthermore, many flash applications waste valuable space that could be more highly targeted to the consumer.
6. Make your site interactive
To make your site stickier (i.e., motivate people to stay on your site for longer periods of time), make it interactive. You can use interactive maps or link your site to a blog or sites such as UnitedLane.com or Obeo.com that allow visitors to decorate listings online.
Need more help with your Web site? If so see next week’s column.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.
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