It’s a new year. Is your Web site up to the job in 2010?

Most agents have a Web site, but few regularly generate leads from their site. If you want to make sure that you have optimized your site for 2010, evaluate your site using the checklist below.

1. Do you have a personal Web site with your own URL?
Many agents have only a page on their broker’s site. The result is the Web traffic goes to your broker, not to you. Not having your own site greatly reduces the number of leads you can generate from the Web. Make setting up your own site a top priority for 2010.

It’s a new year. Is your Web site up to the job in 2010?

Most agents have a Web site, but few regularly generate leads from their site. If you want to make sure that you have optimized your site for 2010, evaluate your site using the checklist below.

1. Do you have a personal Web site with your own URL?
Many agents have only a page on their broker’s site. The result is the Web traffic goes to your broker, not to you. Not having your own site greatly reduces the number of leads you can generate from the Web. Make setting up your own site a top priority for 2010.

2. Is your picture on the front page of your site?
If so, move it to the "About Us" page. Leaving it on the front page causes up to 50 percent of your visitors to surf away.

3. Does your home page list your city, state, phone number and e-mail address?
A high percentage of agent Web sites fail to include this important information on their home page. Check your site to make sure this information is displayed on your home page.

4. Is all of your personal listing information on your site up-to-date?
Many agents forget to post price changes to their listings, including noting when a property has sold. Make sure the information on your site is current.

5. Does your site link to all listings on your local multiple listing service?
The primary reason people visit real estate Web sites is to obtain access to listing information. The second most important requested information is access to sales prices. If possible, make sure the appropriate links are on your home page.

6. Do you have a URL (Web site address) that references the area where you work, the specific niche(s) you serve, and that includes a reference to real estate?
If not, purchase a new URL and create a new page designed specifically for the niche(s) you serve — for example, "LiveatLakeTravis78733.com" or "BostonProbateSellers.com."

Whatever you choose, make sure that you select a URL where you can obtain the dot-com address. You can set this up as a separate site or incorporate it into your existing site. If you choose to incorporate it into your current site, set up the new URL page as if it is a home page. (In other words, anyone clicking on this URL would go to this new page on your main site.)

7. Does your site have landing pages for lead capture?
A major challenge with most agent Web sites is that they are advertising-based rather than marketing-based. In other words, the sites describe the agent’s services, but there is no mechanism to motivate the Web visitor to contact the agent. Update your site by offering a "free CMA" or "free reports" on topics such as "How to Save Thousands on Your Next Mortgage," "Options for Avoiding Foreclosure," or "Are You Eligible for a Property Tax Reduction?" …CONTINUED

You could also offer coupons for local visitors or any other item that would motivate Web visitors to contact you. Have your Web designer build a landing page on your current site where visitors can order these items.

8. How many pictures have you posted for each of your listings?
Whenever possible, post at least 20 pictures, as this maximizes the number of leads that you will receive on your site.

9. Is your Web site linked to your blog and your social media?
Ideally, your blog should be integrated into your Web site. If not, make sure that you have links on your blog to your site and vice versa. If you are active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, does your site link to them? If not, have your Web designer add the appropriate links using the icons provided by each site.

10. Are their links to videos of your listings?
According to the National Association of Realtors, only 1 percent of agents are using video and yet 73 percent of sellers would hire an agent who uses video. Currently, Google and other search engines appear to give sites with video a higher ranking than those who lack video. Set up a button on your home page that takes visitors to a page called "Videos of my listings."

11. Does your site link to important community information?
Consumers want lifestyle data, videos that illustrate what it’s like to live in your area, Chamber of Commerce information, school data, crime statistics, etc. You can link to sites such as Walkscore.com to determine the "walkability" of nearby amenities, Eventful.com for a calendar of local events, or Gasbuddy.com to locate the best gas prices in your area. These tools keep visitors returning to your site regularly.

12. Does your site have a mortgage calculator?
People want to know how much they can afford. It’s also smart to include a "rent vs. buy" calculator as well.

13. Does your site have a privacy policy?
Many people are reluctant to fill out online forms with their data. A privacy policy can change this. Your policy should include a statement that explains: "We respect your privacy and will not share your information with anyone. We understand that you may just be looking at this time and are not yet ready to be contacted by an agent. Filling out the form below is optional." This approach actually yields more correct information than forcing visitors to complete a mandatory form.

14. Does your site have testimonials from past clients?
If not, start gathering these right away. Testimonials, especially if they are on video, help your site achieve higher search-engine ranking.

Most real estate Web site providers already provide most of these features. The key to Web success in 2010 is taking your site and making it entirely about the specific customer you serve. This is how to differentiate yourself from the competition and drive more deals to your business in 2010.

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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