By SETH SIEGLER
Most readers of this blog would probably consider themselves more tech savvy than the average real estate agent. (But, that’s like saying you’re smarter than an average chunk of concrete …)
The truth is that most of you reading this actually are pretty "tech-tastic," but there may be a few small ways that your online presence makes you appear otherwise.
Here are some critical mistakes that make you look tech illiterate.
1. Your site is not at a dedicated domain
What’s the difference between jim.com and jim.wordpress.com? The second choice makes you look like you probably write e-mails in all capital letters. Losing the "wordpress.com" part means that you’ll need to set up a WordPress.org framework site on your own hosting package or server.
If you go with a hosting provider like Media Temple, and choose their bottom-tier Grid-Service plan, you can set one up with one click. Then you have an Internet-universe full of themes that can make you look professional. Plus, your URL will give you the street cred that you think you already have. (And no, redirecting a URL to your wordpress.com site isn’t the same thing.)
2. Your logo is ridiculous/non-existent
You shouldn’t make it yourself, and you shouldn’t let your young relative make it (unless that young relative is an advanced design student). Your logo is important and you should spend some money/effort on it. If you have the budget, you should go with an experienced design team to brand your consumer experience.
If you don’t have the cash, it may be worth trying a crowd-sourcing site like 48hourslogo.com. You can get freelance designers to compete for your business, offering logos for your brand in exchange for a prize as cheap as $79 to the winning designer.
3. You have an e-mail address that isn’t on your domain
Do you think you’d get an e-mail from someone who works at Ford from their Gmail address? Or worse, an AOL or Yahoo address? Your e-mail address should match your website URL, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t disconnect your old e-mail address though. Forward it to your new one and answer all e-mails from that new e-mail address.
4. Too many nav(igation) options
The best sites are the ones that are simple to navigate. Do you really need 15-plus options on your nav menu? Options should be simple for your visitors and all signs should eventually point to your contact info, your IDX (Internet Data Exchange site) or your blog. Everything else is just an obstacle to lead conversion. Plus, it makes your site look crowded, messy and amateur.
5. Non-existent or bad HTML title tags
Take a look at the title bars of your website pages. Do they simply say "home" or "index"? Or worse, are they 50 words long, grasping for every last drop of SEO (search-engine optimization) benefit? Either way, they make you look bad. If you haven’t taken the time to add real, descriptive title tags to your pages, people assume you don’t know how. (If you don’t know how, just Google it.) And by the way, Google doesn’t like artificially inflated title tags.
6. Auto-starting video on home page
If you have a video on your home page, make sure it doesn’t start automatically. People often browse at work or with other people in the room. If their volume is up, they could be startled and even embarrassed by the unexpected noise, and immediately leave your site. Not good.
7. Dramatic brand descriptions that include cheesy buzz words like "leverage" or "revolutionizing." OR attempts at words that seem big like "cloud computing"
The word "leveraging" is so vague and overused that I force myself to imagine a kitten being killed each time I almost use it. Also, remember that you want to relate to people. If you are trying to blow them away with techie-sounding words, it won’t end well for your bottom line. And besides, when I see someone taking pride in using cloud technology for their CRM (customer relationship management) or e-mail system, I know that they just learned the term within the last couple of weeks.
8. Your Facebook profile is unlocked
Having a completely unlocked Facebook profile is most like being that weird 45-year-old who hangs out at college bars with the top four buttons of his shirt open. You can make it much worse by using a professional glamour photo as your profile pic and making your entire Facebook presence about your real estate business.
Have I missed anything? I’ll be the first one to admit that I have a few items I need to address in my own Web presence. How about you? Did anything on your site make my list?
Seth Siegler is the co-founder of Simplistate, an eco-friendly, virtual real estate brokerage. He is also the owner and founder of Robot Workshop — a real estate technology solutions company specializing in IDX and PPC based lead generation. You can find his real estate industry blog at www.sethsiegler.com. He will be speaking at Real Estate Connect NYC 2011 in January.
Future of Real Estate Marketing is a part of Inman News.