- WordPress is a great solution for real estate professionals because of the level of ownership you have over your site.
- The plugin options are nearly limitless for WordPress.
- Although WordPress is a wonderful, capable website solution, it isn't perfect. Ownership means responsibility in setup and a learning curve.
Your website is your marketing hub. All your marketing efforts tie back to it in one way or another, which makes it your most valuable digital asset.
With your website in the middle of everything, it must have the capabilities to handle everything you throw at it.
You want a website that is beautifully branded, scalable and tailored to your real estate needs — but also a site that just works and won’t become outdated in a year or two.
There are plenty of website solutions available to real estate agents and brokers — all with different features, usability and price points. The difficulty isn’t finding a solution, but finding the right solution — and I do believe there is a right choice.
5 reasons you should have a WordPress-based site
Below I discuss four categories of WordPress features that make the platform the optimal choice for real estate companies:
- Growth and endurance
- Features and integrations
- Inbound marketing: SEO and blogging
- Beautiful, responsive designs
Options such as Real Estate Webmasters, Real Geeks, Placester, eAgentC and Market Leader can make solid offerings for agents. The backend features of these sites are well-suited to the needs of the industry; they come out of the box with property search features and are often completely set up for you.
But the problem I see with these solutions is ownership. Sure you might own the domain name, but the website is not actually yours because you do not have control.
I don’t think any smart agent should let another company have control over their most critical marketing asset.
- You should have 100 percent ownership of the platform, the content and the design
- You should have unfettered access to the entire site, without restriction
- You should not be boxed into a limited set of standard features
- No other person or company should have decision-making power over your site
- Your site should be flexible and powerful enough to keep up with the ever-changing trends of digital marketing
2. Growth and endurance
You need a website that will not only scale with your company’s growth but will also last longer than a few years before it becomes outdated and needs a complete overhaul.
- WordPress powers 25 percent of all websites; it’s safe to say it will not become obsolete or fall behind technologically anytime soon
- WordPress is also the platform of choice for sites such as CNN, The New York Times and UPS; it can grow to be as big as you need it to be
- WordPress is meant for use by both individuals and teams; it will be ready for that freelance writer from another state or the intern you plan to hire
3. Features and integrations
Real estate-specific solutions, like the ones mentioned above, have built-in features that add convenience for the agent. However, these features, also make the sites more rigid and inflexible, which can become a problem for real estate companies looking to push the envelope with the latest marketing tactics and technology.
WordPress is not built around a few core features created by a small internal team. WordPress is an open-source platform with thousands of developers around the world building plugins and applications that can solve just about any problem you can create.
This means WordPress will integrate with the latest technology available, where dedicated solutions tend to fall behind and become obsolete.
- Property search is accomplished with IDX integrations from companies such as IDX Broker, WolfNet and iHomefinder
- Lead capture is where WordPress shines; there are an unfathomable amount of plugins designed to create a better lead capture mouse trap, and many of them are free
Capabilities via WordPress plugins
- Integrations with many prevalent software as a service (SaaS) companies — contact relationship management (CRMs), marketing automation, advertising, etc.
- Blog and social media scheduling
- Website traffic analytics (that are easy to use)
- Social sharing buttons and social follow buttons
- Landing page templates
- Simplified on-page SEO
- Lead capture boxes, pop-ups and slide-ins
- Caching for site speed
- Simple A/B testing of pages and headlines
The point is you can do most anything with WordPress plugins. Features that would need hours of an expensive developers’ time can be handled in a few clicks by you or a marketing intern.
4. Inbound marketing: SEO and blogging
Targeted traffic is the lifeblood of your website. You need a site that is search-engine friendly and easy to create content within, including blog posts, community pages, landing pages and resource pages.
- WordPress comes with a beautiful stupid-simple blog that matches your website branding
- WordPress is a content management system (CMS), which makes creating beautiful content as easy as typing in a Word document
- Google’s own Matt Cutts has said WordPress is a fantastic choice for SEO
- WordPress automatically handles basic SEO without the user having to consider it
- More advanced issues are easily handled with plugins
- WordPress is easier to optimize and likely cheaper to optimize if you hire an SEO firm
5. Beautiful, responsive designs
Great branding is crucial to successful real estate agents. Your website needs to be designed beautifully, easily navigated and responsive to mobile devices.
- There are thousands of themes available to WordPress users, so your website never has to match your local competitor’s site
- Most web developers understand WordPress, and finding a great developer for any customizations is no problem on any budget
- Most premium WordPress themes are now responsive
If you currently have separate desktop and mobile sites, I recommend you consider switching to a responsive site design. The upkeep is much simpler, and the experience remains consistent for your visitors across all devices.
Obviously, I think WordPress is a great solution, and I recommend it to everyone. However, WordPress is not perfect.
Whereas real-estate specific solutions come set up for you, there is more responsibility on your shoulders when it comes to getting a WordPress site off the ground.
Real estate-specific solutions have backend features made for agent-specific tasks that will help you get going with your site faster.
Think of these features like the bumper rails you can set up on a bowling lane — they will make your work easier and keep you out of the gutters. But just like bowling bumpers they will restrict what your site is capable of as well.
So who are WordPress sites for?
WordPress sites are great for small-time, individual agents as well as large, regional and national firms.
But I believe companies that want to stay on the cutting edge of digital marketing and are always ready to adapt to the ever-changing marketing landscape will enjoy the power and flexibility of WordPress the most.
Make no mistake, a great website will take a lot of work regardless of the platform you use, just make sure all that hard work goes into an asset that can keep up with your ambitions.
Are you using WordPress for your real estate website? Please share why you love or hate it in the comments section below.
Josh Brown is the founder of Alpha Agent. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.