In March’s Marketing and Branding Month, we’ll go deep on agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow, Realtor.com and more. Top CMOs of leading firms drop by to share their newest tactics, too. And to top off this theme month, Inman is debuting a brand new set of awards for branding and marketing leaders in the industry called Marketing All-Stars.
There’s never been a better time to put your best face forward. As part of Marketing and Branding Month, we invite you to take our 7-day challenge and report back on your progress. Take the challenge, and give your marketing a refresh, from bio and headshot, to website, to social media and more.
There’s nothing that makes you look quite as out of the loop as an outdated website. Whether it has out-of-date information, broken links or just an old-fashioned aesthetic, making a big impression online starts with the way your website looks and functions.
Yet too often, a website seems to be a set-it-and-forget-it marketing element — in large part because it’s viewed and read more often by visitors than by the individual agent. In addition, since many agents build their website early on in their career, it may be a hastily compiled bootstrapped element that needs to be replaced with something more professional.
What if your brokerage provides a page on its site?
Another reason some agents end up with a less-than-adequate website is that they are using the page provided by their broker. Although that may be enough when first starting out, it’s not really a long-term solution.
Over the course of your career, you may work with multiple brokers, or you may strike out on your own as a franchisee or independent broker. Thus, you’ll need to have your own digital footprint — one that’s not inextricably tied to your current brokerage.
In addition, SEO is a long game, one that is greatly affected by time. As you build your business and improve your website it provides long-lasting service to more and more clients over the years. That helps to build your brand authority. If you juice it with updated blog content as well, you build your rank in Google’s search engine along with your online presence.
Ready to update your website? Here’s where to start
Determine whether you’ll update your current site or build a new one.
If you’re building a new website, decide whether to work with a website builder or choose a DIY solution like those provided by Wix or Constant Contact.
If you’re updating your current site and you already have a personal URL, consult with your builder or site platform to determine whether a new website or new platform will affect your current SEO.
If you don’t have a personal URL, determine whether you’ll need to buy one through a separate vendor like GoDaddy or whether your platform of choice gives you the option to purchase during the building process.
Decide if you’ll include an IDX search function for listings and find out if your website builder or platform supports this.
Work with an SEO professional to conduct keyword research. Look at hyperlocal keywords and ask for a competitor keyword search to find out how your highly ranked competitors have optimized their website content.
Decide on the scope of your website. At a minimum, you’ll need a homepage, About Me page, information for buyers and sellers and content related to any specialty niches you serve. You’ll also want a page for testimonials from satisfied clients to help you build trust.
Although you may love ChatGPT for content creation, don’t let it do the heavy lifting for your website copywriting. Duplicate content is dinged by search engines, so if the copy your AI spits out is the same for everyone, it won’t help you with SEO.
If you’re planning to implement an ongoing content strategy, like blogging or hosting video or podcast content, determine how you will keep it updated and add some past content to populate that section of the site.
If you participated in the bio and headshot challenge, make sure that those elements are updated on your new website. If you have a team or staff, make sure that their bios and headshots are updated as well.
Determine what graphic elements you’ll need on your site. You’ll need to secure high-resolution versions of your logo and other branding elements. For other photos, you may choose to emphasize local landmarks or those related to your niche, like luxury properties, farm and land, or oceanfront. Secure high-resolution, royalty-free images, and make sure that you have permission to use them for commercial purposes.
Make sure that all of your links go to the right destination and that all of your contact forms are properly linked. Check the links for social media profiles as well to ensure that they are current. Check all of your contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses, and make sure that all of the brokerage information required by your local and state association is included.
Let several people proofread every inch of your website and, if possible, reach out to a professional copy editor. You can find freelancers at Upwork or Fiverr.
Don’t keep your website refresh a secret. Use the project as fodder for social media posts by letting your followers track your progress and give a thumbs-up to the final product.
A well-crafted, SEO-ready website can work for both lead generation and conversion. Make sure that you have content for new visitors who’ve never heard of you as well as folks who already know you and want to find out more. That means adding words and images that are rapport-building along with content that shows off your expertise.
Revisit your website frequently, and try to look at it with fresh eyes as often as possible. Think about what it would say to a visitor: Does it interest? Inform? Are there clear calls to action and ways to get in touch?
Take care of your website and, you’ll be sure to find, that it will take care of you.
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.