When you’re putting together your website, every word counts. In Part 1 of our five-part content marketing game plan, Christy Murdock shows you how to ensure that your site is communicating effectively on your behalf.

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.

Developing a content plan for your real estate business means optimizing a host of online and real-world platforms. In our Content Marketing Game Plan, we bring you the rules for generating five different types of foundational content: your website, bio, blog, PR and self-published book.

One of the first pieces of digital marketing content you need is a website. It’s a place to host all of the content you create — your bio, blog and links to other platforms like social media accounts and your profiles on real estate search portals. 

The good news is that you don’t have to start out with an expensive website. You can begin with a basic online presence that you build on over time. What you do need? The right content so that potential clients can get their questions answered and you can begin building your search engine ranking and authority sooner rather than later.

Where are you in your career?

The scope and scale of your website depend, in part, on where you are in your career.

New agent

If you’re a new agent, you probably only need basic functionality. You want a website that helps you build authority so that when a potential client looks you up online, they can find you.

Established agent

Along with basic information, you’ll want to include testimonials or reviews from past clients and begin adding ongoing informational content, whether through a blog or video embed. You may also want to add search capability through an IDX integration.

All-star agent

If you’re a top producer, you’ll need a website to match. At this point, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a more robust, professionally designed site and include elements like a media kit, press mentions and information about your team.

Where will you host your website?

You have plenty of options at all types of price points so there’s no reason not to have a website no matter where you are in your career.

Brokerage resources

When you first sign on with a brokerage at the beginning of your career, you’ll want to ask them what digital marketing platforms they supply. In many cases, they’ll provide you with either a website of your own or a page on their website.

While this is a good, affordable options when you first start out, it’s definitely not a long-term solution. That’s because you won’t be building brand authority or search engine ranking and you won’t really own the content on your site. If you decide to switch brokerages, you’ll lose access to your site. As soon as possible, upgrade to a website that you own and control.

Self-published sites

Platforms like Wix, Constant Contact and others give you drag-and-drop convenience to help you build a good-looking, fully functional website. Build it yourself or outsource the building to others — either way, you should find this an affordable solution.

Keep in mind that some functionality won’t be available with this option. Often, IDX search integration is unavailable and some types of media might not be available to embed. Check out all of the site’s functionality before you commit to this type of builder.

Professionally designed sites

A professionally designed website offers you customization options that you won’t get with the DIY version. In addition, you can improve your site over time, continuing to upgrade as your business grows and as technology changes.

Professionally designed website costs can range widely depending on size and functionality. Shop around and make sure you’re not paying for way more website than you actually need.

What should you include on your website?

Your website should include, at a minimum, the following pages:

  • A homepage that’s well-organized and includes any information required by your state or local associations as well as links to your social media accounts and contact information
  • An About page with your bio plus links to staff or agent bios if you are a team leader
  • Supplemental pages for buyers, sellers, any specialized niche that you serve and your local market or any neighborhoods you specialize in.

While Google is notoriously secretive about its algorithm and page requirements, it’s generally agreed that you need at least 300 words on a page for the search engine to recognize it as authoritative and complete. Make sure that the content you add to your website pages is original since plagiarized or duplicate content may hurt your ranking.

If you choose to include an IDX integration, you’ll need to connect your website to the local MLS. Be realistic about the purpose of this option: It’s not to make your website the next Zillow. IDX integration is designed to keep potential buyer clients on your website longer once they’ve arrived there.

What should you keep in mind for SEO?

You’re probably hoping that putting in all of this time, money and energy will result in solid improvements in your search engine ranking over time. Here are some best practices to improve your SEO:

  • As mentioned previously, make sure that each page on your website includes at least 300 words with original content, fully optimized on the back end for optimum SEO juice.
  • Consider working with an SEO company or freelancer to identify keywords that you’ll want to optimize for. Make sure they run a competitor keyword search as well, to find out what your highest-ranking competitors are optimizing for.
  • Add new written content on an ongoing basis to keep growing your site’s relevance and authority. This could include blog content, neighborhood pages, or transcripts from your video or podcast content.
  • You’re probably never going to outrank the big search portals for keywords like “real estate,” “Realtor” or “real estate agent.” Instead, focus on hyperlocal terms like “real estate agent in [your city]” or “[community name] real estate”.

Remember, your real estate business’ website is not a one-and-done proposition. Think of it as a constant work in progress — one that helps generate leads for you 24/7 and builds your brand over time. It’s an investment that, properly nurtured, can continue to pay dividends year after year.

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 TwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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