Use the polygon search functionality to create an area to search within.
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Just as no two real estate agents offer the same mix of knowledge and service, the same is true for web development companies. However do you know what you should be asking a real estate web design company?
Most agent seem to select a web design company using the following criteria:
Aesthetics as subjective at best. Real estate agents often see examples of existing sites and decide they would like something along those lines. Graphics can be changed easily.
Functionality. Lots of real estate agents are sold on the sites functionality, such as:
- being able to log in and add/edit their own content.
- perhaps there are a selection of canned emails that can be sent out from the site on a periodic basis that is perceived as solving the ‘staying in touch’ conundrum.
Cost is an objective component. Everyone has a budget, and as an agent you have to be comfortable with the bottom line.
However, this leaves a lot of questions unanswered, largely because there were never thought to be asked in the first place.
Customer is always right….wrong
When a real estate agent embarks on the process of creating a new website, first on the list should be that the website is designed to show up online. No one has ever argued with that statement when we make it.
However, due to the level of competitiveness in online real estate search, clearly you can’t show up for everything you would like your site to show up for. It’s obvious to most agents that they don’t have much chance in showing up for “USA real estate agent”, there are 100’s of millions of sites competing for that one.
So, if agent’s know there site isn’t going to up at that level of general search, at what level do they think it IS realistic for their site to start to show up?
Most real estate web developers entirely refuse to discuss realistic expectations of their sites showing with their potential customers.
However, what they do say is “Your can have what you want”. In essence they leave it up to what ever you, the customer wants without offering any guidance or counseling regarding the likelyhood of the shiny new site showing up anywhere. There is absolutely no reason why a real estate agent should have inkling how to get their site to show up.
Ok, so first off. What is google analytics? Remember a website stats counter? That small line text on the bottom of webpages showing you how many visitors your site has had? Well it’s like that,…but on steroids!
Google analytics offers you an invaluable insight into your website’s performance. For example, when you send out a mailer, you can count the number of calls you get on your phone. But did it bring any more visitors to your website?
Which are your most popular pages on your website? Which are the least popular?
Which pages are the most common entrances to your site, which pages are the most common exit pages. Can you improve those?
Do you get more hits on your site from a postcard than a local newspaper ad?
Where did your visitors come from?
What keywords did they type in to find your site?
Google analytics answers these questions for you, and more.
Real estate website as a tool for your business
By tracking and analyzing this information, your website becomes a tool for understanding the effectiveness of your offline and online strategies.
If you can measure where and when you leads arrive you can begin to figure out where best your marketing $$$ are being spent. Say for example you were thinking about doing a series of offline marketing pieces. You where going to a regular postcard mailer, and an ad in a newspaper. By staggering the launch of each campaign, say by two weeks, and following the spike, or not, of hit on your site, you can compare the effectiveness of both methods.
Where are your are you visitors coming from?
Google analytics has this really nice pie chart that shows where visitors to your real estate website came from. They are all grouped into 3 categories: direct, referral, search engines.
Direct hits: these people came to your site by typing in it’s full domain into a browser. We can assume that they probably received an offline marketing piece, a post card, a mailer, a market update flier, a business card.
Referrals: these show the which websites feature a link to your website. These maybe self generated from your blogging, facebook, twitter account etc. Ideally they would be from other sites that link to you and your real estate website because they think you are fabulous!
Search engines: these show which hits came from search engines.
Ideally we like to see an even distribution between these 3 main sources.
Look out for the up coming “HOW TO…” on setting up analytics on your website.