What makes a real estate website effective as a business generator? Here’s a hint: it isn’t just making it pretty and pitching yourself. The best way to illustrate the point is to compare a real estate website that’s a billboard to one that’s a directional sign to a destination. What is the destination?
- MLS home search.
- Buyer information.
- Seller information.
- Investor information.
- Transaction information.
- Neighborhood profiles.
- Area business and amenities features.
There’s more, but we all know about these things, and many sites have some or all of this stuff on them. So, what makes one site a directional sign while many others are billboard sites?
Billboards Get Passed By
A billboard website is a lot like a billboard on the side of a busy highway. Though many people may see it as they drive by, they still drive by. They’re moving fast and they have a destination, so the billboard real estate website merely catches their eye as they move on to their search destination.
Take a hard look at your real estate website with a critical eye to what the first-time visitor will see if they arrive at your homepage. After all, you’re marketing your website on a lot of print material, so many visitors will get there not through a search, but through manually typing in your website domain name. The first-time visitor sees your domain on a direct mail piece, business card, or another marketing piece. They type in your domain and arrive at your homepage. They are on a notebook computer, tablet, or a smartphone. They immediately see a huge image of a home at the top, or maybe your photo, or a combination of both. Depending on their device, just these two items take up a big chunk, if not all, of their visual screen real estate.
In the newspaper world, it’s called being “above the fold.” That’s the area of the front page visible with the newspaper folded and displayed on a newsstand. The newspaper editors knew that the most important headlines and text needed to be above the fold to attract attention and get the viewer to buy the paper. If you’re wasting all or a big part of your visible screen area above the fold (before the viewer must scroll down), then you’re a billboard, and they’ll be driving by a lot. Get rid of the big home photo, and yours as well. The place for your photo is on the About or About Me page. Until they decide to learn more about you, you’re wasting valuable screen real estate on stuff they don’t care about.
Visitors Need Destination Directional Signs
When a visitor arrives at your real estate website the first time, they do have a destination. They have some question they want to be answered, some information they want, or most likely they want to search listings. You want your real estate website homepage to be a directional sign to show them the way to their desired destination.
Examine your homepage to see how effective it is in directing the visitor to the information or destination they want. Assuming you’re not wasting space above the fold, there are specific things you can do to become a directional rather than a billboard site. Some or all of these actions will work on your real estate website.
- MLS Search: You may want some type of IDX search function right at or near the top of the page, instead of that big useless photo.
- Effective Navigation: Either along with the MLS search area or in place of it, you need a very clear and accurate set of navigation buttons, icons, and/or links that are directional signs to the destinations the visitors want:
- MLS search.
- Buyer Information
- Seller Information
- All of the stuff from the bullets at the top of this article.
There’s really no rocket science involved here. You know what is bringing visitors to your website, their information needs, and activities they want when they arrive. The logical thing to do is to provide what they want and/or clear directional navigation to help them to reach their destination with as few clicks as possible.
More business from your real estate website is possible, and all you have to do is to get rid of the billboard and replace it with directional signs.