Is your real estate website looking shabby? Your visitors don’t seem to spend more than a few seconds on it? Seems like it’s high time to make profound improvements and totally change its look and feel. As your 24/7 salesman, your real estate website has to be professional, informative and fascinate your visitors the moment they land on a page. Here are all not-so-little nudging signs that you should make some renovations asap.
With technology evolving at a crazy speed, it’s little wonder your real estate website can quickly become outdated, both in terms of how it looks and how it works. While oftentimes smaller improvements seem to fix most issues pretty well, sometimes you just have to start everything from scratch. If you want a steady flow of people looking for your properties, make sure you have the issues below fixed.
1) Real estate website not optimized for mobile
Four out of five people search for whatever information they need via their mobile devices. When it comes to customer engagement and sales, mobile already outperforms desktop. It’s especially true for the local search. Have your already seen these revealing stats from Google’s survey?
For real estate, mobile devices are more important than ever before. It turns out that people increasingly search for local information via their smartphones simply everywhere: at home, on the go, at work, while in-store, etc. Little wonder: for most of the people their smartphones are the first thing to use to search (a U.S. survey found out that 46 percent of U.S. adults “can’t live without a smartphone”).
By the way, you can check out a terrific 2015 survey of digital, social and mobile across the world right here.
Real estate agencies are the exact type of local businesses that cannot leave the mobile side of things to chance. It’s mandatory that your real estate website has to be mobile-friendly and show up fine across all mobile devices because that’s how people search for your properties today.
This leads you to the major part of mobile optimization – a responsive design. How does it work?
In short, a responsive website re-formats content to fit it to the screen size it’s being viewed on. You need it because the benefits of making your website responsive are huge:
- better user experience;
- decreased bounce rate (people stay on your website for a longer period of time);
- higher organic rankings and positive impact on SEO (Google favors mobile-friendly and responsive websites);
- low cost – you only have to make edits to your website once, which means zero maintenance expenses afterwards.
Not sure where does your real estate website stand with mobile? You can run Google Mobile-Friendly Test to check this out. Also make sure to add your website to Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) to get updated insights into how it performs.
2) Slow page load that makes your visitors tap impatiently
Yes, page load is a huge challenge to deal with. It directly impacts user experience and bounce rate. The longer people stay on your website, the better this works out for your SEO. Google sees it as one of the signals that your website provides a remarkable user experience – people like what they see there and think you’re delivering valuable expertise. So they choose to stay longer, browse multiple pages, share some of your content, etc. In other words, you deserve to rank higher organically. See how it’s all tied in closely together?
Here’s a quick example of how page load affects your business on an everyday level. Let’s say a person wants to rent an apartment in your neighborhood. They go to your site to check out available properties, only to discover that listings are inaccessible as it takes forever to load them. That’s annoying and no one has enough patience to wait until the page loads when there are so many other options out there to take a look at.
The real figures behind this are quite disturbing: a 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. In other words, this leaves you with less revenue you could otherwise get.
3) Dated design that makes people miss out the best of your properties
A real estate website has to be beautiful – how else can you persuade your visitors that your properties are beautiful too?
Just about a decade ago, simply having a website already meant you were ahead in the game. Today, it takes so much more than that. As your round the clock salesperson, your website has to seamlessly work on showcasing your properties.
So-so layout, blurred photography, hard to find contact info, outdated content – all of this scares your visitors to the point of clicking away the moment they see the site. Avoid this like a plague because it’s costing you huge in reputation and revenue.
Here are a few quick tips to focus on first-hand:
- clean, uncluttered design that intertwines with your branding visuals nicely;
- easy navigation and clear property categories;
- simple property search;
- easily findable agents’ contact details;
- hi-res photography for all of your properties;
- content with a local look and feel to perfectly highlight your local area and explain why it’s such a fabulous place to live in.
While these are just some starter tips on how to create a real estate website that sells, you’ll notice how they are instantly making it more compelling – the difference will be striking.
4) No place for social sharing to spark engagement
People love sharing everything on their social media. That’s a fact only a few will argue about. Well, if that’s what they like, that’s what you should help them out with.
First of all, spot the places where your audience talks. Chances are good you’ve already figured them out and made sure you’re there too. Usually, real estate agents find Facebook, Google+ and Twitter most helpful when reaching out to customers (while Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn can work out well too).
Second of all, make sure to embed social sharing buttons on your website so people can easily share what they liked with their friends and peers. This goes for every page, be it blog posts, property listings or “Contact us” page. If you’re running your website on WordPress, you’d want to check out the plugins for social sharing, plenty of which enjoy awesome functionality and are totally free.
5) Poor navigation that confuses your visitors
While dated design is certainly not what people like, poor site navigation can be even more confusing for them. If people look for properties to buy or rent, they can do with a poor design pretty well, provided they’ve found their perfect match and all other information they need before actually contacting real estate agents.
With poor navigation, it’s next to impossible. It means that a person gets lost amongst pages on your website and spends loads of time on finding information that should be visible immediately.
One clear sign that your navigation leaves your customers wanting more, is the questions people ask you when contacting about properties. If they often ask things that are already covered on your website, it makes sense to suggest they weren’t able to find them.
There are several tested ways to dramatically improve your site navigation (in other words, user experience). First, you need to create a menu bar which is consistent on all pages. Make sure all of your important pages are displayed in the menus. Typically, you’d want to include all of your property categories here as well as links to the home page, blog, contact page, etc.
Next, you need to create the shortest paths to the info customers think is most relevant. Typically, this is your sales info, featured properties, latest properties, sold properties, neighborhood pages, your trending blog posts, etc.
All of this will take you minutes to do, but the results will be outstanding.
6) High bounce rate: for some reason they just go away
Bounce rate shows how many people leave your website after viewing only one page. You’d want this number to be as low as possible of course. You can always check out the bounce rate of your website in your Google Analytics account (check it for your homepage first).
Oftentimes, it’s hard to see why the bounce rate is high. Your homepage may be informative, eye-catching and easy-to-use but people are still navigating away. Some typical reasons may be low page speed, usability and design issues which you’ll need to check out. Consider also making some changes to your content to see if it can be more enticing (this is especially true for headlines) as well as try and test different locations for calls-to-action.
7) No opt-in forms inviting customers to join your community
What’s the No.1 thing every real estate agent needs? That’s right, a solid email list of interested homebuyers to reach out to. So next thing you must do is make opt-in forms for capturing emails available everywhere on your site.
Any form could do: property alerts, newsletter subscription, blog subscription, notifiers on recent market and price changes, your content downloads, etc. – anything that you’re offering to your customers. This way you provide your visitors with a quick and easy way to join you and stay tuned on all important local goings-on.
Make your opt-in forms and calls-to-action clearly visible (try an eye-catching color combination) on every page of your website. This is an essential step towards growing your email list. If you’re running your website on WordPress, you can check out the plugins you can use for building opt-in forms.
8) Low conversion rate which means you don’t sell enough
Conversion rate is your most important indicator to look at when deciding to renovate your real estate website. There can be plenty of reasons why it’s low but the above points explain the major ones pretty well.
Consider setting up goals in your Google Analytics and Google AdWords (if you’re running paid advertising campaigns) as this will show you how much your online marketing campaigns cost you and how they pay off. You’ll then be able to track how all improvements you made to your website translate into revenues.
It really takes a lot of time and dedication to build a real estate website that speaks to your visitors. So many issues to consider and so many things that need to play nicely together to showcase your beautiful properties in the best way possible. The above tips give you good direction on where to start first-hand. Once you’ve managed to fix them, that’s a really important milestone to be proud of.