I read a joint study conducted by the National Association of Realtors and Google that indicated that over 90% of home buyers searched online during their home buying process. I believe it is safe to say that if you are a realtor, having a website is not an option anymore. Establishing your online presence is critical especially if you want to be a leader in the community that you serve. The best real estate websites focus on the user experience. This is so important in terms of SEO (search engine optimization). It is also important for the user, the buyers and sellers, coming back to your site again and again. As your online authority grows it will be the user experience from your website that will help separate you from the others.
ADVANTAGES OVER NATIONAL SITES
Today you can produce a site that provides all the bells and whistle the big national sites have. That includes all the features that are so appealing and useful to both buyers and sellers. But, if you take the time to build your site and personalize it with fresh relevant local content, you can have something the national sites do not have, local authority.
This is a distinct advantage you have. It will allow you to compete for those buyers and sellers online. But YOU MUST provide the kind of user experience that will have them using your website as a useful tool for their success. It is the User Experience that determines the best real estate websites.
What is User Experience and why is it important
Providing a quality User Experience 1st starts with the user. You want to build your site with the user in mind. By understand who you want the website for and giving the user ease of use. Relevant content to digest and the tools to keep them using your site means a lot. It will also influence how you rank in Google searches. Google algorithms have a lot of aspects that make up how your website will rank for specific search terms or keywords. Many of the elements are commonly known, for example, where to place keywords on a page etc. Google has also made it a point to move away from the sites that use “black hat” SEO tactics. Black hat sites try to trick the search engine for their benefit, not the end user. The purpose of this shift from Google is an attempt to level the playing field for those sites that are building there audience the right way. The move is to weigh the user experience more heavily. So simply put if someone searches for, let’s say; “homes for sale in New Providence NJ” and from that search they click on a site that satisfies their search request, and is user friendly they would typically stay longer and use the site over and over. This indicates a higher user experience on this site. This site will indicate a higher online authority. Without getting too boring, you want your website and your content to FOCUS ON the USER.
Elements to improve the User Experience for your Real Estate Website
- Complete MLS Search function- they will want to find a site that will allow them to satisfy all their search needs from one site.
- Auto responder/save searches- give them the ability to save desired searches and be automatically alerted by email/text when a new listing or updated information is available.
- Interactive Map Search- this is a very popular feature that allows the user to search homes by using the visual a map can provide.
- Mortgage Calculator with pmi and other functions- The more functions the better. Especially when it comes to mortgage calculators.
- Responsive Web design- Give your website the ability to configure to any size device. The end users are on smart phones, tablets, as well as computers; a responsive website will make sure you are optimized for all of them.
- Great information- Provide useful content with regular newsletters, blog articles, e-books and videos. Become a thought leader, a resource and you will win them over.
From the individual real estate agent to the large real estate office a real estate website is a must. If your goal is to be the leader and really compete for the buyers and sellers in the market today, your website must focus on the user’s experience.