Your website is the cornerstone of your real estate agency’s online marketing strategy, so your next website redesign requires careful planning as there are some hidden pitfalls that you need to be aware of. With a good service provider on your side, this process doesn't have to be difficult.
Here are some of the challenges that you might encounter during a website redesign:
1) Website design and corporate identity
Problem: Accurately reflecting your corporate identity and appealing to your target market
Most property searches start online and your website will most likely be the first contact prospective clients have with your company. Therefore it is more important than ever to ensure that the look and feel of your website is a true and accurate reflection of your company’s corporate identity.
Choose a service provider that understands branding and has the necessary design skills to accurately reflect your corporate image, communicate your marketing message and appeal to your target market.
Problem: Converting visitors into leads
Conversion optimisation (creating an experience for a browser that will ultimately increase leads) is an important component of your new website. How will you ensure that your target audience takes action? It all boils down to what you can offer. Your service provider needs to make it easy for you to add content that will aid in converting your visitors into high quality leads.
• Your listings: High quality listings are essential. Your new website should support high quality images and video. It should also allow you to add as much information as possible.
• Area profiles: Area profiles are a great means of positioning yourself as an area specialist. It shows your target audience that you are willing to go the extra mile to help them make an informed decision. Your website needs a section where you can add area profiles.
• News articles: Adding news articles will show your target audience that you are up to date with all things property. Tackling articles that will answer their property related questions will aid in building their trust in you. Your website needs to allow you to add categories and relevant news articles. Avoid copying and pasting content - keep it unique.
3) Content Management system
Problem: Updating listings and content in real time
A proper content management system (CMS) is crucial to the success of your website. Having to wait for your service provider to update your website for you is time consuming, costly, and it might even do some damage to your professional image.
Your listings for example, are very important to your target audience and you need to be able to provide them with accurate up-to-date information. Nothing looks more unprofessional than someone enquiring about a property only to hear that the price has changed or the property has been sold.
Opt for a service provider that can offer you a website powered by a user friendly content management system, so that you can add or update listings and other website content in real time.
4) User Experience
Problem: A user friendly property search experience
The majority of your website visitors are buyers and tenants who will want to search, assess and shortlist properties as quickly as possible. If it is difficult for them to navigate your website or find relevant properties, they will probably click away and you will lose a possible lead. Ask yourself:
• Is it easy to search for properties?
• Is it easy to get into contact with relevant agents?
• Is it easy to access other information such as area profiles and news articles?
It is important to partner with a service provider who is experienced in real estate web design and understands the needs of the buyer and tenant in order to create a superior property search experience for your end-users.
5) Inbound feeds
Problem: Double data capturing
An inbound feed is a must if you are planning to use a listing management system that is not part of your website. If you capture all your listings in PropCrtl, Fusion or any other third party listing system, and you have a website with a different service provider, an inbound feed will allow you to capture your listing only once. Double data capturing is time consuming and a waste of valuable company resources.
It is therefore vital to ensure that your service provider has the capabilities to build and maintain inbound feeds from all major third party listing systems.
Problem: Publishing listings on all the Property Portals
Property portals are popular because they provide visitors with a one-stop property solution. It is in your best interest to have a presence on these websites to increase brand exposure and generate more leads.
Ensure that your service provider is fully integrated with Property24, Private Property, IOL Property and all the other major property portals and online classified websites. This will allow you to capture your property listings only once and then syndicate to all the various property websites.
7) Search Engine Friendliness
Problem: Website not being found on search engines
Having a beautifully designed website with all the property search bells and whistles is just the start. Your website needs to be developed with the aim of generating quality traffic. Google and other leading search engines are the number one starting point for property searches. With property portals dominating property search results, it is crucial to have a well-designed search engine optimisation strategy in place to ensure that your target audience finds you.
Make sure that your service provider has a good understanding of search engine optimisation and provides you with a website that is SEO friendly to ensure that Google and all the other major search engines can index and rank your website on their search results.
8) URL redirects
Problem: Losing your current search engine rankings
You have probably spent a fair amount of time and money on improving your search engine rankings. Losing your rankings would be a huge loss, but luckily there is a way to avoid this situation. If you have proper URL redirects in place, you will not risk losing your rankings when you launch your new website.
Each service provider uses a different URL naming structure and it is therefore very important to ensure that your new service provider knows exactly how to execute URL redirects, to ensure that Google and all the other major search engines are able to find your new pages (located at the new URLs) and keep your current search engine rankings.
9) Regular product / feature enhancements
Problem: Outdated website, costly upgrades
In the ever changing world of new technology, it is important to make use of an innovative service provider who is committed to ongoing product enhancements, innovations and new product releases - ensuring that your real estate business is always kept at the forefront of technology.
10) Mobile version
Problem: Providing a truly mobile property search experience
Over 40% of all your website visits will be from smartphones or other mobile devices, therefore it is vital that you offer your website visitors a truly mobile property search experience.
Opt for a dedicated mobile website rather than a responsive website. A mobi site is designed specifically for mobile users and is not just a responsive replica of your desktop website. It provides mobile users with a completely customised browsing experience that is faster and more user friendly.
Make sure that your service provider is willing to create a dedicated mobile site that will provide a truly mobile property search experience.
Redesigning your website is not without its risks, but knowing what kind of problems to anticipate will aid in creating a website that will turn visitors into high quality leads. Make sure that you choose a service provider that has experience in real estate web design and understands your needs and more importantly the needs of your target audience.