Let’s say you’re a real estate agent, property manager or property wholesaler and you decide you need a website. You want something more than an online business card; you need a dynamic marketing tool that will showcase your properties and bring you leads. And you’re thinking WordPress. Good choice. WordPress real estate websites get results.
WordPress is the No. 1 CMS (Content Management System), due in part to the 50,000 plugins available for it (these are add-on software modules that perform a specific function such as lead generation). Wherever you fit in the real estate community, you can make WordPress work for you.
Before we get into the details, I’d like to quote Gina Trapani, Director of Engineering at the New York digital product studio, Postlight:
“WordPress is not particularly exciting, intrinsically modern, or lightweight. It’s a 13-year-old monolithic web application that powers 25% of the web and probably 30% of web spam. But, a whole lot of the time, WordPress is the right framework.”
What makes it so right? It’s easy-to-use and flexible. WordPress is also scalable — a relatively small, basic website can expand into a larger, more dynamic site as your business grows. Should your business grow to the point where you can no longer maintain your website, the WordPress user base is so large that finding someone who can maintain it for you won’t be an issue.
What’s your flavor: Do it yourself or a little help?
Once you’ve registered a domain name, you can start building your WordPress website almost immediately. Need tips on choosing a domain name? Read this post on domains for builders, real estate agents & other property services pros”
The exclusive Quick Start Wizard that comes with WordPress Websites makes it easy to get your WordPress site up and running fast. It’s great for both beginners and experienced folks who want a lot of design control. It uses a placeholder concept with the flexibility to move things around to customize the look.
Themes, themes and more themes
Themes are the basic building block of WordPress real estate websites and the first choice you’ll have to make as you build your new site. Scroll through the WordPress Theme Directory or the real estate themes selection in GoDaddy’s WordPress Websites to get an idea of what’s available. Whether you choose a free theme or a paid one, your choice will set the tone for the look and feel of your real estate website.
When choosing a WordPress real estate websites theme, make sure it:
- Is mobile-responsive . This means it will automatically adjust to the user’s screen, whether that’s a desktop computer or a smartphone. Many of your clients are driving around looking at properties, so it’s important your website can be easily viewed on mobile devices.
- Works on all browsers — Google Chrome, Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox, Safari and Opera. Some WordPress themes won’t work on IE, even though it’s still widely used.
- Has lots of materials and help resources, preferably including step-by-step videos to help you in building your website.
Before you commit to a particular WordPress theme, read our post on the 10 critical features of a great theme. You’ll be glad you did.
Use plugins to add features
WordPress plugins are software modules that can be added to WordPress real estate websites to add a particular function.
Examples of plugins include home affordability calculators, ALTOS charts and online calendars that prospective homebuyers can use to request meetings with you. The IDX plugin lets site visitors search for approved Multiple Listing Service (MLS) properties in their area right from your website. Since finding properties is what brings people to your site in the first place, this is a must-have.
You can also add modules for tips and advice, local events, schools, restaurants and local business partners (you might even want to charge a small fee for partners to be featured on your site). In time you may want to add downloadable content, surveys — even contests (be sure to comply with local laws and regulations if you run any kind of contest).
When you’re ready to install plugins, read our tutorial for step-by-step instructions.
Tips for building your WordPress website
Now that you understand WordPress themes and plugins, it’s time for the fun part — building your website. Here are a few tips.
Keep your audience in mind
You want a site that’s attractive and one that will give your users a reason to come back. The key is a steady flow of fresh, useful information. In addition to listings, provide useful resources like checklists for buyers and sellers, tips on finding the right home for your budget and a calendar of local events.
Make your site neat and attractive
Keep your navigation simple and limited to the three to five topics buyers and sellers look for in a real estate website (Buy, Rent, Sell, Resources, etc.). Add videos if you have them, and use full-width images whenever you can. Photos with people in them are more appealing than those without.
Pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization)
While WordPress real estate websites are all built for humans, no humans can ever find them if search engines like Google don’t find them first. Be sure to pack your website with:
- Original text — you can’t simply copy and paste words from another website. Like your high school English teacher, Google will know (and punish you for it).
- Useful information that actual humans might want when searching the web for buying/selling information. So how-to articles, financing tables, lists of recommended appraisers and moving companies, etc.
- Keywords. These are the terms your prospective clients are typing into search engines when looking for real estate information. Read more here about how to find and use keywords to your advantage.
Editor’s note: GoDaddy’s Deluxe and Ultimate Plans come with an SEO Wizard to help you get listed on Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
Add a blog
Blogs increase real estate leads by directing motivated readers to your website for more information. But before you start one, be sure you can commit to writing regular articles — no less than once a week. Nothing looks worse than a blog that hasn’t been updated in months.
Your future is in your hands
One of the best things about WordPress real estate websites is that you’re in control — no need to contract with a developer or wait weeks to have something done. You can make changes and additions whenever you want to. Once it’s up and running, remember to promote, promote, promote your site everywhere. Tell everybody. As your readership grows, so will your leads.