Editor's Note: This article on IDX integration was first published on August 4, 2017. It was updated on November 4, 2018.
WordPress offers a lot of options for IDX integration. Unfortunately, many IDX driven real estate websites leave something to be desired. They feel haphazard, look unfinished, and feel unprofessional. But it doesn't have to be that way. There are easy ways of integrating IDX into your WordPress website and you can do so in a professional manner.
It’s extremely important to tailor the look and feel of your WordPress real estate listings, and not just use what a plugin or theme gives you out of the box. But before digging into customization, let’s start with the basics.
What is IDX?
Before I explain how to integrate this technology into your website, I should first explain what real estate IDX is.
IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange, and it allows users to search and browse through approved Multiple Listing Service (MLS) properties on a real estate website.
Just like Zillow, Redfin or Trulia, you can integrate real estate data into your website to display current property listings.
Easy IDX integration options for WordPress
With the large price tag that accompanies a custom IDX website build, you’re better off integrating it into your WordPress website yourself. Luckily, it isn’t too hard. In fact, there are a few simple ways to add these listings into the back end of your site so they make a huge impact on the front end.
Option 1: WordPress themes
An easy way to implement MLS listings into your WordPress site is to install a real estate theme package that includes all the necessary components to get you off the ground. Here are some packages you can try out if you’re beginning your website build.
Deevoweb IDX Broker
Deevo offers several real estate IDX WordPress themes, but the Broker theme seems to remain the most popular. It offers easy setup and powerful responsive design elements to create a seamless user experience. The best part? It offers lead-capturing tools to ensure you’re taking advantage of your website traffic.
With the Vistas WordPress theme, you can implement MLS-IDX search features in a grid layout with a property slider to showcase recent listings. It’s “out-of-the-box” ready, so all you need to do is install it and use the preloaded templates to make your website more attractive.
Agent Evolution builds IDX-focused WordPress themes that are mobile-first using advanced HTML5 and CSS3. They deliver attractive solutions for integrating MLS listings into your mobile site.
Option 2: IDX plugins
Another simple and cost-effective way to manage IDX integration within WordPress is to use a simple plugin. This is especially helpful if you already have a live website, as they can be added to virtually any theme.
IDX Broker Platinum
As one of the most downloaded IDX plugins in the United States, IDX Broker Platinum has some of the best out-of-the-box styling, mobile-friendly templates and integration capabilities thanks to recent bug fixes. Additionally, there is a quick-search toolbar available, as well as saved searches and dynamic listing widgets on a fully responsive platform.
Showcase IDX Real Estate Plugin
With a focus on user experience, the Showcase IDX Real Estate Plugin adds a powerful property-search function to your website. It simplifies confusing or cluttered designs to help sites get to the point quickly and attractively.
Optima Express IDX Plugin
Optima Express places responsive IDX search and MLS property listings into your WordPress site with ease. With the latest addition of MarketBoost, you have the added benefit of email automation, lead generation and insight into local markets.
WordPress real estate IDX design tips
After you pinpoint the best WordPress IDX solution for you, make sure the design of the new listings is cohesive with the overall design of your website. Otherwise, your property section will look disjointed and might confuse visitors.
When implementing MLS listings into your real estate site, here are some keys to making sure it matches with the overall design:
Define the goals of your website
Whether you’re looking to offer industry resources, attract new customers or provide visitors with real estate tools, certain MLS/IDX design elements can be crucial — but some may actually distract users from your core message. Once you understand the unique value you provide to clients, you can have a better gauge on what information to offer in your listings.
Define your target audience and understand its needs
When you understand who your target audience is, and the problems they need to solve, it becomes easier to target content. Perhaps your main audience is millennials – in that case, you’d most likely want rental properties front and center on your website. If you serve a lot of seniors, on the other hand, condos or retirement communities could be the main focus of your listing design.
Define brand standards and adhere to them
It’s crucial that brand elements, like your logo, tagline, fonts, and colors, are clearly established before you make any design changes. If you have this laid out in a brand standards book, web designers will have a resource to reference when a change is required.
Develop a brand style guide that defines elements such as:
- Logo: Explain how it’s supposed to be used (and not used), and provide files for various sizes and colors.
- Color palette: Note the various HEX and RGB values for the colors that make up your brand’s primary and secondary colors.
- Typography: Specify the font families, sizes, kerning, line spacing, header, paragraph, labels, form headers or any other formatted text that you use in your brand assets.
- Imagery/photography: Identify certain imagery styles to be used to avoid inconsistent photo usage.
Integrating custom listings alongside dynamic IDX listings
IDX listings can generally be added automatically or manually, and once you have design standards, you should think through how to set up your property listings. Dynamic IDX listings, which update constantly, are much easier to manage than custom listings, but the custom ones do offer some huge benefits. They can be built with specific parameters and sorted by custom filters that allow you to highlight specific design elements over others.
If you implement both custom and dynamic listings on the same page, ensure that the information on your custom listings is constantly monitored for updates and adjusted accordingly.
When using a WordPress plugin, your content might be dynamic, but you’re stuck with the built-in options.
How to get the most out of IDX listings for SEO
When implementing real estate IDX listings, SEO plays a huge part in getting your pages indexed on Google, which drives organic traffic and gets you more leads. Here are some tips and strategies to make your real estate listings more visible online.
Keywords play a huge role in getting your page to the top of search engines. Implementing keywords into your web pages lets search bots detect the page, understand what it’s about, and relay that information through search results. Implement terms that are associated with your services and products into your MLS listings to improve your position in Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other engines.
Additionally, when it comes to real estate SEO, local targeting is crucial.
Most consumers start out their search with the local keyword term, such as “[City] realtor,” “real estate agent in [City]” or “[City] homes for sale.” It would be wise to implement those location-oriented phrases into your heading tags and property description copy so your website comes up when searchers enter those queries.
Link to relevant internal pages
If you want to bring SEO value to a specific page, you should link to it when possible from your other pages. Search engines find a page more relevant if a lot of other links are pointing toward it. Also, this improves user experience, giving users the ability to click on the items that they’re curious about and pursue them further.
Add unique content to your listings
When it comes to real estate SEO, you should supply as much information to enhance both the user experience and on-page content. You can list items such as facts and advantages of a certain property, videos or photos that showcase the property, or testimonials that lend credibility to your brand.
Other keys to an effective real estate website
If you’re looking for more WordPress solutions for your business, here’s a few extra keys to building an effective real estate website that boosts your business.
Provide smart search
Real estate shoppers want to enter specific criteria so they can narrow down their search to certain areas, property type, school zones, etc. This is a must-have function for an effective real estate website. Ensure your search function is front and center of your website. Not only will this give your users what they want, you’ll increase time on page and boost user-flow metrics by moving people through your site.
Get your website listed in real estate directories
Real estate agent directories receive a lot of daily traffic, meaning they’re a perfect place to list your services. Try to get on some of these popular directory sites to give your brand more visibility online:
Be mobile responsive
Mobile-responsive real estate websites are immensely important in today’s smartphone-enabled world. Since more people access the web via mobile over desktop these days, ensuring your site functions properly on all devices is crucial.
Become a resource
One of the best ways to drive traffic and increase retention is to offer up unique and insightful industry resources for free on your website. Focus on building high-quality content in the form of blogs, eBooks, white papers, guest posts, infographics and anything else you can dream up. Once you capture a visitor’s interest, you become that much closer to gaining a lead and drumming up another sale.
No matter what your marketing plan is for your real estate business, make sure to focus on bringing value to your ideal customer. Part of that may be integrating IDX into your WordPress real estate so you can share property listings, but make sure they’re searchable, easy to view on mobile devices and have a design style that matches your site. If you do this and are sharing value regularly, you can expect more leads, solid conversations and commissions.