You’re going to want to grab a pen and pad of paper to take notes about this month’s episode, because I am busting all of the myths and misconceptions about your website, that are stopping you from getting business from it.
If you’re putting all your eggs into your social media basket and ignoring your website, you’re missing a massive opportunity to generate leads on auto-pilot, in your sleep.
Well hey there, welcome back to the Women Rocking Real Estate Podcast. I’m your host Jen Percival and thanks for tuning into the show. I took a bit of a hiatus for the month of May as my husband and I took the family on a road trip down to Bald Head Island in North Carolina. I you have never been, it is one of the most picturesque places I’ve seen - highly recommend it. I also got a little discouraged if I’m being honest because I got some 1-star reviews on the podcast that brought my overall rating down, which sucks. Of course they didn’t leave an actual review just gave it a one-star. As real estate agents I would think everyone would agree that someone leaving you a 1 star review on your business would be upsetting. Anyhoo it kind of makes me laugh as this is free content and someone who has time to be negative about content they got for free is kinda sad. I’m looking forward to the day when Apple changes reviews from anonymous to public.
Regardless, thank you so much to those of you that did leave positive reviews, it really means a lot to me, so thank you Margeaux, Joanne and Michelle. I so appreciate you!
Alright let’s dive into what you’re all here for which is not me feeling sorry for myself…..the last time I did an episode about today’s topic was about 2 years ago, but I have come to realize there is more confusion, misconceptions and mistakes being made by realtors all over North America on this area of the business than probably any other and that is your website. When it comes to real estate websites, there are so many myths and misunderstandings about what your website can and can’t do for your business and we’re going to get into them all in today’s episode. Because if you are not currently getting leads from your website, you are missing out on the easiest online lead generation strategy out there. If you’re putting all your eggs into your social media basket and ignoring your website, you’re missing a massive opportunity to generate leads on auto-pilot, in your sleep.
Ok so before we get into what your website needs to generate leads, let’s really quickly cover why you need a website in the first place. Now before I do, there are going to be agents listening that don’t have one and have a thriving business. But you have probably been in the business awhile, have a big network and have a consistent repeat and referral business. If you’ve got more business than you need and you don’t have a website - that’s awesome, you don’t need to listen to the rest of this episode! For the rest of you, you need a website. Here’s why….
We recently surveyed about 3000 people to ask a bunch of questions about their decision drivers around hiring a realtor. One of the questions we asked was if they were referred to an agent by a friend or family member and that agent didn’t have a website, would they hire them and a whopping 93% said no. Most people nowadays do some research before hiring anyone to do anything. So referrals are definitely going to want to check you out, but even 80% of people in your sphere, responded that they’d also do research online about a realtor that they know before considering hiring them. Those are some pretty high stats.
Based on that, here’s your first exercise for this episode. I want you to clear your browser cache before doing this and then search for yourself on Google. Just using your first and last name. If your website doesn’t come up in the first 5-6 results, I guarantee you’re losing business from your sphere of influence and you’re missing out on referrals from them too.
So the number 1 reason you need a website is that you need an online presence to build confidence. Now some of you may think having an online social media presence is enough. It’s not and here’s why.
60% of people are not even on instagram! Now when you look at younger demographics, although 72% of people aged 18-30 are on the platform, they only represent 3.9% of homeowners in the United States. There would be similar trends in Canada, but of course we’re not relevant enough to be tracked. So this is another situation of the lowest hanging fruit - would you rather cater your marketing efforts to 96% of the population or go after 4%?
Once again, to be clear I’m not suggesting you don’t have a social media presence - I’m just saying you probably don’t want to prioritize it over your website presence. In real estate, your social media is primarily for nurturing and converting, but always remember that about 60% of homeowners are not even on the platform, so it cannot replace your website.
The second reason you need a website all comes back to the basic underlying principle of marketing in real estate…you have to prioritize your marketing and lead generation efforts on search based platforms FIRST. Go where people are searching and invest in into strategies to make sure they find you. People who are already in the market and actively looking for a realtor are the lowest hanging fruit. Why go get a crane and hoist yourself up to the top of the tree looking for fruit when you can just reach up and grab a piece from the ground? My analogies are really lame aren’t they?
Anyhoo. Where are people actively searching for a realtor? On search engines like Google. While only 40% of the US population is on Instagram, 98% use search engines to find information online. In our survey of buyers and sellers we asked - if you had to find a realtor in an area you aren’t familiar with (that could be another country or in a different area of the city you live in) where would you look? 98% of people said google. So if 98% of people are searching on google, how much of your efforts should be invested in getting found on google? I’m going to go with a lot, because it just makes a hell of a lot more sense than trying to get found by only 2% of people who are searching in other ways. Right?
So getting found on google means having a website. But just having a website, does not mean that it will ever get found by anyone and this is the next biggest mistake and misconception people have about websites. I liken them to building a house in the middle of nowhere, that nobody knows about. That house would never get found, unless you built roads to it. Your website is the same thing. The site itself is not what gets found - it’s the content on the website that gets found. Your content are the roads that lead to your website. No content, no roads and no finding you. So building a website with a few pages on it and thinking the leads are going to start pouring in, is not gonna happen. But when you do create consistent and unique content on your site - roads get built and then those roads get put on maps and then the gps systems guide people there.
Alright so now that we know the principles behind having a website - let’s talk about your options for getting one and why many of them, are a mistake.
Take the website your Brokerage provides. This may feel like the quick and easy solution for having an online presence so people researching you can find you, but remember the most important reason for having a website is to generate leads. The only way we can generate leads, is for the site to get found, the only way the site can get found is to create content on it to build roads to it and get it on a map, so that gps systems send people there. So let’s say you spend a few years at a brokerage and you put the effort into your website, you’ve been creating content on it and it’s starting to rank in the search engines and you’re now getting calls from people. Well what if you decide to leave that brokerage? Your house gets demolished, all the roads dug up and you’re no longer on a map. You’ve got to start entirely from scratch. What a waste of time and loss to your business.
So that is the biggest risk when using a website provided by your brokerage, but it’s not the only problem.
brokerage websites are notoriously slow because they all share the same server and a slow website is a dead website
Because you don’t own it, you often can’t customize it and take advantage of all the tools it can offer to help you generate leads
Lastly, it’s the same website that every agent at your brokerage uses and that doesn’t exactly differentiate you. It tells prospective buyers and sellers that you took the easy route marketing yourself and they may wonder if you’ll do the same marketing their property.
The second option for a real estate website is to get your site from a company that rents real estate websites. Usually these sites have an IDX feed associated with them, meaning your website will include MLS listings on it. That’s what they use to rope you in. Unsuspecting agents are lead to believe two things about having IDX listings on your site that are a little misleading.
Number 1 they’re lead to believe having MLS listings on their site will magically generate organic leads for them. They won’t. The only way this will ever happen, is if your site already performs really well and ranks really high in the organic search results for other type of content. You have to remember that if you’ve got IDX listings on your website, thousands of other websites have those exact listings on their websites, so when someone searches for a listing, in order for your site to show up, it would have to outrank every other website and those include zillow, realtor.com and other huge companies that spend millions on search engine optimization.
The only way an IDX website will generate leads for you, is through using paid advertising of those listings. You have to run paid ads of those listings, but even doing that usually only generates very poor quality leads because once again, you’re not the only person doing it. There are likely many agents and companies running ads for the same listings and all hounding the same leads, so it’s very hard to get noticed, build a connection and convert them into a client.
Alright the second reason Agents believe they need MLS listings on their website is so that buyers can search for properties on MLS directly from their website and while this is a compelling reason for a new agent who doesn’t have many, if any, listings on their site, it’s also a bit misleading. Depending on what type of IDX feed you have, it most likely will not include ALL listings on the market. We never share our listings to the IDX feed because when I have a listing, I want my website to be the first one in the search rankings and if I shared it with the IDX feed, my site would no longer rank.
So renting an IDX website often comes with a big price tag without a return on investment that justifies the spend….UNLESS you’re going use a paid ads strategy with it AND have the listings behind a login to your website that requires they sign up and give you their email address. If you just want MLS listings on your site because you don’t have your own listings, there are much more affordable ways to do that, than renting a website you don’t own. Because the biggest problem with this option is the same as using your brokerage’s website. If you ever decide to leave, you’ll lose everything. If the company goes out of business, you’ll lose everything. Not ideal.
Alright moving along to…
The third option a lot of well-meaning agents do, is to sign up for a website that they own (which is great) on platforms like squarespace or wix or weebly. They often choose these platforms because they are touted as being really user-friendly and easy to build with drag & drop websites. The problem with these websites, is that the simple templates just can’t handle the complexities of a real estate website. A properly functioning real estate website is complex and needs to be able to include content that is specific to real estate. You can have a beautiful personal brand website on squarespace or wix, but the second you try to incorporate listings and property searches, you’ll quickly realize they aren’t built for that. Which leads us to your next option….
And that is to hire someone to build a custom website for them. This is normally ludicrously expensive, in the tens of thousands of dollars and also completely unnecessary for the vast majority of agents. The worst part, is that the ones who do this often spend the money having a beautiful website built and then end up with the house in the middle of nowhere, that no one knows about and never gets found.
The search engines don’t care how pretty your site is or how sophisticated it is, they care about the content on your site, so even if you hire someone to build a site, YOU still have to create the content on it. Now you can hire someone to do that too, but it’s not as simple as it sounds so we’re going to come back to that. So if you’re going to go this route, whatever you do make sure whoever is building your custom website uses wordpress.org to build it. Just to keep things really confusing there is wordpress.com which is different. Basically WordPress to org is the free software. wordpress.com is a paid hosting and service provider (kinda like squarespace and wix) that uses wordpress.org software. So you always always want WordPress.org.
Which brings us to your last option and that is just build your own website using the free wordpress.org software yourself. Doing this will allow you to build a gold-standard site, that you will own for life, that you can take with you anywhere you go and that will have the functionality it needs for a real estate business that grows with you. If you decided to open a brokerage one day, your website could accommodate it.
Now anyone that has tried to build a WordPress website from scratch will likely tell you it was intimidating, confusing, overwhelming and downright frustrating. But that is usually because they tried to do it without a recipe. People often just dive in and think they can figure it out as they go, but unfortunately the beginning part of building a WordPress website is the hardest. Once you’ve got your domain and hosting sorted out, then you need to install the WordPress software and then you need to install the real estate theme and then you need to customize it. The customizing part where you make it your own, with your own colours and branding and images is really easy, but getting to that part is a bit confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing and so most people who try get frustrated and give up.
Well I am on a mission to get as many people through that phase as I can, because owning your own WordPress website really is your best long term option as a realtor. The last episode I did 2 years ago about websites had a program to teach you how to build you own and although 100s of agents went through that program with success and built their own sites, there were others that still found the process overwhelming.
So I have spent the last 6 months building a brand new program that gets people through the hardest part of the process. We built a template and then migrate that template over to your website so that all you have to do is the fun part of customizing it and making it your own and of course we show you step by step how to do this yourself. But even if you want you own website, but don’t have the time to customize it yourself, don’t let that be the impetus for deciding to go with one of the other options if it isn’t the best option for you. You can easily outsource this to someone else. If you want to learn more about this program, you can get the link in the show notes,
Ok So far we’ve covered why you need a website and what your options are for getting one. Whatever route you choose, there are XX things your website needs if you ever want it to work for you the way it’s supposed to and generate leads.
The first and most important thing your website needs is content. If you remember from the beginning of this episode, the only way your site will ever even get found is if it includes up to date, valuable, unique content. What type of content? Well there’s four types of content that will help your site get found - cornerstone page content, blog content, property content and video content. Your site needs all four.
Let’s chat first about cornerstone content. These are the static pages of your website that have a dedicated spot in your website’s menu. Let’s start with your homepage. Your main homepage should act as a summary of your whole website and highlight each of the pages of your site. It should include sections that feature your services pages, your properties page, your community pages, your about page, your blog and your contact page. This way, every time you add a new property or blog to your site, it will automatically update your homepage as well. This tells the search engines that your website’s home page always has new content and it helps push your homepage up in the search results. There’s a few other things you want to include on your home page as well but we’ll get back to that in a minute.
Next up you should have pages that outline the services you offer - buying, selling and renting services if you offer that. There needs to be enough keyword rich content on the pages that explains where you serve, who you serve and how you’re different.
Up next under cornerstone content are pages dedicated to the communities you serve. I recommend you include at least 6 different areas - these could be communities, neighbourhoods, counties, cities or townships, etc. but the individual pages need to have enough information that if someone was doing some research online they’d find value on the page. Do not think you can just throw a page up on your website with a paragraph about a community and think it’s going to rank well in the search results. It won’t. You’ve got to put some actual effort into this content and include outbound links to other relevant websites. But the nice thing about these pages is that you really only need to update them a few times a year to make sure the info is still accurate.
You also need an About page on your website, and although this page won’t change over time, if written properly it can be a source of consistent leads over time.
So that is a summary of the cornerstone content you need on your site. You also need Blog content on your site if you want it to get found. The reason why blog content is so effective at helping your site get found, is that it contains loads of keywords that you wouldn’t normally have naturally on your website’s cornerstone content. If you’re also creating consistent blogs, it tells the search engines that your site is always producing new content and it will push your website up in the search results. When done properly, your blogs should also contain internal links to your cornerstone pages, as well as external links to other relevant websites.
If you want to generate leads from your website, one of the fastest ways to do this, is by creating video content. Video content works really well for 2 reasons. First it is the easiest and fastest way to build know, like and trust with your visitors. Just one short video of you on your website can increase connection with your visitors dramatically through what’s called parasocial interaction, where people feel like they know someone when they seem them on camera.
The second reason it works so well, is because the algorithms love it. Every platform out there is prioritizing video content over any other type of content right now and that’s because consumers love it. So the more video content that is on your website, the better it will do in the search results. Now before you start panicking that this is all just too much work, you can just create videos and turn them into blogs or write blogs and turn them into videos. The content can be the same, but you’re getting the benefit of both SEO through the written words and on video.
So having content on your website is the most important thing it needs if you want to generate leads. When it comes to creating this content, As with everything, there is no easy button here. Remember that there is not a single lead generation strategy that doesn’t require time or money or both and your website is no different. Now you can use lead generation strategies like door knocking and cold calling and bugging your database every day - those are all called Hamster wheel lead gen, because you have to keep doing it over and over again in order to generate leads. You will constantly have to invest time into it. I personally prefer evergreen lead gen strategies. When you write blogs and create associated videos, you do it once and it takes effort for sure, but It continues to work for you helping you get found for years to come.
The next type of content that your website needs is listings. The more native listings you have on your website, the higher the chance that it will show up in the search results organically when someone searches the same street. The beauty of listing content that is your own, is that it stays on your site forever. So anytime a property is listed on the same street, even if it’s years later, your site should show up at the top of the search results and lots of times they’ll contact you by accident instead of the current listing agent. This will not happen with IDX listings, just your own so make sure your website has every single property you’ve ever helped purchase, sell or rent in your entire career. Now in most places you need permission to advertise it, so make it a habit to include a clause in your agreements allowing you to.
Once you’ve got all of that content on your site, the next most important thing, is to make sure that content is search engine optimized.
Now this sounds a lot more complicated than it really is and you do not need to hire someone to do it for you (unless of course you’ve got gobs of money to throw around, then have at it). I did a whole episode on SEO, so go back and listen to episode XX if you haven’t already. However the amazing thing about WordPress is that it includes a free plugin that teaches you step by step how to turn an existing blog or page on your website into one that will perform better in the search results. They aren’t complicated steps, but they’re super important.
The next thing you need for your website to generate leads, at least in the beginning is paid ads. You won’t always need to do this, but if you rely on organic reach alone, it can take a long time for your site to start getting found on page 1 of the search results, unless you are creating a lot of consistent, keyword rich, search engine optimized content and videos. Doing that is a time-consuming process, but it can generate free leads on autopilot forever. If you want to fast track your website’s lead generation, then you’re going to want to incorporate paid ads into your strategy.
Now you don’t have to break your bank account doing this - spending just $5 a day will dramatically speed up the process. What do you run ads to? On Facebook you’d run ads to listings (either your own or IDX listings if your website has an IDX feed). You should also run ads to your blog content - that way it changes regularly so you won’t fatigue your audience.
The purpose of these ads is to drive new traffic to your website. Once people land on your website, you need to have tracking codes installed, specifically a Facebook pixel and Google Tag. Although these tracking codes are not as effective as they used to be, there is absolutely still a place for them in your lead generation strategy. If people have spent time on your website either by finding you organically, through a specific search or from a paid aid, that person is a high quality lead who is very likely in the real estate market in some capacity. They are one of the low hanging fruit. We also know that it takes people xx times seeing your brand, before they will remember who you are, so it makes a lot of strategic sense to retarget your website visitors with brand awareness ads on both Facebook and Google to boost repeated exposure and recall. Before they will consider you, you need to go through an awareness journey with them and providing value-added content that demonstrates you as an authority in your community is a great way to build that awareness. But for you to reach enough people you really need to invest in ads that push that free content out to more of your ideal audience.
I teach a really simple step by step process in my Attract Accelerator bootcamp if you’re interested.
Alright moving along, as we just talked about, your website visitors are more often than not, high quality leads. The first step is to build awareness with these leads, but in order to be considered as their realtor, you need to nurture them to build know like and trust. If you don’t know who they are, that’s kinda hard to do. So we need a mechanism to get your website visitors off your website and into your email list.
Your email list is probably the most important asset you own in your business. Unlike social media, no one can take it away from you. But shockingly the vast majority of real estate agents don’t have a list building strategy. Once again they prioritize building a following on social media platforms that they don’t own and that they’re at the mercy of an algorithm to get their messages out. It’s asinine people!
So if you don’t have one, growing your email list should be one of your Big 10 goals this year, however having a website that you own takes priority even over that, because it can be the biggest driver of your email list. When people are searching for real estate content and they find your website, converting them onto your email list is much easier….because again, they are low hanging fruit!
So how do we convert them from visiting your website to joining your email list? With opt-ins. Some agents don’t have any type of opt-in on their website, but if you want it to generate leads, you need an opt-in and usually more than one. The basic opt-in is one for your monthly newsletter, these are notoriously low converting, however anyone who does sign up is probably a really high quality lead, so you definitely want to nurture these people.
More effective opt-ins are known as lead magnets or freebies or squeeze pages where you offer something specific of value in exchange for their email address. You will likely get more conversions on these types of opt-ins, but the quality of the lead tends to go down a little. These types of opt-ins are most effective when they are unique, offer a lot of value and are specific to the page someone is on your website. Now when it comes to creating these opt-ins there are all sorts of things you can do to improve their performance and conversion rate - things like where you place them on your site - whether they’re inline, pop-ups, exit intents, etc. What headlines you use, what form fields you use and what text you choose for your submit button. These things can all change your conversion opt-in rate dramatically, so don’t underestimate them. I teach all about the program I recommend to create lead magnets opt-ins and the associated email sequences in Foundations of Success, but I’ll be going into more detail on all of the systems I recommend you have in your real estate business in next month’s episode, so be sure to subscribe so that you’re notified when it goes live.
Alright the next thing you need to have on your website to generate leads is an easy way to get in touch with you and by easy, I mean easier than just including your email address or phone number. I’m referring to a direct call to action button to book an appointment with you directly in your calendar.
This button should be included on every page of your website, with a specific call to action related to that page. For example on your selling services page - the button would relate to a free home evaluation. On your buyer page it could be to book a discovery call. On a listing page the button would be to book a showing.
All of these buttons should lead to a central calendar management system that is synced with your calendar so that it is always up to date. Allowing prospects and clients to book appointments directly in your calendar that is convenient for them, ensures it’s also convenient for you and this is a great habit to get into early on in your career. I also teach how to set all of this up in Foundations of Success.
Alright the last thing you need on your website to generate leads, is often an oversight. When it comes to investing your time and money into any strategy to grow your business, the biggest mistake most agents make, is not tracking their results. If we don’t know if a strategy is working, we are making decisions with a blindfold on. Not a smart way to run a business!
If you aren’t regularly looking at your website’s metrics, you will have no idea if it’s working for you or not. Now you’ll know it’s not working if you’re not getting any leads, but you won’t know WHY unless you look more closely at the data.
If you’re not getting any traffic, that would explain it and you’d know to focus your efforts on driving people to your site with more content, SEO and also paid ads.
If you are getting traffic, but that traffic isn’t turning into leads, don’t jump to the conclusion that your website isn’t working for you just yet. It may be that visitors are at another stage of. Your funnel and haven't reached the final stage which is converting into a lead.
If all of your website metrics are growing, you can take comfort in knowing that it’s working and it’s just a matter of time before the leads start coming in. If you’ve got good traffic but you’re not converting over time, you may have an issue with the amount of time someone’s spending on your site or your lead magnets or CTAs.
Alternatively, let’s say you are generating lots of leads from your website….well analyzing your metrics will tell you what’s working so well, so that you can double down on it and do more.
But the only way to know, is to actually track your website’s metrics month to month and then adjust things accordingly.
Alright to summarize the 11 things your website needs to generate leads:
Newsletter Opt In