Practice what you preach, right? Well, this month I’m going to practice something I preach to my clients not to do… I’m going to veer off my outline and write about something that happened to me in the last month that truly annoyed me. I believe, generally speaking, in following an outline when writing pages for your site. But I am veering off my outline because there is no better teacher than personal experience. And I want to share my experience with you in hopes that you will evaluate your own website for these common issues and mistakes.

Evaluating websites is my job. It’s what I do and have done for the last seven years of my life. I evaluate countless real estate sites every year. However, I don’t stop there. I live online. I am online an estimated 10 hours each day and visit countless non real estate related websites every day as well. I evaluate them, I scrutinize them, and some make me want to throw my monitor out the nearest window. My actual computer sits on the ground to the right… the far right… of my kicking range for good reason. My left foot wished the same was true of my computer at home a couple weeks ago.

I was getting ready to go out celebrating a special occasion with a good friend. I’d put my makeup on, straightened my straight brown hair, put on jeans, a new shirt and earrings. I was ready to go. My friend called to let me know what time he would be to my house to pick me up and asked that I find out what time the kitchen closed at the Anaheim House of Blues. I hopped online and typed in HOB.com to find their dining hours…

Tick, tock, tick, tock…

Five minutes later I had not found their dining hours and was rather annoyed that a restaurant as well known as the House of Blue’s would not have thought to put their dining hours on their website!!!

Could I have called them to find out when their kitchen closed? Sure… I could have… but guess what? I DIDN’T WANT TO! And further… I WASN’T GOING TO!

Without wasting another moment of precious time we chose another restaurant within Downtown Disney, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, that we hoped would have their dining hours listed. And they did. So, off to The Jazz Kitchen we went to enjoy New Orleans cuisine and forget for the moment about our tasteless experience with the HOB.com website.

To those of you who are thinking, “Well, that’s not such a big deal that HOB left off their dining hours” and maybe YOU would have called them yourself to find out when their kitchen closed… the 20 year olds of today are just as picky as I am when it comes to finding information. They don’t want to pick up a phone to get an answer… they want the answer NOW… they want the answer from you ON your website. And if you don’t give them the information they are seeking they WILL find it somewhere else. Further, the 20 year olds of today are your home buyers and sellers of tomorrow.

If you want to keep their attention you better get on the ball and make sure that…

  1. Your website is a complete resource for real estate in your area. Have pages about the areas you serve as well as relevant real estate related topics.
  2. Your email address and other contact info are prevalently located throughout your site. List it on your homepage, your about page, and if possible, on the navigation area of your site.
  3. You have contact forms throughout your site.

Okay, so you might be thinking to yourself… but I thought you just said “they don’t want to contact you”… Of course the idea is to get the people visiting your site to contact you! I’m not suggesting that your visitors will not contact you once they find the information they are seeking from your site. The idea is to make sure they don’t go to ANY OTHER WEBSITE for the information they are seeking. If they are able to find everything they need from your website they will have no need to search elsewhere and will eventually contact you when they are ready to buy or sell. Isn’t that the idea? Don’t you want to be THE source for real estate information in your area? Don’t you want to be THE REALTOR that every other agent strives to become? The way to do that is NOT to be an information hog. Don’t require that people ‘sign in’ to get to the information they seek. You will lose more visitors than you will gain. All too often agents tell me, “But the people that are serious buyers/sellers won’t mind signing a form”.

First of all… YES they do. No one wants to offer up their email address for a potential increase in spam. Further, everyone starts off as a non-serious buyer/seller. Your website is supposed to work as a bridge between yourself and potential buyers/sellers in your area. Statistics show that an increasing number of buyers research real estate for approx. 7 weeks before contacting a REALTOR. What does this mean for you?

  1. Leads from your website are likely informed buyers/sellers.
  2. They will waste LESS of your time than those that have not researched real estate online.
  3. They will likely buy/sell more quickly than others.
  4. You will do less work and get paid the same!

Of course… to actually get visitors and eventually leads… you must continually work to improve your website and its pages of content. Refer back to my blog last month where I began discussing the importance of content and look forward to my next blog where I promise to focus on a different aspect of content again.