REALTOR and WordPress user Jim Kimmons continues his series about improving his website and online presence through the use of Diverse Solutions IDX and CRM products.

In Part 1 of the series, Jim outlines his requirements for a successful real estate website and details how the basic version of our IDX plugin has helped him get there by improving his SEO and site traffic.  In Part 2 of the series, Jim explains how the Pro version of dsIDXpress continues to satisfy his requirements with its ability to turn an average site visitor into an actual lead via its forced registration capability.

In this post Jim provides details regarding his experience with dsSearchAgent, our advanced mapping IDX solution, and how this tool provides visitors with a quality search experience that keeps them coming back for more.

If you have the dsIDXPress Pro WordPress IDX plugin and can create all of these great IDX search results pages for your visitors, it’s easy to rest in your success.  I couldn’t stop though, no matter how great my site looked.  The more advanced dsSearchAgent Mapping IDX solution delivers another level of visitor interaction and satisfaction.  This is a framed solution which affords much more control of the search experience and features that can’t be delivered unless hosted elsewhere.  Let’s take a look at the search interface display and some of those great features.

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Notice all of those search filtering options on the left.  Mixing and matching filters can narrow the search and zoom in on properties that precisely match their needs.  Visitors who want to search the MLS for properties generally have a very precise idea of what they want to see.  This IDX search solution provides the ability to “drill down” to the characteristics and features they want in a home.  It also lets them zero in on specific areas or neighborhoods easily.

Particularly in the early stages of their visits to your website, searchers want to remain anonymous.  If you don’t provide a robust search utility, they’ll simply move on to another site.  If you do provide a great search experience, they’re more likely to return and become a prospect at some point when they register to save searches or get email alerts.  But there’s so much more:

Intuitive Location Box

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Your visitor starts typing in an address or MLS number and the box presents possible matches to speed up their searches.  It’s another feature that makes searching faster and is likely to create a return visitor to the site.  They also may remember a portion of the address but not all of it, and this feature will help them find it easily.

Mouse-over Property Information & Google Maps Interface

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Mousing over map icons presents property information, and a click expands to full listing data.  Your visitor is using the familiar Google Maps interface, which allows them to zoom, pan and change map types.  This is a much more user-friendly search experience, especially for those who know where they want to buy, but aren’t yet ready to limit their choices by specifying too many features or details.  They can simply pan with the map and zoom in and out to show everything available in their area of choice.

Remember that the vast majority of your visitors will begin their searching anonymously. You will never learn who they are if they decide they can search easier or with more flexibility on another real estate website.  Make them happy with search and use the registration for enhanced features to move them from anonymous suspect to registered prospect for follow-up marketing.

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Radius & Custom Area Searches

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You can create custom radius areas, even draw custom polygon areas if you’re trying to create a search for listings in special areas like on islands or oddly-shaped neighborhoods.  As real estate professionals, we only limit our success if we assume we know how our visitors want to find listings.  Our goal should be to provide a comprehensive set of tools that provide virtually every method of search and filtering they may want.

More Lead Capture Tools

All of this search stuff is great, but more lead generation tools just make it better.  Remember that my most important criteria for a real estate website is that it generate quality leads that convert to commissions.  With that in mind, any additional lead generation tools are welcomed and pay for themselves many times over.

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With even more features offered in exchange for registration, I get more leads.  Notice that the visitor can get email alerts as well.  If you add in dsAgentChat, they can ask you a question while they’re checking out a listing.  In the first two articles in this series I showed you how the site-hosted MLS data, instead of a framed IDX solution, improves SEO and delivers visitors.  I also showed you how to use selective forced registration to grow your qualified leads database.

My definition of a successful real estate website is simple, and every tool that I can include that helps me to generate leads that convert to commissions is going to be in my toolbox.  In this first three articles I’ve shown you how these tools generate leads.  Now let’s take a look at what to do with them, as they still need to be nurtured and converted.