RISMEDIA, February 9, 2009-It would be difficult to find a real estate professional who doesn’t understand the value of a website, and the need to have some type of MLS search displayed on it. Yet, a great many of them also complain that they get few or no leads from their websites.
First, if you’re not using some type of analytic or statistics software to track your site’s visitors and the pages they view, you may not even know where you need to concentrate for improvement. Once you know what’s going on, you can do what is necessary to make it better.
How many people are visiting your IDX search page? How long do they stay there, as searches usually make it one of the “stickiest” pages on your site? Few of us would deny that we need to improve these statistics. But, how do we do that?
When I visit real estate websites, one of the first things I look for on the home or main page is the navigation link or button(s) to get to the IDX search page.
– Where on the home page is it located?
– Is it “above the fold?” This means high enough that normal screens would not require scrolling down to see it.
– How prominent is it? Is it lost in a lot of clutter?
– What does the button or link say? Is it clear that they will find ALL of the local listings with that one click?
– Will they get to them with ONE click?
– Once they get to the IDX search page, what’s above the fold? They need to see quickly that they’ll find what they seek there.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the “prominence” thing on your home page. Though not related to IDX, how much of your precious screen space is taken up at the top by images or non-navigation items? Many people use notebook computers, and a lot of real estate sites waste up to a third of their usable screen space with images and things that serve no purpose and provide no value to the visitor. Choose a theme or template that provides good navigation that makes it easy to see where to click to locate what they want.
Where is your IDX search link or button in relation to the others? If your “About Me” button is higher, before the IDX button in the navigation structure, change it. Put yourself into the home searchers’ shoes. How many do you think sit down at the computer and say “I’ll do a search to find out about a Realtor” versus doing a search to find homes? At some point, they’ll want to know about you. But that point will never come if they leave because they didn’t get to the IDX page easily.
Let’s put it plainly-your IDX page navigation button or link text should be the most prominent of all of your links or buttons. Their eyes need to move to it first. If you’re paying for clicks with a Pay-Per-Click PPC account, many experts will tell you to take them directly to the IDX page if that’s what your ad text and the search phrase were targeting.
Okay, we’ve managed to get them to our home page, and we get that click to the search page because our navigation makes our link for it the most prominent on the page. What then? Again, if you have too much header image space above the search entry area, they may have to scroll downward to do normal search criteria entry. Try not to create this situation. Web visitors are very quick to leave a page based on a few seconds of first impression. If it looks like they can do what they want easily, they’ll stay.
Survey after survey, the numbers just keep increasing for real estate prospects’ use of the Internet. And, they consistently state that their main goal is to search for listings. At some point, they will want to look at statistics, read about you, and even ask for a special report. But, none of those things will ever happen if they don’t find those listings first.
Peyman Aleagha is the founder and President of RealtySoft.com. RealtySoft provides Realtors with Real Estate Web Design (http://www.realtysoft.com), Real Estate Print Marketing and Free IDX (http://www.realtysoft.com/freeidx.php) solutions.
For more information, visit www.RealtySoft.com.