As a professional Estate & Letting Agent you work hard to generate leads, nurture instructions and close sales.
But does your website support you in this process?
High performing websites need an array of tools and features to engage with visitors and generate leads.
In an increasingly competitive world, no agent can afford to have a website that simply looks pretty. The rules of marketing are changing and there are a growing number of technologies and digital marketing techniques that could transform the effectiveness of your marketing; giving you that all important competitive edge and ensuring you maximise visitor engagement and lead generation.
The topics we cover in this guide will help you evaluate your own website, how it fits into your overall marketing and will give you actionable insights into leading edge digital marketing techniques that could turn your website into an inbound lead generating machine.
A great website isn’t that great if no-one ever finds it…
With over 1 billion websites globally, growing at a rate of approximately 100 new websites every minute of every day, it’s no surprise getting your website found can be a challenge! As an Estate & Letting agent you understand, more than most, the importance of ‘location’ when advising, for example, a retailer, where to site their business. A good high street location gives a retailer every possible chance of custom from passing traffic. In the digital world ‘location’ is more enigmatic; there is no ‘high street’ and instead, to get traffic to your website, you are at the mercy of a heady combination of search engines, social media, paid traffic, inbound links to your website. Not to mention your own efforts in terms of good quality content on your site and offline marketing activities. Get the fundamentals right however, and your website will be rewarded with a steady flow of traffic – the starting point for generating leads and conversions. So how do you optimise your website to increase the volume of traffic each day? Well, let’s dig in…
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Part 1: Optimising your Website for Search
Before we dive into reviewing the key components necessary for lead generation, let’s take a minute to think about how the internet works. After all, if your website can’t be found it’s unlikely to generate leads.
At a basic level, the internet is simply a network of computers, storing webpages and content, that we access using a browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc) with our laptops, mobile devices etc. Typically, the default page for a browser is a search engine, such as Google, which we use to find the content, or answer, that we’re looking for. Something like 70% of searches are performed using the Google search engine; and over 60% of these are performed using a mobile device. There are others, such as Yahoo, Bing etc and arguably sites such as Amazon, YouTube and Facebook are also search engines, but they typically work the same way. Ie A keyword search is the basis upon which results are listed.
Google uses complex algorithms to analyse the search term / phrase that you have entered, to display a list of pages / content that they believe is most relevant to the search term that you have used. Depending upon the search term, they also display local search results, images or sponsored ads (more on those later)
1.1 Keyword Research
To get your website appearing in the search results you need to understand the search terms / questions that your ideal customer is likely to type into Google. In SEO terms, optimising your website for these keywords is critical to getting your content found. When you have compiled a list of keywords that your ideal customer is likely to type into Google you are ready to start optimising the content on your website for each search term. Plan the content for each page on your website to match the keywords that you want to be indexed for. Don’t forget ‘longtail’ keywords as these can be a powerful way to get your site indexed and provide the basis of writing keyword rich blog articles that will help get you ranked.
Pro Tip – Learn from the best There are lots of good guides to help you research keywords online. Here are just a few of them: Moz Beginners Guide to Keyword Research Kissmetrics Smarter Keyword Research Google keyword planner
1.2 On-page SEO
These are the important elements for on-page SEO… Keyword focus: Every page on your website should have a unique keyword focus, and all elements of the page should be optimised for this keyword term. Including headlines, sub-headings, body copy and image ‘alt tags’. Your objective here is to ensure the keyword features in each element – but in a natural way. Avoid keyword stuffing! Write for the reader first and foremost, then optimise for search engines. Remember, that individual keywords and short phrases are highly competitive, rather than trying to optimise your home page for ‘Estate Agent’ try optimising it for ‘Estate Agents in [your town]”.
Place keywords into headings (H1) and sub-headings (H2, H3 etc), as these carry more weight with search engines, and include keywords in the body copy with a natural frequency. Include keywords in the page url (if possible), in the file names of images and in image HTML Alt Tags. Meta titles and description: Meta titles and meta descriptions appear in the html code for each page on your website. They display in the browser bar when the page is viewed and are used by search engines to display the main headline and description for the listing within the search results.
Meta title: To have maximum impact from an SEO perspective the Meta-title should be no more than 55 characters. Include keyword / phrases within the title separated by simple punctuation marks and make sure each page title is unique across your site.
Meta description: To display fully (in the search results) you should limit your meta page description to 125 characters. If you include your keywords early in the description, they will be highlighted in bold when they match the search term.
XML sitemaps: Not to be confused with a sitemap page, an XML sitemap provides search engines with a complete list of all the pages on your site, along with the date it was last updated. Some Estate Agent website developers such as our own ExpertWeb websites automatically generate XML sitemaps or, you can generate an XML sitemap online (although be aware you will need to keep it up-to-date). If you have a wordpress website there are plugins that will automatically generate these for you. See this Google help page for more information about XML sitemaps
404 page: A 404 page is the error returned when a webserver cannot find the page requested by the browser. The 404 error either displays the browser default page or (preferably) a custom 404 page on your website. Displaying a custom 404 enables you to present alternative content / sales messages to the visitor to encourage them to stay on your website. As a separate exercise, we’d recommend keeping an eye on 404 hits (which you can easily do using Google analytics), and put 301 redirects in place to prevent them recurring.
301 redirection: If you launch a new website or you change the URL of a page on your existing site any inbound links to the existing page, including those indexed by a search engine, will continue to point to the old URL. Any visitor following one of these links will arrive at a 404 page. To avoid this, you can put in place a 301 redirection, which is a line of code in your websites ‘htaccess’ file. This tells the browsers to redirect the traffic to the new destination and ensures the accumulated SEO link juice is retained.
Http vs https: Until recently, it was only ecommerce websites where an SSL certificate (the green padlock that displays in the address bar of your browser) was considered necessary. All that changed when Google Chrome and Firefox started displaying a ‘this site is not secure’ message and when Google announced that they are now using HTTPS as a ranking factor in search results. Put simply, adding an SSL certificate can give you a marginal benefit over competitive sites that don’t include one. Read more about SSL certificates here.
Download the Full Guide Today
How does your website measure up? Read the rest of this FREE guide to high performing, lead generating websites and see how your website compares. Essential reading for Estate & Letting Agents it includes all the features and tools your website must include, to drive traffic and help you generate and nurture leads.Download Today