A good website has become the standard for real estate investors. Even though traditionally, real estate investors could close a deal without being active online, those days are far gone, as more and more competitors invest in their online presence.
Design plays a part in this whole process, both directly – by hitting search engine benchmarks, and indirectly – by driving traffic and increasing website visitor engagement.
Most businesses in the industry are aware of the benefits that come with good REI website design, and you simply have to follow suit if you want to remain relevant.
The marketing funnel works along similar lines, both online and offline. A good REI website will enable you to:
Make it easier for motivated sellers to find you. This is done in two ways:
Establish credibility with the visitors. Plus, once they do find your business, it’ll let them know that you can solve their problem.
Turn these motivated sellers into your leads. Since you already have their attention, this will help convert them and to process them in the funnel.
These goals can be achieved by catering to the preferences of humans (website visitors) and algorithms (search engine crawlers). Good website design will allow you to satisfy both of them and rank high as a result.
Obviously, designing a website is a demanding task – it includes input from developers, graphic designers, marketers, business owners, etc. We will not delve into the nuts and bolts and we’ll try to avoid technical terms (most REIs rely on website templates anyway). Rather, we will focus on those elements that are relevant for improving the rank of your website in organic searches.
So, we will cover topics like user-friendly website design, templates, page load time, interactive features (like chat), and content. We’ll not discuss lead generation features of REI websites, because we’ve covered that in another article.
The figures on users who browse the internet from their mobile phones are steadily around the 50% mark since 2017. So, make sure the design of your real estate investor website covers mobile users, i.e. is optimized for mobile. This is done through integrating ‘responsive design’ so that the site’s content can be accessed from a smartphone. Also, website visitors come through a variety of web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera), they use various devices (PCs, laptops, tablets), and those devices have different operating systems (Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS, Linux, Google Android). If your website accommodates all of these visitors, you have a better chance to get more engagement. Plus, this positively affects your page’s search ranking, especially if the visitors stay longer on your site.
Chat boxes are one of the most common interactive features of real estate investor websites. They are usually placed in the lower right or left corner and they allow users to ask questions, sometimes in real time. The response can come from someone in your team or from a programmed chatbot. Results from integrating live chat to REI sites are mixed, though it seems they are a great way to introduce an unassuming form because you can easily get the visitors’ contact details through a chat box. But in terms of ranking, live chat is good for your website only if it makes visitors engage and spend more time on the site.
It’s always better to develop a webpage from the ground up, however, real estate investors can get away with using templates because they need basic functionalities. There are some caveats though. If you go for a real estate investor website template, make sure it allows you to customize elements that will make it unique. This means to look for a template that offers more than one option for placing menus, buttons, forms, banners, etc. And not only that, but you also want also a broad choice of colors, fonts, and layouts, so that your real estate investor website can stand out, even though you used a template.
Sometimes, these REI templates come loaded with content and, in theory, this content could also improve your ranking. But this will only work if you optimize the content so that it becomes relevant for your market and your target audience (eg. a specific type of deals). Plus, you need to edit the content enough so that it’s different from the original. Resting on stock content to get high ranking will work against you, because search engines will not put your website in front of others if your post is plagiarized from another website.
Website templates can give you an edge if you choose them carefully. It’s sort of a pro tip – the platform Carrot advises to go for a website design that includes a bar with terms and conditions under each blog post. This section will not only help you build credibility with motivated sellers (it is, after all, a legal framework), but it will also boost your ranking because search engine crawlers will pick it up.
Now, website content and design are usually at odds – you either focus on one or the other. However, if you go for a design that makes it easier to make your content SEO friendly, you’ll improve your ranking.
Your content strategy includes blog posts; schemes for keyword placement; use of photos, graphics, and embedded videos; principles of internal linking and external linking; and all those various SEO tweaks. Having a good real estate investor website design means nothing if the site itself is not populated with meaningful content. This will primarily affect search engine crawlers (they’ll understand what your site is all about) and your ranking in the search results will reflect that.
This one is easy to overlook particularly if you go after real estate investor website design that stands out. Every piece of content contributes to the loading speed of a webpage. But the architecture of the site itself can decrease loading time as well (for example, redirects and web pages that are not cached).
Page loading time can be improved by the deliberate use of particular file formats, like using GIF, JPEG and PNG instead of TIFF for posting high-quality images. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to compress and optimize your images to ensure that they don’t increase the page loading time.
Sometimes, the issues with loading your page depend on the bandwidth of the internet connection of your visitors. Keep this in mind and reduce the load time of your REI website as much as possible by trimming its overall weight. Fast load times means more visitors will stay to check you out, and plus, page speed is a ranking factor for Google.
Real estate as an industry shares a close connection to architecture, interior design, and decoration, so it’s not unusual to find realtor websites that feature truly unique website designs. Especially if you couple this love for beautiful spaces with inventory that offers exclusive and luxury properties – you often get website designs that are out of this world. Don’t fall into the trap of imitating these professionals when you build your real estate investor website.
Here, we are talking about website design that is good for ranking, and that doesn’t mean a website that is aesthetically pleasing. Yes, a layout that’s good on the eyes will make visitors spend more time on your site, and this will boost your ranking. But don’t go over the top.
In fact, a design that is plain (and by some standards even ugly) may work best for keeping visitors engaged. The whole point of ranking high when keywords are searched on an engine is to get traffic from motivated sellers. And these motivated sellers have a property they need to sell, and a short time frame to do it. So, go for a design that is straight-to-the-point, pages that open fast, information that is clear to follow, features that are easy to use and, all in all, a website that is built to solve a problem.
Just make sure to remove barriers between your business and the audience. You might need to invest some time until you find out what works, but ultimately, you should let your website visitors be the judges of what works and what doesn’t.
Most real estate investor website templates allow customization and you can test different designs. The best website design, in terms of ranking, is the one that will drive visits to your site and inspire engagement that makes them stay on the site, while also making it easy for search engine crawlers to pick up all those signals.
The exact algorithms used by search engines (like Google) to rank websites are not known. As you can imagine if these algorithms are public every developer would incorporate elements into their design so that their website comes on top.
However, SEO professionals and developers have worked hard to crack the code on what elements make web pages rank higher in the SERPs, so we do have a general idea of what works. For now, we can focus on several metrics that are user-generated (meaning, they depend on the engagement of website visitors) and you can use them as a guideline whenever you want to test new elements in your website design. These are:
Note these metrics along with other technical requirements (and engine updates) to keep up with the indicators that are taken into account for ranking. If you aren’t tech savvy, you can delegate this task to someone who knows what to look for. The website design can play a very important role in getting the first place in search results for real estate investing-related keywords in your market.
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