Real Estate Websites: 17 Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them
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Real Estate Websites: 17 Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them


(upbeat music) – We’ve analyzed more than
30,000 real estate websites, and this video will show
you the most common mistakes that real estate agents
make on their sites and how to fix them. But before we get started, do
you have a website already? Or are you still building one? Leave a comment below, yes
or no, and let me know. And if you already have a site, please leave your domain name so that I can check out your site. Now, WordPress is by far the best website platform available, but mistakes are commonly
made when setting it up. This video will walk you
through the most common mistakes made when setting up a real estate website using WordPress and how to fix them. Now, as we talk through these issues on real estate websites, don’t feel bad if you’ve
made any of these. I’ve made some of these mistakes myself, sometimes out of carelessness
and sometimes intentionally not knowing better. Through this research study and before, I’ve seen real estate agents,
marketers for brokerages, and even digital agencies that are working on WordPress projects
all make these blunders. But we’re going to make sure that your next real estate
website launches quickly and serves as the hub for
the next top producing agent in your area. But before we jump right into the list, one question I get asked a ton and where I see agents
make a serious mistake is about what platform
to build their site on. The answer is simple: WordPress. Now, why should WordPress be your choice for your real estate website? Well, WordPress is both an
incredible website platform and it’s simple to use once you have a quick understanding of it. While Wix and Squarespace can be great for a business card style
website that simply shows an agent’s picture and their brief story, only WordPress allows for
a site that truly offers the home search and
consumer engagement tools that buyers and sellers expect today. It can quickly be set up, and sometimes in as little as a few days, not counting the approval from your MLS to access the listing data. And after your site is up,
anyone that can use Gmail can easily learn to add
content such as blog posts, community events, or even
neighborhood hotsheets. And there are tons of free
courses and YouTube videos that will walk this
through for a new user. And WordPress can easily handle
millions of monthly visitors if the need arises. More than 33% of the entire Internet runs on WordPress today, and if you pull out the e-commerce sites, well, that number’s closer to 50%. The New York Post, TED,
USA Today, CNN, TIME.com, TechCrunch, CBS Local, NBC,
these all use WordPress. In fact, WordPress powers almost 15% of the top 100 websites
in the world today. So as your traffic grows, your
hosting might need to shift, but WordPress is built for
both small personal blogs and highly popular sites. Now, prior to this study, I’ve examined hundreds of
thousands of real estate websites, and the vast majority of
all top performing websites are all running WordPress. It’s infrequent, if not even rare, that you’d ever find a
Wix or Squarespace site ranking well for any region,
city, or a local niche. Your website should
serve as the central hub for your marketing efforts
and your client relationships. You’ve already taken
the first crucial step in securing your domain name
and setting up your website. So let’s make sure that
you’re truly prepared to be successful and take
advantage of what’s possible with a few quick fixes to
mistakes we’ve seen thousands and thousands of agents make. So, how do we make sure
that you’re prepared to be successful with your personal site or the site for your real estate firm? Let’s walk through the
most common mistakes that I’ve seen and a fix
for each one of those. Not writing and optimizing
content for SEO. There’s a huge missed
opportunity to publishing a piece of content or creating
a community-focused hotsheet and having put little to no thought into search engine optimization or SEO. Google is constantly updating
their ranking algorithm, and while there are thousands
of factors that they consider, there are a few that have
a really large impact. So to increase your traffic over time and to get your content
found by search engines, it’s imperative that you
prepare your written content and images with a search engines in mind. So, the fix: Make sure that you are using
only one H1 or header tag on an individual page. Use several H2 or H3 sub-headings
on each of your pages to separate content. Name your images with the keywords or the title of your post. And make sure you use short paragraphs that are one to three sentences only, so that there’s plenty of white space, because today Google considers readability and the user experience
as a ranking factor now. So, for a guiding hand
on each post and page that you create, install a
WordPress SEO plugin like Yoast. They have a premium version
that they’ll try to upsell you, but most agents don’t need that. But Yoast will give you
this helpful checklist and a set of tips to make your content more likely to rank on Google. Many so-called marketing
or website experts incorrectly claim that
adding too many plugins, even just five or 12,
will slow down your site. At best case, that’s a
simplistic view of WordPress and plugins, and it’s often
given to avoid walking a client through the much larger impact of using a discounted web host,
we’ll talk about that later, or explaining to them how
to choose a quality plugin. However, adding too many
plugins or a low-quality plugin, even a single poorly optimized plugin can have a huge impact on your website. There are more than 40,000 plugins in the WordPress repository. Just because a plugin is available does not mean that it’s secure, or that it’ll do what it claims, or that it’ll perform quickly. Others, such as an MLS
property search plugin or an email automation
plugin will frequently use highly optimized servers of their own to provide a lightning fast experience. So, the fix to make sure that
you don’t run into this issue is to make sure that you are intentional with your plugin choices. Wisely choose the
plugins that you install, and uninstall the ones
that you do not use. If you are using a plugin
with a premium service that requires a monthly license, look at the reviews for that plugin and the company behind it. You want to make sure that
if you have any questions or need anything that their
support team will be there to answer your questions. Above all, ask yourself if the
functionality from the plugin is really needed for your website. Neglecting to backup a site. Ever work on an Excel
spreadsheet or Word document and only after the application crashes or your laptop battery finally runs out do you remember that you forgot to save? Imagine writing a book
and never pressing save on your manuscript. Failing to regularly backup
your website is similar. You want to back up your
site to not only give you a place to restore from but
to avoid potentially losing months of downtime if
something was to happen. We’ve seen website hosts that have claimed to have three different
backups for a site, one for each of the previous three months, still unable to restore a
site due to their own bug. And while we do have a
few hosting companies that we like and endorse, you’ll sleep better knowing
that you have your own backup. So, the fix: First of all, choose a hosting company that has an automatic
backup for your WordPress that includes the underlying
database, WordPress theme, all your settings, and uploaded files. Also, look for and
install a backup plugin. There are a number of paid options, but you can also find
some great free options that will save everything for your site to your own Dropbox account. Not changing the default
permalink structure. The default permalink
structure for WordPress is not optimized for SEO. So, while you’ll want to
optimize each post and page’s URL for SEO when you’re creating the page, changing the default setting
is needed to properly do that. And the good news is
that this is easy to do. So, the fix: To change the permalink structure, go to your WordPress
dashboard and go to Settings and Permalinks and choose Post name. If you have existing content
that’s under another setting, you’re going to need to redirect
all your old permalinks, and there are a few free plugins
that will help you do that. Or you can search for how to
do this with something called an .htaccess file, and
even do that within Yoast. Ignoring the updates to WordPress itself, your theme, and plugins. Themes, plugins, and WordPress
are all updated periodically for bug fixes, to add new functionality, and to even correct
security vulnerabilities. All software has some
vulnerability and bug, and they’re generally minimal and many times the internal
team will find them before anyone else outside does. Think about it, many of the
updates from Apple, Microsoft, on your Android device,
our individual applications that we use on laptops and phones, they’re fixes for a combination of bugs and security weaknesses. And your WordPress
website is no different. The fix: Make sure that you keep
your plugins, theme, and WordPress core up to date. Log in to your WordPress admin. Go to Dashboard, and look
under Updates and Plugins, and there’s gonna be a number there if any of those plugins or
Wordpress need to be updated. Now, a tip is, delete any
unused or unneeded themes. There’s no reason to get notifications and feel that you need to update files if your site does not need them anyways, so remove them and it’ll
reduce your stress. And if you don’t log in to
your WordPress site very often, such as having an IDX or home search tools that captures your leads
and pushes them out to a dedicated real estate
CRM, add a recurring event to your calendar so that you can log in every two to four weeks
just to check for updates. Using an iFrame or subdomain
for you property listings and home search. One of the plagues that infected
the real estate industry years ago was the use of
iFrames and subdomains on real estate websites. Not only does Google dislike these but they frequently confuse consumers and can provide a poor
experience on mobiles, too. Now, an iFrame is where
content from another source or website embeds on your website. Think about adding a YouTube
video to your website. Whether you use the embed
code from YouTube itself or an add-the-video widget
from a visual builder on your theme, this content
is displayed on your website kind of like a window. Imagine if you could a magic
window on an interior wall of your house that would
show whatever was happening in another country, that’s
similar to what an iFrame does. Why to never use iFrames? Google and other search
engines know that this content is not on your site and
therefore they do not reward your site for that content. And too many iFrames on your site can even hurt your rankings. Now, a subdomain is a string of characters that precedes the root domain on your site and uses a period to separate them. So, if your site was YourSite.com, that www is actually a subdomain. And if you have a home search on your site that’s like search.YourSite.com, then that search is the subdomain. Why use subdomains? Well, many third party
technologies are limited in their capabilities and
that’s the easiest, or only way, that they can add their
content to your site. And while there are
reasons for large websites to organize content with a subdomain, that’s almost never the
case for a real estate. Why to never use subdomains? Google considers a subdomain as a completely different website according to almost
every major SEO expert. And Google’s own search
engine console requires you to set up a separate
profile for a subdomain. That’s another good indicator that they value subdomains so differently. Therefore, if you have
an MLS property listings displayed through a search
on search.YourSite.com, Google will consider that a
completely different website than your main site. And unless you have the marketing budget of a major media organization
like Disney or NBC, it’s gonna be very
difficult, if not impossible, for your site to rank well. The Fix: If you’re building a new site, never use a marketing technology or anything else that uses
a subdomain or iFrame. Adding a YouTube video
to a post or a page, or even a landing page tool
such as Infusionsoft, Hubspot, can be okay because you’re not
trying to rank those pages. However, if it’s content
and a part of your website that is core to your clients’ experience, such as an IDX or MLS Property Search, only choose an offering that
will work with your site as part of its core content. And if you have an existing
website that relies on iFrames or subdomains, begin
creating a plan to migrate to a modern solution. Some of the new marketing
solutions will even help you make the switch effortlessly. As an example, if you
need help easily migrating from another IDX solution to Showcase IDX, our team can help retain
your community pages and even redirect your old
pages that have ranked well in Google to your new updated website. And if you need a new website developer, check out our list of Approved
Real Estate Web Developers on our site. Changing a post’s URL
after it’s published. You may be tempted to open an old post and change the URL when
you’re updating it, but this is a place to show caution. When you change the post slug, you break all the existing links that may be pointing to that page. Any links to the old URL will lose traffic and provide a poor user experience that leads to a 404
error for your clients. And Google will consider the new post URL a new page or post unless
you do this correctly. The fix: Before you initially
publish a page or post, make certain that the post
slug is the way you want it to be now and in the future. If you know that you’ll
update the post in the future, consider that in the post slug. So, for example, if you’re writing a post on 2019 Summer Events in Downtown Atlanta, instead of including the 2019 in the URL, make the post slug
summer-events-in-downtown-atlanta. In addition, if you have
installed Yoast SEO, it can automatically remove stop words, that’s the the and in
that’s in that post slug, as well as provide additional tips for creating a good post or page slug. Using bad visuals, or none
at all, on content pages. Images are critical to holding
your reader’s attention, especially if it’s a text-heavy article. Even normal articles
perform significantly better with good visuals. Research shows that content with visuals receives 94% more views than
content without visuals. Plus, the human brain processes
visuals 60,000 times faster than text, which can be extremely helpful if you’re explaining a
local real estate trend to a potential client. The fix: Canva.com is a great and
simple tool, that’s free, that will let you easily create visuals and find free photos for your website. And if you’re using a
graphics editing software, Unsplash.com provides
thousands of high-quality, professional images that are
free to be used for anything including commercial purposes. Another tip: Keynote and PowerPoint can be used for creating graphics, too, if you don’t have a more expensive editor. Not resizing images for web upload. Images are frequently the
reason for a slow site. If you’re using a modern IDX
and real estate consumer tool, it’ll handle optimizing the
property images and hosting them on a platform like Google Cloud. That’s the same platform that
hosts all of Google itself. However, for images that you upload or your web developer
uploads to your site, you should consider preparing your images before you upload them. This can be done with an
editor like Photoshop, or even Preview on the Mac,
or even by using a plugin that resizes images and
reduces their file size. The fix: If you’re working in Photoshop,
go to Images and Image Size and make sure the resolution is set to 72. You’ll also want to reduce
the width of the image to something more like 1,800 pixels wide or if it’s a smaller
image, 600 to maybe 1,000. Choosing a poor performing
or bulky WordPress theme. Having worked with tens of
thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and web developers, a poor performing or bulky WordPress theme is often one of the hiccups that I’ve seen delay the launch of a
new real estate website. This can often even cause ongoing issues for the agent, as well. Many people look for a, quote,
real estate specific theme when buying a new theme or they read about how the visual builder makes
creating a new website easier. While there are some
incredible WordPress themes, most real estate specific themes are bulky and may slow down your
site unless you’re paying for a very premium host,
and they can cause issues with your property search that you pick. The fix: Do not choose a real estate
specific WordPress theme from one of the marketplaces
where you can buy a theme. Also, be careful of the
lists-style articles unless they’re written by a
web developer that they himself have set up dozens, or even hundreds, of real estate websites. While these list-style articles, like the Top 10 WordPress Themes for, may be great for links to their article and generating traffic for them, they’re generally written
from a quick Google search rather than from experience and research. Instead, look for a highly rated theme where people have specifically
mentioned SEO and page speed. If you’re working with
a solid web developer, the themes that are
included with WordPress can be great, as well,
because much of the experience for your clients and your
lead generation tools are gonna be delivered
by your IDX solution that you add to the site. Now, we also maintain a list
of the best themes for agents, real estate teams, and
even broker websites. And we’ve reviewed thousands
of WordPress themes and are able to see the
themes that work well for tens of thousands
of agents and realtors, as well as those that
may cause you a headache. So, just ask our concierge
team for the updated list. Using a poor quality or cheap
IDX and home search provider. Many agents and realtors think of IDX as adding a home property
search to their site. And that’s close. In fact, IDX, also called
broker reciprocity, is simply a set of guidelines from NAR that gives MLS participants
the ability to authorize electronic display of listings
from other participants. Your IDX solution is much more than that. It’s not only access to
the property listing data but more importantly, it’s all of the consumer engagement tools on your site that should include: Property search, both advanced and simple; A map search; A polygon search that
works on mobile, as well; Call-to-action and lead generation tools; CRM tools; Automated emails and
the content to consumers with new listings and
specific listing information; Social sign-on so you get more emails; And native SEO friendly content,
as well, and so much more As I mentioned above, some of the older or less-powerful IDX solutions
use iFrames or subdomains to add these tools to your site. We’ve also seen agents
left without a working site because they’ve chosen
a company that’s entered the real estate market that’s
trying to chase an opportunity and then it shuts down
after a few months or years, that can leave agents
with a broken website. The fix: Make sure that you choose an
IDX WordPress plugin that, first, meets the needs of the backbone of your real estate website; Two, is built by a company
that is stable and growing; And three, that has a support team that is available to
answer your questions. Now, if you’re also looking
for a community of agents across the country to
learn marketing tips from and share what’s working
best for lead generation and growing their businesses, Showcase IDX has an active
group of incredible agents and brokers that you won’t
find with any other provider, and we’d love to have you as part of that. Adding customizations to a parent theme. Many themes come with a child
theme and a parent theme. The child theme takes the
functionality of the parent theme and tweaks that you
add to the child theme. Now, if you update the
parent theme by itself, you could be causing a
headache for your site, because updates from the theme developer will generally overwrite
any additions that you add. The fix: The safest way to update a theme is to update the child theme. This allows you to make
changes without ruining the original theme’s code and will ensure that your
changes are not lost. Using the default admin username. WordPress creates the
username admin by default, which can be troublesome for security, because hackers know this and
that makes it easier for them to take control of your website. The fix: Well, during your initial installation, you’ll be given the opportunity
to change the admin name to anything else. Do that. Also, if you’ve already set up your site with the admin name, you
can still change this. Simply log in to your admin dashboard, add a new account with a different email, and make it an administrator. Log out and log back in
as that new administrator, And delete the original account. And then you can associate
all the old posts and pages with that new administrator account. Using a weak password. Many of us will use a weak
password or one that we’ve used on another website because
we don’t want to forget it. However, the easier the
password is for you to remember or if another website that uses
that password’s compromised, that makes it easier for
hackers to guess your password and gain control of your website. The fix: Change to a strong password
that includes a minimum of 10 characters, an uppercase
letter, a lowercase letter, a number, and a special character. There are several great
password management applications that can help you
generate an ideal password and store them for you so that you don’t have to remember them. Failing to be selective about
who gets admin privileges. You wouldn’t give just
anyone keys to your car, and you shouldn’t give just
anyone the keys to your website. While you may need to provide
temporary admin rights to a support team, be mindful of who you
give admin rights to. The fix for this: Log in to your WordPress
dashboard, go to Users, and review the roles and permissions for each account that’s there. You can also use a plugin
like User Role Editor to add additional functionality for restricting access if that’s needed. Accidentally blocking search engines. WordPress’s initial settings can impair a search engine’s ability to discover the content on your site. And while this can be great
when you’re initially building your website, you want to
ensure that a particular box is not checked when you’re
ready for a larger audience to find your site. The fix: In your WordPress dashboard,
simply go to Settings and then Reading, and
make sure that the box that says Discourage search
engines from indexing this site is not checked. Using a poor or cheap web hosting. We know it’s important
to keep expenses low and to make sure that you’re getting a great return on investment for the money that you
invest into your website. We’ve seen many agents
and brokers mistakenly opt for a budget hosting for their website. And you may choose a great IDX solution, and client engagement
suite, and a domain name, but if you’re using a budget host, it’s kind of like putting
cheap fuel into a Lamborghini. Some budget web hosts will
provide poor performance for your clients and can even
cause downtime for your site and business, which will cost
you money in the long run. The fix: Well, you do not have to spend
hundreds of dollars per month on a host to get great performance, but you may have to spend
more than $5 to $10. You want your hosting provider
to be tailored for WordPress and to offer services like
uptime guarantees, security, stunning customer support,
and a few other things. Now, one last thing: In the comments, let me know
if you’re a real estate agent, the marketer for a broker, or a digital agency working
on WordPress projects. This is going to help me know
what new content to create and how I can give you more information that will help you grow
your business this year.

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