After creating real estate websites for the past four years, I've learned a few things that can save a real estate agent or webmaster a lot of money when setting up your real estate website.
Establishing the Domain Name
One of the biggest keys to creating a good real estate website is to have a good domain. Domain names are purchased. There are several different domain registrars out there, but the cheapest one I have found is with godaddy. In general, .com names with godaddy are just $10 a year with godaddy. Other registrars like yahoo, and register.com may be that cheap for the first year, but for the future they will be twice as expensive. With this special godaddy promo link, you can actually save an additional $2.50 every year. Very nice.
Choose a Domain Name that will help you rank in the search engines.
When it comes to ranking well in the search engines, and getting more traffic to your website you want a good domain name. The best domain names are as short as possible, but have as many keyword specific words in the domain name as possible. When I first started in the real estate website business, the advise was to us your name. So I did, thus, my first real estate website was alansharpbarker.com. Looking back I wish I would have used a keyword rich domain instead.
Some of my more recent, keyword rich domains include:
Within days of launching these websites, and doing almost nothing externally to optimize, all of these sites showed up on page one of google when typing in the exact keywords in the domain. In addition, keyword rich domain names are beneficial when the domain itself is the link. This is instant traffic to your website for less than $10.
Deciding how involved you want to be with your Real Estate Website
I have a background with computers, and so for me the best decision was to create my real estate websites from scratch using dreamweaver. For me this was the best thing to do because it gives you full flexiblility. For people without a html background, it's probably much easier to use a template, premade website. These websites also provide tools, and some content. I've experimented with a few of these websites and there are a couple good providers I'd recommend, that have beneficial features and are inexpensive.
Point2Homes.com - Point2Homes real estate websites offer good features and listing syndication to give your home listings more internet exposure. They have several different packages, and a free trial period. The cheapest package is only about $10 a month and it gives you good flexibility. My Point2 Website is SearchLoganHomes.com
AgentXSites - Agent X Sites has a free limited site with ads as well as the full version for $500 a year. This site also provides great tools to get an instant web presence. My AgentXSite is RealEstateLoganUtah.com
Wordpress - Wordpress is simple, and easy to use. You don't need any software and can download the software right to your webhost. It also has lots of plugins that allow for some easy content creation and applications. If you want to have a custom designed wordpress website, you can get one for just $200, that price includes IDX integration. Great Deal!
Choosing a Hosting Provider
If you want to go for the full out customized website you are going to need to host it somewhere, your hosting provider is essentially the internet computer where your website is saved. I've found a couple really affordable sites for website hosting. You can simply host with godaddy, it's where you'll want to buy your domain names, but its not the cheapest place for hosting.
Just host offers a more affordable alternative if you just need one IP address.It is also more powerful than Ipage. I'd say it is the best value web host I use.
Hostgator is a little bit more expensive, but has been more reliable. My Justhost accounts have been hacked a few times which is really annoying.
If you want unlimited domains, and multiple ip addresses, IX web hosting is the most affordable solution I've found.
Another option to build your real estate website is with free hosting providers like weebly and synthasite. These websites allow you to create, and build a custom website and you don't have to pay for hosting as long as you leave the links to weebly on their site. This doesn't quite give you the flexibility of building a website from scratch, but it does give more flexibility than a template site. Here are real estate websites I've built with these programs.
UtahHouses.info - Weebly
BearLakeRealEstate - Synthasite
If you are a real estate agent or brokerage, the point is you need a website. One that will provide valuable information, home listings, and that will generate leads and traffic. These are just a few tips to help you make you make a good real estate website decision.
Getting Traffic To Your Real Estate Website:
If you don't have real estate traffic, then your website is pretty much worthless.
Organic SEO Traffic
The best, but hardest way to get traffic to real estate websites is through search engine traffic. This takes time, especially for competitive keyword terms, but is fairly easy to get high rankings, and traffic for terms like Your Name, and Your Name Real Estate. You wan't to make sure that people who have heard of you through other marketing and networking efforts will find you when they type your name in Google.
By blogging about specific, non competitive things, you also establish yourself as the expert on a topic, and can be found in the search engines for specific "long tail" searches.
One of the best ways to make sure your website gets noticed by google is to submit your website to real estate directories, especially Google Places, Bing Local, and Yahoo Local.
You can pay per click to get traffic to your real estate website. The best sources to get paid clicks are Google Adwords and Homegain. Depending on how competitive your market is, google clicks can cost anywhere between about .30 and $10. These are just clicks, not leads. How well your website converts clicks to leads will make a big difference on your return on investment.
Homegain is a really good source of real estate clicks. These clicks depending on the area typically cost about $1. In my market, I got one lead out of about every 15 clicks.
Social Networking Traffic
Staying in touch with and increasing your sphere of influence through social networks is another way to get links and traffic to your real estate website. This traffic will hopefully become leads and future business. You can also pay for clicks to your website through things like facebook ads, and active rain ads.
Lease a Website
Another option to get a real estate website, and immediate traffic is to lease a real estate website. BoomerangLeads.com has a program where you lease their websites and domains and pay only for the business it actually gives you. this is a great program for agents who know they need a website, and want more business, but who don't want to spend hours and hours figuring out how to make and maintain a real estate website.