One of the biggest myths about real estate agent websites is that they must be filled with a lot of content and focus on a large metropolitan area in order to be effective. Agents believe they must compete on a large scale with Zillow and other portals, when in reality a smaller site can outrank the big players faster and provide more targeted leads that convert.
Most agents also believe that they must brand themselves in order to succeed. These two beliefs hold back agents from creating content that will not only get them clients, but that will show they are experts, and give them a leg up on retiring from working in the business at some point.
Branding vs Niche
I don’t believe branding is a bad thing, but when you are talking about Internet marketing, whether it is your website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, being a brand means someone already knows who you are, and they will search you out based on your brand. If someone doesn’t know how amazing you are already, how will they find you online? That is the problem you need to solve, and a niche website can help you.
A niche website is an extremely small website, that is laser focused. Think along the lines of how you choose a neighborhood to farm, or the parameters your clients give you for what they are looking for in a home. They are almost always specific, and very well defined by either type of neighborhood, geographic location, or lifestyle. For instance, routine themes when choosing a farm are gated communities, large condo buildings, or horse farm properties. These are easily defined and targeted by mailings, and we can extrapolate these ideas into a website.
Having a niche website can also help you get listings. Targeting sellers through social media and print media can be extremely effective when your website is focused specifically on their neighborhood or building. Every agent in your area can say they are a “big city agent”, but only you will appear to be the expert of your niche.
Niche sites can include gated communities, condo buildings, 55+ communities, new developments currently being built, historic homes, green homes, horse properties, school districts, or even homes with a specific architectural style depending on where you live. If you currently have a website with IDX capabilities you can create a simple page targeting your intended niche to see how much traffic and what the conversion rates would be using Google Adwords. Using traditional methods to determine where to farm such as turnover rates can also be useful when choosing a niche.
The great thing about niche websites is that you don’t have to stop at one. Utilizing multiple websites that focus on different areas will bring you more leads, and once you’ve created one you will be able to duplicate the process easily.
Finally, not only can you expand your business, your websites will be marketable assets that you can sell or send leads as referrals when you want to retire or relax just a bit. Of course in order to sell your website, you will need to own it, and this is one of the most important things for agents to think about when choosing a website provider. Owning not only your domain but the backend systems is extremely important.
Does Size Matter?
Building out a niche website is much easier than a larger site that has to cater to an entire city. Let’s say you choose a gated community that is run by an HOA. Your content would of course include all of the homes for sale, but also the HOA rules, architectural guidelines, articles about the amenities, upcoming events, maybe a business directory for owners that run a business, HOA fees, upcoming board elections, or anything else that is specific to the community. A website focused on these things could be as small as 20 pages, and yet it would answer questions that would never be answered by looking at listings on the MLS. Pair this with a Facebook page and a private group for homeowners in your niche and you can dominate in no time at all by being the go to resource for information.
The knowledge needed is most likely comprised of information you routinely tell buyers all the time, so it is easy to write about and share. It is also information that many potential buyers try to search for when they start thinking about buying a home, and is hard to find online currently. If you are the one providing the information, they are going to trust you over another agent, and the search engines will trust you more as well.
For instance, if you focus on a lake community many questions will center around boating, fishing, water quality, how busy the beach gets, who can visit, events, dock building guidelines, etc. This is information that the MLS and big search portals lack, and that is how you can outrank them fairly quickly with a very minimal website.
Don’t wait until you have a complete plan for a large website that can take on the portals, start small and build relevant information that buyers are looking for now. You’ll capture leads faster and start building your brand by focusing on small niches.