So, as well as being easy-to-use, mobile-friendly and SEO-optimised, a good agency website in 2021 also needs to have plenty of personality and differentiators.
Below is a range of tips on some of the features which can give your estate agency website the best chance of success…
Qualify visitors and increase focus on sellers/landlords
An issue with some estate agent websites is focusing too heavily on buyers and tenants, rather than sellers and landlords.
The vast majority of buyers and tenants will come through portal listings, allowing you to add them to your database and keep in contact with them regularly from there.
With sellers and landlords paying agents' bills, your website needs to stand out to them and provide them with the opportunity to get in touch or instruct you.
Of course, it's important to show prospective clients how you would market their property, but an emphasis on property search can be too buyer/tenant-centric, pushing sellers and landlords away without taking any action.
Being able to qualify visitors immediately is an extremely useful way of saving time and working out which enquiries need to be prioritised.
Some agents have taken to asking visitors to qualify themselves on their homepage. This is a great way of making your website more efficient and ensuring that all visitors are presented with the information that is most relevant to them.
Do you have an up-to-date blog page?
The vast majority of estate agent websites will have a blog or news article page, but the make or break for prospective clients will be the relevance and timeliness of any content displayed.
Put simply, if your latest blog was from 2017, this looks bad. Your blog or news page provides a great opportunity to educate, inform and even rank higher in searches by asking the right questions.
The content you produce is dual-purpose. Not only is it useful to have on your website, but it can be used on social media to keep things fresh and steer away from the dreaded property listing posts.
In recent weeks, there have been plenty of big news events for agents to comment on, from the stamp duty holiday extension and 95% mortgage guarantee scheme in sales, to the introduction of Breathing Space regulations and an arrears mediation scheme in lettings.
On top of news content, local area guides are fantastic for SEO and allow you to showcase your local knowledge and inject a bit of personality into proceedings.
Is your website a cliché-free zone?
When writing website copy to showcase a business, it can be easy to fall into the trap of using the same well-worn phrases.
Browsing estate agents' websites, you'll often see a selection of the same phrases such as 'innovative', 'bespoke', 'integrity' or 'tailored service'.
It would be close to impossible to avoid any website cliches when talking about the service you provide to clients. However, it can be beneficial to review what your website says and ask yourself whether it comes across as completely genuine.
Explaining what makes your firm different and telling the story of your brand in a non-corporate way can help you to stand out from the crowd.
Bold and powerful imagery can pay dividends
The homepage of your website is there to impress visitors and wow them with aspirational imagery.
In recent times, more agents are using their homepages to display large bold images of the local area - taking this approach can have a big impact.
Using real images of the local area and culture is a more dynamic way of showing prospective clients that you're in tune with the local market and demographic.
These images can be updated seasonally, while some agents will even partner with local photographers and artists to ensure their imagery is unique and powerful.
Stock images serve a purpose, but for your virtual shop window, an emphasis on bold, original and local images is more effective.
The importance of user experience
As mentioned above, when it comes to attracting website traffic agents have stiff competition from the property portals.
These websites are slick, well-developed and have a big focus on user experience, so estate agent websites need to mirror this approach in order to cut the mustard with consumers.
A seamless and easy-to-navigate website is the minimum prospective clients would expect from your site. It also needs to be fully responsive.
Research from Statcounter suggests that in the UK, mobile and tablet usage accounts for over 52% of browsing. And this trend is only likely to grow in the coming years.
*Phil Spencer is a presenter, author, businessman and property investor. Phil’s consumer advice platform Move iQ, is a website, YouTube channel and podcast. Each preserve and reflect the same impartiality that consumers trust and base their property moving plans. Coming soon: Move iQ Pro, Phil’s resource to support the property community. Stay tuned ready for launch!