Hang out where Realtors® congregate online and you’re sure to eventually read questions like, “Which website is better? Z57, Point2Agent, Advanced Access or…” (And, of course, WordPress.) Then you’ll read answers like, “I had a [insert brand here] website and it was terrible. I never got any leads from it.”
Here’s the truth that few Realtors ever realize: no website is ever any better than the off-page search engine optimization (SEO) done for the site. The key word is “off-page.”
To quote a little pdf I downloaded from HubSpot this morning, Website “Must Haves”:
“Off-page search engine optimization (SEO) is the most important factor to increasing your ranking results… Off-Page SEO is about building inbound links, essentially getting other quality websites to link back to you. Search engines call this authority or ‘link juice.’ The more inbound links you have, the more important your site must be, thus the higher you’ll rank.”
HubSpot’s description is a bit over-simplified, but in essence it is dead-on. I would simply add that the diversity and quality of in-bound links is also very important. For example, 5 links from 5 different highly ranked real-estate-related websites are likely to do more for your site’s ranking than 500 links from ActiveRain.
So, if you are deciding between real estate website providers or contemplating going the do-it-yourself route, keep in mind that where off-page SEO is concerned, all real estate site providers are created equal. No real estate website will rank well in Google straight “out of the box.” It MUST have good ranking for at least a few high-volume keyphrases and the only way to get good ranking is with off-page SEO. To get good traffic, it must rank high on page 1 of Google search results for at least a few good high volume keyphrases like, “your city real estate” or “your city state real estate” and/or for lots of less competitive keyphrases.
I can’t think of a single real estate website provider that will provide off-page SEO as part of a site package. Some offer it as an additional service, but I haven’t heard good things about many of them. I know, from having been closely involved with Point2Agent for several years that no one on their staff knows much about SEO. Some of my clients have been quite literally “ripped off” by other website providers who charged them for SEO but never did anything. The only real estate site provider that I can think of at the moment that does good off-site SEO work is Real Estate Webmasters, and they charge dearly (several $thousand/month) for SEO.
Inbound link-building isn’t rocket science. I have one client who has done his own for years. His highly ranked site gets over 500 visitors/day and has in-bound links from over 3000 domains. The important fact you must remember and budget for when choosing your website platform is, “Who is going to do the off-page SEO — in-bound link-building?”