A Blueprint for Building a Great Home Page

In a relationship business like real estate, first impressions really do matter. The truth is, you have a very short time to create a good impression on the Web, just like in person. Since many website visitors enter your website through your home page, you’ve got to make the most of it! Build a great home page that speaks directly to your customers needs – and in return you’ll capture their contact information.

In this issue:

Give Searchers What They Are Looking For… And Get the Lead

Real estate clients are turning increasingly to the Internet for house hunting. If your prospects are doing their research online, you can capture their interest by highlighting the information they seek clearly on your home page. To stand out from their competition, Internet-savvy agents have moved past simple webpages that have a bio and strong sales pitch. Successful agents hook prospects right on their home page by providing the information that searchers want in tandem with a lead-generation vehicle, in a simple, clean, easy-to-navigate layout.

Offer Useful Information in Return for Asking for Contact Information

For visitors looking for: Sales Trends & Statistics for Their Area
  • Show Your Local Knowledge – Whet their appetite with a few key current local statistics and offer a custom home evaluation with a link to your Market Valuation Form.
  • Create a Story Around a Recent Success – Bring statistics or a market trend to life with a brief client success story. Link to your Contact Me Form to learn more information.
  • Do You Write a Newsletter? Advertise It! – Build your network with regular monthly updates on key trends and events. Then, be sure to advertise this newsletter on your home page, with a link to newsletter archives. Offer a free subscription using a custom form or a contact me form.
For visitors looking for: Fresh Listings
  • Hot Property of the Week – Create an ad for the property on your home page and link to your Hotsheet page to learn more. You can choose to ask for contact information upon opening the Hotsheet page.
  • Home Page Slideshow – Engage users with a slideshow of your freshest listings to motivate prospects to click into your website to learn more.
For visitors looking for: Local Listings Search
  • Direct Traffic to Your Most Popular Search Page – Let people know right away that you offer a local search right in your home page text, and provide a link directly to it. Add a link to your Dream Home Finder as well.
  • Promote IDXPro (if you subscribe to it) – IDXPro MLS Search solution is a proven lead generator – if you’ve got it, flaunt it! Advertise the IDXPro and HouseTrack email update service right on your home page with a link to the Search MLS page.
For visitors looking for: Tips on Buying or Selling a Home
  • Let Visitors Know About Free Brochures – If you subscribe to iHOUSE Free Brochures, advertise the service directly on your homepage to increase traffic to the Sign Up form and unleash this powerful lead generation tool.
  • Offer a Moving Guide or Checklist – Create a Moving Guide or Checklist and offer to email it to anyone who contacts you by linking to your Contact Me form or a custom form. When the new File Manager and Documents Page feature is launched in December (see below), you can direct traffic to the Documents Page to download all different types of files – from helpful guides to photos and more.

Your Other “Customer”: Creating Keyword Rich Copy for Search Engines

The copy on your home page will greatly determine your website’s relevancy to a search engine query, so it should contain your major key words and phrases. Keywords are the terms that people type into the search windows when trying to find something on the Internet. It’s safe to say that everything about Internet marketing begins with keywords. So the first thing to do is make a long list of every possible keyword and phrase that someone might use to find your website. Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Keywords should include the cities, districts, and region that your services cover.
  • The more “niche” your market, the better chance for higher search engine rankings because you will have less competition for your specialty keywords.
  • Capitalization does not matter with keywords.
  • Many words should be listed in both singular and plural versions.
Your keywords are phrases that you believe are relevant to your business and that people will use at the search engines to find services like yours. Examples of this would be:
  • San Francisco real estate agent
  • Cap Cod homes for sale
  • Orange County apartment rentals
  • Pensacola beachfront home
  • Pittsburgh mls listings
  • Idaho new home
To get started, check out a sample real estate industry keyword list here. You can also use the iHOUSE Keyword Wizard available in the Keyword Manager Link on your Admin Panel to identify additional keywords and titles. We will ask you to provide some information about your business. The tool will then produce a set of keywords and website titles based on your business segment and geographical area. You can then choose the best keywords and title to use with your website. Once you have your chosen keywords, select 8 to 10 of the most relevant. Use these keywords in your homepage title, headline and the first 300 words of text on your website’s home page. For example, “San Francisco Residential Homes for Sale.” If possible, your title tag should also contain 3 to 4 keywords. You can change the website title and the description and keyword tags through the iHOUSE Keyword Manager. Remember: your keywords provide relevance for the search engines – by targeting fewer, quality keywords, you attract visitors that are more likely to be interested in your services. If you pack your site with keywords that have little to do with your business, you may get more traffic but fewer resulting leads. Now that you have identified your important keywords, you can start inserting them throughout your website content. You don’t want to stuff the keywords here, however. Google expects a keyword density in the entire body text are of maybe 1.5% to 2% for a word that should rank high.
  • Read through your current text, and see where you can add them, while keeping the content flow and readability.
  • In place of “we” or “us,” use your company name whenever possible – your company name is a key search term.
  • Search engines will give more weight or importance to words that appear near the tops of pages, headlines, and words in bold. Using keyword-rich copy to open paragraphs is important.
  • Bulleted lists are a good way to keep things from sounding awkward.

Add a Keyword-Rich Paragraph at the Bottom of Your Home Page

While the top of the page is an important place for keywords, your copy also needs to make sense to people visiting your website, not just search engines. If you find it challenging to use all your keywords in copy intended to convert website visitors into leads, try placing a small keyword-rich paragraph at the bottom of your home page.

An iHOUSE “How To”: Add Links to Your Home Page Copy

We highly recommend promoting and linking to key features of your website on your home page to increase the lead generation power of your website. If this is new to you, here’s a quick review of how to add links on your homepage copy. If you have additional questions, we are here to help – just call us toll-free at 866-645-7700.

Linking to Your Website Page Buttons

Anytime you enter a button name in brackets within a text field, the text will automatically transform itself into a link that goes to that page on your website. For example, if Search for Homes is a button on your website, add the text [Search for Homes] anywhere in the text to automatically create a link to that page.

Create a Basic Text Link to Any URL

You can create a basic text link to any web page by entering the website address (URL) after the text. For example, if you type the following: [See A Sample;http://www.sampleonly.com], you will create a text link that looks just like this: In full detail:
  • Open the code with an opening bracket “[“
  • “See a Sample” is the text that you wish to link
  • The semicolon “;” separates the text from the actual link
  • “http://www.sampleonly.com” is the actual link
  • Close the code with a closing bracket “]”

Targeting Links

Links can also be prefixed by special codes ^, +, -, *, ! to determine how the link will open in the web browser.
  • ^http://www.sample.com – will open the page in a pop-up window.
  • +http://www.sample.com – will open in a new window.
  • -http://www.sample.com – will replace the current window.
  • *http://www.sample.com – will open in the current frame.
  • !http://www.sample.com – will open in the frameset.

Customer Poll: Wishlist for iHOUSE 2007 – Home Page Lead Generation

We are creating our 2007 development plan for iHOUSE now, and are considering several lead generation additions. We’d like to know which of three home page lead generation features you’d like the most. (Poll is now closed.)

iHOUSE Announcements

Free Upgrade: New File Manager and Documents Page – Coming Soon to iHOUSE!

In December 2006, iHOUSE will launch a new File Manager that supports a broad range of document types including .xls, .doc, .ppt, .pdf, .mp3, .jpg and many more. In 2007, we will also be adding a new button to every iHOUSE website called Documents, so your web prospects can easily download documents from your website. You will be able to choose whether to password-protect individual documents, or require registration access to the Documents Page. More information will be available in the next issue of Blueprint.

New Program: Share Your Story with iHOUSE

We launched our new Share Your Story Program because we really want to hear about your experiences using our products to promote your business and your listings. And in return for taking the time to share you story, we will enter your name in a contest to win a free iPod Nano. The drawing is held four times a year, and you’ll be entered into the drawing for the same quarter in which you shared your story. Want to Share Your Story? Click here now!

New Product: Special Introductory Offer for Spotlight

Add an iHOUSE Spotlight Website to your listing presentation, and impress potential clients with an attractive, information-rich website customized to exclusively promote their property. It’s quick, easy, and a powerful promotion tool. Create a free “Preview” website in time for your client pitch to show first-hand how effective and aggressive you’ll be in showcasing their property online. There are no limits on the number of Preview websites you can create, and you pay only $99/website when you activate the site and promote the property at its own domain. And you can try out Spotlight for free by creating a Preview website with just one click of a button. We have added a Spotlight button for each property on your iHOUSE website. Go to any of your listings on any listing page while in Edit mode, and just click the Spotlight button. You’ll be up and running with your own Preview Spotlight website in seconds. It’s that easy. Over 2,000 Preview websites have been built in the first three weeks since launching Spotlight! Eclipse your competition by offering the best-in-class stand-alone website dedicated to promoting your client’s property. For a very limited time we are offering a 2:1 price. If you purchase a Spotlight Website activation by the end of November, you can get a second activation for free! To receive this deal, call us at 866-645-7702 by 12/01/06 and mention the “2 for 1 Spotlight” promotion. Only one free activation per Spotlight account. This offer cannot be combined with other promotions.