The internet is a resource that cuts two ways. On the plus side, type a few words, and you can instantly find information about virtually any location in the world. That said, when a potential client wants to learn about YOUR market, will you be conspicuously absent from their search results? Don’t miss out on global opportunities. Make sure all your online assets are performing at their best!
Without doubt, your website is your biggest and most important online asset. To ensure it’s working FOR you (and not against you), be sure it hits these key benchmarks:
1. Displays a clean, attractive design. Website design is similar to wardrobe fashion: styles change, so looking contemporary and relevant requires occasional updates. Upgrading your website isn’t exclusively about keeping up with appearances; it also ensures your site performs at its best. (A newer programming style, running behind the scenes, affects how pages are displayed, how content is indexed with search engines, etc.)
Use graphics wisely. Don’t rely excessively on stock photography. A single, professionally-executed image for your home page is great. But lots of amateurish stock images may do more harm than good. It’s better to showcase your local market with original photos, infographics, etc.
2. Offers solid content. Remember the phrase “content is king?” Well, it’s still true. Visitors to your site need to find clear, helpful information that demonstrates your local market knowledge and explains your global credentials. Don’t simply say you’re a CIPS; tell visitors what this means.
Fresh, relevant content isn’t exclusively for human visitors. It’s also essential for generating good results with search engines. Many agents avoid search engine optimization (SEO), simply because it seems too di cult and complicated. Don’t overthink SEO, but also don’t ignore it, especially if you’re a global agent trying to rank well in international searches.
If you simply commit to providing helpful and relevant content on your local market, more than half of your SEO battle is over, because your pages will include important keywords that will be indexed by search engines, improving your page ranking for various search terms (city and neighborhood names, for example).
Making updates on a regular basis will improve your page rankings even more, because search engines give bonus points for fresh content! Devote one section (Blog, News, Resources, etc.) for regularly adding new material.
3. Easy to navigate and use. A visitor’s website experience hinges on many different factors. Ask yourself:
Can visitors easily find what they want? Make sure your site is well organized, with straightforward navigation.
Does it display well on mobile devices? Smartphones and tablets account for more than half of all web traffic.
Is it easy to view properties? 3D virtual tours are increasingly important, especially for buyers who may be on the other side of the world.
Does it offer translation tools? Visitors may have translation options built into their web browser. Still, incorporating these tools directly into your site signals that you’re seriously interested in global clients.
Do visitors know how to contact you? Make sure your contact information appears on each page. You can have the perfect online footprint and still lose visitors if they have to search for your phone number or email address.
Sometimes the hardest part of developing solid online content is coming up with good topics. For global agents, your priorities are showcasing 1) your knowledge of your local market, and 2) your unique skills as a global real estate practitioner. Here are several thought-starters*:
1. Your Local Market
Neighborhood profiles – Describe the key features of each neighborhood. It’s an easy way to exhibit your local knowledge and add content that’s rich in keywords.
Local news and events – Include stories about local businesses, community events, housing market updates, etc.
X reasons to buy in [your market] – Create a list of your market’s best qualities, typically providing five to 10 reasons.
Infographics - Convert market data, local information, or interesting facts into attractive infographics. Canva, Visme, Venngage, and other free tools make it easy to create infographics, without hiring a designer.
2. Your Global Credentials
Why should you select a Certified International Property Specialist? – A message specifically intended for global buyers. For potential content, visit nar.realtor/whycips.
Why list your home with a Certified International Property Specialist? - Incorporate your CIPS designation into your domestic strategy by explaining, “I can put your property in front of an international audience.”
3. Your Expertise
FAQs about buying (or selling) in the U.S. – Consider which questions are most common among your global clients. Turn this into one page on your site, or a series of articles. Potential topics include taxes, currency issues, financing, immigration, or how real estate practices are similar/different, compared to another country.
Looking to invest in the U.S.? Ask these questions – Instead of answering clients’ common questions, explain what global buyers SHOULD be asking, to make the best property investment.
Your website should be the central hub of your online identity, but don’t overlook your profiles in the CIPS directory, realtor.com®, LinkedIn, etc. If someone searches for you, by name, these profiles may be among the top results. (Try it, and see for yourself.)
If your online identity needs some work, refer to the October 2017 issue of Global Perspectives for step-by-step tips that will ensure your profiles are helping you win more business. (You can find past issues at nar.realtor/global-perspectives.)