We all know that having a great website is a non-negotiable when it comes to your business. Potential customers will always check out your site as part of their vetting process, so it’s crucial that yours is a strong representation of your brand. One issue we find in this industry is that as realtors, our websites are often linked to our employer’s business. Say you work for North Star Real Estate Group and your website is firstname.lastname@example.org. If ever you decide to part ways with North Star, you lose the domain name and rights to your website – not to mention the archives of client communications under your company email address.
Luckily, there are ways to be prepared and stay in control of your website, even within a real estate group. Creating your own professional website is easier than you may think and is essential to your personal business in the long run. Whether you’re building your first site, updating or upgrading, we’re here to show you how to launch your new website today!
Step 1: Select a Domain Name
Choosing your domain name is an important decision, as it will become synonymous with your brand. Your domain name should be memorable, user-friendly and resonate with your target audience. It should also lend itself well to SEO, which favors keyword-rich domains (think location and service description).
These may be obvious rules, but we suggest you steer clear of hyphens, special characters, abstract words and easily misspelled terms when selecting your domain name. The goal is for your name to describe your business, be easy to type and SEO friendly, so a domain like bobtherealtor.com would be more favorable than bob-e-martin.com
Step 2: Register Your Domain Name
Once you’ve secured your ideal domain name, you’re ready to register it. Popular and reputable registrars like GoDaddy charge between $10 and $20 per year and are pretty simple to use. We suggest registering your domain for at least 3-5 years and setting the name to auto renew to ensure protection. Google and other search engines also put more trust into domains with longer registration periods. While we suggest you use ‘.com,’ it’s also wise to purchase the ‘.net’ and ‘.org’ versions of your domain name for more peace of mind, as your unique brand is worth protecting.
What happens to your old domain name when you launch your new website, you may ask? When transferring domains, you’re able to start using your new website address while preserving the authority and credibility of your former one. Odds are, you’ve invested time and money on your web presence via social media and SEO, which you wouldn’t want to lose. To make the transfer, you will simply create a “301 Redirect,” or a permanent change of web address. Most domain name registrars allow you to do this right from your control panel without needing to change your code. A 301 Redirect will ensure that the links to your site, trust and other Google quality factors get passed onto your new website.
Step 3: Use a Content Management System (CMS)
The next key layer of groundwork to be laid is the Content Management System, or CMS. This is the foundation you will build your site on. Unlike sites designed using HTML that require you to know coding or pay for maintenance, CMS websites allow owners to easily access, edit, publish and manage their own site. Even the most non-technical minds can operate on a CMS – the most commonly used system by far being WordPress.
Originally a blogging platform, WordPress now manages 22% of all new websites and is currently the most popular CMS on the internet. It’s the premier CMS for businesses of all sizes – from small local businesses, all the way up to eBay, Yahoo and The Wall Street Journal. WordPress has become the standard platform for building attractive, dependable, low-cost and high-performing websites.
Step 4: Choose a Hosting Provider
Your hosting provider provides the technologies and services needed for your website to be viewed online. Most hosting companies require that you own your domain in order to be hosted on their server. Web hosts like WP Engine are popular for their seamless setup and affordable offerings. They work exclusively with WordPress and allow you to focus on design and development while they manage the backend. Things like automatic daily backups, caching, developer tools and WordPress updates are included with sign-up. And our favorite part – your first 4 months are free!
When you launch a WordPress website with WP engine, you will receive 24/7 support, security, speed and SEO performance. You’ll have portability, with the option to easily switch hosting providers without paying data transfer fees. You’ll have access to thousands of free plugins including social media sharing, SEO, Google Analytics, web lead forms and more. And when it comes to themes, WordPress offers the most elegant, functional and customizable ones to elevate your online presence.
Step 5: Find Your Theme
Gone are the days of needing to pay a designer to create your website. We now have a variety of website themes perfectly tailored to the real estate industry, easy to buy and populate with your unique business. When you’re ready to choose your theme, look no further than your friends here at Winning Agent. We offer a wide selection of WordPress real estate themes at a low cost and easy to install today.
Many small business owners go into this process by paying a web designer handsomely to create their website. Alternatively, some business owners focus way too much of their precious time on aesthetics rather than on the online marketing strategy required for success. Never fear – we won’t let you fall into either of those groups.
Whether you’re eager to set your site up yourself using our demos, or would rather us take care of it for you, the process has never been easier. Check out our themes or our all-in-one Real Estate Website Package for more details. We can’t wait to help launch your new website and watch your business take off online!