Elements of Effective Real Estate Websites: The Community Info Page
s your website a useful resource for community-specific information in the areas you serve?
Unless you can show that prospective home buyers are flocking to, staying on and inquiring from your community info pages, then your answer to this question is most likely “No.”
We want to help you change that, especially since these pages are so important to the success of your website – for both SEO and lead generation.
In this article, we are going to explain why these pages are important, review some good and bad community info pages and then provide specific tips on how you can have one of the most effective real estate websites with the perfect community info page(s).
Is Anyone Even Looking at Community Info Pages Anymore?
The first answer to this is…
You should already know.
Assuming you have Google Analytics installed on your website, simply go into your content reports to see which pages are your most effective.
Here are the steps:
BEHAVIOR > SITE CONTENT > ALL PAGES or LANDING PAGES
The other answer to our original question, “do visitors even view or care about these pages?” is ABSOLUTELY.
As a matter of fact, across the tens of thousands of real estate websites that we’ve reviewed we have found that the community info pages are consistently in the top 10 (usually right behind the homepage, MLS search and property details pages) in the following categories:
- Most sessions (aka visitors)
- Highest average time per session
- Most effective at leading to a conversion
If you find this hard to believe, then you need to think about the typical browsing pattern of a home buyer (or seller) using a real estate website. It usually looks something like this…
How Visitors Use Most Real Estate Websites
- They get to a website from an organic or paid search result (usually landing on the homepage).
- From there, they want to see properties as this is typically the thing that brought them there in the first place.
- If they don’t go directly to see FEATURED PROPERTIES, then they’re usually doing their own search using whatever MLS search tool is provided (hopefully it’s something good as this will usually be your most effective lead generation tool).
- If they haven’t converted after looking at some properties, then they will probably leave and return later (or not at all) or do further research by confirming that you specialize in the communities they are interested in most. This is where those community info pages play their role.
- If, and only if, your community info pages are informative, interesting and well put together will those visitors decide to inquire with you. And if your community info pages are weak, or non-existent, then you have probably lost that visitor for good.
Reviews of Good and Bad Community Info Pages
As mentioned, we’ve reviewed and worked on tens of thousands of real estate websites. One thing remains constant….no site is perfect, nor will it ever be.
For that reason we want to be sure to preface the following reviews with the statement that we are not trying to criticize any of these websites.
Instead we are simply using them as examples to help Realtors who care about the performance of their websites to improve them as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Good or bad, we’re not intentionally calling anyone out. Hopefully, that is understood and we thank you for allowing us to use your website to aid others in improving theirs, and hopefully your own.
Formalities aside, let’s take a look at some examples of “bad” and “good” community info pages.
Examples of “Bad” Community Info Pages
(click on the thumbnails below to see the full version of each example)
In case you think these examples are not “bad”, here is a list of commonalities that make qualify them for our “bad” list:
- Little to no useful, effective content
- No relevant properties for visitors to view
- No strong calls to action
- Poor, lazy implementation (example 2 using a framed-in website)
- Ineffective copy and link overkill
Examples of “Good” Community Info Pages
(click on the thumbnails below to see the full version of each example)
If you’re having a difficult time understanding why we considered these examples to be “good”, then here are some traits that made them so for us:
- Use of relevant properties to keep the visitor on the page / website
- Plenty of topic-specific calls to action to get visitors to act
- Well-written copy and information that builds authority
- Clean designs that don’t overwhelm or distract visitors with useless actions
What Does an Effective Community Info Page Look Like?
At this point, you should understand why strong community info pages are important and what the differences are between “bad” ones and “good” ones.
To build off of that knowledge we’re now to going to provide you with the anatomy of an effective community info page as well as some bonus tips to help you utilize them as effectively as possible.
Anatomy of an Effective Real Estate Website Community Info Page
Minimum Requirements for an Effective Community Info Page
The diagram above is just one rough example of how an ideal community info page can be implemented. More important than the specific layout though are the actual elements that have been included.
To provide more insight here, let’s review a list of the most important elements for an effective community info page:
- Clear, simple navigation that allows the user to toggle between communities and relevant pages
- Specific page title so users know exactly what to expect on the page
- Social sharing (not profile) buttons to allow users to help your community info pages gain exposure
- Prominent calls to action strategically placed throughout the page
- Quality photos or videos that accurately represent the community
- Utilities to provide richness and usefulness such as maps, demographic info, school info, Walkscores, etc
- Well-written copy that informs, excites and interests visitors
- Properties and property search links that are specific to the community being represented
Putting Your Community Info Pages to Use
Just as you would with a new listing, your community info pages need to be used properly in order for them to work for you.
Here are some tips on how to do just that…
- Make COMMUNITIES one of the primary navigation options in your site’s main menu.
- There should be a parent landing page for community info pages (i.e. domain.com/communities/), not just a navigation selection with drop downs.
- This landing page should outline all of the communities that you specialize in and have information on. A visual layout is usually most effective, but test different layouts as well (e.g. simple list of text links to your community info pages).
- Use your community info pages as calls to action on your site. If you’ve put a lot of time into these pages, then you want to make sure to see a return from those efforts. Use your community info content as a value proposition to your visitors and promote that as a call to action on your site (e.g. The #1 Resource for [Community Name] Info).
- Repurpose your community info content by turning it into other forms of content. Some effective ways to do this would be to (1) turn them into an eBook and use the eBook as a hook to capture leads, (2) turn the information into video content and (3) turn the information into an infographic or set of infographics.
- Partner with stores, restaurants, hotels and other local businesses in each community by offering prominent mentions in exchange for links and mentions from their websites and social accounts.
- Offer personal guided tours of specific communities, using your established content, for qualified prospects that warrant a more personal touch.
- Hold webinars, meetups, networking events, Google+ Hangouts or Twitter chats centered around sharing knowledge and contacts for each specific community.