It’s All About the Details

Categories: General Thoughts
Tags: , , ,

This post was written by: Jennifer Bradshaw

iStock_000013846060XSmall“Go big or go home” might not be the most appropriate motto if you’re trying to attract millennial homebuyers, according to a recent NAHB press release.

In the press release, the NAHB reported that millennials are searching for single-family homes that are smaller, more affordable, and have the specific details they are looking for–and they won’t settle for less.

What are those details? For starters, a separate laundry room. The NAHB also reported that millennials look for Energy Star certifications, plenty of storage space, and ways to combine technology and their living space.

Less expensive, low-maintenance homes are key to attracting millennials, according to the report, because this generation generally doesn’t have as much free time or disposable income as older homeowners.

Technology, of course, also plays a role. Incorporating ways to control heat, air-conditioning, security, and lighting from phones or tablets will go a long way with millennials who don’t want to waste time worrying about whether or not they left the lights on.

And don’t think that this generation will skimp on their desired details. While the NAHB reported that millennials would compromise on longer driving distances to work and amenities or sacrificing some extra finished space, they won’t accept less expensive materials in the building of their home. Quality and details appear to reign supreme with this generation.

Some believe that millennials are “allergic” to buying homes, citing high student loan debt and a desire to rent vs. own as reasons why the generation hasn’t made a huge splash in the housing market. According to Businessweek, this is largely a myth.

While there is some truth–millennials are feeling the pressure of loan debt coupled with entering into a weak job market right out of the gate–Businessweek reported that the desire to own is still there. In a Demand Institute survey of more than one thousand Americans aged 18-29, 60% said they would eventually own a home while 24% said they already do.

If you’re looking to corner the millennial market, just remember: focus on the details, and be sure to give the buyers what they are looking for.

Builder Designs Takes #IBSVegas 2015!

Categories: Uncategorized

This post was written by: Abby Hill

Builder Designs Booth at IBS

The BD Team had a great time partnering with Lasso at IBS this week to bring our Internet solutions straight to prospective clients. The show was massive this year, and even we didn’t get to see the whole thing. It was very cool to see people there all the way from China, Norway, and Canada—it truly was an international show!

We had a lot of people stop by our booth to chat with us and ask questions. Here are some highlights of what we learned about the homebuilding industry from talking to current and prospective clients:


  • Many vendors are very interested in having their own websites now that they’ve seen that so many of their clients have an excellent online presence. Some expressed the desire to allow homebuilders to shop for and order materials directly from the website. This was a new industry concept and certainly something that got us thinking!
  • Several builders were incredulous as they told us stories about other builders they know who don’t have a website yet. We used to find ourselves explaining the benefit of having a website to begin with, and this year everyone seemed to really understand the importance of being online. We were able to focus our message on how our solution stands out from the rest.
  • Some builders we talked to had built a lower-end website through GoDaddy or WordPress and expressed their frustration over their lack of control when it came to getting quick updates to inventory and pricing. These builders are currently unable to add new communities and floorplans as they become available or update inventory when it sells. Thankfully, our custom admin allows them to do all of those things instantly, and we hope to hear from them soon on starting a new website to fit their needs.
  • Everyone we talked to is expecting 2015 to be a great year for sales. This may be due to interest rates on home loans being at a historical low. We love hearing that our clients are confident about business growth, especially compared to what was going on in 2008! Now is a great time for homebuilders to try more aggressively marketing their website to get more online leads. We just began offering new online marketing services, so it was fun to show builders how we can help them get more leads in 2015.
  • Norway seems to think our designs are pretty cool! We had several Norwegians stop by our booth and snag a few fliers for inspiration.


All in all, it was a great week in Vegas. Our favorite part was by far our Builder Tech party where we got to hang out and chat with clients. It was nice to finally be face-to-face with people we’ve come to know so well over the phone and Internet.

Do You Speak SEO? A Helpful Guide to SEO Jargon

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Local SEO
Tags: , , ,

This post was written by: Abby Hill

Local SEO

There’s been a Panda, a Penguin, a Pigeon, and maybe even a Hummingbird? As Google continues to roll out animal-themed algorithm updates, it can be difficult to keep it all straight. One day your SEO might be putting you at the top of Google’s front page, and then the next rollout is released and suddenly you’ll find yourself at the bottom of page 3. We’ve broken down all you need to know about SEO as of January 2015 so you can stay on top of the game.


It started with a Panda

Google’s Panda update in 2011 was designed to combat sites with poor-quality content. Sites that didn’t have enough content plummeted in the rankings, while sites with good content soared to the front page. These days, if a page on your site doesn’t have at least 250 words, Google isn’t going to display it in the top search results unless someone is searching for you specifically.

This update was the beginning of Google getting smarter. Quality content doesn’t just refer to amount–Google will be able to tell if visitors don’t find your content helpful by the bounce rate of your page. The bounce rate is how many times people come to your site and quickly hit the “back” button because it wasn’t what they were looking for.

Something else worth mentioning on the subject of content is keyword stuffing. This is when your content is heavily loaded with the keywords you want to be found for. For instance, if you’re a new home builder in Kansas City, you’re probably using the keyword phrase “new homes in Kansas City.”

Before Panda, you’d be able to write something like the example below and suddenly find yourself at the top of search results:

Looking for new homes in Kansas City? We build new homes in Kansas City. You’ll love the design of our new homes in the Kansas City area. Feel free to browse our available new homes located in Kansas City. And don’t forget, we’re your Kansas City new home builder.

If your content looks like this now, you’re in trouble. Google recognizes this as keyword stuffing and hates it. Seriously, your site will be punished.


Then there was Penguin

Penguin targeted sites with unnatural and paid backlinks. These are links to websites that are sprinkled all over the Internet in weird places, like comments on a blog post that’s not relevant to the content of the site, paid links (different from a Google Ad), and links on websites that have nothing to do with your industry.

This is basically an attack on spam. If you’re, say, going to a popular cooking blog or YouTube channel and pasting links to your website in the comments section, you probably want to stop doing that. Okay, you definitely want to stop doing that.


Then came Hummingbird, and keywords became irrelevant.

Yes, you read that right. Keywords are irrelevant. Hummingbird was designed to better understand the meaning behind search queries so that people don’t get frustrated when the top result returned on Google has nothing to do with the information they were looking for.

It used to be that Google would pull the specific words people used in a search query and return sites that had those specific words in their keywords data or text. For instance, a few years ago if you searched “Where’s the closest place to get a cheeseburger?” Google might have shown you a blog post in which the writer went on vacation and wrote that the closest place to get a cheeseburger was 20 miles away. Not helpful.

Now, with the Hummingbird algorithm, Google understands that words like “closest” and “place” mean that you’re looking for a physical location. It will look at “cheeseburger” and find businesses with physical addresses that say they sell cheeseburgers. That’s more like it.

While you still have the ability to enter keywords in your website meta data–the admin portion that visitors don’t see–it’s really not worth your time anymore. Google isn’t even looking at it. A better use of your time would be to take the necessary measures to help Google understand the meaning behind your business, that you are local to specific areas, and to have high quality content (that, yes, can and should contain some level of keywords and keyword phrases relevant to you!).


Along came Pigeon.

The latest major update from Google–we’re talking as of July 2014–is called Pigeon (thanks to MOZ), and it’s all about Local SEO.

Without diving into technical details, this update basically supports what Internet users have been doing for a while now, which is using their phones to look up business locations when they’re out and about.

Now, if a website represents a business with a physical address, and that website is optimized for Local SEO, when someone searches for that business’ keywords, the website has a bigger chance of popping up on page 1 of Google, especially in the new maps results section.


What this means for homebuilders

If you’re wondering if Google’s latest algorithm updates affect homebuilder websites, the answer is a resounding yes, a thousand times yes.

Gone are the days when homebuyers only consulted your website after they first heard of you through word of mouth. Today, the majority of homebuyers are beginning their home search on Google’s homepage. When someone searches “new homes in Kansas City” and your website doesn’t have local SEO, you’re not going to show up.

Want to test how real this is? Do a search right now on Google for new homes in your area and see where you rank among your competitors. Next, do a search for your business on Google maps to find out if Google understands yet that you’re a local business. Whether you show up or not, you’ll want to make sure that you create or claim a Google My Business page–this is a great place to start building some Local SEO for your website.

As always, Builder Designs is here to help you with SEO so that you can get more leads out of your website!

Social Media Marketing Case Study: Ideal Homes

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Social Media, What's new?
Tags: , , ,

This post was written by: Builder Designs

Builder Designs has just launched a new Inbound Marketing program designed to support your SEO efforts and increase lead generation. Unlike many other traditional marketing companies, we know exactly what works and what doesn’t in the homebuilding industry, because that’s always been our sole focus. We know that with home sales, a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work. That’s why we’re letting you price your own Inbound Marketing plan based on your budget and needs.

Of course, we do have something we consider the “sweet spot,” and that’s Facebook ads paired with customized landing pages. Why just Facebook? Aside from the fact that about 74% of all adults (a.k.a. homebuyers) are already using Facebook, we like that Facebook is totally trackable. Using insights data and unique tracking codes, we can tell you everything you’d ever want to know about what you got out of each ad we run–how many people saw the ad, how many clicked on it, and how many leads you got as a result.

No other social networking site can give you that kind of information, yet many companies continue to sell social media management services for LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz, and even Instagram accounts. Managing more of your profiles means more money for them, but not necessarily you. We prefer to spend more of our time perfecting your ad techniques so we can both get somewhere.

The other half of our favorite strategy is using custom landing pages to send people to after they click on your ad. Landing pages allow you to display ad-specific information along with a strong call to action, two things that are known to boost conversion rates through the roof. Many advertising companies use third-party landing page sites with pre-made templates because they’re fast, cheap, and easy to use.

Here’s why we don’t like fast, cheap, and easy: it looks spammy. In the homebuilding industry, that just doesn’t cut it. That’s why our web team creates customized landing pages using your website design and URL.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 2.31.59 PM

Our client Ideal Homes recently had success using a landing page with an ad campaign on Facebook. With a $120 budget, we ran an ad for three weeks advertising Ideal Homes’ inventory for first-time homebuyers. Thanks to recent articles on Zillow’s blog, we’ve seen that many believe 2015 to be the year for first-time homebuyers because rental costs are starting to exceed the monthly cost of a home mortgage by a lot, and interest rates are at a low.

Our ad spoke to this trend by including monthly price estimates on the landing page. We used advanced targeting to hone in on Facebook users in Oklahoma who are currently renting and are likely to move soon. In three weeks, 20 new leads came in through the landing page, which was only accessible via our Facebook ad. Of those 20 leads, 3 have already made appointments with the sales team.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 2.31.22 PM

Since we’ve been running ads and promoting posts for Ideal Homes over the course of just a few months, we’ve seen social media traffic to their site increase dramatically. Between November 2013 — January 2014, there were about 121 visits to the site coming from social media, accounting for less than 1% of all their site traffic. Now that we’ve been advertising on Facebook, social traffic accounts for more than 8% of all their website traffic. In the past two months, over 1,500 visits to the site have come from Facebook alone, compared to last year’s 96.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 2.25.49 PM

As you can see, we like hard numbers. Our Inbound Marketing services start at $300/month, and our goal in designing your unique marketing campaign is to be able to show you a return on investment within the year. If you’d like to learn more about what we can do for your online marketing, email

Home Builder Case Study: Content Improving SEO

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Internet Marketing for Home Builders
Tags: , , ,

This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Royal Oaks Homes redesigned their website with us in 2014 for a new responsive layout. It’s a gorgeous website and perfect for mobile use – but it didn’t do exactly what we wanted for their SEO. So we dug in to see what we could improve for these Raleigh home builders, and ended up with some great results and an important lesson.

Our first thought and primary focus was content. Content is very very important. And while the website was gorgeous and easy navigated, it didn’t have a lot of text. We thought that adding unique information to a majority of their pages would help in several ways:

  • It helps home buyers research the cities they’re moving to.
  • It introduces individual communities to home buyers.
  • It proves to home buyers why Royal Oaks Homes is the builder of choice in those areas.
  • And it improves the website from an SEO-perspective.


Along with a few small tweaks to the home page, we concentrated on the Find Your Home and Available Home pages. Starting with the main landing pages of “all communities” and “all available homes”, we drilled down to the areas of Raleigh and Fayetteville and then the individual cities, including Apex, Angier, Cary, Knightdale, Clayton, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, and Cameron North Carolina.

It was a lot of work! With a minimal goal of 250 words, we added around 400 to every page that discussed the area, the communities in the area, and the homes that Royal Oaks Homes build. Our copy writing team worked closely with Matt Riley researching the location and its special benefits. For example, now interested buyers know that Raleigh is “rated as America’s Best Places to Live: #1 in 2011, The Ten Best Cities for Newlyweds: #2 in 2012, and Best Cities for Raising a Family: #5 in 2012, we chose Raleigh and its surrounding cities for our new homes because of the incredible quality of life it offers” and Fayetteville is “rated as #2 “Highest Per Capita Income Growth in North Carolina”, #3 “Most Affordable Housing Market in the Nation”, and a three-time Winner of the National Civics League “All-American City” award, we chose Fayetteville and its surrounding cities for our new homes because of the powerful economy and unique culture it offers”.

Our final list included improving or creating 23 new pages.

You can see the difference on page with a before and after shot:


City page for Royal Oaks Homes on their website

And with information:

City page for Royal Oaks Homes website with content

We also saw the difference in results. Royal Oaks Homes shot up in page rank for all of their major search terms; previously on page 3 or 4, they moved up to page 1 0r 2 in just a few weeks.

  • “New homes in Angier NC” : page 1
  • “New homes in Holly Springs NC” : page 1
  • “New homes in Cameron NC” : page 1
  • “New homes in Apex NC” : page 2
  • “New homes in Clayton NC” : page 2
  • “New homes in Knightdale NC” : page 2
  • “Raleigh new homes” : page 2
  • “New Homes in Fayetteville NC” : page 2


And we’ve been improving since then.

Website traffic improved dramatically. Within one month total visits to the website were up 16%, new user traffic increasing 13.83%, and page views up 12.96%. From September to October right after these changes, Royal Oaks Homes’ website had over 85,000 views.

We’re all very happy with the improvement to their website and thank Matt for letting us try something new. We’ve taken this lesson to our other websites; it’s nice to crack some of Google’s code and improve a website for both our builders and buyers.


Six Questions to Ask Your Web Designer

Categories: Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Responsive Design, The Design Team, Website Design
Tags: , , ,

This post was written by: Anna Chandler

Web Designers for Home BuildersAre you considering a new website in 2015? We had the great fortune of launching 82 new websites this year, 17 of those redesigns for current clients to our new responsive design. And while we’re always happy to add new clients to the BD family we know you’re also shopping around – and that’s good, you should find the best website team for your needs.

What kind of team should that be? From our experience, here are six questions to ask to find the perfect designer…


What problems does our current website have? This is a powerful question because it gives you an insight as to what your website would look like with them. If they see the same problems you do, or that your customers have complained about, that’s very encouraging. It means you’ll be in a better place after their work.

What is the design process like? Ask how many revisions you can expect, how long it will take, and how much input you get to have. There’s an important balance between a shoddy fast website and the work dragging out forever; you also want power over the process while still getting feedback and changes from the experts.

Which websites are your favorite work? Looking through their portfolio will give you a good sense of their style, not to mention the functionality their programming offers. And it may give you a few ideas for your website! Alternatively, you might ask to see their least favorite website and ask what went wrong. Criticism of their own work showcases their strengths and weaknesses.

What extras do you love designing? A lot of custom features go into every website and designers love to show off their work. Ask for some examples of special projects to demonstrate their range and flexibility. This might be a logo design, home rendering, interactive house, or entire site branding.

How would we update the website? This includes both your updates – what kind of content management system they’ll build for you – and what kind of price and turn-around time you should expect on the programming and design changes they need to make. Ideally most of the website’s content will be under your control.

What else goes into the website? While the website is the center point of your online presence, you’ll want to know how it functions with other elements – like emailing inquiries to your CRM or updating itself with an MLS feed. It’s also important to know how people will find the website. What kind of SEO program do they have in place? Is that just on-page optimization, or do they also offer link building, social media campaigns, Local SEO, pay-per-click campaigns, retargeting, or an entire inbound marketing plan?

These questions will help you pick the best possible design team for your new home builder website. We hope you havegreat success looking, and if you’d like to ask our team these questions, please give us a call!

Just Launched: JT Smith Homes

Categories: Latest Site Launches
Tags: , , , ,

This post was written by: Builder Designs

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.12.46 AM

Two of our favorite sites to-date just launched this week: J.T. Smith Homes and J.T. Smith Companies. The two companies are housed under one roof and specialize in land development, residential building, and asset management in the Portland, OR metro.

J.T. Smith has been working in various aspects of the real estate industry for over 20 years, including residential land development, residential building, commercial building, and multi-family projects. This company is unique in that they are both a builder and a land developer. This allows them to control the cost of their projects using one overhead, and gives them more flexibility in building projects that fit with the surrounding scenery and community. We’re sure homebuyers in the Portland area really appreciate the thought and care that goes into J.T. Smith projects.

On the J.T. Smith Co. design we got to enter into some new design territory with their About Us page. This interactive way of displaying team member profiles looks sleek and minimal upon first glance, but when you hover over each team member’s photo, the photo flips around to reveal a pop of green and the team member’s bio. This allows the site to maintain a clean, modern look without sacrificing the SEO juice that a robust amount of text can bring. We love the way it turned out and can’t wait to utilize the technique on our own site!


Be sure to check out these two sites for a great example of how modern web design looks and functions. If you’d like to learn more about J.T. Smith Companies, visit them online at and

Marketing New Homes in 2015: Builder Designs Offers the ‘Easy’ Button

Categories: Home Builder SEO, Social Media, What's new?
Tags: , , ,

This post was written by: Builder Designs



Builder Designs is now offering Inbound Marketing services starting in 2015. Learn about our plan to increase your lead generation. 


For a long time, we’ve stressed the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for generating organic search traffic to your website. Now, SEO is becoming one integral part of a much larger picture that encompasses marketing for your website. We refer to it over here as Inbound Marketing.


If you’re new to the idea of actively marketing your website, here’s something for you to consider:


Imagine you’re running a lemonade stand. You create the most eye-catching, inviting booth and set it up on the busiest street corner where lots of people will drive by and see it. That’s what SEO does for you—it makes you visible to the people who are searching for new homes in your area.

Now, think about how big your city is. There are people all over the city who would buy your lemonade if they just knew you were out there. Imagine how much more lemonade you’d sell by putting flyers all over the city with tantalizing pictures of your product. That’s what Inbound Marketing does.


Inbound Marketing is designed to target the type of homebuyer who is already or about to be looking for new homes in your area and deliver relevant ads and information to them, all leading back to your website. It simplifies the home search process. It’s like walking into a clothing store and having someone immediately hand you all the right sizes and styles so you don’t have to go hunting through the racks.

Think of SEO as insurance. Ranking high in Google results is and will continue to be important. However, relying only on SEO to bring you new leads is a mistake. With so many efficient (and inexpensive) tools out there to drive traffic to your website, why would you not use at least one of them?


Our Favorite Tools

Why we like them: Since they’re designed to offer extra information about specific ads, they help increase lead generation. They’re also good for testing design and messaging without altering your website.


Why we like them: A great way to make it onto Google’s front page when you’re competing with other homebuilders in your area. You can also direct people to a landing page to really increase those conversions.


Why we like it: Facebook ad targeting exceeds Google Adwords targeting options by leaps and bounds. We also know that more than 70% of homebuyers are already using Facebook. One of our clients saw a 500% increase in website traffic from Facebook in just one month of running our ads.


Why we like them: Easy way to get the word out to people who are already interested in your product. Great way to test content and messaging when used with a landing page.


Why we like it: Aside from the fact that we created our own program for it, we like that allowing homebuyers to text in for more info on a home is in line with today’s consumer behavior. We also like that you can put texting keywords in your print ads and billboards to test their effectiveness at generating leads.


Hit the Easy Button

We get it. Online marketing is technical, confusing, and sometimes amounts to nothing more than a scam. This is probably why so many longstanding homebuilders have left this resource untapped. This is also why we think builders who start marketing online in 2015 will have runaway success.

Builder Designs is offering homebuilders the Easy Button for your online marketing. You tell us about your business, your challenges, and your goals, and we take care of the rest. We think the only things you should have to manage in your online marketing are the leads.

Why market with us? Aside from the fact that we’ve built hundreds of homebuilder websites across the country, our plan is completely transparent and customizable just for you. Every service we offer has numbers associated with it. We don’t make false promises about getting you to rank #1 on Google or generating X number of new leads each month. Anyone who tries to make those promises isn’t being honest with you. Instead, we offer hard numbers that show you exactly what we’ve delivered in regards to your ROI:

  • How many people visited your website because of an ad (and how much each visit cost)
  • How many new leads you got because of an ad (and how much each new lead cost)
  • How much better one type of ad performed over another
  • How many people opened your email
  • How many new leads an email generated
  • How much you’ve made from your advertising campaign vs. how much you paid us to run it


Want to learn more about our Inbound Marketing program? Email to request our detailed documents.

Just Launched: Goodall Homes

Categories: Latest Site Launches
Tags: , ,

This post was written by: Builder Designs

Goodall Home Exterior


Goodall Homes just launched their site redesign, which puts them in a great spot going into 2015. We’re sure homebuyers in the Nashville, TN area will appreciate the update in design and functionality as they shop the website for more information about this home builder and their beautiful communities around Nashville.

Even though they were already a Builder Designs client, so much has happened in web design and functionality since their website was launched that a total remodel was necessary to bring them up to speed. Aside from a branding refresh, Goodall also received a new responsive design–this means that their website can be viewed on a mobile phone and tablet in addition to a desktop computer. With mobile Internet usage on the rise, it’s vital for every business to have a mobile-responsive website. Google even recently released an algorithm update that is going to label sites as mobile friendly right in the results page.

Additionally, with our new admin system Goodall is set up for the future of the changing web climate. We’re now able to automatically update our admin systems to comply with web trends, so the likelihood of Goodall needing another site remodel is greatly reduced moving forward.

We’re stoked to see how Goodall’s new investment in their online presence pays off for them in 2015. We know they’ll see increased site traffic, which always brings more leads. If you need a new website or would like to remodel your old one, give us a call at (913) 393-3367 or email

What We’re Thankful For

Categories: General Thoughts, What's new?
Tags: , ,

This post was written by: Anna Chandler

We want to take time out of our usual schedule of website designs and internet marketing research to give thanks to all the good we have in our world. Whether it’s our awesome clients, the local sports teams, supportive families, or caffeine, we all have a lot to be grateful for.

Builder Designs is thankful for graphic

Chip: My sanity.
Scott: Family.
Brian: Bill Self, Taco Tuesdays, my kids, my new ping driver, Adobe Creative Cloud and the Kansas City Royals for creating a new set of baseball memories that don’t involve George Brett.
Tory: I am thankful for Joshua’s weekly trips to Oddly Correct to keep us all heavily caffeinated.
Mike: Berkeley. And Anna. Although I guess you should probably put my fiancé first.
Ryan: Family, friends, health, home, work, food, and being back in KC, the city of seasons.
Katie: A very fun job, coffee, pie, and that my good friends and family never use Comic Sans.
Joshua: My job, my family, and my puppy!
Amber: My health, a job I love, friends & family, and sweet doggie Hannah!
Anna: Friends, family, and new books!
Abby: Eric Hosmer, his smash hits, and his smashing good looks.
Josh: My beautiful wife, my books, my scotch, and my comfy chair.
Jerome: My new home!
Edward: I’m thankful for my wonderful wife and Vim.
Olivia: Working in a place where I get to learn new things every day. And for being done with Christmas shopping!
Karsen: Sarcasm, mimosas, and Bill Snyder.
Jen: Hot chocolate to keep me warm and caffeine to keep me awake. Also, you know, friends and family and stuff. That too.
Debbie: Coffee, chocolate, amusing or comic humor, my family, my pets, my co-workers, and Builder Designs, not necessarily in that order.

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