Categories: Home Builder Industry, Home Builder SEO, Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing for Home Builders, Responsive Design, Website Design | Posted: April 23, 2015 | By: Abby Hill
Having built over 300 websites for homebuilders across the country since 2006, we know a thing or two about what’s working and what isn’t. A website is an investment–a good one is going to cost thousands of dollars, but more importantly, a website is supposed to be a digital representation of your business and the people who run it.
If you’re looking to cut corners, the website is not the place to make sacrifices. We’re not talking about whether or not to put a second kitchen in the basement or installing surround sound in the home theatre. This is foundation-level stuff–you don’t cut costs by neglecting to install insulation. It’s time to value websites as investments in the way homebuyers value your homes as investments.
Here is our list of the top 5 mistakes we’re still seeing builders make with their websites.
As you may have heard, April 21st marked the apocalypse for websites without a responsive design. If your website isn’t designed to be viewed on a phone or tablet, it’s about to fall in the Google search rankings even if your SEO is top notch. Worse than that, though, is that the majority of homebuyers who are accessing your site are going to have a tough time using it. Be prepared to see more bounces and less time on site in your analytics. Most homebuyers these days are doing their home search on a mobile phone, and ain’t nobody got time for a website that doesn’t work.
2. No SEO
If the quality of your website is equatable to a home with or without insulation, then think of not having SEO as a home without an address. In a community with no street names, in a small town that no one has ever heard of. Oh, and you’re not around to give people directions. Just Gary Google, and he knows absolutely nothing about the house, the location, or even the fact that you exist. Good luck.
2015 is so much different than 1995. These days, SEO is as vital as the http:// at the beginning of any web address. Being online is nothing new. It’s a game now, and you have to have SEO to play. Without it, you might as well get off the track because people are starting to lap you.
It’s simple, really. You don’t have SEO, there’s no way to show up in an online search. And online search is where builders all over the country are gaining a majority of their business these days.
We could write a separate post on the 5 mistakes builders are making with their photos. Companies that sell $60 pairs of shoes understand the influence professional photography has on buyer impression. Why is it that some builders believe they can sell a $250K house using photos they took on their iPhone?
You should be hiring a professional photographer with lighting equipment to shoot all of the homes you wish to display on your website. We have seen builders with professional photography get six times more web traffic from online ads than builders with low-quality photos.
Photos aren’t just meant to inform–they’re meant to sell. You should be able to sell someone a home before they ever set foot inside it by the quality of your photos. To put it bluntly, being cheap about your website photos will give homebuyers the impression that you’re cheap when it comes to building their home too.
4. Not Updating Photos With The Season
Winter brings a bit of a lull in home sales, but that doesn’t mean builders stop putting homes on the market. If you list a home in December, you’re likely going to have to photograph it with dead grass, snow on the driveway, naked trees, and gloomy gray skies. This is just what you have to do, but when April comes and that home is still on the market, send a photographer out to reshoot the exterior. Having blue skies, blooming flowers, and vibrant green grass will give homebuyers a positive impression of the home and its location.
On the flip side, when it’s April and you have homes listed with wintry landscapes, all that says to the homebuyer is that this house has been on the market for a while now and nobody wants it.
5. No Marketing Strategy
This is one that continues to dumbfound us, considering that we know several builders who are successfully marketing themselves online without the use of any print advertising. You can pay for a fairly robust online marketing campaign…for a year….for around the price you’d pay for a handful of newspaper ads.
Even SEO has gotten competitive to the point where showing up in organic search is just the icing on the cake that is your online marketing strategy. More than 90% of all homebuyers are using the Internet at some point in their home search. Your website allows you to collect and manage more leads, online marketing allows you to pay less to have more people find out about your business…and you know at least 90% of your target demographic is going to be online seeking out homebuilder websites anyway.
Online marketing is something to capitalize on. At this point, you can safely abandon ship with your expensive print pieces and reallocate that budget into marketing your website. Still, we see many builders making the mistake of thinking online marketing is an unnecessary expense.