So you’re ready to integrate IDX into your website so that visitors can browse through your MLS listings. Great! But before you do, you need to know how to create the best possible chance of converting your visitors into high-quality leads for your business.
So what exactly is IDX?
IDX technology is a remarkable tool for agents since 44% of home buyers start their home search online. However, when you stop and think about how many agents have their own IDX websites in your area, you need to make sure that your IDX website can compete.
From choosing the right IDX technology to the importance of integrating social media sharing, we’ve put together a list of the most essential factors to consider when you’re integrating IDX into your website so that you can get the best return out of your investment:
- Make sure you choose the right IDX system to meet your needs
Before you choose the IDX technology that you want to integrate into your site, it’s important to understand that IDX is just a blanket term for any software or technology that can put MLS listings on your site and they are not all created equal.
To get the most out of IDX, look for integrations using RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard) technology. RETS ensures that you can customize the look of your listings and that they can be optimized for search engines, meaning they’ll look more professional and you’ll eventually get organic traffic rather than solely relying on paid traffic.
Budget options like Iframe and FTP use what’s called “framing”, which put very simply, means that the MLS listings that show up on your site aren’t actually hosted on your site, it just looks like they are.
Yes, visitors can still see the listings, but you’re not able to customize how they look on your site (not a great branding strategy) and you won’t be able to optimize those listings for search engines since they’re not technically hosted by you. So, you might save a buck now, but you’ll end up spending more on paid ads and monthly fees to
- Loading time
If your website doesn’t offer buyers the same ease they get while searching for properties on Zillow or Trulia, you’ll lose visitors.
Fast loading times also help you rank better with search engines since they prioritize sites with better user experience, so it’s a win-win to make sure that your pages and listings load fast enough.
- You need a lead capture strategy
It’s great that buyers can look through your listings on your website, but what good is it if they just look and leave?
Creating an incentive for visitors to give you their email address, like offering a free home valuation where they can find out the value of their own home immediately or giving them a free area-specific guide to buying, helps convert them into real leads.
Don’t use too many filters
Offering a lot of filter options before someone gets to see your listings might seem like you’re helping them out, but the truth is that a lot of buyers will have an easier time narrowing down those filters after seeing a broad view of what you have to offer first.
Giving them too many filters to choose from up front delays their ability to just simply view your listings… which, remember, is what they came to do.
- Link your IDX to Facebook for Dynamic Ads
Relying solely on SEO to get traffic to the listings on your site can take some time and doesn’t necessarily mean that whoever visited your listings will come back.
Facebook Dynamic Ads recently made it possible for real estate agents to retarget their website visitors with Facebook ads so that they keep seeing the listing they viewed on your website on their newsfeed. This keeps you top of mind and greatly increases your chances of having those visitors come back to your site and buy with you.
- Do keyword research
Broad SEO keywords like the name of your city followed by “real estate” are probably saturated at this point. One way to boost your chances of getting your listings seen is to go for slightly more specific, long-tail keywords.
- Use Google adwords
In the beginning, you’re going to need to budget for some paid traffic. Google Adwords provides you with a way to get to the top of searches by paying for exposure and for each time someone clicks on your link through Google search.
- Don’t use too many plug-ins
Having too many IDX plug-ins can slow down your site, and some will be incompatible with the theme you choose or even with each other. They also require regular updates. So, be selective and only use plug-ins that truly enhance the user’s experience.
- You need a beautiful interface that signals credibility
Using too many colors or different fonts on your website is a rookie mistake that should be avoided at all costs. Remember, your website will be most people’s first impression of you. Pick a maximum of three, simple colors and two fonts (one for your headers and one for your body text), and call it a day.
- You need a good bio
Your bio should be action-oriented and should be focused on what you can actually do for potential clients. Talking about your years of experience and how much you love your community is great, but that needs to be padded with concrete ways that you make a buyer’s (or seller’s) experience efficient.
- Make sure you set up analytics
Google Analytics is a great tool to use to see how long people stayed on each page of your website, which listings are getting seen the most, which blog posts are getting the most traction, and what your best sources of traffic are. This helps you base your future marketing decisions on real data rather than guessing.
- Provide interesting, authoritative content
You can increase your chances of getting organic traffic by using a blog feature on your website. Your blog is a great place to create articles that answer the kinds of questions you get from clients on a day to day basis, which enhances your credibility right off the bat. Further, search engines tend to favor websites that have more than just a few pages, and a blog is a good way to up your page count.
- You need to update your site regularly
Letting your website sit without updating the content or the back end (like your themes or plug-ins that may need manual updates occasionally) signals to potential buyers and to
search engines that your site might not be as credible as others that are similar and are seeing lots of activity.
Set aside at least one day a week when you can update your site with a new blog post, update your listings, or complete any back end maintenance that your site might need.
- Integrate social media so people can share your listings
When you integrate social media with your IDX technology, you allow people to share your listings on their own social media platforms (can you say free marketing?). This is one of the easiest ways to get exposure and it takes just a minute to set up.
- Include clear calls to action
You need to let visitors know what you want them to do and spell it out any chance you get. Each listing should have a clear call to action to fill out your appointment form or call you, or however you want to handle it.
The key to making your calls to action work is to be very clear and to only use one at a time. If you ask people to do too many things at once, they likely won’t do any of it.
- Make navigation clear and simple
Set your most important pages as your parent categories so people can see them right away. Burying the pages you want people to go to most in your menu’s subcategories (like your listings and wherever you want them to contact you or give you their email address) is a quick way to lose their attention.
- Check with your idx provider to make sure the theme you’re purchasing is
You’ll want to purchase a theme for your site so it will look polished, professional, and in line with your brand. But again, not all IDX technology is created equal and you’ll want to double check before you buy anything to make sure the theme you like can actually be installed on your particular website.
- Get a hosting package that can sustain the large amount of data you’ll use on an
Your website and your host are separate entities. When you choose a hosting package, you’ll want to keep in mind that IDX technology uses a lot of data and you need a host that can sustain that kind of data usage to keep your pages and listings loading quickly.
- You need to choose a simple, memorable domain name
When you choose a domain name, try to keep it as simple as you can. You should try to avoid using hyphens or too many words in your domain name so that users can easily type it into their web browser if they’re seeing it on your direct mailers or business cards.
- Include your IDX website link in your email signature
It only takes a minute to set up, but having your website linked in your email signature is another easy way to drive people to your listings.
- Make sure you have an SSL certificate
SSL certificates keep sensitive information private so that only the website host can read it. This provides an extra level of safety for users who are entering their personal information into your website and also shows search engines that you’re a safe website to send people to. Not having an SSL certificate will hurt your ability to get your pages ranked and indexed.
- Make sure it’s responsive
The majority of people browse the internet on their phones rather than on a laptop, desktop, or tablet. Your site should be easily viewable on all of these devices, regardless of the screen size users are viewing it on. If your listings or images or text is cut off on certain screens, you’ll lose users.
When you’re setting everything up, make sure you toggle back and forth between desktop, laptop, and mobile views so you can adjust features accordingly.
- Include pages about your community
Too many agents are still making the mistake of making their IDX websites all about their listings. Those are all important, but showing potential buyers that you’re actually an expert on the community you serve is key. Include posts about other local businesses and highlight upcoming events to position yourself as a niche authority.
- Include videos
Videos convert like crazy on the internet because it helps people feel more connected to you. Putting an introduction video up front and center on your page, as well as having some videos of walk-throughs of your listings can boost your conversion almost immediately.
Getting your IDX integration right is a lot of work, but it’s one of the best investments you’ll make in your business. It’s one of the only ways that you can literally get leads and grow your business in your sleep.
There are plenty of experts (like us) who can help make sure you’re set up for success when you set up your IDX website, so feel free to schedule a demo or contact us to get matched with the right services.