Updated May 2015
This WordPress for real estate guide is geared for real estate agents or those looking to build their own WordPress based website. Building a WordPress site for your real estate business isn’t exactly cake, but it’s massively easier and cheaper than alternative routes. With that being said, the goal here is to build a full blown lead generating real estate website for $72.95.
Ambitious? Yes. Achievable? Definitely.
I know a lot of agents will ignore me on this one, but if you don’t “niche down” you will pay for it some how and in some way down the road. That could be burn out, a drop in the level of customer service, feeling like you don’t own your time, and the list goes on. What’s worse than a corporate boss breathing down your neck? You breathing down down you neck.
What do niches look like? Here are some quick ideas:
We’re going to take your niche, and convert it into a domain name. The key here is to pick a domain name that has the target keyword in it. For example, if home buyers search “Phoenix homes for sale” then you want something as close to phoenixhomesforsale.com as possible. Usually good domains like that are taken so you have to get a bit creative. This means adding something in front of, or behind your main keyword. Could be “pro”, “AZ”, “best”, “top”, you get the idea.
Once you have some domain name ideas written down, head over to GoDaddy and make the purchase. Cost for one .com domain name will be $12.99 (unless they’re running a special).
p.s. I know you’ll be tempted to buy more than one, and unless it’s something really great, don’t. It’s just going to be another website you will have to build and advertise!
Your hosting company is the company that has the physical servers (i.e. computers) where your website exists. Now you can host your website off a server at home, but that is not fun at all. That’s where a company like Hostgator comes in. They make your website available to people all around the world, deal with “uptime”, fight off hackers and all sorts of other stuff.
The reason I recommend Hostgator is because that is the company I use and have used for a number of years now. They’re also very inexpensive, the plan I recommend for most real estate agents is the Business Plan which costs $11.96/month. Click here to look at that plan, and get signed up.
But if you plan on creating a website with more than 500 pages, then you will need a more robust hosting scenario, and in that case I recommend VPS.net. They are cloud based, and allow you to scale your server power up and down as well as a number of other beneficial features. Contact me if you’re considering going this route, and in the meantime check out their site here.
Another great benefit to Hostgator is they make installing WordPress VERY easy. Watch this video as they walk through their “1-click install.”
The theme is another way to say the design of the website, and there are no shortages of them! But to save you some of time (a lot of it!), here are my top five recommendations with their respective cost. Click on each of the DEMO links to get a live sample of a site.
Because WordPress is open source, there are quite a few free WordPress themes out there in the wild. While you can technically consider them options, none of them will compare with the ease of use you get with a paid theme. I wish it was otherwise, but the theme is well worth paying for.
Once you have purchased your theme, you will be to upload and install the theme.
To do that follow these instructions:
Most themes come with “demo” or “dummy” content that can be placed on the site and used as a placeholder. You should upload this content because it makes editing and modifying your site tons easier. Each theme will outline this process in their readme or setup text file.
One of the biggest reasons WordPress is great are the abundance of free plugins that add functionality to your site. Below are my top free plugin recommendations.
I know there are a lot of great plugins out there, but be careful, don’t overdo it! Going overboard here can cause your site to slow down among other issues.
The process of installing plugins is straightforward. Here’s the process:
Before we get around to adding content to our pages we want to make sure our permalinks are setup correctly.
Your site’s permalink structure dictates what URLs will look like.
For example, www.redtigertraining.com/blog-post-name vs. www.redtigertraining.com/?p=99 vs. www.redtigertraining.com/2013/07/04/name.
How your URLS look is up to you, but WordPress makes it easy to set this up. Here’s how:
Now that we have all the formalities out of the way, it’s time to start adding content to your site! Content can be added as a Page or as a Post (aka blog post).
To add pages you’ll need to have an idea of the content you want to add first. Get out Word, Excel, or a Google Doc and start jotting down page ideas. If I was an agent in Scottsdale, AZ, here is where I’d start:
That’s why you’ll notice above I start breaking out the communities of Grayhawk and DC Ranch on their own page. I don’t try to stuff them all on one page. Now if I had a lot of communities I was targeting I might add a Scottsdale Communities page and link out to the various options from there, or have some type of map. But each page has a specific target in mind.
When a visitor gets to the Grayhawk page, they only want to see Grayhawk homes for sale nothing else. Just like when you go to the bakery department at your local grocery story, you wouldn’t expect to see boxes of cereal next to the loaves of bread. The store wants to sell both, but they section things up.
Before we get to all the other pages you can add to the site, we need to get the home page out of the way. This page is usually very unique compared to the other pages and requires a whole different process than a normal page would, and it depends on the theme you chose too.
The easiest thing for you to do is check out the theme’s setup instructions. Any paid theme will have this, and will walk you through the home page setup process. By the way, having that “dummy” content setup like I mentioned in an earlier step will go a long way here.
Once you have a list of pages you want on your site, and that home page out of the way, we can start adding your pages to the WordPress website.
Doing so is very easy:
Parents & Children
(Right sidebar in the Page Attributes widget)
Parent is where you select which page, if any, that will be the parent (i.e. Scottsdale Homes would be the parent for the Grayhawk neighborhood).
(Right sidebar in the Page Attributes widget)
(Right sidebar under the Page Attributes widget)
Some themes will have this option available to you, some won’t. If they do, simply click the Set Featured Image link and follow the dialogues.
Images help your site big time when it comes to bringing life to the page for your visitors, and helping your rank organically in Google. And finding great images for free is easy. Flickr.com has a ton of images licensed under the Creative Commons license, and Wikimedia Commons has great images that are free for you to use.
Flickr Creative Commons Attribution: these images can be freely used on your site as long as you give credit to the photographer. Credit is usually the name of the photographer, plus a hyperlink back to their site or Flickr page. Like this: Image Credit: Chris Adams
Flickr Creative Commons Attribution, No Derivatives: you can also use these freely on your website as long as you give the photographer credit AND you don’t make any derivative works of the image (i.e. don’t edit the image, you have to leave it as is).
Wikimedia Commons: Almost all content hosted on Wikimedia Commons may be freely reused subject to certain restrictions in many cases. You do not need to obtain a specific statement of permission from the licensor unless you wish to use the work under different terms than the license states.
Another great source of free images: you! Take out your iPad Mini, phone, or digital camera and snap some pictures.
So for my fictional website, I would find an image that says “Scottsdale” and another that says “Grayhawk”. Sometimes it can be as easy as taking a picture of the signage out in front of the community, select homes, or other times you have to get a little more creative.
A third option for images is to pay for them, and they get expensive really quick. But if you’re looking for options on this front, check out:
Once you have one image picked out for each page on your website (yes, including your contact page), we can add them to the site, and again, WordPress makes this very easy.
Here’s the play by play:
Repeat the above process for each blog post and page on your site.
Your main navigational menu are the tabs along the top of all your pages. Setting this is pretty straightforward, although some themes will require you to use their special control panel to manage the main menu. Your theme’s setup instructions will have the specific instructions if needed.
But for everyone else, here’s what to do:
Adding content to your sidebars is as easy as:
Widgets come in all different types. Some will be included with your theme. You get others when you download a plugin. And then there are the standard widgets included with WordPress. The easiest thing to do is drag and drop a few of them, and see how they look on your site.
One other item to keep in mind is that most themes nowadays have multiple sidebars. So there might be a sidebar for the homepage, one for the blog posts, and another for normal pages. When you are in the Widgets area of the dashboard most of these sidebars will be clearly identified, otherwise, your theme setup instructions will have more information on any custom sidebars the author included with your theme.
Adding content to, and editing your footer can occur in a couple of places. The first is in the Widgets area, as we went through in the previous step. Otherwise your theme will have a specific location within its own special control panel where the footer can be edited. Check your theme instructions for more information on where to edit the footer.
Your footer can be as simple or complex as possible. Maybe you only want to reference the copyright info and that’s it. But you can get as complex as adding a Twitter feed, Facebook feed, or any other number of items.
My recommendation: if you’re not sure what to add, keep it simple. Copyright info, a few regulatory images, and some basic contact info will be fine.
If you need some additional help on your site, here are my top recommended resources.
Grand total to setup a WordPress for real estate website that you actually own: $72.95. And the site will actually look good and generate leads. Where can you find a better spend of $72.95?
Now that you have your website built you can begin the next stage, which is marketing the website. Things can definitely get tricky and expensive here, but keep an eye out for some cost effective strategies from me in the coming weeks and months.