Wednesday, March 28, 2012

REALTORS®: 5 Reasons to Switch Your Website to WordPress

There's no doubt the real estate industry has been greatly impacted by the introduction of the Internet.  My very first client was a RE/MAX team.  I put them online over a year before went online.  For nearly 20 years now, websites have played a major role in helping REALTORS® build their reputation, improve their visibility, and help create relationships between home buyers and home sellers.  Those things haven't changed.  What HAS changed, however, is the technology used to help REALTORS® accomplish this.

Websites used to be cumbersome, difficult to maintain, and could often take a great deal of time to update.  Search engine visibility has always been a challenge for REALTORS®.  In an industry ripe with competition, search engine visibility continues to be a challenge.

Many companies offer real estate specific, template style, "drag and drop" solutions.  I've worked with most all of them at some point over the years.  I've found that although they may offer much of what REALTORS® need, they can be very costly, and all have various limitations... especially when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  I've watched REALTORS® spend a great deal of money over the years as they switch from one company to another... and then to another...  laying out start-up fees, monthly fees, etc... and then spending all that time re-educating themselves on the new platform.  Fortunately, there's a solution.

WordPress is, by far, the best CMS (Content Management System) software available today.  If you want your website to do it, more than likely WordPress has the capability.
5 Reasons to Switch Your Website to WordPress
  1. Cost Effective
    As with any website, you'll have your annual domain name renewal and website hosting fees.  The platform software is free and can be found at  Most add-on modules (plugins) are free.  I'd suggest you seek the help of a professional to assist with the original installation and software set-up.  This should be a one-time fee with no monthly maintenance fees.
  2. 100% Total Control
    You have 100% control over every aspect of your website.  Appearance, layout, categorized links and content, add-on modules (plugins), SEO and more.  Most MLS systems across the country provide REALTORS® with IDX links and code which can easily be integrated into pages, posts, and add-on modules.  No more "settling" with what your template style companies provide you with.
  3. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
    Search engines love WordPress... especially Google.  Virtually every aspect of WordPress offers the ability to include meta tags, descriptions, keywords and phrases.  From individual pages and posts to images, videos, links, categories, and more.  Each of these plays a crucial role in helping with search engine visibility.
  4. Social Media Friendly
    WordPress provides users with the ability to easily include icons, links, and streams for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and others.  It's, by far, one of the easiest platforms for connecting your website with your social networking tools!
  5. Communication, Interaction, and Lead Generation
    WordPress comes complete with powerful communication and consumer interaction tools.   Built right in is the ability for visitors to post comments on articles you've written, pages you've created, and content you've provided.  You can easily add a "Log In" area for users and provide them with "Member Only" content.  Want people to sign up for your newsletter?  Most newsletter services such as "Constant Contact" or "Survey Monkey" provide you with the code you need.  Insert it anywhere in your website.  The opportunities are endless.
This is that rare instance when something that "sounds too good to be true" actually IS true!  If you're a real estate agent, I strongly encourage you to take a look at WordPress.  I can, with a 99.99% degree of certainty, assure you that it's the last website change you're going to make.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Facebook Timeline for Business Pages… 5 Key Visual Changes

If you have a Facebook Business Page, and you've been using the new "Timeline" for your Facebook Profile page, then you're a step ahead of the rest.  If not, then I strongly suggest you start.  Rumor has it that the new Timeline for Facebook Business Pages will automatically switch over by March 30th, 2012.
With the new "Timeline" comes some key things you'll want to know in order to understand and take full advantage of the changes.  Although there are a number of new things you should be aware of, (and I'll touch on those in future articles), here are five of the more significant visual changes (view screenshot #3 below to help visually identify these areas).
  1. Admin Panel: Many of the key administrative features now appear at the very top of the Facebook Business Page.  Notifications, messages, recent activity, and "Insights" or page statistics are now more easily visible and accessible.
  2. Welcome Tab/Page: Perhaps one of the most significant changes is that you'll no longer be able to direct new visitors to a "Welcome" page... or existing followers to a promotional type of message.  Simply put... it's gone.  Everyone who visits your Facebook Business Page will arrive on your "Wall" first.
  3. Cover Photo: This is now your opportunity to capture the attention of your followers and potential followers.  This feature is not without some rules and guidelines.  First of all, photo specifications for optimum results is 851 x 315 (pixels).  Now... what CAN'T you do with your cover photo?  There's nothing to interpret here.  Facebook has provided some very specific guidelines.  According to Facebook, your cover image cannot contain: - Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”. - Contact info such as web address, email, mailing address or other info intended for your Page’s About section. - References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features. - Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”. Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties’ intellectual property. You may not encourage or incentivize people to upload your cover image to their personal timelines.
  4. Profile Picture: The large profile banner type photo which used to appear on the left is now also gone.  It's been replaced by the photo which now appears on the bottom left corner of the cover photo.  With the new design, this is the most logical place for a company logo or some other brand type image.  Best size photo will be 180 x 180 (pixels).  You'll find that this will help your image appear correctly alongside any posts and comments you make.
  5. Tabs, Custom Pages & Apps: The tabs (or links) to photos, videos, notes, custom pages and other apps now appear directly below the profile picture and title of your page.   A total of four are displayed at any given time with a total of twelve visible by using the drop-down arrow to the right. (see screenshot #1 below).  By using the "Timeline" drop-down button, a more complete list is available (see screenshot #2 below).  An important note about "Custom Pages" is that the allowable width has increased from 520 pixels to 810 pixels.

Screen Shot#1

Screen Shot#2

Screen Shot#3

As I said... there are many more changes worth noting and I'll address these in future articles.  I'm also developing a PowerPoint presentation which should prove to be helpful.

For now, if you have any questions or would like to know how to take advantage of the new "Timeline" features, post your question below or contact me for a personal consultation.

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