Make Your Home Page Unforgettable

An appraiser's website should be informative and educational. We're happy to keep our customers from reinventing the wheel when it comes to things like an appraiser glossary, what different designations may mean, a home buyer checklist, etc. Our pre-built content is one of things customers tell us they like the most about XSites. Sometimes people start with our pages and customize them a little, and other times, what we've provided works just fine.

One page you should completely customize is your home page. It's easy to do in XSites, will only take a moment, and is vital. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • You only get a brief opportunity to impress a site visitor and tell them why you're the appraiser for them.
  • It may be the only page someone sees on your site.
  • Search engines like Google® rank unique content higher and penalize duplicate content.
  • You don't want your homepage to look the same as your competitor's home page.
  • Now that we've established how important it is to customize your home page, let's get started.

 

What's your message?
Start with at least three things you want your clients to know. In marketing terms, this is called branding. You don't have to be as good at this as Apple® or Starbucks®, but you must differentiate yourself somehow.

  • Do you have thousands of jobs under your belt? Say it!
  • Do you specialize in any types of properties or jobs? What are they?
  • Can you guarantee a turn time? State it!
  • Are you easy to work with? Tell them why!
  • Do you understand the needs of non-traditional clients like attorneys or consumers? Let them know!

Make the customer the subject of your home page
Most people's favorite subject is themselves. Try not to start every sentence with "I" or "We". Make them the subject. Talk about their problems and how you can solve them.

Don't beat around the bush
As we mentioned before, you've only got a brief opportunity to get someone's attention and prove you're different. While something like, "Welcome to our website. This is the online home of XYZ Appraisal Services..." sounds pleasant and welcoming, it's not very helpful and wastes precious screen real estate that should be used to talk about your customers' needs. Write something like, "With 15 years of real estate experience and quick turn times, XYZ Appraisals is the logical choice for accurate home valuations in Anytown, USA."

Weave keywords into your body copy
For better search engine rankings, writing good keyword-optimized text is just as important as getting people to link to your website.  Put yourself in a potential client's shoes. If they were going to use a search engine to find your company, what do you think they'd type in? Are these phrases in the content of your home page? Do you specialize in specific suburbs or neighborhoods? Work these names into your home page text. They are vitally important. For a free keyword generator, check out Google's here.

Use bullet points instead of long paragraphs
Bullet points are pretty easy to write and they're very easy to read. They're also engaging. (Think about it. When you see practically any list, don't you just have to know what comes in at number one?) Just remember to keep your bullets equal. Don't mix fragments and full sentences. And keep them short.

Use an image or a graphic
People are always drawn to pictures, and graphics cut down on the amount of text you have to write. If you can capture an interesting image of something that relates to your business, include it in the body of your home page text. Use an application like Microsoft's® free image optimizer to reduce the resolution so it loads quickly and fits neatly on the page.

Don't just "set it and forget it"
Customizing your homepage isn't a one-time exercise. Come back to it often and re-evaluate its relevance and appeal. You don't have to change it every week, or even every month. But don't assume that because you've worked on it once, that's it. Web traffic and search engine optimization is just like anything else. You get out what you put in. Search engines penalize old content and reward you with better search results if you update often. Don't just "set it and forget it."

And it's easier when you have an XSite
The XSite web page editor works like a simple word processor. To start editing your home page, do the following:

  • Log in to your XSite.
  • Click the "XSite" button at the top of the screen, then click "Wizard".
  • Click "My Content" from the options along the left.
  • Then you'll see all the available pages for your site. The page titles are hyperlinks, so just click the word "Home" and you'll be in our content editor ready to implement the tips you've gathered here.
  • There are other options to make your site interesting. For example, below the main page editor window is an item labeled "Dynamic Content". Click "Customize" and you'll see options for including an Inman news feed, mortgage rates and more in a sidebar to the right of your content. Likewise, you can include a handy client data capture form so people can contact you right from the page.

If you get stuck, we've got a very comprehensive manual for the XSites, short online webinars, and our tech staff is always standing by 24/7 to get you back on track.  Learn more at www.alamode.com/training

Editor's Note:  If you don't have an XSite, you can get a free trial.  Just click here to get started.  For more help with customizing your home page, check out our online marketing section here