Print Spotlight – Hailey Emery

If you were at Mega Camp and stopped by our booth, you may have seen one of these beauties in our samples we brought to the show! This is one of our deluxe business card designs we created for Hailey Emery, a Keller Williams® Realty agent based out of Waxahachie, Texas.

Hailey Emery - Interior Image - Print spotlight

Hailey’s initial consult with her designer set them on the ground running after Hailey provided us with a business card inspiration that she liked from our portfolio in the past with rich wood grain textures. We then completely customized our approach to her card and added in some warm, rustic colors to playfully and uniquely approach the area she works in. Hailey did not have much of her own personal brand created as a platform just yet, so this was her first big venture outside the realm of the KW identity which is always very fun for us to play with!

Fun Fact: Keller Williams® promotes individuality for their agents’ branding as long as each office’s brokerage requirements are met.

7 Rules To Follow When Choosing a Real Estate Domain!

As a company that does a lot of work with real estate agents, we are often presented with the opportunity to improve upon past domain purchased in order to help a client’s internet presence. Just because you have used a domain name for 10 years, it doesn’t necessary mean it’s the best representation of your business on the internet. Choosing a domain name shouldn’t be as easy as using just your full name or the name of your company. Put a bit more thought into it and you will see some serious results.

These guide lines will help when it comes to choosing the best domain name to give you most exposure in search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Domain purchasing is not an exact science, sometimes you manage to just get lucky. When you’re a real estate agent, your domain can make or break you and your business in specific areas of the market.

1. Using your name means your clients have to know your name already

As tempting as it seems to purchase your first and last name as your domain name, or your company name, for that matter, it may not be the best for your business.  Granted, those domains are good to known, but do not expect them to boost your exposure in search engines. Websites earn SEO one one domain and one domain only, meaning that you need to get the most mileage as possible out of the domain that you decide to represent you in those Google searches.

Not to mention, a lot of names can be spelt many different ways. Mean you need to anticipate all of the possible misspellings that your clients could use when putting your name in. Take my own name, for instance: Tracy Adams, Tracey Addams, Tracie Adams, Traycee Addam’s, all possible mess ups that I client could think of when typing in the domain to get to my company’s website…

Lastly, in order for you to ever type in my name into the search engines to even come across my website, you would first have to know who I even am. It’s important to think about all of those potential clients that you’re excluding with that thought process. Your future clients will not be looking specifically for you, they will be looking for your offer, your services, your specialties, the areas that you cover.  Want to live in North Carolina? Try www.LiveInNorthCarolina.com! Simple as that, you don’t have to know Cindy Dudley as a realtor, but you can land on her website simply by chance.

2. The shorter the better

Keeping the domain name short helps your clients remember it. The more words you string together, the less likely they will be to remember it. It’s much easier to remember a domain like SearchOrlando.com rather than trying to remember all the pieces of one like BuyYourDreamOrlandoHomeToday.com. Not to mention, the shorter domain is normally much catchier.

With so many website visitors coming from mobile sources these days, if you want someone to actually go through the effort of typing in your domain, shorter is definitely going to help you out with exposure. People are less likely to attempt to type in a really long domain name themselves, they will automatically reply on Google or Siri to give them the location through search. Then, you’re depending on your SEO to promote you.

Also, do not attempt to make your domain name shorted by using specific abbreviations that your users wouldn’t know. However, if it is something commonly used to name your area and your potential clients would know it, own it!

3. Make it easy to spell

Like I mentioned earlier when it came to utilizing legal and company names for your domain purchases, having your clients use the correct spelling is key! Looking at buying domains? Tell a friend, over the phone, the domain you’re considering and see what different combinations they come up with. Also notice how many times you have repeat your possible domain before it really catches with the intended audience. If the domain doesn’t pass the “phone test”, scrap the domain name and keep searching.

4. Dominate your neighborhood

An easy way to see why this is so important is to google and see who your potential competition will be. For instance, let’s say I am a Realtor in Orlando, but Im specialist more so in the area of Avalon Park. People that do not know about Avalon Park in the Orlando area are not very likely to find me, but then again, do they need to? No. I know my traffic. Take the two different search results below as examples:

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Versus

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The search “Orlando homes for sale” yields over 30,000,000 results, while “Avalon Park homes for sale” yields much less, at around 1,000,000. You have drastically decreased your competition in Google. Granted, one million search results is a lot…which is why it’s your job to do you part to set yourself apart by blogging and increasing your own SEO.

5. No .com? Keep looking

Lately, domain registrars have been pushing new extensions like .realtor, .house, .rocks, and .guru, to name a few. Because .com has been the favored domain ending since the inception of the World Wide Web, as you can imagine,there has become a bit of a shortage. If the domain you want is available and it looks attractive shortened with one of these, feel free to purchase them, but I wouldn’t recommend making them the primary domain for your website. When I am personally relayed a domain name to visit, I automatically assume that it would end in .com. This is the thought process of most of the world.

If your ideal domain isn’t available in .com, consider continuing the search. If you happen to purchase the .net version of it, then you are most likely going to be sending your future traffic to someone that is very likely to be your competitor.

6. Fear the Hyphen

While having hyphens in your domain name may help these days with SEO due to each separate word being able to stand alone with more importance, they’re detrimental to marketing yourself. Can you imagine trying to communicate a domain with a hyphen between each word while over the phone? If the domain that you’re looking into isn’t available without hyphens, keep trying! If they are both available, make the one without special characters your primary and have the other forward to the same place.

7. Keywords are key

The best domains are the one that get straight to the point. It’s hard to find those golden domain names because it always seems that they’re taken, but your perfect domain is out there! Are you a luxury focused agent? Include the word luxury in your domain name like Carol Behrens did with her website: LuxuryHomesAcadiana.com. If you’re looking for luxury homes in Acadiana, then Carol is obviously going to be a viable option for your home search!

Check out these new Responsive Refresh designs!

In the past few weeks, we’ve rolled out some amazing new responsive refreshes for our Keller Williams clients. We’re so proud of these designs, we wanted to start showcasing them!

Missy Ruby Real EstateMissy Ruby Real Estate responsive refresh by BrandCo

Put your home in the hands of Missy Ruby. This beautiful responsive refresh by Piero shows off that Keller Williams red throughout. Featuring a quick search utilizing Wolfnet’s IDX on the homepage, clients are sure to find their dream home with ease.

 

Adam BordersAdam Borders responsive refresh by BrandCo

Need new borders? I’m sure you can find them with Adam’s help and his modern responsive refresh designed by Gesenia. Offering tips for first time homebuyers and resources for buyers, this website is full of information. Be sure to check out all of the featured communities within the Neighborhoods tab, as well!

 

AmbroseTeamInc responsive refresh by BrandCoAmbrose Team Inc

Katherine and her team in Witchita, Kansas took their new, city-focused, design by Bianca live this week. You can check out their new site that features calls to action such as “Flipping Wichita” and “Learn About – Inspire Witchita” at www.ambroseteam.com. Katherine is an avid poster to her Piggyback Blog, you can check out her information by clicking Blog up in the navigation of the website.

Booritch Real EstateBooritch Real Estate responsive refresh by BrandCo

Keller Williams colors are used as an excellent accent throughout Jim Booritch’s design by Bianca. Jim features ten communities on his website that link up to searches within his Wolfnet IDX, this helps his clients find homes in those areas more easily.

 

Claire Autrey Real EstateClaire Autry Real Estate responsive refresh by BrandCo

Claire Autrey & Associates’ website got a very modern redesign by Gesenia. This responsive refresh spotlights both neighborhoods and listings on its homepage. Claire will be putting her Piggyback Blog to good use by writing about neighborhoods and gaining that search engine optimization.
KW Sarasota responsive refresh by BrandCo

Pegasus Property Group

Trevor made good use of that iconic Keller Williams red throughout the design he did for Matt Bohanon. Attention is called to the quick search link on the homepage as an “Easy, Anytime MLS Search.” This website has great potential and we’re excited to have helped the Pegasus Property Group get started.

 

Texas-Dream HomesTexas Dream Homes responsive refresh by BrandCo

Cyndi Alvarez’s new website shows a traditional side of Texas thanks to Angela. The use of photos to highlight locations within her area such as San Marcos, Austin, and San Antonio really makes the site pop. The site will become home to Cyndi’s videos that I am sure are to become a great way for clients to get their information.

 

No Place Like Home GeorgialinaNo Place Like Home Georgialina responsive refresh by BrandCo

Cathy’s new responsive refresh brings a new play to a traditional look with the additional of some Wizard of Oz flair by Angela. The design brings attention to both Georgia and South Carolina buyers and sellers in a very attractive way. Looks like Dorothy isn’t in Kansas any longer, she’s moved to Georgialina.

Matt Cislo responsive refresh by BrandCoMatt Cislo

This responsive refresh has a very sleep look, thanks to Angela. Matt’s new site is very minimal and easy on the eyes. He has already started utilizing his Piggyback Blog with a great article on Red Day.

Google’s New Mobile-Friendly Algorithm

OK, Okay- that may have been a cheap way to call attention to this post, but now that you’re here let’s talk about what changes are happening with Google tomorrow and what they really mean to you.

What is Google doing?

Google is favoring mobile-friendly websites in the search results pages on mobile devices, and penalizing websites that it deems to not be friendly to mobile devices.  *** this only impacts searches on google on mobile devices, desktop searches are not going to be impacted by this change.

Why is Google doing this?

More and more website visits and searches are being done on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets and many websites have a completely frustrating if not unusable mobile experience.

What does this mean for my website?

That really depends on how your website is ranking now.

If were completely honest with ourselves, most of our websites are not highly-ranking, so you’re really not losing anything going from page 100 to page 200 in the SERPs (search engine results pages).  I mean have you ever clicked to page 2 or 3 when you’re Googling on your mobile device?   You’d be much better served creating more content than losing sleep over this change to the algorithm.

If you do have a highly-ranking website  and your site wasn’t mobile friendly, you were likely annoying your website visitors anyway.  When they got to your website they had to pinch and zoom, and likely had a frustrating experience.  So, you may see a drop in traffic but I don’t think you’ll see a dramatic decrease in leads with this change.

In either case you should evaluate where you stand in the rankings, watch your analytics to see how your site is impacted.  If it is in your budget – upgrade your website to be responsive.

How can I check if my website is mobile-friendly?

Just visit the Google Mobile Friendliness test here.

What happens if my website is not mobile-friendly?

Give us a call or fill out the quick contact form to the right or the one in the footer- and we will help you find the best strategy to make sure you’re getting the most from your website on mobile devices.

In conclusion, there has been a lot of sensationalist hype over this change to Google’s rankings.  My advice follows the same pattern it usually does— evaluate your specific situation, don’t react without perspective, and take your time to make a rational decision for the best interest of your business.

6 Tips to Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly

Starting the day

It’s true.  Google is going to be changing the way the rank search results on April 21st.  They will be ranking mobile friendly sites higher in the results than sites that are not mobile friendly.

Curious how you can have an competitive advantage in the mobile search ranking wars?

The answer is as simple as providing your users a great mobile website experience.

OK, but what exactly does a “great mobile website experience” mean?  Here are a few things you should consider:

  1. Don’t require your visitors to “pinch and zoom” to navigate through the website
  2. Have a mobile friendly navigation – ever see those three lines that look like a hamburger?  That’s it, hide your navigation until your mobile visitor requests it.
  3. Have large enough tap zones- Google recommends buttons no less than 48 pixels… and leave some room between buttons- Google suggests 32 pixels.
  4. Compress images, css, js and html so that it downloads as quickly as possible over 3G and LTE connections.
  5. Separate your text from images.  It’s tempting to add text onto an image, but when that image is resized the text may become unreadable.  Plus Google cannot read text that is put in an image.
  6. Don’t use tables.  Tables just don’t translate well from computer screen to smart phone screen.

When you think you’ve given your visitors a great mobile experience head on over to Googles Mobile Friendly tool and see what grade you get:  https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

What you’re looking for is a result like this:

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It’s okay if you don’t get a green badge of Awesome-Sauce the first time.  Google will tell you the steps you need to take to get a good grade.

If you would like some help interpreting your results contact us and we’ll be glad to help.  If you’re more of a do-it-yourself kinda guy or gal- check out Google’s Webmaster Mobile Guide.

Responsive Website vs Mobile App

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Mobile websites have been getting a lot of press lately. Mostly recently because of Google’s announcement to give mobile friendly websites a boost in their search engine results pages.

From the official google announcement:

 

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

 

The key words here are “affect mobile searches”  it is hard to tell if searches done on a desktop or laptop  will be impacted by this change.

With more and more consumers browsing the web on mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones it makes sense that Google would give priority to websites that will display properly on the device that is doing the search.

So what does this mean for you?

Probably nothing! Let’s face it, a majority of real estate agents do not have enough SEO going for them yet to be found on the first few pages of the Google search results anyway, so any penalty from Google is likely to go unnoticed. However, there could be a huge opportunity now for those agents who have been working on their SEO to enhance their position in the mobile search results. For agents new in the business and agents who have not yet developed SEO optimized content, think mobile friendly upgrades when your budget allows.

Until your cash flow permits, there is no immediate urgency to go mobile responsive! Just keep in mind, there are many reasons (I could argue more important than Google) for having a mobile friendly website, not the least of which is providing a good experience to your “mets” who end up visiting your website on a mobile device.

Most emails are opened on mobile devices, if you have a link to your website in your email you should be sure to have a mobile friendly website.

If you’re trying to position yourself as a tech-savvy or web-savvy agent having a responsive website could give you the competitive advantage at a listing presentation.

You may also notice your lead capture rates increase.

What makes a website mobile friendly?

Rubber Band shootThe best mobile websites are responsive.  Another way to think of a responsive website is to think elastic, the website expands and contracts based on the width of the screen the visitor has.  All the page content is the same whether the visitor is on a laptop or desktop, tablet or mobile phone.  As the width of the device gets smaller the page content adjusts and the length of the page typically will get longer.  A responsive website does not simply shrink the page to fit into a smaller window.  The content is shifted, realigned, or resized to display thoughtfully on different screens.  A responsive website also not only gives visitors a great mobile experience but visitors on large wide-screen displays get an enhanced browsing experience as well.

Another key to having a mobile friendly website is a thoughtful approach to what mobile visitors want from your website.  Using call to actions- like Click to Call or Directions are a big usability tool to help your visitors connect with you when on a smart phone or a device with GPS.  Also having finger friendly buttons for visitors to interact with on smaller devices.

A true mobile friendly web site will not require the visitor to pinch and zoom to read the content or navigate through the page.

What does this mean for mobile apps?

Many real estate agents have invested heavily in building and marketing mobile apps to provide mobile friendly content to their clients.  While there is nothing wrong with having a mobile app this strategy is slightly flawed, and here is why:

  • Mobile apps require your visitor to download and install something on their phone.  I have enough apps on my phone and will not download an app until it’s proven to provide me value.
  • Many consumers already have a real estate app on their phone- why should they download your personal mobile app?
  • Most mobile apps are disconnected from the agents website search- causing the consumer to have separate logins and their search history and favorites are often not synchronized between devices.
  • To promote mobile apps many site owners interrupt regular website browsing to encourage an app download.  This frustrates users and impacts the visibility of the website from the search engines.

What should I do next?

Google rarely gives website owners advanced notice on changes to their search algorithms, so having some notice on how this change will impact search is great, but should be no cause for panic.  While Google says they will start dinging websites on 4/21 this does not mean you have to rush out and make your website mobile friendly.

Instead, put together a strategy to deliver a great mobile experience for YOUR VISITOR.  If you keep the visitor in mind, and build a website that they will be delighted to use- you’ll likely satisfy Google.  Build for people not for spiders.

BrandCo saw this shift coming well over a year ago and we have been working hard to provide solutions to keep your site relevant.  We  have multiple options to assure you give your mobile visitors a great experience.  We build websites on WordPress which can be made responsive with a nominal amount of effort, we have cracked the code to build responsive themes for eAgentC, and have brought responsive options to the Piggyback Blogs platform as well.

In short, don’t panic.  Give one of our account reps a call and they can help you find a solution that works for you, for your visitors and for Google.

4 Ways to Help You Write Killer Website Content

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One of the most important ways to draw more visitors to your webpage is by providing killer website content. Many sites provide poor content because they are more concerned with SEO and think that by increasing their search ranking, they’ll attract more visitors to their site. While this is true, poor content won’t keep visitors there for long. High quality content is what convinces readers to return. If you need WordPress help because you are unsure of what kind of content to write, then be sure to use the following 4 tips to help write killer content for your website:

Make it interesting – This may be easier said than done. Your content needs to be interesting to read. The best way to figure out whether a piece of writing will be interesting to your readers is whether or not you find it interesting. Don’t think the subject is very interesting? Then don’t write about it – because neither will your readers.

Make it helpful – One of the best ways to attract more readers is by providing content that will benefit them, whether it’s a how to guide or a piece of content that will help them make a more informed decision about a product or service. If the reader will benefit from the content, then he or she will most likely return to your site for more advice in the future.

Make it relevant – Your content is not going to be helpful or interesting if it has nothing to do with the subject matter of your webpage. If you have a site about dogs, then there’s no point in writing a piece of content about the stock market. Not only do the readers on your site not care, those who find your content through a search aren’t going to be very interested in the rest of your site.

Make it easy to read – Many sites make the mistake of not making their content easy to read. There should be plenty of white space throughout your content, with lots of paragraph breaks, headers and bullet lists. You want your content to be easily scanned over – people browsing the net often don’t have the attention span to read a giant wall of text.

By following these 4 steps you’ll be well on your way to writing killer content on your new WordPress website.

A Successful Blog Post in 5 Steps

Do you want to know how to write a perfect blog post? This post will help you generate the readership that you’re all working for!

Give Your Blog Title Zing!

The title of your blog post is extremely important, it is the first thing that your reader will see and it will set the tone in what they will, if we’re do our part, continue to read. You want it to be something that will bring your reader in. Make it really interesting! Aim for titles that are brief, direct, and promise to deliver.

Be Thought-Provoking

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That first paragraph after your reader gets past the title is crucial! One easy strategy is to pose a question to your reader. Get them thinking about what you could be going through later in the article. Motivate them to keep reading.

Stay Brief and On-Topic

Keep your post brief enough to where it’s worth reading but won’t require a long period of time to get through. Most people are busy and our goal is to have them spend their time wisely when reading what you’ve written. Also, your reader stayed for a reason, to learn more about what you had to say…stay on topic, make it worth their while.

The Closing is Important, Too

Use this moment to present the big picture. You can also approach another point that is also worth considering along with everything that you have already covered. Just make sure that it’s relevant. Also, short and sweet.

Be Graphic

Readers like illustration, something to draw their attention. Be thoughtful in your selection of images, however. I always say that way too many images can make a blog post look extremely cheesy. Also, readers appreciate high quality photos. Remember, always give credit where credit is due regarding where the image came from or who took it.

It is really just that simple to create an interesting, savvy blog post! I always find that it’s easy to write what is on my mind and just keep going. I like for my own voice to be extremely prevalent in my postings. You should, also. Let us know how this helps you out, apply these key steps to your post. Happy Blogging!

Blogging – The Beginning

Blogging is something that everyone talks about these days. Some people even consider it their job to blog. In fact, I have a friend of mine that hosts a running blog, she gets free entries to 5ks and marathons on a regular basis just by blogging about the event before and afterwards. Kind of cool, right?

Before we dive into all the great things blogging can do for you, we need to understand what blogging really is, first!

What is a Blog?

According to Wikipedia, “A blog is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first).” Essentaially, it’s an easy way to get/give information and have that information stay up to date by the newly added content being the most available.

Where do you Blog?

The most popular platform for blogging currently is WordPress, hands down! The community for development within WordPress is extremely vast. You receive regular updates to security, interface design, and stability. Meaning…WordPress is usually on top of any kind of issue that someone can come up with or find within their interface. Other Blogging platforms that people use are: Blogger, Tumblr, Active Rain, and Joomla, but that’s just to name a few.

How do you Blog?

Regularly! Forming a routine and having a common theme that your blog will cover is important! Want to get followers or regular readers? You need to be dependable! In order to blog, you literally just need to have a topic to write about and a fluid enough writing style that will enable someone to stick with you throughout the entire article and actually read it. If they leave a comment/response…You’re doing GREAT!

Why should you Blog?

Blogging will help keep your website from being what we like to call “static”. Static means that your website is never-changing. If your site never has new content, why would I want to come back to it once I have gotten what I originally wanted from it? You have to consistently keep providing a reason for your reader to keep coming back. Blogging is the easy way to do this.

Ready to get Blogging?
We will go more into depth about what the real benefits of blogging on your website are, but for now, this is just the beginning! Come back to continue learning! :)

What Makes a Strong Call to Action?

Before we get started it is important for your website to have a goal, that is, what is it you desire from your users?  That may be to gather email addresses, capture leads, or get your visitor to enter their credit card information to buy something.

A call to action makes use of a banner, button, or some kind of graphic or text to lead your visitor down a predetermined path that results in them completing your goal. In the instance of real estate, a call to action to could be as simple as a button on the home page that says “start your home search” or “find your home value.”

So, how do we get a functional call to action? These are the some best practices:

Know a need – When first thinking about creating a call to action, you need to have a purpose in mind. Essentially, a need that you want to fill for your potential customer. Most call to actions make use of terminology like, “Buy this now!” or “Sell your home with us.” These are clear paths that you can start your new customer. Also, you will know how to fill their need.
Man in office offers coworker a lollipop
Sweeten the deal – What’s in it for them? Why should they click that button, in other words? These people need to know why they should click that button on your site rather than someone else’s. Maybe you don’t take the normal amount of commission when selling a home. Or, maybe you give an amazing gift at closing. Let them know what they’re going to get out of their click.

Focus the language – Just as when creating a resume, everyone is always told to use action words. The same applies in this case. The focus is what you want them to do, not what you want from them. “Call, Buy, Register, Subscribe, Donate” are largely used active words. Essentially, they make the button say “Do This!”

Put it where it matters – This is easier said than done. The more important the Call to Action, the bigger it should be. Not only that, give it a contrasting color that will bring even more attention to itself. Lastly, it will need to have some space. Don’t butt it up against something else of less importance, this is distracting. These things are usually best left up to a designer because, honestly, they know what they’re doing and do it for a reason.

Call to actions are an essential piece to having a successful lead-generating website. It is the easiest way to help steer the potential customer into your new client.

Do you have any best practices that you have found that work best for you? Please, feel free to share!