If you are a Tech Savvy Agent in the real estate sales business today, you know and understand how important it is to establish your Internet presence. As I am typing this blog post, in the back of my mind, I can hear my broker saying. . . .”90% of all _____________ start their home search ______________” as he is trying to sell me on the importance of buying the companycentric agent website.
It’s one of those sayings that sticks to you since you’ve more than likely heard it (understatement alert) a few times. The beauty of it all is that you don’t have to buy into the idea “I need a website, now.” You can create your very own website over time using what happens to be one of the best Blogging platform in the world otherwise known as WordPress.org.
Wait a minute. Back Up. Is wordpress a blog or a website builder? I don’t get it. Oftentimes, WordPress usage and its purpose gets muddled/confused by many different people in different industries. For Real Estate Agents, it can be a blog or web diary of your daily interactions with your clients. It can be your internet home base of which you focus your marketing efforts to lead back to your primary web based portal to attract and service clients’ home search. It can be whatever you make it to be so that you don’t have to worry about not having enough web presence.
Having used WordPress (and unfortunately no other blogging platform), I’ve mastered the art of using WordPress as a blog and a website: Blog+website=Blogsite. NJRETODAY.com is a blogsite. I am currently running a number of real estate plugins (coding and programming) that make it possible to have number of options/functionalities on my website. Well, it may not be fair to call the following list of plugins real estate plugins per say, since many of the plugins listed below could be use by other industries. Nonetheless, the number one reason WordPress.org is the blogging platform of choice is the free options in the form of plugins you can access from the comfort of your home office.
The following post highlights the Top Ten Free or Paid for WordPress plugins for Real Estate Agents that can enhance your WordPress real estate blog or website.
For SEO (Search Engine Optimization Purposes)
1. All in One SEO Pack: For beginner bloggers or website managers, this plugin has a lot of options. It works out-of-the-box. On each page that you create such as About, Contact, Listings, Foreclosure, Short Sales, etc., you can select the title of your page (topic sentence-60 characters), your meta-description (supporting 2-4 sentences, 148-160 characters) and keywords. If you use the keyword plugins that I recommend below, you may not need to use the All in One SEO Pack on every day, but it certainly helps to tell the search engines what your page is about. It’s of the the best SEO plugins to start out with.
2. Google XML SiteMaps: This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog. Think of this like your table of contents or an index of your website.
3. WP-DPManager: Once you develop your wordpress blogsite, you have to protect it. WP-DP Manager allows you to optimize your database, repair the database (your post, title, images, tags, categories), backup the database, restore and/or delete the database. You can also drop/empty tables and run selected queries. It also supports automatic scheduling of backing up and optimizing of your wordpress database.
There are two plugins that I recommend for on page SEO. One wordpress plugin is called Keyword Statistics, which is free and I describe the features below with screenshots. The other is called Scribe SEO, which allows you to do keyword research right within wordpress admin panel and optimize your post or page within seconds. Check out the Scribe for WordPress demo video.
4. Keyword Statistics:
The Keyword-Statistics Plugin checks the content of a post or a page for keyword-density (single words and optionally 2- and 3-word phrases). For each post, the plugin records 1-10 of the most commonly used keywords and it will automatically display these suggestions. It can update its information automatically, while the author is writing one’s content in a variable intervals (every 1-10 seconds) or manually by clicking on a button. The script comes with stop-words, which optionally can be filtered out before calculating the keyword densities. Moreover the most common keywords are extracted in a list as a meta-keyword suggestions. Based on this list a description can be created and automatically set.
5. IDX Broker-When buyers come to your site, they have an expectation to view listings. property details, reports. I would not try to reinvent the wheel by installing a plugin that would force me to physically add listings to my site. Instead, I have a custom plugin that I am running on njretoday.com. where the basic and advance search feature is accessing the two different MLS that I subscribe to. Access to your MLS IDX feed may or may not be free. In NJ and for the Middlesex MLS, I can expect to pay an annual fee to have access to this information whereas on the Garden State MLS, I do not have to pay for access to this feed. If you do not want to pay for a plugin there are a number of free options: Look into Great Real Estate Plugin and FlexIDX Home Search (Paid).
6. NextGENeration Photo gallery for the Web 2.0. : I am using it throughout this post which allows me to create thumbnails (smaller version) of a group of related pictures i.e. a gallery to be inserted into pages or posts. Not to mention Slideshows or Image Browser.
7. Simple Real Estate Pack: Package of real estate tools and widgets designed specifically for real estate blogs and websites. The plugin includes mortgage and home affordability calculators, closing cost estimator, live mortgage rates, Trulia and ALTOS statistical charts, local schools, local rental rates meter, business listings from Yelp and Google Maps.
8. Mortgage Loan Calculator-Please look on our Free Mortgage Calculator page. I am using the plugin on that page. It is a great value-add tool any real estate agent would love to have especially if the agent is looking to provide good-looking, functional, mortgage calculator. The execution of this mortgage calculator is superb from the smooth on page or sidebar integration, model window results and AJAX-based graphs that are incredibly visually appealing. It’s a great little application that delivers a lot of value in a user-friendly and well-executed way.
9. Business Directory: The Business Directory plugin for WordPress is an easy way to host a free directory page for your buyers and sellers. The Script allows a a web visitor to submit a sample listing on your blog. I find that I can keep an active list of the Home Inspectors, Mortgage Brokers and Real Estate Attorneys that I recommend in this directory, which saves me time. All I have to do when a client wants a business contact or referral is refer the client to my web directory.
10. Akismet (Spam Blocker) checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s “Comments” admin screen. If you are going to blog and allow people to comment, set your comments to approve first so that you can review which comments are sincere and on-topic.
Paid Plugins (Paid Ads): For Really Tech Savvy Agents.
SEO Processor Score: Simplifies On-Page SEO and helps you to rank better. It’s like having a virtual SEO assistant prompting you to make sure certain words are bold and adding proper header tags to get the most bang for your buck.
|SEOPressor can accurately analyze and test your content whether you have them as a post or page on your WordPress site.|
|Reveals Your On-Page SEO Scores
SEOPressor will calculate and show you the score of your on-page optimization. Pages with higher scores have been proven to rank better on search engines, resulting in better ability to attract organic traffic.
WordPress Membership Site Whether you have an existing WordPress site or if you are starting a new one, managing a WP exclusive site can be one way to capture new business assuming you are providing something of value. One good use of a members only site is providing listing details to a select few before the listings hit the MLS.
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