Do You Need A Developer For Your MLS Driven Real Estate Website?
Living here in the Raleigh-Durham NC area, I’m sure all of us have heard how strong the real estate market is. With record sale times and rising property values, we live in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country but with that comes competition. Real estate agents in the Triangle face plenty of challenges but your website shouldn’t be one of them! It’s important to take your online presence as a real estate agent seriously and step 1 is to create a website that allows users to search the local market data using MLS on your website. Integrating MLS into your website can be challenging but it can be highly rewarding for lead capture and sales conversions.
How Can I Integrate MLS Data Into My Website?
As a real estate agent, I can almost guarantee you have been told that MLS integration is as simple as downloading a plugin for your website. While this may be true in some regards, doing it correctly is another story. You can go to Google right now and find hundreds of “easy” options for MLS integration with a guide on how to install and activate them properly on your WordPress website. But do these MLS integrations offer everything else that is required for generating leads online?
All of these questions are important to weigh when picking an integration method:
- Are they built to generate SEO?
- How much visual customization do they offer?
- Do they offer specialty options like geofencing?
- Can you create custom searches for a niche market?
MLS, IDX And SEO, What You Need To Know
Most MLS vendors advertise that their plugins or software is easy because of “IDX” (Internet Data Exchange) but what does this actually mean? Almost nothing! Think of it this way, just because an MLS vendor advertises that they support integration does not mean they care about what’s best for your website. This is clearly evident in how the data is most commonly displayed through what’s called iFrames. These iFrames are easy to generate pieces of code that can be customized and added directly to your website. While these may be easy to work with THEY PROVIDE ZERO SEO! This is because iFrames can not be accurately scanned by Google’s search engines and you are losing out on the most valuable SEO card you have to play, local tags. Think about, every property that’s on your website contains SEO gold in the form of the city name, local address, pictures with alt descriptions, zip codes ect. All of these pieces of information feedback to Google and generate SEO on a local level which is the most important part of being a real estate agent, the local area. If all of this valuable local information is displayed in an iFrame NONE of that counts as positive SEO to your website and you are missing out on key opportunity. A good developer can make sure an iFrame isn’t ruining your SEO!
Page Speed Is Important For SEO
Recently, Google announced that page load times will be a full ranking factor as part of their mobile first algorithm changes. Almost all of the MLS vendors out there require the search results to come from their server, which can slow result times to a halt. If your developer understands server side optimization there are many ways you can speed up the calling of data between the plugin and your website. However, the best method for sustained pagespeed is to cut out the MLS vendor middleman and go directly the source! By integrating natively with MLS on your website through server side programming and API pathways, a good developer can bring your page speeds to optimal levels ensuring your SEO does not suffer. Remember pagespeed = SEO on today’s internet.
The Need For Personalization With MLS
A common thread that spreads through all MLS vendors in the lack of customization and personalization options. Many times, these changes are can what set your website apart from the rest of your local competition. Being able to personalize your search results to fit the look and feel of your website is necessary in today’s online ecosystem. If you have invested in a sleek new modern website, but your search results look like they are from 2006, odds are your lead capture will suffer. While most of this personalization is done for pure aesthetics, it can also be highly valuable if you are in a niche real estate agent. If you answer yes to any of these questions below, odds are the plugin you choose will need to be modified by a developer to incorporate these requirements.
- Do you focus or operate in certain zip codes only?
- Do you specialize in a specific type of property?
- Do you only represent specific clients as an agent?
- Do you focus on distinct subdivisions?
Trust Your Developer!
MLS integration is easy right! That’s what most vendors would love to have you believe, but in truth, odds are you’re going to need an experienced developer to really get the most out of your MLS driven website.
If you care about any of these things:
- Page Speed
- Lead Generation
- Visual Customization
- Niche Personalization
The best thing you can do is partner with an experienced web design and development firm like us here at Oak City Technology. We’re local and have years of experience developing real estate websites in the local area and can help any size real estate company meet their online goals. Give us a call today at 919-628-4017 for a free consultation!