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Real estate agents, like many other professionals, are starting to understand the importance of having a website. It represents your company to potential clients, it can promote your properties, and it can enhance your online presence. With so much riding on a single website, you might be tempted (or have already succumbed to the temptation) of creating a website quickly, cheaply, and without the help of a developer.
Your options were limited until you found the amazing world of template website builders, or perhaps your parent company gave you their own internal template to use. Now your website design options are wide open and you’re ready to conquer the web…or are you still limited by the one-size-fits-all theme that hundreds, maybe even thousands of other realtors are also using? Most likely, you’re becoming a copycat without even knowing it.
Template websites might seem easy to quick, but you’ll end up getting out of it what you originally put in. And that isn’t much. If you’re still not convinced, here are five more reasons why a template website could be damaging to your real estate business.
5 reasons why you should not use a template website
Template websites, especially the ones that are widely distributed among real estate agents, come with “optimized” content built right in. Somebody else already took the trouble to write an introduction your website, a fill-in-the-blanks About page, and sprinkled other keyword-dense copy throughout the website. If you decided to delete this content and write your own, then you’re not in hot water yet. If you are using the generic content, you’re most likely going to end up with a big fat penalty from Google.
Duplicate content is a big problem for search engines because they can’t tell which website is the original and which is the copy. Furthermore, it doesn’t really matter which is which because it means one or both parties weren’t creative enough, or didn’t care enough, to create their own unique content. Even if you don’t leave whole paragraphs in tact, duplicate content from title tags and descriptions can be just as detrimental.
Little To None Customization
Many realtors will jump on board with a template or pre-designed theme thinking that it’s got everything they need to set up a one-stop shop for their clients only to find out that there’s no search function or no apparent way to change the location of the header. And if there is an apparent way, it’s buried somewhere in the HTML code, making it pretty non-apparent after all.
The problem with a pre-designed theme is that someone has already made all the design and development decisions for you. If you chose a template that wasn’t exactly designed for real estate companies, you’ll most likely find many useful functions missing. And even if you have chosen a realtor-specific template, there’s no way that developer, who could be anywhere in the world, who might have never met a real estate agent in his life, could possibly know what you, your clients, and your business need from a website.
No matter how much money you pay for a template, no matter how promising all the built-in features sound, you’ll almost always come up short when it comes to customization.
Lack Of Personality
Since you won’t be able to customize much of the design or functionality of your website, you also won’t be able to give it much of a personal flair. You’ll end up with a website identical, or nearly so, of probably a dozen other realtors in your area alone. In that case, what would make a homebuyer or seller choose you over anybody else? You’ll end up looking like a clone; not the caring, understanding, and personable realtor a newlywed couple wants to use to find the home they plan on starting a family in.
Free Doesn’t Always Mean Free
No doubt you’ll come across hundreds of free templates and free themes, and some of them might even promise those features you were looking for! But before you think you’ve won, take a closer look. Many free templates require a payment for additional functionality, different design elements, and even a fee for more pages than the default allows. When you add up all those extra costs, are you really saving yourself money?
Finally, templates usually come with a string attached, regardless of whether or not you paid for them. Most designers want to lay claim to their work so you can usually find a “Theme Built By” or “Designed By” link at the bottom of your website. Most likely, you won’t be able to remove it. Furthermore, it will divert attention away for your property listings and content, potentially causing visitors to leave your website and never return. This is great for those developers, as they get some link juice and free promotion, but it’s bad news for your real estate business.
Template websites have a certain appeal, especially to real estate agents who just want to get a site up and running. Unfortunately, most pre-designed themes are lacking in customization, quality, and personality. Not only do you risk having the same website as your competitors, but you’ll have little opportunity to take creative control and build the website you envisioned. If you think a template website is going to save you time and money, think again. Hire a developer and get the job done right from the very start.
Gina Vinnitsky is a blogger for Boston Luxury Residential. If you’re interested in catching a glimpse of the good life at their Boston luxury aparment buildings, check out the BLR Facebook page for more information.