The real estate industry is extremely competitive. With a healthy mixture of full-time agents, part-time dabblers, and the occasional home seller who contemplates handling transactions on their own, everyone comes close to dipping their feet into real estate. The key, from a professional point of view, is to rise above the noise and market yourself as a high performing agent with quality services. In 2016, this means building a website and using it to grow your personal brand.

1. Get the Domain Name Right

Your domain name says a lot about who you are and what services you offer. When choosing a domain name for your real estate business, you’ll want to begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • Which aspect of real estate do I specialize in?
  • Is there a particular geographical market I want to target?
  • Is my name easy to spell/do people recognize it?
  • What purpose will my website serve?

By answering these questions, you can identify the goal of your website and what you’re hoping to accomplish. For example, will you be using the site to simply post listings and attract new leads, or will it serve as membership platform where clients can login and submit paperwork? The domain name you choose for each of these could be quite different.

Once you hone in on some names you like, use a domain checker – such as this one – to see if the name is available and how much it will cost. Most domain names can be had for just a few dollars per year.

2. Optimize for SEO

SEO is important for all websites, but you could argue that no industry relies more heavily on it than real estate. The key to making your website visible is using the right search terms. This is the only way your listings will show up in the correct situations.

3. Use Professional Photography

There are tons of online resources that offer free stock photography, clip art, and public images, but a quality website requires custom imagery. This is especially true in the real estate industry where clients want to know that you understand their needs and wants. When it comes to your website pages and individual listings, you need to invest in professional photography.

“There’s a massive difference between using amateur photos and professional images in a real estate listing,”writes Green Residential, a Houston-based property management company. “Professional real estate photographers have the right equipment, understand flattering angles, and are worth every penny they charge.”

If there’s one aspect of your website you can’t afford to get wrong, it’s the imagery. Visuals are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text, and you want to ensure you’re sending the appropriate signals.

4. Develop a Lead Capture Form

The majority of people will visit your website and leave without every contacting you for more information. This is the unfortunate truth. However, this doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in other properties that come along. The best way to maximize site visitors is by developing some sort of lead capture form that encourages users to provide contact information in exchange for something of value, such as an eBook or neighborhood guide.

Good Web Design Takes Time

Quality web design takes time and attention to detail. If you want a website that’s customized and professional, you can’t take any shortcuts. It’s imperative that you invest the time and money into this high returning lead generation medium and avoid rushing the process. Study good examples of what the competition is doing and keep these tips in mind as you begin developing your own real estate website.