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9 minute read

The design of your real estate website homepage matters a lot.

It’s the window to your world for potential clients and, for most companies, it gets more traffic than any other page. Your homepage layout can be the difference between your website generating lots of revenue or none.

It’s the first impression that counts, and you want to make sure it’s a good one.

With more traffic than any other page on your website, it’s critical to design a homepage that captivates your audience and sets you apart from the competition. But how do you know what your visitors are looking for when they first land on your site?

It’s a challenge, but with the right strategy, you can turn your real estate website into a lead-generating machine.

Designing a homepage and writing the copy is one of the great digital marketing challenges and homepage best practices can be a big help.

Let’s start with the big goals of every real estate website homepage:

  • Quickly let the visitor know where they are
  • Quickly get them to where they want to go and get the information they need, fast

Your homepage is the face of your real estate website, and it has a lot of jobs to do. It needs to rank high in search results, load lightning-fast, be mobile-friendly, be visually appealing, meet accessibility requirements, be easy to update, and maintain consistent brand messaging. But how do you make sure your homepage ticks all the boxes?

We’ll show you a few best practices to help your homepage stand out and generate leads. Remember, these best practices are just starting points – feel free to experiment and measure the impact. With this framework in hand, you’ll know exactly what to include (and what to leave out) on your homepage.

Here is a breakdown of each homepage design element with tips for each, from the top of the page to the bottom.

1. Your company logo

We’ll start with the obvious. The logo goes in the top left on most websites or in the top centre. Here are the few best practices for logo treatment:

  • Not too big
    Big logos add visual noise without actually enhancing the brand. The logo is obvious because of its placement in that key position in the top left, not because of its size. No need to shout. Avoid the need to “make the logo bigger”.
  • Beware the tiny tagline
    A “lock-up logo” is a logo that includes the logomark and the business name together in one element. These also sometimes include a tagline. But the tagline in the logo image is often too small to be legible, especially on mobile devices.
  • One logo is enough
    Some websites add the logo to the hero area in an image so it appears a second time. Or in an image. Or in a video thumbnail. This over-branding wastes space that could be used for other important things, such as telling the visitor what business you’re in.

2. Hero section

The hero section is at the top of the visual hierarchy. It is the section at the top of the page that introduces your company to the visitor.

The hero section should:

  1. Clearly articulate, in just a few words, what your company does and how it’s different.
  2. Contain a call-to-action with a form field, not just a button. Get the user started on a form sequence from your home page rather than directing them to another page with a button where they’ll have to fill in a form anyway.
  3. Contain an image or video that aligns with the header text/introduction. If a background video is used, don’t use fast-moving drone/gimbal clips. Keep it simple or you’ll distract people from the thing you really want them to do (fill in the call-to-action!).
  4. Not make property search the first thing people see. Sure, you want to showcase your listings on your website. But design your website layout for those who will be paying you to sell/manage their property. Prioritise calls-to-action for sellers and investors over buyers and renters. Don’t be ashamed of doing this because you’ll be creating fewer steps for sellers and investors, making it easier for them to know what you do, how you’re different and how to get in touch with you.

Source: https://garyjsmith.com.au/

3. Navigation menu

Your website navigation should be:

  1. In order of your primary audience (from left to right).
  2. Easy to read and understand (avoid fancy, ambiguous menu labels).
  3. Limited to a maximum of 5-6 main menus (any more, and you’ll need to use a ‘hamburger’ menu to keep the top section of your site uncluttered which is not ideal).
  4. Always visible, even if the user scrolls down a page (applicable to all devices).

On mobile, consider the use of a ‘tabbed’ menu across the bottom of the screen:

Notice anything familiar about this tabbed menu approach? It’s very similar to how the navigation works on social media apps, which your visitors are likely spending most of their day using. It has an ‘app-like’ feel and provides your website visitors with the ability to move around sections of your website on a mobile device with one click instead of a ‘hamburger menu’ approach.

4. Social proof

The least visited page on most real estate websites (sorry, agents!) is the testimonials page. So if you only display your reviews on one page of your website, chances are your visitors aint’ seeing ’em.

Showcasing reviews on your homepage, as high as possible on the page, can help build authority and can keep potential clients on your website longer instead of bouncing off the homepage and heading to one of your competitors websites.

But reviews themselves, in textual form, ain’t gonna cut it in 2023. Video testimonials are the way of the future and add a level of authenticity you simply don’t get from text.

If you can’t get video, be sure to include as much information on the testimonial section as possible including:

  • The client’s name and relationship to the property i.e. seller, buyer, landlord, tenant
  • The address of the property you represented for them
  • A photo of the client if possible OR the property itself
  • The agent’s name and avatar

5. Blog/Resources

Your homepage is the one place (besides your blog) to feature your content marketing program. Remember, these are the visitors you know the least about. So give everything, including content.

Warning: They may work on homepages, but be careful adding blog posts to deeper service pages i.e. “Sell with us” page. If the visitor clicks to read an article, they’re moving from a page built to sell to a page built to teach. They’re moving backward, up the funnel.

Add blog posts farther down your homepage, closer to the bottom. You’ve already told them who you are, what you do and how well you do it. Now share more about what you’re thinking.

  • Case studies are better than articles
    This is the one content format that directly supports lead generation. Most articles do not. Case studies are little stories that make the service real. The format (problem, solution, result) requires no imagination from the visitor.
  • Don’t add posts from a dead blog
    Especially if dates are visible, this is a negative. Only build blog posts into the homepage if you have an active content marketing program. Better to have no posts than really old posts.
  • Blog post blocks shift keyphrase relevance
    If the homepage automatically shows the last few articles, then the keyphrases on the homepage will change slightly over time. The page is more relevant for the target phrase if the latest posts mention it in their titles. If not, the page becomes slightly less relevant.

This can explain why homepage rankings jump around, especially if the page doesn’t have a lot of other copy.

You can avoid this SEO issue by using a page block/module that lets you feature specific blog posts rather than automatically showing the latest blogs. Curation is more work, but always better than automation.

6. Final Call-To-Action

The best lead generation websites have hard-working, high clickthrough rate calls to action. The CTR (click-through-rate) of your CTA (call-to-action) directly impacts ROI (return-on-investment). Lots of acronyms going on there.

Adding a CTA block right above the footer has become an almost standard design feature of marketing websites. It’s a smart and simple way to ensure every URL ends with an offer to help. You never know when visitors will decide that they’re ready to reach out.

Rather than a generic call-to-action that any website could use, make it specific to your brand and your objectives. You never know who’s going to be browsing through your homepage. It might just be your next recruit!

Things to remove from your homepage

Here’s a quick list of things to leave off of your website’s homepage:

  1. Slideshows
    43% of websites use them, but fewer than 1% of people use them
  2. Social media icons in the header
    Do you want your visitor to leave and go to a social site, filled with notifications, distractions and ads? If they click it, they aren’t likely to come back soon.
  3. Pop-Ups
    6% of homepages have popup windows, but we generally don’t recommend them. They’re annoying, especially for visitors on mobile devices. Think of all the visual noise between your visitor and your content. I’ve seen sites with piles of it: cookie consent, a chatbot, allow notifications, allow location detection, login with Google and a popup. Don’t make the mobile experience worse than it already is.
  4. Stock photos
    Useful as a last resort, but far better to use original imagery and video
  5. Vague copy
    In the headers, the subheads, the body text and CTAs, ask yourself: Is this language specific to us? Or common to millions?

Our final thoughts

Typically what happens when a real estate business decides to design a new website is they look at a few companies they admire for inspiration. The problem with this approach is although the website might look amazing (visually), the site’s architecture could be holding it back from generating far more revenue for the business than it does.

Websites are about revenue and a poorly designed homepage can be the difference between lots of it or none.

In an industry that already copies each other a lot, plus or minus 10%, set your brand apart with a smart homepage design and supporting visuals.

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