Over the years, Rental Advisors has refined our website design checklist. Not only have we expanded our skill set but Google is constantly changing the rules, so we must keep our design process up to date. There is nothing wrong with a DIY website using one of the many online website builders. However, every client who comes to us after building their own website has the same issue, they don’t know which elements Google requires so their site isn’t getting any traffic.
When I started building websites for apartment locators, I had to learn the Google rules too. Our website design checklist has grown from 25 items to now over 60 items. Since January one of my primary IPA’s (income producing activities), has been to streamline the website design process for every client so you get a faster and more predictable result.
Apartment Locating Website Design Checklist
Set Up (if using WordPress)
- Purchase a domain. You can download a domain checklist from our website.
- Create a database for your property listings.
- Edit your DNS settings to point to the server and database. If you are pointing to a test site, you will need to move your website to the final site later.
- Install WordPress on your server and select your theme.
- If you use a template, replace the dummy content.
- Import or manually add your property listings and written blog content.
- Replace dummy images. Popular Google stock images are duplicated over and over. Your images should be a part of your story.
- Layout your content so it's attractive and easy to read. Avoid big blocks of text.
- Proofread content grammar and spelling errors.
- Proof videos and audio files.
- Proof external page and content links. Use anchor tags to maximize Google value.
- Proof docs in PDF format for download.
- Create a contact page with deliberate call to action contact forms.
- Link to your contact page from call to action buttons on every single page of your website and the top right navigation.
- Write 2-3 blog posts in advance to share on your social networks.
- Set up redirection links from your previous site (if applicable) and create a 404 error page.
- Preview your site in every major internet browser. Especially look at videos and images.
- Preview your site with a mobile simulator to make sure it looks good on all devices.
- Use Google's mobile test tool to analyze responsiveness.
- Reduce image size as much as possible without compromising quality. Page load time is very important to Google and large images is a primary culprit.
- Upload your logo and favicon. Logo should link to your home page.
- Write an email auto responder for every contact form.
- Test every contact form is received in your email inbox.
- Where is your customer redirected after they submit a lead capture form?
- Verify social sharing on every page.
- Test all widgets and tools you've installed on your website like CRM integration, marketing automation, and email marketing.
- Check your speed to see how quickly your site loads
- Install an SEO tool that generates weekly reports about traffic.
- Write your site Title and Tagline and make sure your SEO tool is publishing it on every page.
- Use an SEO tool that automatically generates your page descriptions or write a custom page description for every page/post.
- Verify your permalinks.
- Write metadata for every image and video.
- Create your keywords and make sure each page focuses on your most important keywords.
- If your SEO tool offers content analysis, go through each page and make sure you review their advice.
- Verify your SEO tool generates a sitemap.
- Install Google Analytics tracking code and webmaster tools.
- Connect an email marketing tool.
- Write an email auto responder that is sent instantly to every lead.
- Write an email series for the first 7-14 days after a lead submits their contact information. An email marketing tool will eliminate duplicates but nurture all of your leads without you lifting a finger.
- Write a 12-month email series that connects with your leads for the next year. Email them until they unsubscribe.
- Check your social media buttons and make sure they are linked to correct pages.
- Verify each social media channel has the correct lead capture information.
- Set up an auto responder to each social channel to when you gain followers, they are provided a call to action.
- Add any documents legally required by your real estate licensing board.
- Purchase any licenses needed from third party widgets you've installed.
- Add your contact information in the footer so it's easily accessible from every page.
- Include copyright.
- If you are selling eBooks on your website or accepting credit cards for any purchases include terms and conditions.
- In Europe a cookie warning is law. If you are using cookies, you can prevent legal issues by including a warning.
- If you have been using a test site, move the website and database to new server.
- Edit your DNS settings to point to the new server.
- Verify the site pages, videos, and images display correctly.
- Install an anti-spam plug in to prevent fake lead capture forms.
- Install a malware scanning tool and automate backups of your site and database.
- If using WordPress, disable "Discourage Search Engines" checkbox in settings.
As you can see, the website design process is very detailed. We have written our own proprietary checklist to make sure every website we build is ready for marketing after launch. If you need advice about building an apartment locating website, request a free 15 minute consultation here.
Common Website Mistakes
If you already have a website but it's not generating leads, you can check these items and see if you are making some of these common website design mistakes:
- You aren't convincing your website visitors to use your service. You either don't have enough content or your content isn't compelling.
- Your website visitors don't want to use a locator, and your content doesn't provide enough of a hook to change their mind.
- Your website reads like a resume with a couple of apartment pictures on it.
- Website visitors can't search available apartments or see available inventory.
- Your content hasn't been updated in three months (or longer). Google reads the last modified date on your content. Stale content doesn't rank as well.
- Your lead generating form is hard to find.
- Your lead generating form asks too many questions.
- Your lead generating form isn't linked to an email system that automatically follows up with your leads over the next 8-10 weeks.
- You don't have a lead generating form on your website because you prefer website visitors call or email.
- Your website doesn't offer your friends, family, past clients, and website visitors an easy way to share your website with others.
- Your website doesn't offer your friends, family, past clients, and website visitors an easy way to send you referrals.
- Your website doesn't link to multiple sources of social media.
- Your social media pages haven't seen fresh content in weeks, possibly months, or heaven forbid a year.
- You don't add new followers to your social media accounts every week with the intention of inviting them to check out your website. (It doesn't matter if they are moving or not - they probably know someone who is.)
- You don't have a marketing budget and therefore don't have a marketing strategy.
- In the competitive space of apartment locating websites you don't have a unique message or story.
- You have no idea where you rank on Google, so you have no idea how to beat out your competitors.
- You don't know who your apartment locating competitors are on Google.
- Your website layout isn't mobile responsive so your losing 40% of your potential leads from mobile users.
- You don't track your lead sources, so you have no idea where to spend your time or money on advertising.
- You've never looked at your Google Analytics report.