How to Set Up an Effective "Area" Page, REW Style

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Here on the Real Estate Webmasters writing/SEO team, we have a standard way of setting up our "area" pages. It is proven to be effective, when the goal for the page is conversion of traffic into leads.

What's an "Area Page"?

This is a term we use loosely to refer to a page that describes a relevant, name-able real estate market that is worked by the agency that runs the website. Sometimes it describes a certain property type ("Phoenix condos"), and sometimes it has a broader scope ("Tempe real estate").

Such a page will need to have the following characteristics:

  • It must be optimized, to attract relevant traffic (people Googling "phoenix condos")
  • It must have relevant listings (or a visible link to them), to elicit registration
  • It must have as much quality text as possible, to build a user's confidence and to keep them on the site, and to house the optimized elements

Having Listings on the Page

For the page to have listings that are relevant to the content (Phoenix condos, or listings exclusive to a neighbourhood of Tempe, for example), usually requires a custom IDX solution. (Many agents' sites merely have an iframed search form, so the user has to fill out a search in order to see listings relevant to the page — and they may still fail to find them.)

At REW, we create "listings snippets" that show whatever category of properties is relevant to the page. If a prospective lead searches in Google for "Phoenix condos" and is brought to our Phoenix condos page, we want to show them Phoenix condos, right away!

If you have a custom IDX solution on your website (2010 or later), you can easily create listings snippets for all of your pages.

(Note: If you can't put relevant listings directly on the page, then you can still apply the principles described in this post. In place of the listings snippet, you would create a compelling, visually-separated call to action (see below) that links to your inventory, wherever it may be.)

How to Organize the Page

You may have seen our standard area pages already. They have a heading at the top, followed by a small paragraph of text (which also contains a special link), then the listings, and finally a larger chunk of text below - and usually there are calls-to-action in one or two places on the page. To summarize: there is only a small amount of descriptive text at the top, followed by listings, and then the bulk of the text. I'm going to discuss the rationale for this organization, and will provide a bit of technical assistance so you can create your own area pages in the same way we do it.

The rationale goes like this:

  • The users who are "readers" need to be aware that there is textual information available on your page.
  • The users who are "shoppers" are more fickle; they want to see properties NOW and they will leave your page if they don't see them right away.

We need to accommodate both kinds of users. The listings snippet must be visible to the shoppers without their having to "scroll" down the page. Fortunately, the readers will usually be satisfied with a small bit of text, as long as it directs them to a larger bit. The small paragraph "directs" them to the larger amount of text via a "Read More" link, which is just a link that scrolls down the page for them (a "same-page" link — see below).

Creating the "Read More" Link

This requires a little bit of work with the page's HTML (click on the "html" button in your CMS's page editor), but it should be easy to follow these directions:

Let's say you wanted this:

Phoenix Condos

Having a condo in Phoenix is the ultimate in sunny urban living. People appreciate the ability to live within minutes of every basic amenity, while retaining the ability to hop on the monorail and access the desert within 15 minutes. Read more about Phoenix condos.

(THEN
A
BUNCH
OF
PROPERTY
LISTINGS
)

More About Phoenix Condos

There is so much to know about buying a condo in Phoenix, that it's hard to put all the information on this single page. But if we can focus first on the ....

Here's the HTML that would produce the example above. I've made the pieces of the "same-page" link bold:

<h1>Phoenix Condos</h1>

<p>Having a condo in Phoenix is the ultimate in sunny urban living. People appreciate the ability to live within minutes of every basic amenity, while retaining the ability to hop on the monorail and access the desert within 15 minutes. <a href="#read-more">Read more</a> about Phoenix condos. </p>

#listings-snippet#

<h2>More About Phoenix Condos </h2>

<p id="read-more">There is so much to know about buying a condo in Phoenix, that it's hard to put all the information on this single page. But if we can focus first of all on the ....

As you can see, the paragraph we're linking to is signified by the "id" attribute. We've named it "read-more". With that done, we can easily link to this exact spot from anywhere. Since we're linking to it from the same page, we only need to put the following into our link: Just a "#" (means "this page") and the id we gave it ("read-more").

So our link to "#read-more" means "link to the spot named 'read-more' on this page".

Note that you can put an ID on any HTML tag, allowing you to link to that exact spot:

  • Headings: <h1 id="name">
  • Images: <img id="name" alt="" src="" />
  • Bulleted lists: <ol id="name">
  • Divs: <div id="name">

If you ever want to link to an ID from another page, you just link to the page with the ID as per normal, but you append "#id-name" to the end of the link. For example, you would link to "http://www.yourdomain.com/phoenix-condos.php#read-more".

Remember that our writers can transform your badly-organized pages into this same format in only a few minutes each. So if you're convinced that our format is an effective lead-generation tool but you're not exactly brimming with enthusiasm for reformatting the pages yourselves, you can ask us to whip your pages into shape at a rate of about 10 pages per hour (or about 4 per hour if your snippets aren't created yet).

Comments (19)

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mikey

These are very helpful tips Gerry.

Thanks, Mike

stevetrang

Great post, Gerry. However, I am aghast that you are competing with me on my keywords.

GerryThomasen

Thanks Mike!

Steve: HAHAHhaha - let me know if I end up outranking you for anything. ;)

GerryThomasen

Mike Taylor's got a good one here:
http://www.destinrealestatesales.com/destin-golf-homes.php
(The listings may not be above the fold on resolutions that are different from my own)

Or , you can see an example on Jerry Clifford's old site, of how much easier it is to get your listings above the fold when you have the "no-slideshow hack", which lets you specify which (internal) pages don't need to have a slideshow:
http://www.jerryclifford.com/eagan.php

Jennifer Mackay

Thanks for this post Gerry,

Just in time while Jessie is busy getting our new site up and running.

I'm glad to see he's been doing things correctly (most of the time LOL).

Best wishes

Calzephyr

Gerry:

Thanks for another lesson. I suspect that some of the pages of my website may have been the inspiration for your posting.

Thanks again.

Tom W.

MARK Z

Gerry,

I'm about to order the new Featured Community Module that Morgan just got done developing, do you feel that, that should be the home page for the community instead of having what you described above? I currently have all my community pages set up the way you described above, but I'm thinking about changing them and have them set up with the new module, which I believe has a link to view listings if I'm not mistaken. Any thoughts?

GerryThomasen

Wow Mark, that sure shakes things up! I'm going to think about this - I'm away until next Thursday (getting married!) so it'll be a while - at this point, I'm thinking that most users would STILL rather see listings than anything else, and the new module may be relegated to the bottom of the snippets just like the other textual content currently is. I think the best option will be to find a way to have the new module above the fold, as well as a call to action for listings (ideally with a sample listing within it, so people SEE it).

MARK Z

Well Congratulations Gerry!! Here is a look at the module if you haven't seen it, I think it's really sharp. www.buddyblake.com/test.php

mikey

Gerry,

Congratulations on the marriage! I took the plunge last year in my 40's finally.

Aloha, Mike

Paul Caparas

Gerry,

Can you please tell me how to add "Back to top"?

Paul

GerryThomasen

Sure thing, Paul:

<a href="#">Back to top</a>

(# means "this page" in such a context)

kenna real estate

Gerry I'm late to the party!!! :) Would you also add market report in the same page or keep it separate? I'm referring to a detailed report not the smaller snippet which has the market trends. What say you guru? :)

Rita

GerryThomasen

Hey Rita - it depends on a few things. Some people like to split things up into multiple pages in order to have more than one meta title for a given topic (with meta titles being an important place for keywords, and with the space in a page's meta title being limited, it might make sense to have multiple pages for a given topic).

However, the danger is that you will make your pages less useful for users - a "one stop" resource (page) about a topic is often desired - but that depends - some people will argue that it's better to have multiple pages because a lot of users prefer clicking to scrolling (not me - my mouse-wheel finger is twice the size of the corresponding one on my left hand - or the spacebar can be used to scroll down).

If it were me - I would have a very accessible link on my "Scottsdale Real Estate" page, leading to market stats, and perhaps anything else which appeals to the more "data-oriented" users. This page would link easily back to the main area page. The market stats page would be optimized for relevant keywords, similar to the parent page but not the same.

Artur

If one is using a 'featured communities' add ons, how do you make one of the 'anchor links' go down to <p id="Read more">

GerryThomasen

Hi Artur,

Same thing - when you place the link in that "anchor link" field in the featured communities tool, you would link to:
"#read-more"
(without the quotes, and note that I used a hyphen instead of a space, since spaces aren't a good idea for something like this)

Hope that helps!

Ben Fisher

Going through this layout on my new REW site as we speak. Old post but very helpful!

Ben Ganje

whats the code to create the short simple market reports or stats for each page?

GerryThomasen

Hey Ben, are you talking about this?:
http://www.realestatewebmasters.com/img/content-syles/examples/img_community-stats-module.png
If so, that is the Featured Community Module (aka "community stats module") and there's more info here:
http://www.realestatewebmasters.com/upgrades/idx-enhancements.php#community-stats-module

If you're talking about something else, let me know where I can see an example, and I'll try to help!

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