How to Set Up an Effective "Area" Page, REW Style
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:
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.
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:
<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>
<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).