Jake Marsh upgrade

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I usually don't do this but I thought it might be fun to give the members a glimpse into what I do on a daily basis when working with client's websites.

Domain and history
The website I am working on tonight is http://www.jakemarsh.com - Jake and Greg have been clients of mine for over 2 years now and through a lot of hard work, we first page rankings in Google for their coveted search term "Denver Real Estate" and tons of other terms.

The traffic, leads and conversions have been great however the site design and content is quite dated. On top of that, Jake and Greg are still using their old iframed wolfnet IDX solution, which is ok for a third party solution but has some serious holes in it's game and we have had a lot of success increasing conversions by switching from Wolfnet to custom REW IDX solutions.

The plan
My plan is to completely upgrade this website in terms of design, content and IDX so that we improve the conversions even more, add a ton more useful content, and of course (As a newly appointed metrolist IDX vendor) we will be adding a custom IDX solution.

Ok so where do I start - featured areas! Currently we have a bunch of links on the left hand side of the site that lead to a short page of unique content about the area, and a call to action to search the MLS listings and then at the bottom of pages, their contact information.

Because of the original budget for this project, we did not have time to create a TON of content for these pages, or write supporting pages like relocation sections, market trends, stats etc, so it was enough content to rank and get people to click to the MLS and that's it. Also these pages could REALLY do with some design help in terms of graphical elements and more compelling calls to action.

So where to start with these pages? Now that we have the support of custom IDX, we can pull area specific listings right into the page, that will really add some depth to the content of the pages, and provide a lot more clickable eye candy for the visitors so that we can get them over to the IDX where the real lead capture happens. For an example of area specific listings being pulled into a page, check out http://www.previewnaples.com/olde-naples.php that page is also a good example of how a well placed image can improve the overall look of a page. I was also considering a slideshow or mouseover of multiple images and maybe go 2 column for the area pages. I was checking out Jason's site at http://www.marindreamhouse.com/maringuide/guide_marincounty.html and I really like that layout, although I am not sure how well it will convert, just an idea to bring to the design meeting.

Still on the area pages - Google mapping of properties specific to that area, to see an example of this see http://www.adealhome.com/kyle-real-estate.php users are constantly impress with this level of technology and provides yet another call to action for the page.

Finally, building out a nice display for property type, and price rank links directly to MLS search results. See the middle of this page http://www.destin-florida-real-estate.com/ for an example

Finally, I want to get rid of the slideshow for the area pages, it takes up a lot of space and really isn't necessary for making an impression especially with all of these new elements being added.
Does anyone else have suggestions on what to add to the area pages? I am going to estimate a total of 4-6 hours per page for this type of high end development on an area page including all programming, graphics, research and writing.

Slideshow - people love to look at pictures, but I am thinking (And have discussed with Jake) getting creative with this part of the site. I really want to use that top part of the sites "real estate" to draw visitors into the relocation sections and IDX. I am going to want a quicksearch for the IDX on all pages of this site, but might integrate it into the top part like we did at www.guidetolocalrealestate.com I do kind of like the way we have used their photos in that slideshow though (I usually don't like it, but because the domain is also Jake's name, for some reason it just works for me.) - I am not totally sure exactly what I want to do with that area, I am sure a mockup meeting with the design team should produce some great creative ideas.

Top navigation - Because of the volume of unique content going into this thing, I think we need to integrate some SEO friendly CSS drop downs for this site. (Note make IE 7 compliant)

Home page - We definitely I nice big "Google Map Search" button right up at the top of the site. Might consider a 3 column call to action graphic element. Google Map Search, Relocation Information and List your home (With the top ranked Realtor in Denver) or some other message. I will sell your house or I will buy it! Always made me curious when looking for realtors.

A much more intuitive access to areas navigation is in order. Not sure what I want to do here yet, but from an SEO perspective, I want to keep them straight html text links.

Ok where am I for hours? Shoot forgot to track each element, I am going to guess 10 hours more on the programming side, 20 on the graphics.

REW Blog installation: An absolute MUST of course I have to get these guys posting in it, but maybe we will assign someone to do that for them as well, they are to busy selling properties anyways :)
 
Ok - for one blog post, I think I have enough to work on - Thanks for giving me creative freedom (To a point) with this project Jake, I am really looking forward to suping this puppy up for you.

So my REW readers, did I miss anything? Do you have any suggestions, commetns, questions?

Comments

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OCTeam

Your work is more impressive all the time! http://www.adealhome.com is one of the nicest sites I have seen. Highly impressed.... would like ot get my site up to that level..

Mert

I just counted 51(I think) neighborhoods and suburbs as areas. You had a line about a customization of area pages 4-6 hours per area and who knows how many more pages of content to create new areas. My man, Jake must be making a lot of money because that by itself is 25 grand at least. Just an FYI. By the way, guidetolocalhomes.com is the best flash that should be standard for every custom IDX. I cannot think of a better map flash lead generation technique

Morgan Carey

Do you mean guidetolocalrealestate? In terms of pricing I will work that out with Jake (Although I cannot speak to his financial situation), with orders that large I usually give my guys deals (Especially guys like Jake :) But when you think about it - try not to consider the big bill. Try to think about the ROI - if those pages convert 1 extra deal per year, even at full billable price of $400-$600 USD that is pretty good ROI - and the goal would be to convert many more deals, especially in the big areas so for every deal closed the ROI increases exponentially.

Mert

Yes I do mean guidetolocalrealestate.com. I mean I personally dislike map searches because it sort of kills another reason to use a realtor for ignorant first time homebuyers but when I saw that website, it was a jaw dropper. I mean that is what flash is supposed to do rather than being a sightseeing tour. Also talking about ROI, you really might want to give him a wide spectrum of links to neighborhoods instead of packing them up and dumping them all under one page. Actually when I think about it another idea might be to spread out those links under many regions. Oh by the way, I assure you Morgan, if I had 100K to spend on a website I would do it in a heart beat. There is no better investment right now in terms of ROI. Also can you clarify " I think we need to integrate some SEO friendly CSS drop downs for this site." Do you mean this like a neighborhood table of realestatepacificbeach.com?

Morgan Carey

No I mean like the dropdowns you see an www.nanaimoinformation.com at the top - They are completely search engine spiderable dropdowns, and are great for organizing content :)

Joshua Keen

Ok...now you've got me really considering the leap to a custom site. I've really like what you guys have done with the previewnaples site and agree with Mert that guidetolocalrealestate has one of the better uses of flash that I've seen in a REW design. How many hours did it take to design? I really like the way my site is coming together as a template, but ultimately feel I should be investing my time in more DIRECT incoming producing activities and leaving the website design to the pros. I think I'm going to go through one final overhaul in terms of layout and content and see if I can live with it for 2007...if not, you will need to re-create this post with your ideas for my site when I sign up to go custom. Like I said on the forum...I'm in love with the marindreamhouse site -- they did a phenomenal job with the site design...though I think it could be improved upon somewhat in terms of creating more conversion oppotunities.

Joshua Keen

Oh...by the way...how much to install an REW blog on my site to replace the current Wordpress blog I have? I like wordpress, but without proper access (being that it's hosted on an REW server) I'm limited in creating more user-friendly aesthetic. And if I go forward with having an REW blog installed...will it be upgrade-able for future revisions of REW blogs? And will there be a charge for upgrades?

Gary Ashton

Hey Mr M, I look forward to seeing the new map search you are working on for Jake and Greg. Hopefully we'll be able to work on an upgrade for me once you get over this site and the new baby :) Congrats on the new bairn Gary :)

Jake Marsh

I love the ideas, we get to combine the best of other projects into ours and hopefully a few new ones too! We just need to figure out the order to tackle this stuff and put the plan into action. To Mert's point we don't have $100k to drop but we do have a few key areas that we'd like to target and then expand to cover all the areas in time. I have learned that we end up much better off when we leave you in charge of things Morgan. The first site we had was horrible looking because we were WAY too involved. Can't wait to see the changes live!

Morgan Carey

Yeah that is always a tough one, of course clients always want to have a say in their project, I mean shoot, it is a representation of their business and themselves. So I understand why clients want to be involved. However, few clients are anywhere near web savvy and not professional web developers. So it really is best for clients to provide feedback and input, but not try to be project managers on a web project as they are not qualified to do so. Jake thank you for the opportunity, as you know we always have your best interests and future success in our hearts and minds. We are very excited to showcase your new project.

OCTeam

Awesome stuff! Put us in line for upgrades as well !

Morgan Carey

OC Team, who are you lol

Jake Marsh

We've implemented most of the small stuff here and love the new enhancements. We're now ready to start on the major expansion of the area pages. We'll start with the Parker page and then use this as the template for the others. These suburb city pages are being searched on 200-300 times a day so we should be able to drive a great deal more traffic to the site through ranking these. Can't wait to make this happen!

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