By Mark Mathis, Executive Director of Sales, Homes.com
It’s not enough to have any old real estate website anymore. Consumer mobile search trends for real estate are climbing and closing the gap on desktop searches. Real estate brokers must ensure their websites are mobile-friendly and optimized to edge out the competition, and capture and convert these savvy mobile home-seekers into clients.
Consider this—of the 94 million consumers who visited a real estate site in May, 58 percent came from mobile devices (comScore). Similarly, 68 percent of home buyers actually contacted a real estate professional based on their mobile search (NAR). More importantly, 79 percent of consumers are more likely to leave a non-mobile friendly site, never return and will likely visit your competitor’s site (Google). Recently, Google defined the true meaning of a mobile-friendly website, complete with criteria and guidelines that will ultimately make it easier for mobile consumers to find the information they want. Google may potentially use this criteria as a ranking signal, or reward businesses with a better position in mobile search results for optimizing their web pages to enhance users’ experiences.
Think of a time when you entered a search into your mobile phone or tablet and found yourself navigating a page where the links were too small, the text was miniscule and you had to zoom, pinch and scroll your way around to read or select any content. Well now, according to Google, mobile-friendly websites will receive a special call-out label in the mobile search results. To obtain this “badge of honor,” web pages must comply with the four mobile-friendly criteria below as detected by Googlebot:
- Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
- Uses text that is readable without zooming
- Sizes content to the screen so users don't have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
To quickly analyze your website and its compatibility with mobile devices, use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. If your site is not determined to be mobile-friendly, this resource will give you the reasons why, generate an image depicting what the Googlebot actually sees on the page and provide tips to improve the site.
When evaluating your website for its ease of use, consider converting to a website that is supported by responsive design technology. This technology seamlessly adapts your web content so that it will look and operate the same across all web devices from desktop and laptop computers to tablets and smartphones. Site load time is reduced, performance is increased and, ultimately, buyers and sellers are provided with a dynamic experience that entices them to explore more of your site, stay longer and inquire about your properties and services.
Responsive design sites are also key to meeting Google’s first mobile-friendly criteria about avoiding Flash programs, which are not common on most mobile devices. Real estate websites often use virtual tours that are typically designed with Flash technology. However, when viewing these Flash-based tours on mobile devices, homebuyers are redirected to a slideshow of images that may not carry over contact forms, calculators and other widgets associated with it, thus losing a potential client. Conversely, with responsive design websites, mobile viewers have the same experience as desktop viewers where property listings, photos, virtual tours, lead forms and other bells and whistles are fully intact.
Google is constantly paving the way for dynamic web experiences, and business leaders and real estate marketers alike should heed their advice. Partner with a real estate technology company like Homes.com that has been steeped in mobile-friendly products like responsive design webites for years. Contact us for a website consultation and to learn about Homes Connect Fusion™, customizable websites built with responsive design technology.
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.