Our “traditional” real estate website, ThompsonsRealty.com got a serious working over this weekend.
I dunno. Why not? The old site had been around four plus years, and was just”¦ getting old.
I was running the site on the Point 2 Agent platform, which I still think is one of the better real estate template site providers out there. I’ve met many of the people at Point2 and respect them professionally, and consider several of them friends. Through no fault of theirs, I’d let the site fall into disarray, and it needed a facelift.
Obviously I went with the WordPress platform for the latest incarnation. There is still much work to be done, but the bulk of the pages I wanted to keep are there, the 301 redirects are in place where needed and now we sit back and see what happens.
One of the things that keep me with the older system was the excellent listing syndication that Point2 provides. For those that don’t know, listing syndication is (basically) putting your real estate listings out on other sites. You can manually enter them site by site ”“ just remove all sharp objects from the room before you go that route. A syndication system lets you enter them once and it propagates the information out across the far reaches of the world wide web.
I’ll spare you the pro and con arguments of third party listing aggregators in this post, but suffice it to say that with most of the planet looking for homes on the Internet, it seems prudent to get our listings on as many sites as possible.
Point2 did that very well. (Albeit it was quite tiresome to enter listings into the Multiple Listing System (MLS) and then re-enter them into the Point2 back end).
Enter ListHub. They pull listing data directly from the MLS and syndicate them to 30 different property sites. Cost? Free. (Unless you want reporting ”“ and you probably should ”“ but it’s not all that expensive).
Benefits of WordPress
For me, I know WordPress fairly well and can make it do pretty much what I want. Your mileage may vary. But using it over a template provider gives me complete control, and if you know me, you know I’m a control freak.
There also appears to be a significant performance improvement. Here are load times taken before and after the switchover (courtesy of Pingdom):
Templated sites contain a lot of “overhead” to allow for ease of editing. WordPress is pretty lean and mean. (Plus, I left a lot of stuff in the gutter of the Information Highway.)
So, was it painful?
It was excruciating. There is no easy way to switch over files from a provider where I have no server access. We’re talking good old-fashioned cut and paste. And stripping out a lot of formatting code. And reformatting. And placing 301 redirects. And uploading photos and files and whatnot to the new server. Then there is all that DNS and email MX record propagation jazz to consider as well.
Yeah, it pretty much sucked.
I fully expect to get slammed in Google and see a drop in traffic. I dropped out a lot of content that was stale, but it was still content and would land long-tailish searches. Fortunately, I rely more on this very blog you are reading (assuming you’ve stuck with me so far) for prospecting than on the traditional site, but it still did quite well. I
think suspect hope that over time the traffic will return. And I think over time that the WordPress platform (and the amazing Thesis theme) will ultimately do better in the search engines. If nothing else, it’s easier to add new content on this platform, and between Thesis, WordPress and the nature of a blogging platform all bodes well for the SEO future of ThompsonsRealty.com.
Only time will tell I suppose.
I’d love to hear any thoughts, suggestions, or criticisms. If you are industrious / curious / bored you can still see the original site at JayAndFrancy.com, and of course the makeover at ThompsonsRealty.com.