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"Web Site Challenges and Rewards"

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Vern English Photo
6/1/01 Interview with Vern English

Keller Williams Realty
34866 US 19N
Palm Harbor, FL 34684

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Winning from a Web Site

  1. English's site has been selected by the Florida Association of Realtors as the best agent site of the year and by the NAR as one of the top ten in the nation; the primary guidelines used by the Florida Association of Realtors were value and ease of use for the consumer.
  2. His prize-winning site has been getting half a million hits and 12,000 user sessions a month; however, getting people to visit is only the first step in acquiring their business.
  3. English is able to access his site through an extensive virtual desktop that allows him to get regular, detailed reports on consumers' use of the site; other than the front page, the most visited section is his MLS service where consumers can perform their own searches (many of his competitors still try to control information).
  4. Feeder sites, including his Society personal site, have been effective in driving traffic to his main site via a visible link on each feeder; English is trying to develop varying keyword sets and headers for each site to appeal to different aspects of the public using search engines.
  5. The web site address is posted everywhere possible, including 'For Sale' signs and a car decal; English uses two URLs as front doors to the site: as the main one and for local and personal promotion.
  6. Check out OnlineExpo at for information on metallic labels with your URL to attach to a car like an auto dealer's ID.
Challenges in Setting Up Your Site

  1. Turning your site over to a web master will save you a learning curve, but find one you know and trust, who has the talent to produce a good site and who has done many real estate sites.
  2. English's first generation site was a vanity site that did not attract business; consumers were not interested in seeing a personal photo and resume on the front page.
  3. English uses special software to submit all pages of his site to search engines on a regular basis; Swiss Army App is good for actual submissions; WebPositionGold is useful for cataloging sites and identifying where they can be improved.
  4. Most of the traffic to the site comes from visitors who see the URL on signs, decals and other advertising; the targeted traffic generating business comes from search engines.
  5. The cost of getting a site up can be kept to a minimum by using a template site, which is what English started with; he now has a semi-custom site because he and his web master have gone on to enhance it with MLS features, relocation tools, report access and more.
  6. You may come up with your own features or plug into some offered by your web master; others, such as MLS search, may be worth outsourcing English's site hot-links to his service provider for MLS, but by way of a 'guest book' feature that captures the visitor's contact info; the MLS service costs English $30/month.
  7. Be proactive in providing the consumer with information; the old-fashioned, 'gatekeeper' mode forces you into a functionary role and will lead to the demise of your business.
Common Denominators for Residential and Commercial

  1. Features on the Englishes' residential site will be helpful as they do more commercial/investment businessā€¹virtual tours (the second most popular site feature) are an obvious crossover.
  2. An alternative to using your Society Personal Web Site to drive traffic to your main site is to use it as an ancillary resource that expands your business focus; if your main personal site is primarily residential, create a commercial tab that links back to your Society site set up under the commercial template option.
  3. The coming trend is to develop a network of satellite sites that provide niche services or services beyond your primary specialty a spider web of nodes to serve different parts of the community.
  4. English puts all listings on virtual tour as a cost of doing business; there are a number of providers at varying costs, but he prefers to take the pictures himself and create his own tours with specialized software.
Favorite Web Sites

  1. A valuable gateway site to tremendous content is
  2. is a good resource for doing commercial real estate business.
  3. The Florida state association sponsors, which has good general information for Realtors as well as Florida-specific topics.
  4. AboutTime is a neat site to use for keeping your computer clock in sync with atomic time.
Basic Advice for Getting Started on the Web

  1. Make use of the free web site to gain initial knowledge for mastering the basics of Web surfing.
  2. Try for paid courses to expand your knowledge.
Contact Information for Vern English:

(v) 727-772-0772 x289
(f) 727-772-8820

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

The Englishes' web site