When it comes to community information, it has to be one of the most common questions we hear from agents: How do we highlight schools in our area?
Of course, it makes sense that many people interested in buying a home are just as interested in local schools. The desire to promote them is glaringly obvious.
The trick is, though, that many agents craft convoluted (or simply ineffective) solutions that look good but are not mindful enough of the end-user.
Today, we’ll dive into how you can best position information about schools, where it makes the most sense for user experience, and if it is right for you in the first place…
How Should You Position School Data?
When school data stands alone on your website, it is detrimentally “siloed,” which is essentially putting the cart before the horse.
User trends, at least online, have shown us that potential leads are more likely to fall in love with a home before a school district, and not the other way around.
That is also due to the fact that school districts are not static, while they may not change often, they can change — and, depending on programs offered at schools, you may not be limited by not living in that school’s district.
All told, there are four key ways to position information about schools on your real estate website. Let’s break them down…
As Part of a Listing Strategy…
We’ve profiled the importance of manually-added listings before, but one of the main things you should know is that school information should always live on a listing.
Instead of linking out to a map of school districts, or to each school, you should position all the information a user needs on your listing.
That includes the schools in the area, the age ranges they serve, and only including the ones you know are recognized or respected in the area.
If you do that, you are positioning yourself as the expert, and not a beneficiary of an external source of data feed that you are pulling in.
You know your stuff, and a lead should reach out, specifically to you, to learn more about their options. In addition, it adds more credible information to your listings pages.
As Part of a Content Strategy…
An effective real estate website will always have a digital footprint in a certain area.
While that can come across on multiple pages, because not every website needs a whole list of neighborhood guides, it needs to be defined in order to have any effect.
As we mentioned before, creating a page called “Local Schools” is typically ineffective. It draws less traffic, has less engagement, and is typically more of a vanity page than a functional one.
Your real estate website shouldn’t have any “vanity pages,” full stop. Every page needs a purpose, whether that’s for usability, converting, or for indexing.
If you wanted to include data about local schools, it would be best to serve them on a content page that simply lists them out.
You could curate it yourself, and package it with a CTA (which we will cover later on in this post).
Basically, you need to think about where you can tuck data about schools into your site, not where it needs to live on its own.
As Part of a Blog Strategy…
The difference between “should I make a page about this?” as opposed to “should I blog about this?” all lies in how often that information changes.
For schools, that may not be all of the time, but it may be often enough that you don’t want to risk what should be evergreen content coming off as dated (and, therefore, unusable).
As part of a blog strategy, if the market demands it, every year deserves a blog profiling the top schools in the area (and the neighborhoods in which they are located).
For an agent, this should be an annual exercise that can truly pay dividends. It can increase your ranking for keywords around schools, and will also be a great reference piece for any buyer clients you are currently helping.
A blog should never simply be a fluff piece, it should be a resource that you can use both as a way to generate organic traffic to your site, or to share with clients.
As Part of a Lead Generation Strategy…
One of the most overlooked, yet invaluable, methods for packaging school data is by looking at it through a lead-generation lens.
If, as an agent, you feel as though your audience is clamoring for data about schools, why give it away for free or in exchange for nothing?
Instead, you should craft a landing page, linking from multiple content pages on your site, to reach out to your team to learn more about schools.
If you took it one step further, you could even create a white paper or eBook profiling the best schools in the area and your team’s thoughts on them.
That way, users could exchange their information, enter your CRM, and receive something they want in return. It may take a little extra effort, but the long-term gains are much easier to envision and to expect.
Information about schools as a lead-generation piece is something we don’t see enough of in the industry. It could be your golden opportunity to leave a real mark.
How Should You Incorporate School Data?
Almost every agent asks us about it, but does every agent need it? Nope.
We wouldn’t recommend that every agent incorporates school data on their website because it doesn’t necessarily reflect the brand of every single agent.
That is also true because plug-ins and additions to websites are not something we’d recommend, instead we think agents are better served to put in a little extra effort to profile schools in a way that truly motivates potential leads.
In real estate marketing, optionality is everything. If you want to include information about schools, you need to think about how you want to do it, how you want to package, and to what ends you want it to fulfill.
Hopefully our discussion today gave you some good ideas, and you can now “graduate” into a strategy that truly serves your online presence!
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