Should I use WordPress.com or WordPress.org for my real estate website?
Are you a real estate professional in the following areas?
- running or working with a real estate marketing agency
- real estate investor
- real estate broker
- developer of real estate websites
- or a real estate agent operating through a real estate brokerage
If so, you’ll want to be using WordPress.org for your real estate website instead of the free, business or VIP options offered on the WordPress.com platform.
Why WordPress.org and not WordPress.com? “It is guaranteed that the more you put into your website, the more you will get out of it” Sinoun Chea, Founder at Shiftweb Solutions (Showcase IDX Certified Partner)
Therefore you’ll want to invest in the best solution.
This article will answer those questions, and where you have more questions, please leave them in the comments, so we can follow up and provide you with more information.
Let’s approach this decision with an open mind and consider all the reasons why WordPress.org is actually way better for real estate websites and can be a more cost-efficient option when compared to the VIP option offered through WordPress.com.
Why use WordPress.org for my Real Estate Website?
WordPress.org is self-hosted (this means - you need a domain name and a web hosting platform to operate on this version of the platform), but it gives you all the freedom and flexibility needed to operate effectively and be compatible with the necessary technologies (IDX and CRM tools) to be successful in your real estate business as a real estate agent.
What are the benefits of WordPress.org?
- Gives full control over your website, allowing owners to customize as they please
- Access to all real estate plugins
- Access to any WordPress theme you want (check out our article on the best WordPress themes for real estate)
- Full control means you can use any analytics software that’s compatible with WordPress sites and run your own ads (owned or as an affiliate), and if you have or want an e-commerce store option, you can use any SSL and payment gateway you wish.
- Rewards members with access to premium listings or exclusive content by setting up restricted pages or registration pages for VIP or top member communities
- When used with the right IDX solution, and proper SEO practices, it improves your website's ability to rank on search engines like Google and Bing.
What are the cons of WordPress.org?
- You’ll need to pay a hosting fee. (Much like a fee for cloud storage - the more storage you have, the more your cost increases). This may only run you $8 - $40 per month depending on the host you pick but you should be aware of the additional investment.
- You’ll need to manage your own updates and backup your site. Thankfully, this is now super easy when you opt-in to automatic updates, plus you have a number of real estate plugins to choose from that you can use to back up your website.
Why not to use WordPress.com for my Real Estate website?
WordPress.com is the simple service version of WordPress.org and comes in 5 versions to meet different needs. It’s perfect for blogging and has a few costly adaptations that makes it fairly functional but not effective for real estate business websites.
- A free version, good option but restricts access to a lot of features.
- A personal version, lightweight but strong upgrade from the free version and costs $48 annually.
- A premium version, costing $96 annually.
- A business version, costing $300 annually.*
- An e-commerce version, costing $540 annually.
- A VIP version, with an initial price point of $5000 monthly.
What are the benefits of WordPress.com?
- Great for blogging, if you just want a site to host your blogs look no further than the free version, plus it offers up to 3GB of space.
- The other different versions certainly require more space and offer a bit more - you can also purchase additional space as needed.
- Small perk, you don’t have to be concerned about updating your site and real estate plugins or backing up your data. WordPress.com takes care of that for you and really WordPress.org has good options to handle this as well.
What are the cons of WordPress.com?
- Based on your plan option you’ll be restricted on access to real estate plugins and custom themes, each plan gives you a plugin or two and a basic theme. When using the free version - you get access to the jetpack plugin, which is great for importing content for a blog post.
- You may fall victim to a diminished user experience with your site being overrun with display ads, if you are using the free version. You want your visitors to come directly to your shop/site, albeit in a digital space, and not get a feeling of going to the mall where the sellers at the kiosk compete to get their attention.
- You can’t run or place ads of your own, which is not ideal especially if you’re a marketing affiliate. (see our latest article on the top 8 most effective affiliate marketing programs in real estate).
- On the free WordPress.com site, you don’t own your branding and your site can be deleted at any time if you are believed to have breached the terms and conditions or violate WordPress’s policies.
- You are given a domain name when you choose the free version of WordPress.com. Example, https://yourwebsite.wordpress.com. With a paid version of WordPress.com you can have a custom domain name. Example, https://showcaseidx.com/ for a website or https://showcaseidx.com/blog/ for a blog page on your own website.
- If you have an e-commerce extension to your overall website plan or you are looking for an option that accommodates online sales and retail, then you should consider the e-commerce plan for WordPress.com.
- Limited functionality.
In its infancy and at the core of its framework, a real estate WordPress website needs to accomplish the main objective of being a digital touchpoint where realtors showcase information to potential buyers and homebuyers can find and access that information. It must encourage integration. You don’t want your clients going to Zillow, and you need to build a site that your clients will actually use for their home buying/selling experience.
Almost every website does this, and in order to do it really well, they’ll need support from external plugins and third-party applications, internal tools such as themes and extensions. Most industries have their dream team, or unique combination of internal and external pieces that are “must-haves”. In real estate that team consists of a WordPress.org website and the Showcase IDX plugin.
If you’re new to the showcase idx plugin and how it works, you can join a live demo with their best in class customer support team where they’ll walk you through what it offers and how it powers your website.
Your real estate website needs to allow flexibility and full control, have a framework for search, search engine optimization, mobile responsiveness, security, and fast loading times.
In our modern digital age where the real estate market is so fluid, with technology advancing and constantly improving the home-buying process, you need an IDX solution best suited for your MLS to display your listings and a WordPress.org website to showcase your business, attract visitors, and keep them searching on your website.
Wondering how you can achieve this hassle-free?
Here are a few quick tips for your real estate business before you go:
- Improve your website SEO strength by naming your images.
- Most WordPress Real Estate themes aren't the best for your website.
- Include a description and keywords with all your images to help improve your website search traffic - this will make your listings more visible to Google.
- Don’t overload your website with real estate plugins or other plugins, you don’t want to impact your site speed.
- Use your IDX and property searches to create hotsheets, these listing practices increase the likelihood of users finding a home on your sites.
- Save time by using an IDX solution that handles listing your properties on your WordPress website.
- Do research and see how other real estate companies are showing their real estate listings and what tactics you can implement on your own website.
- This could be simple tweaks such as listing by:
- Real Estate Features (featured listings, foreclosures, etc)
- Property Types
- Bedrooms and Bathrooms
- Floor Plans as the initial image
- Gallery or single image listings
- Pricing: direct price or price ranges
- Neighborhoods or Communities
- WP Amortization Calculator (helpful for mortgage calculations)
- Use a Google Maps shortcode for direction to open houses
- Use widgets or custom templates to showcase information
- Leverage your social media channels and contact section: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Custom Forms, Website Forms, Email Address, Phone Numbers and Fax Numbers.
- This could be simple tweaks such as listing by:
- Schedule your content, batching work saves time - be sure to leverage your social media to point to your real estate website. Check out our article content management here.
- Working with a Real Estate agency helps, ensure you choose the right one.
- Partner with companies that can help your clients locally, these include:
- banks and credit unions
- large companies like Home Depot and Lowes
- small businesses like your local upholstery and furniture stores, crafts makers and lawn care companies, even your local repair men and handymen.
Everyone who comes in contact with home-buyers, home furnishing and home-repair are a potential referral source for your business.
* If you insist on using the WordPress.com version, you will need to be running at least this version in order to utilize the Showcase IDX plugin or other real estate technologies.