How NOT To Internet Your Mortgage Web Site
Web Design And Development

Sometimes it is easier to inform people as to what not to do, rather than what to do… Don’t play in the street, don’t touch that, and don’t take up smoking... It is just so much simpler to say, “No, don’t do that,” than to state all the reasons behind the “don’t” statement. The person saying “don’t” usually has more experience and has witnessed an adverse outcome of the event. They just know that you ‘shouldn’t do it’. And whether you like it or not, they are willing to share their expertise with you.

This is the second in a series of articles on “How NOT To Internet Your Mortgage Web Site.”
· Web site planning phase (last month’s article)
· Web design and development (this article)
· Writing effective and compelling content
· Web site marketing and promotion.
· And other Internet tips and hints.

These articles will help your mortgage company learn from the mistakes of other web sites. You will see what your on-line competitors have done correctly and incorrectly. You will see what you can do to prevent these same mistakes from occurring to your company, including…

Don’t Take A Crummy Domain Name

First things first… Remember the old adage, “A man’s domain is his castle.”

According to the latest statistics from NetworkSolutions.com, approximately 350,000 domains are taken each and every month. So if you are just beginning your domain name search, you are going to be in for a bit of a surprise. The domain name you want is probably gone.

How does your domain name sound? Do you have a name like ezloanz4u.com or get-dat-loan-here.com? If you have to explain it, spell it or repeat it, then you don’t want it. It is hard enough to drive traffic to your site, let alone requiring the Rosetta Stone to translate your domain name. An easy to remember, user-friendly domain name will draw much more traffic to your web site than a name that is hard to remember or too “cute.”

Don’t Think ‘Web Design’ Alone Will Make You Successful

There are many facets to web design and development than just having ‘pretty graphics.’ 

Unfortunately, most web sites are designed by ‘web design’ firms versus ‘web development’ firms. Web design firms usually only ask, “What is your company logo and what colors do you want”. Web development firms ask, “What is your unique selling position compared to your online competition and how are we going to develop a web site to attract and compel these prospective customers to take action.”

Don’t Use A Crummy E-mail Name

Companies that are serious about presenting a quality image on the Internet don’t use email addresses from AOL, Juno or any fee e-mail services. A name like loanmkr19@aol.com just isn’t professional or persuasive. The eyes are the only sense your viewers have available, so pay attention to how you portray yourself. If you have your own domain like mortgagepromote.com, use an email address like robert@mortgagepromote.com. Using an email address from AOL or any of the free services like Juno, USA.net, Yahoo or Hotmail, is like wearing a six-inch-too-short clip-on tie with that lime green leisure suit to meet the president of the United States. Don’t do it.

Don’t Misname Your Files

When your potential customer searches for “California home loans” in a search engine, thousands and thousands or results are returned. While the higher ranked sites will be selected more often, a web page listing that is called farrismortgage.com/
california_home_loan.htm is more likely to be “clicked on” than a domain called farrismortgage.com/page_1.htm. The same goes for domains, if you are looking for a home loan in California, then CaliforniaHomeLoan.com is more likely to be clicked on than JohnsonBrothersLoans.com.

Don’t Misname Your Images

Some of your prospective mortgage clients will surf the Net with their graphical images turned off. So if all these visitors see when they visit your site is image1.gif, image2.gif, they won’t know where to click.

By labeling your images (loanfaqs.gif) and applying alt-tags (text description) to your images, your mortgage clients will better surf your web site.

Don’t Assume Every Mortgage Customer Comes In The Front Door

When a potential customer uses one of the search portals (Yahoo, AltaVista etc.) to find what they need, it is possible/probable that a page other than your main web page is what the prospective customer will find ranked. 

For example, if your company provides VA, FHA and home equity loans, it is likely you have created a web page for each. The page specifically addressing a topic like ‘home equity loans’ is more likely to be ranked higher in the search engines than your main page because it is more ‘relevant’ to the search engine algorithms.

By examining your web site traffic (i.e. web site traffic analysis will covered in further detail in future articles), your company can easily tell what web page your visitor has entered, what pages they visited and in which order, how long they stayed, and what page they last visited before they left. Pretty powerful analysis; ask your local yellow pages to supply this marketing analysis.

Don’t Forget To Tell Your Visitor How To Apply For A Loan

Offer a link on each web page so customers can go directly to your loan application pages. Allow your customers, when appropriate, to order online, via fax or to call your company.

Don’t Forget To Tell Your Visitor How To Contact You

If a potential mortgage visitor likes a particular web page and wants to print it; be sure that all your vital contact information is on EVERY page. Information about your company should include: company name, address (not PO Box) City, State, Zip Code, fax number, email address and web site address. Additionally, your direct dial number should be included with your toll free number. Here is an example why: assume a prospective customer is stationed in the military in Germany and returning to the US. They want to call about getting a home loan; the toll free number will not work from Germany. Remember the Internet is worldwide, you are now marketing to the entire world.

And Don’t Assume A Good Domain Name And A Nice Design Will Drive Traffic

The development of a web site is difficult. If you select a great domain name and have a nice design, you are now just part of the way to creating a successful web site. Every aspect of your web site must be precisely created in order to be found in the search engine portals. And the web site content must be written to compel Internet visitors to actually use your mortgage services.

 

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