Making your website work for you

A website is a necessity for the modern broker and most now have one in place, but having one that truly works and generates leads is the important thing, says Payam Azadi

We all know a website is a great way of attracting prospective clients and it is becoming a necessary component of every intermediary’s tool kit. But it’s one thing having a website, and another having one that truly works and generates leads.

So let’s talk about building a website for a small broker. Firstly you have to choose a domain name. Try to keep this short and simple. It always helps to stay away from hyphens and too many dots. A ‘.co.uk’ address is probably most suitable and is generally cheaper than a ‘.com’ one. The next task is to buy storage space on a web server. There are masses of companies that can provide address registration and storage space as a start-up package.

A simple broker website is basically a brochure site consisting of four or five pages.

Your homepage is, of course, the first page a client will see. This being the case, certain basic information should always be shown here. This includes your logo, links to other pages, simple contact information and normally a link to a contacts page. And display your telephone number prominently.

The key to a good website is to keep it simple. The images should be relatively small as their size will affect the length of time pages take to load. After your homepage other pages should normally include an ‘about us’ page where you talk about the company history, an ‘our services’ page where you outline some of the products and services you offer and finally a ‘contacts page’.

The homepage is also where you can insert key words in the source code called meta tags. Entering the code and key site description allows search engines to find your site. This is the most basic way of optimising your website but there are also plenty of companies that specialise in optimising sites for search engines.

There are also companies that can help you add to your basic site with bolt-ons. An example of a bolt-on is an online calculator. Mortgage 2000 and Network Data are two companies that will let you white label their services, for a fee.

Websites are a great way of legitimising a firm and allowing clients to find information about the company and its services. But having a successful website is about how much you put into it. The key, once people find your website, is to encourage them to stay by ensuring you have enough relevant content and tools to satisfy a curious client. Charcol online and Moneysupermarket are two sites that have used this rule to great effect.

Finally, let people know about your website. Make sure your web address is on every piece of literature you produce and use. There’s little point in having a great website with all the calculators in place if you don’t let people know where it is. You get out of a website what you put in.