Currently, over 80% of commercial real estate investors and tenants start their search online, and professionals hoping to succeed in the industry need to be there to meet them and engage with them. One of the ways is to design a commercial real estate website using WordPress.
WordPress is a website-building toolkit that forms the backbone of many commercial real estate websites. While there are very few ready-made commercial real estate WordPress themes on public marketplaces, there are ample resources available to create a custom website that matches the unique needs of your business.
A custom built WordPress theme designed specifically for commercial real estate offers the opportunity to quickly populate the most important content, manage edits and new materials on-the-fly, and leverage thousands of possible plugins to add functionality in the future.
Agencies specializing in web design and development can help, and there are plenty of ready-made WordPress plugins to enrich a website with property search capabilities, social media sharing, and search engine optimization for greater visibility on the web.
What Is WordPress?
In short, WordPress is a free open source content management software available for creating websites.
WordPress wasn’t created with developers in mind but instead was a haven for non-tech savvy bloggers in its inception. Though it has evolved substantially in functionality and flexibility over the years, WordPress has maintained its position as a user-friendly platform, appealing to everyone from startup entrepreneurs to major corporations.
In its own words, WordPress “is software designed for everyone, emphasizing accessibility, performance, security and ease of use” and it can be used to create any kind of commercial real estate landing page.
Today, WordPress websites are ubiquitous. The most popular content management available, WordPress powers about 75 million websites, accounting for 34.3 percent of all current websites.
It is important to note that there is a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The former is a hosting service with a variety of service plans, including a limited free plan and a $299 per year business plan. WordPress.org, is the open source software widely praised and adopted across the web. WordPress.org sites are self-hosted and require a registered domain name. The software is free and has widespread capability to employ various plugins that add tools and features to fit the unique needs of different types of businesses.
Using WordPress for Commercial Real Estate Website
The first major decision when setting up a commercial real estate WordPress site is to choose between the available themes or to opt for a custom WordPress website. As mentioned there aren’t any pre-built commercial real estate website templates on WordPress, but there are other solutions that can be used instead.
Commercial Real Estate WordPress Themes
WordPress has a plethora of themes available to employ instantly. Many themes are free, while others come at a fee. WordPress users can switch between different themes at any time without losing their content.
However, while WordPress has a few themes geared toward residential real estate businesses, it does not currently have templates for commercial real estate websites. Adapting a residential real estate theme to a CRE business is problematic at best.
Secondly, the default templates will be set up for homes with fields such as number of bedrooms. Lastly, the maps built into WordPress real estate themes are not compatible with IDX and will require each listing to be individually entered into WordPress rather than simply transferred over from another existing listing site such as LoopNet.
Custom Commercial Real Estate WordPress Theme
Rather than trying to force an existing WordPress theme to work for a commercial real estate business, professionals can enlist the help of professionals to build a custom commercial real estate website using WordPress. This start-from-scratch approach allows professionals to tailor their website directly to the needs of their business.
Because WordPress is so pervasive, there are plenty of WordPress developers and designers who can help. Freelancers can be contracted to set up a website and turn it over to the professional. The designer should be able to ensure the website will be responsive and built for optimal user experience. Another option is to hire an agency that can handle all aspects of design, development, and optimization to ensure the site is informative, intuitive, and optimized for search engines.
Once the website is live, it is easy and intuitive to make changes, updates, and post blog posts, even from a mobile device.
Commercial Real Estate WordPress plugins
WordPress plugins for commercial real estate can add additional functionality to a website. A plugin is a piece of software that can be added to a website to perform a particular function without a developer having to create original or complicated code; and there are currently more than 55,000 WordPress plugins available.
WordPress plugins allow users to do everything from create mailing lists and engage with potential clients to track and improve their search engine optimization (SEO).
Property Search Engine Plugin
Just as WordPress does not have themes targeted for commercial real estate businesses, it also does not have many plugins specifically designed for the commercial real estate field.
However, to fill that void, SharpLaunch has a WordPress plugin specifically for CRE teams that want to showcase their property listings on their websites. The SharpLaunch Commercial Property Search Engine relies on a API integration to pull property data from existing online listings to display on the WordPress website. The search engine automatically updates the information on the website when changes are made to the listings, and it offers automatic syndication to third-party CRE listing websites.
The plugin also offers the added benefit of being customizable both functionally and aesthetically to meet the needs of individual CRE brands. CRE professionals can customize the sorting and filtering features as well as the layout, choosing from a map, grid, or list format.
Yoast SEO is one of the leading SEO plugins, employed by more than 5 million websites. The plugin simplifies SEO for the novice as well as the experienced web manager. The plugin offers templates for titles and meta-descriptions that help web pages rank higher in search engines as well as data to help drive SEO strategy.
Social Media Plugins
A host of different social media-related plugins allow professionals to connect to their social media accounts and engage with followers. Simple Social Icons provides a sidebar widget with social icons that link to the owners’ social media accounts. Commercial real estate bloggers can use Buffer to automatically share blog posts to social media accounts when the go live, while Shared Counts – Social Media Share Buttons places social media share buttons on content pages or blog posts and displays the number of times the content has been shared through each outlet.
Examples of Commercial Real Estate Websites Using WordPress
With WordPress accounting for more than one third of all websites, it’s not hard to find examples of commercial real estate websites using WordPress. MMG Equity Partners, TrueNorth Industrial Real Estate, and KS Partners all rely on WordPress for their professional websites. All three are good examples of what commercial real estate businesses can do with WordPress. They feature a modern home page with full-width image, prominently displayed company names and logos, property listings, quick business stats, an explanation of their offerings, and full contact information.
MMG Equity Partners
With a website that is easy to navigate and features plenty of white space and clean fonts, it is easy to understand what MMG Equity Partners is and where and how it operates. MMG also includes social icons linking to its Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts at the bottom of its home page.
TrueNorth Industrial Real Estate
On its home page, underneath its header and introduction, TrueNorth Industrial placed a scrolling selection of featured properties so visitors can begin their property search immediately. Like MMG, TrueNorth has a property search feature. TrueNorth’s allows people to seek out properties by location, property type, and square footage to easily find the types of properties that interest them.
KS Partners also showcases property listings front and center with a selection of properties on the home page. Below is a selection of company news snippets that can be clicked for further reading. The site also features a tenant login, prominently in the upper right, where tenants can request property maintenance and technical support.
Interested commercial real estate professionals, can visit WordPress.org to get to review their available themes and plugins to see how they can leverage the CMS for their own business.