We all know that location is arguably the most important aspect of real estate. You won't be buying a home where you can't get to work, school or the other things important to you and your family. So, if location is so important, then it is only logical to assume that mapping, and lots of it, is going to be a valuable and important feature of your site.
Of course, we do want to use maps in our IDX results displays. Seeing the location of a home in relation to area sites, businesses, schools, and other important locations is critical. It would be hard to have too many map choices on a successful real estate site. The IDX mapping would of course show the homes that come up in the searches. The ability to zoom in and out to orient better is also a big advantage. But, are there other uses for maps on your site that your visitors would appreciate? There are, and they revolve around specialized mapping.
Before we look at the types of maps that have been proven to make for happy site visitors, let's look at some of your best online mapping solutions that make it easy to embed maps into a website.
& Google Earth
- You can easily map locations with Google Maps on a public map, then take the code Google provides, and embed that map into your site. The visitor need not leave your site to wander through the locations they want. An added value of this hosted public map is that it will be found in Google searches with a link to your site as well. You can even put a video that will pop up and play in the bubble from a map pin.
- MSN Maps Live offers a lot of the same features as Google Maps, including birdseye views, satellite views and street level views of cities.
Okay, we know where to produce public maps at no cost, and provide very user-friendly features for scoping out your area. So, what type of maps will our visitors appreciate?
- When someone is new to the area, they may want shopping close to the home they intend to purchase. And, this shopping could be large shopping centers, specialty food markets, or department stores. Having a map dedicated to shopping would appeal to many of your visitors. They may not even be in your area yet, and they want to get a feel for areas with multiple choices of the type of shopping they want.
Parks & Outdoor Recreation
- Recreation is becoming more important all the time. And cities that provide a great number of parks, hiking and biking trails and outdoor sports facilities are where people want to live. Selecting a home will many times be greatly influenced by how near the recreational areas are. Using the mapping services, you can even choose icons that indicate hiking, biking, etc.
Schools & Libraries
- Though state and local government sites have maps, why send a visitor away from your site when it isn't necessary. Map public, private and secondary education locations. Get the libraries on this map as well. Knowing that their children can be educated and do research close to home is important to many buyers.
Museums, Art & Culture
- This is a very popular map offering as well. Your site visitors will appreciate being able to locate art museums, historical and cultural venues, and entertainment locations. Get the music venues in this map. Let them know where the movie theaters are as well.
Restaurants & Fast Food
- This is a big one. We're a nation that eats out a lot. Locating the types of restaurants they like is important to our site visitors. Knowing they can eat out near their home, with varied food choices, will make this map page a popular one on your site.
We're also doing some Search Engine Optimization with mapping. We get exposure on the large map sites. However, we also write some text for each of these pages. This text talks in general about the buildings, services and locations on that map. It's a pitch for the area, but also a lure for search engine traffic.
So, it isn't just the homes for sale that make location, location, location so important. Give them maps for the businesses and facilities that your visitors will be using in your city.
Peyman Aleagha is the founder and President of RealtySoft.com. RealtySoft provides Realtors with Real Estate Web Design
(http://www.realtysoft.com), Real Estate Print Marketing and Free IDX
(http://www.realtysoft.com/freeidx.php) solutions. Find out more about RealtySoft by visiting RealtySoft.com