Here's what we covered in this episode (you can jump to the different sections in the video timeline):
0:00 - Intro
1:56 - Review: Monica from Washington
10:41 - Review: Rick from Texas
14:41 - Review: Deanna from Massachusetts
19:33 - Summary
Real estate photographer website reviews
So, let’s take a look at a few websites for real estate photographers, and my focus with this, and I want to be really clear, is that some of the feedback I give will be positive, and other parts will be negative. But if I am critical of any of these sites, and I will be, then it’s only because I want these three great photographers to be successful as possible. And they all have the capacity to do that, they do, but what we want to do today is make sure their website reflects that success.
Alright, so as we go through each of these websites, I’m going to ask 6 questions:
- Where are you located?
- Does the design align with your brand?
- What’s the next step you want a visitor to take?
- Does the site look good on a mobile device?
- Will the site rank well?
- What would I change?
And finally, I’m also going to give each site an overall score so that each photographer gets an idea of where they are in relation to where they could be.
Review: Monica from Washington
So first up, let’s look at the website of Monica McLaughlin, and she’s a real estate photographer in Wenatchee in north central Washington state.
So the first question we ask when looking at her site, where are you located?
Here’s the home page, and it’s super clear – Monica is a real estate photographer based in north central Washington. That’s great, because it makes it really clear for anyone who comes across her site exactly what she does and where she works, so that’s excellent.
The next question, does the design align with her brand?
I asked Monica about her brand, and she described her brand as average, so let’s take a look through the site, and here’s the top of the home page that we just looked at. Now I’m guessing this photo is taken in the area she works in, and maybe that’s significant, but maybe I’d like to see a strong architectural image as the background shot instead of a waterfall. But anyway, moving on down the home page we get this small gallery of Monica’s Instagram profile, and I like that because she’s going to be constantly updating it with new images and I think that’s great.
Next we go to her Portfolio page, and I thought this page looked a little basic with the text like that, but when we look at the Bellevue portfolio we get this and there are a lot of images here as we scroll down the page and then further down, and this is something I would change – there are a LOT of shots showing the same space but with slightly different angles.
So if we go back up we’ve got I think 13 shots of the same kitchen area and dining area, and it’s just too much. When you see this many shots of the same space that says to me that this photographer is not confident in their compositions, because they are taking every different angle of the kitchen. Now maybe the client wanted that, and fair enough, but I wouldn’t include them all in a portfolio. I’d recommend that Monica pick the best shot of that kitchen, and pick the best shot of the dining room, and delete the other 11 shots.
Now here’s another page on this website and it’s 21 tips to prepare a home. Now I think a list like this is great, but it really could look so much better than a Google document with a list of text. I’d change that so it was a page on the website, and include photos or videos outlining these tips, which are great, but they’d be better with some awesome visuals so that the client really understands what’s going on.
Now here’s the about page, and again, I think this could be much stronger visually. We’ve got a portrait shot of Monica – that’s great, I think more photographers need shots of themselves on their about page. And I like the text as well, though I would probably switch this around, and start by focusing on the client first with, “My commitment is to provide you with the highest quality photos …” and then briefly mention her dreams of being an architect, and I say that because clients don’t really care about your childhood dreams. They want to know if you can help them sell more stuff, and if you can do that then sure, they want to be able to trust you so bringing in some personal details are important, but focus on the client first.
Moving to the ‘what people are saying’ page, and Monica lists a few testimonials and again, that’s great and I love these, but visually it’s not that interesting. So from a design perspective, I’d like to see this changed.
Finally we get the contact page, and it’s good that there’s a contact form, though again, maybe a real estate or architectural image might be better here as the background image. Also, this white text gets lost on top of the background image, so I’d think about changing that. And finally, this email address here is not clickable, so a user needs to copy and paste that if they want to use that email address. Now they could just use the form, although because the form says ‘house square footage’ it kind of looks like a booking form, and if I just want to learn more about Monica’s pricing then I’m not ready to make a booking, so I might just want to send an email, but the email requires me to copy and paste so it’s a little bit clunky.
So overall, does the website align with Monica’s brand?
I actually think the site is letting her down a little bit, and I think it needs to be stronger visually, because at the moment the website brand is a little below average, and Monica is aiming higher than that, and I think she could be higher than that, so I think some changes are needed to ensure alignment between the website and where she wants her brand to be.
So what’s the next step you want a visitor to take?
Well, on the homepage we are told to view the portfolio, and when we go to the portfolio we get some photos to look at, with lots of images, but no clear call to action or button telling us what to do. So then we go to the Contact page, and there’s an invitation there to ‘contact me to discuss details and pricing’, but the contact form includes a space for house square footage, so that’s a little confusing.
What Monica could do is create a separate page for bookings with a custom form setup for that purpose, and that’s where you’d ask for house square footage and property address and anything else, and make the contact page an easy space for new visitors to contact Monica to get details about pricing or whatever they want to know. Although I’d actually include her real estate photography prices on the website itself, because I think that’s better for the customer, so that’s something to think about as well.
Next question – does the site look good on a mobile device?
As you can see, it works on a phone, and everything is sized appropriately, and the contact form looks great, so yes, thumbs up for that.
Will the site rank well?
Given that there’s not a lot of content on the site, I think it’s going to struggle to rank well. I looked through the site, and the home page says North Central Washington, but that’s the only geographic term I could find on the site. And because there’s so little content on the site, and no blog posts, Google is going to have a tough time ranking this for anything.
So here’s what my search ranking software showed me for this site, and it shows an average ranking of 68, which is not great. The one positive though is that it did show up at the bottom of the pack when I searched for Chelan County real estate photographer - you can see it right down the bottom there, but that was about it.
So what would I change?
First of all, I’d love to see more written content. That’s going to help with her ranking, and it’s going to give more content for visitors to learn why Monica is the best photographer in her area. I’d also show fewer images in each portfolio, because there’s way too much there at the moment. I’d leave just the best images in there and remove the rest.
Next I’d create a more professional design. Website design is tricky, so if this isn’t something that Monica is strong in then hire a professional designer to do it, and they will have her site looking amazing and I think she deserves that because the design is letting her down at the moment.
Finally, I think it would help to be clear on what she wants the visitor to do, so if she wants them to contact her or make a booking or follow her on Instagram, make that really clear so you guide them towards where you want them to be.
So what score would I give this site?
I’m going to give it 2 stars out of 5. And there are a few reasons for that - first of all, there’s not a lot of content, the site is not ranking particularly well, there’s no blog, and the design of the site itself is not that great, but that can all be changed. Monica has some great work on her Instagram, she knows what to do, and I’m confident that she can build a great site that better reflects what I’m sure is the great work and wonderful customer service she delivers to her clients every week. So Monica, go and make some changes, and I’d love to see what you do with it.
Review: Rick from Texas
Next up is the website of Vivo Real Estate Photography, and this is from Rick L’Amie from Austin, Texas, so let’s go through this review of Rick’s site.
And first of all, where are you located?
Well, here’s the homepage, and if we scroll down a little there’s no mention of Austin, but if we go right to the bottom they mention Austin Texas down there. Now if we look at the About page, it mentions Austin a couple of times, which is great, and over on the contact page , below the contact form is this big map showing Rick's location, so that’s awesome.
Next, does the design align with your brand? Rick said to me that he was going for an above average brand, so does his site do that? His home page looks great.
Here’s the pricing page, and this is really well laid out. We can scroll down to see the different services like marketing videos, and commercial work so that’s great. Then over to the booking page, and when we click on that Book Now button we go to this online booking page, which Rick is running through Aryeo, so it’s really easy for a client to schedule a shoot, so that’s awesome, and I think Rick has branded this really well – it definitely suits an above average brand.
Next, what’s the next step you want a visitor to take?
Well, from the home page, and every page on the site, we’ve got this green Chat With Us button. When we click on that we get a popup chat box, and I love that. Very easy for the visitor to use. Or if we go to the pricing page, we’ve got that Book Now button which takes us to the Booking page, so again, really well done. It’s always very clear what the visitor needs to do, and that’s what you want.
Next, does the site look good on a mobile device?
And yes it does. Everything resizes really well, so that’s great.
Will the site rank well? I think it should. It’s got a lot of content, though it could do with more blog posts, but when we look at the results inside my search ranking tool, the site actually struggles. It ranks in position 30 for Austin Texas real estate photographer, and doesn’t rank at all for real estate video. So there is some more work to be done there.
Next, what would I change about the site?
Well, the design is great, though I think it’s a Wix template, correct me if I’m wrong Rick, but I think it’s been customised enough that I think it still works, even though it might look like a lot of other sites out there. Also, the site needs to rank higher in local search, so I think Rick will need to work on that because the site, as good as it is, people aren’t going to find it in a Google search. But apart from that, the site is easy to navigate, it makes it clear what he wants the visitor to do, and I really like it, but there is one area we haven’t touched on yet that does need changing …
The images in the portfolio need to be better. A number of them have converging verticals, or colour casts, and they’re just little things, but they make a difference, especially when the rest of the site looks fantastic, so I’d love to see Rick edit the portfolio shots or upload some new ones.
Finally, what score would I give the site?
I’m going to give it 4 stars out of 5, taking off half a point because it doesn’t rank well and another half a point because the images need to be better and I don’t think they align with the above-average brand that Rick is trying to be. So there’s room for improvement, but in spite of that it’s still a great site, so well done, Rick.
Review: Deanna from Massachusetts
The final site we’ll look at is Deanna DeMarzio Photography, so let’s see what Deanna has done.
First of all, where are you located?
Well, it doesn’t say on the homepage, and the only mention of any location is on the Contact page where it mentions Taunton, though when I asked Deanna what area she was targeting she said Boston, and that makes sense because it is the big city in that area, but there’s nothing on the site that mentions Boston, at least that I could find.
Next, does the design align with your brand?
So when I asked Deanna about this, she said that she was seeking an average position in the market, so let’s see if the site aligns with that.
So here’s the interior portfolio page, but what I noticed here is that there are 6 images and 5 of them are kitchens. So I’d like to see more variety here in terms of subject matter, and I’d also like to see stronger images here as well. You can see some issues with a little barrel distortion and some of the verticals aren’t right, and you want your very best work on your website so I think it’s worth Deanna switching some of these shots out.
Looking at the Exteriors portfolio and we see some similar issues with some verticals not being right, and shots like this that have some halos and strange colors, so I think these could be better.
Moving on, there are other pages for things like floor plans, and also Matterport, though weirdly this is just a video of a Matterport tour and not an embedded tour, so that’s a missed opportunity there. We’ve also got a pricing page, which is good – I like seeing prices on a page. But I don’t think the design of this meets the brand that Deanna is going for, and I think this is a negative for the site as there’s nothing visually appealing about it.
There’s also an About page, which is good to see, but I think this needs to be stronger. It starts off saying, “Welcome to my real estate photography site. Here you can find information about real estate photography and the services I provide.” I don’t think that really needs to be said, because it’s like, the visitor probably already knows that. So get into your story, tell us what makes you unique, and importantly, tell us how you’re going to help me if I was a client and why I’d want to hire Deanna instead of any of the other options in your area.
We've also got a photo of Deanna here, and in the photo she looks like a fun person, the photo itself is kind of light hearted, so maybe Deanna could do a video introducing herself and bring some of her personality into it so that the visitor can get to know her a little bit.
So all up, the site is good, but I think it actually falls short of where it should be.
Ok, so what’s the next step you want a visitor to take?
Well, it’s not terribly clear. At the top of each page it says ‘Call us’, and down the bottom of the pricing page it says, ‘Got any questions about your pricing for your project? Contact us’, but it’s all a bit obscure, and I think Deanna could learn a few things from Rick’s website which I thought did this step really well.
Does the site look good on a mobile device?
Yes it does, so that’s great.
Will the site rank well?
I doubt it. There’s not a lot of content here, and if Deanna is targeting Boston, she doesn’t mention Boston at all on the site.
So looking at my website ranking tool, the site actually does very well in Taunton and also Bristol County where it shows in the 3 pack, but Deanna said that her main priority is Boston, and you can see that’s where most of the search volume is but she isn’t ranking there at all. So I think some changes are needed so that she’s found in her biggest market.
So what would I change?
I think it needs more written content and more visual content – as I said, there are only 6 images on the interiors page. It also needs to rank higher in the Boston market, I think the pricing page needs to be more interesting, I’d also make changes to the About page – not a lot, but tweaking some of the language would help. And I’d also have stronger portfolio images because I think the current shots aren’t as good as they should be.
Finally, what score will I give this site?
I’m going to give it 2 stars out of 5, and that’s all down to the things that I think I’d change. Now I have no doubt that Deanna can implement those changes, no doubt at all, and I look forward to seeing what she can do with her website.
So that’s my review of 3 real estate photographer websites, and again, I hope that’s helpful for our photographers, Monica, Rick and Deanna, and I hope it helps a few of you as well.