It’s no secret to real estate agents: existing home sales trend downward during the fall and winter months. Gloomy skies and icy weather conditions tend to deter home buyers from visiting houses that are on the market; most families don’t want to deal with a move if it’s in the middle of the school year. winteriscoming Lawrence Yun – Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research for the National Association of Realtors – commented on the autumn and winter slowdown in September 2014:

“In the past 15 years, the average decline has been 16.4 percent. In October, home sales generally hold on. Then in November, home sales dip again, by 8 percent generally. December figures tend to match the low November figures. Because of the dark, cold weather spanning most of the country, January is not pretty for home sales, with an average plunge of 27 percent. Sunlight then flickers in February with a small rise. Much stronger activity then arises in March and April and into the summer months.”

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.54.38 AM So what is a Realtor to do when home sales are expected to drop by as much as a third? Don’t get caught twiddling your thumbs. Take this time to boost your website in preparation for the spring.

Evaluate your site.

Dive into the data for your website. First, take a look at your Google Analytics account. If you use Union Street Media’s Admin system, take a peek at the Reports tab to look at site performance. Determine which of your site pages performed best (i.e. which pages had the highest conversions, unique pageviews, etc.) and which pages performed the worst. Take an inventory of your site content and cut out the fat. For example, it’s probably a good idea to check out the performance of your Recommended Search pages. Does you “Waterfront Homes” search pull in the most organic traffic? Then it’s probably a good idea to keep that search page around. Does your “Residential Lofts” search page not attract new visitors? Examine the data and determine if that page should be removed. [Want to know how your site stacks up? Check out our Website Grader.] Homebuyers may not be active during the winter months; use paid search and social advertising to get in front of them. Take a look at each of your campaigns to see how they perform on a regular basis. You should be curating your Adwords and social campaigns on a regular basis, but the fall and winter seasons give you extra time to focus on these strategies. Think: which of your PPC ads drive the most traffic to your site? Which keywords lead to consistent conversions. Find the answers to these questions and continue to refine your strategy.

Focus on optimization.

When you’ve got dozens of homes to sell, life can get pretty hectic. Site optimization can fall by the wayside. With winter on the horizon, now’s the time to focus on optimizing your site for search engines. Find the pages that feature duplicate content and consolidate them. Make sure your page titles feature relevant keywords. Spruce up your images with optimized alt text. Take some time to create landing pages with featured listings and local area content. The content on these pages will give you even more exposure on search engines, and area-specific content will be more likely to engage potential clients. Let’s say you’re a Realtor in Boston, and you create a landing page that features content about the Back Bay neighborhood. You describe neighborhood parks and bakeries, and you include some of your listings within the area. These pages are more likely to show up in a search when someone looks to Google for information about Back Bay.

Build blog content.

Blogging is one of the most important marketing strategies that an agent can add to their approach, and publishing content on an on-domain blog adds SEO value to your site. Take this extra time to delve into content creation. Write a post about a market recap for the summer, or write about some FAQs that your clients have recently had for your company.

Think about your seller strategy.

Like optimization, your seller strategy can be put on the back burner when you’re inundated with new buyers entering the market. But it’s not just about the buyers. A steady stream of sellers ultimately makes a real estate company successful. Think about your current strategy for attracting local sellers to your website. Do you have an optimized “List With Us” page? If not, it’s time to create one. Explain the benefits of selling your home with a real estate agent, and tell potential clients why your company is the best in the area. Create mock-ups of what listings will look like on your website. Draft content that explains how you enhance each of your listings for a faster selling time. If you have a CRM platform (and you should), use your sellers report to generate data about how your listings sell on your site. This data can give you a better idea about how to refine your strategy. How do you refresh your site during the winter months? Let us know in the comments below.