In the real estate world, the Internet is often held up to be some sort of “promised land” that offers sanctuary to real estate professionals from the slavery of conventional real estate marketing and sales methods. The result has been that thousands of realtors have rushed toward the use of websites in a great ‘exodus’.

While everybody wants the promised land of the Internet, however, many real estate professionals along the way have become distracted or disenchanted from the true goal of such technology.

Like the original ‘Ten Commandments’ handed to Moses during the biblical Exodus, a new set of website ‘ten commandments’ may be needed to ensure safe arrival at the promised land of Internet-based real estate practice.

If such a set of new website commandments were to be expressed in a blend of archaic terms and modern terms, they might just look something like the following:

I. Thou Shalt Remember: There Is But One True Goal – Sales.

If you have, or are planning a website, it is essential that you keep in mind that the only goal of a website, ultimately, is sales. Don’t get caught up in the vanity or technology surrounding websites (which is all too easy to do). Make sure everything on your real estate website is oriented toward your One True Goal.

II. Thou Shalt Put No False Goals Before Capturing Leads.

If the One True Goal is Sales, then focus on capturing leads. Don’t waste your time (or that of your visitors) on other objectives. Make sure your website, on every page, includes calls-to-action and offers that will result in hard leads.

III. Thou Shalt Not Take Your Name in Vain.

Your name is your brand. Protect it at all costs. The goal of any brand is to ensure that it equates with a ‘value proposition’ that is meaningful to your prospective buyer or seller. Make sure that your brand –i.e. your name – is clearly associated with attributes that will be valuable to your website visitor. (Suggestion: It’s worth taking a pencil and paper and writing down what you think your value proposition is or should be.)

IV. Keep Your Site Holy.

Keeping the content of your website “fresh” is important. Fresh content is more interesting to visitors and to search engines. Set aside a specific time and day, each week, to review and maintain your website’s content and structure. Make changes accordingly.

V. Honor Thy IDX and Syndication.

If the One True Goal is Sales, the only way to achieve that is by helping your website visitor get access to any listing of interest and by making your own listings known far and wide. To achieve the former, make sure your website incorporates an IDX solution – not just framed access to the local MLS listings – but an IDX that truly adds value to your visitor’s searching. To advance your own listings, syndicate all your listings with Internet real estate marketplaces like Google Base, Trulia®, and Zillow®. It’s free, so what do you have to lose?

VI. Thou Shalt Not Kill Trust And Confidence.

Capturing leads, and getting sales, depends on your visitor having trust and confidence in you. Your website will be the first chance your visitor has to find that. Make sure your website is accurate, informed, and useful. Make sure you include information about yourself that will help visitors identify with you and understand your values.

VII. Thou Shalt Not Adulterate Your Search Engine Rankings.

Search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and MSN are a source of free leads. Search engines do their best to ensure that people looking for information find what they need. You have to do your part. Do not adulterate your content with useless, generic terms or broad-brush terms like ‘real estate’ or ‘home buyers.” If you want to be found, use specific and relevant terms like “Chicago Real Estate” or “Philadelphia Condos” or “Walnut Street Homes” to help the search engines get you placed better and more appropriately in their listings.

VIII. Thou Shalt Not Steal Time From Your Visitors.

Like with you, a website visitor’s time is money. Don’t waste it. When someone visits your website, make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. This means that most of your content should be visible or accessible from the home page. It also means that you will offer information that is relevant and useful to the prospective buyer or seller. If you do not, if you waste their time, you won’t get a second chance – they’re outta there.

IX. Thou Shalt Not Bear Bad Content.

Not only does bad content waste the time of your visitor, it kills trust and confidence in you, confuses search engines, and reflects poorly on your brand. Likewise, old content is stale, uninteresting content. While most websites come with pre-packaged content of some sort, make sure you take the time to edit it and augment it with local information and comment that will make it truly useful. Freshen up your site’s content regularly and always be on the lookout for tidbits of information that might be useful to your real estate website visitor.

X. Thou Shalt Not Covet The Success Of Your Neighbor.

Lastly, keep your focus on your website. Do not get distracted by the bells, whistles, or glitz of the website from the agent down the street. Simply because another agent has a site with really cool gadgets, doesn’t mean it serves the One True Goal. Stay focused on the results of your website. Your goal is to ensure that it works. If you ensure that you adhere to the first nine commandments, then the tenth won’t be necessary, and you will certainly arrive at the ‘promised land’ of successful Internet marketing.