1. You need content that you can change regularly to keep your site up to date. I chose a site that I can change and add pages myself instead of always having to hire a programmer. Check your links to be sure they still work. I do mine once a month and usually find one or two that are changed or no longer up on the web.
2. Have rich content in your subject area for visitors. On our site we have multiple links to property searches of various types for consumers to browse to find homes. That's our business homes. Secondly we provide content about the area our business is located in.
3. Have in "back side" or links not visible to the public where you can monitor site useage and get emails and information about customers using your site. This can be done thru surveys or register forms.
4. Give your site visitors autonomy to browse and use anonomously.
5. Reference your site from multiple web locations to improve your rankings. I am not on first page of google yet, but will work on that as a goal the next 2 years. We have managed to appear on page#1 on yahoo and on bing.
Each year we close 2-3 sales that I can link came directly from our webpage. Many are out of town. One client bought a condo for their daughter just from our web information. We have had local people who use our IDX links for 2 or 3 years and then suddenly find a property they ask us to show them. Last month we closed a client transferring from Dallas Texas who found us from our website. If you plan to make real estate your long term business model, a website is a must. My web provider caught me at NardiGras and asked for my testimonial: