Adding MLS to your website happens through the Internet Data Exchange (IDX), which allows your searchable listings to be displayed on your website. Having MLS search available keeps leads on your site rather than leaving for other platforms. This article will show you MLS IDX integration, and how to add MLS search to your website.
If you’re an agent who is looking to add MLS to your website using IDX integration, the first question to ask yourself is which platform or CMS your website is built on. There are several different popular CMS’s on the market, such as Drupal and Joomla; however, with almost 60 percent of the market share, it’s most likely that you’re using WordPress.
For the purposes of this guide, we will assume that your website is built using WordPress. We will also use the dsIDXpress plug-in from Diverse Solutions to integrate MLS to your website.
Here are the three steps to add MLS to your website and increase your online real estate lead generation:
1. Select an IDX-Compatible WordPress Theme
The WordPress theme you select helps to drive the overall design and user experience of your website. The process of MLS IDX integration starts with selecting a theme that can accommodate the plug-ins you’ll need for the features you want. Plug-ins like dsIDXpress will allow you to have MLS search as a part of your website.
When shopping for themes, be sure to look for ones that accommodate plug-ins like dsIDXpress. ReEstate is an example of one such theme, and currently costs $49 on Themeforest.
Within the description of the ReEstate theme, you will find a list of the features it offers as well as other features and services that it’s compatible with. Look specifically for compatibility with the plug-ins you will need to enable MLS IDX integration.
Once you are certain your theme is compatible with the IDX search service that you anticipate using, as well as reflect the overall design you prefer, you can pay for and download the theme you will be using.
2. Install the Theme on Your WordPress Website
If you have an existing hosting account such as Bluehost, the control panel will allow you to install WordPress and then upload your theme. Once your theme is in place, you can then install and activate the dsIDXexpress plug-in that will give you MLS IDX integration and MLS search features. We’ll show you how to install and activate the plug-in in the next step.
WordPress comes included for free with your Bluehost account and will allow you to upload your theme once installed. Simply go to your Bluehost account and scroll down to the website box on your user dashboard.
First, you will need to install WordPress if you haven’t already, and then you can upload your theme. You can find the button to install WordPress in the control panel box noted above, so be sure this is completed before you attempt to upload your theme. The theme you choose sits within the WordPress framework and requires this step to be done first.
Upload to Your WordPress Dashboard & Install Your Theme
Once WordPress is installed, you will use this platform to navigate the installation of your IDX-compatible theme.
To install a theme to your real estate website builder, first navigate to your WordPress dashboard, then:
- Click “Appearance”
- Click “Themes”
- Click “Add New”
- Click “Upload”
Your WordPress theme should now be installed and ready to go!
3. Install & Activate Your dsIDXpress Plug-in for MLS Searchability
While there may be a number of plug-ins you will be selecting for your WordPress theme, we will focus on the installation of your dsIDXpress plug-in for IDX MLS integration and MLS search-ability on your real estate website.
Diverse Solutions allows you to have a free trial to experience the functionality of your dsIDXpress plug-in prior to a full commitment. If you go to Diverse Solutions, you can register for a trial account and they will give you an activation key, which is a series of numbers you’ll use to activate your plug-in for the trial. After the free trial, the use of the dsIDXpress starts at $39.99 per month.
After you have your activation key from registering at the Diverse Solutions website, you have to install the dsIDXpress plug-in to your theme.
- Navigate to “Plug-ins”
- Click “Add New”
- Enter the name of the IDX plug-in you’d like to install
- Click “Install”
- Click “Activate”
If you are using the free trial of the plug-in, you will have to use the activation key code you received on the Diverse Solutions website to activate the plug-in. You can now begin using your IDX widgets in the sidebars and adding a custom IDX listings page in the menu, which you can customize with Featured Properties and various customized appearance options including an MLS search widget on your homepage.
Create Specific Pages to Become a Local Authority
Creating specific pages using your Diverse Solutions IDX plug-in not only helps your real estate website to rank, but it drives leads to your door. While neighborhood pages engage users where they are searching, map pages allow them to search as they are accustomed on larger sites, keeping them on the page.
How to Create Your IDX Pages
Once you know what pages you want, the process of creating them usually works with your theme in conjunction with the plug-ins you’ve installed. While you can create new pages from scratch, it is advisable to simply use the template pages that come with your theme for ease. For example, most themes come with pages you can edit, like blog pages, about us pages, and more.
This is a quick way to build new pages using most WordPress themes:
- Go to your dashboard and click on “Pages” in the sidebar
- To edit a page from your template, click on “All Pages” and choose the page you want to edit. Many templates use Visual Composer or come with this plug-in, making it easy to edit these pages. If you do not have it, it’s a recommended install that will cost $59 for unlimited use on your website.
At this point, you can begin changing elements on the page to make it whatever type of page you would like. For example, you could change the title of the page, add photos with the “Add Media” button, or add a contact form with the “Add Form” button. After customizing more aesthetic elements and forming the page, you can then add searchability using Diverse Solutions. For example, you can insert an IDX search form so that any site visitors can look for properties using their own criteria.
Once you are done customizing your page, be sure to hit the “Save Changes” button and preview the page to see if it is to your liking, or hop back in if you want to add other elements such as a video player or social media buttons.
To preview your page, click on the “Preview” button on the right side of your page, and if you love the way your page appears, click “Publish” and you’re done!
You can use this format to add neighborhood pages, a map search page, and even to add a dsIDXpress search form to your homepage.
Build pages around the terms and keywords people in your area are looking for. To create effective neighborhood pages, you must first understand your farm area and what these individuals are looking for. Once you know what potential clients search for, offer them a useful page with updated listings for that search populated by your dsIDXpress plug-in.
For keywords, you might want to build neighborhood pages around, think about what types of homes are popular in your area, and what the common desirable elements homebuyers in your area are looking for, such as certain school districts. For some neighborhoods, it might be “waterfront homes” or specific school district names.
The goal of doing this is to create many neighborhood pages based around common searches, and then rank for these searches when those in your farm area are seeking future homes. So, for example, you might create a page around “Lancaster city Victorian homes,” populate the site with relevant listings from your dsIDXpress plug-in, and capture those seeking these specific types of homes on Google.
Offer a Map Search Page
Having a map search gives clients a reason to remain on your page, instead of searching for properties in larger real estate sites. In many of the larger search engines, a benefit of using them is having a map to examine the specifics of listing location. Diverse Solutions offers a Mapping IDX plug-in for $109.95 per month, or $999.95 per year, to give you the same functionality.
The Mapping IDX is compatible with all websites, so you don’t need to worry if it will be able to be integrated to your WordPress theme, as with their dsIDXpress plug-in. If you decide you want to add mapping ability to your site, it is as simple as an install. In this case, once downloaded and installed using the same method as above, it offers you the ability to copy and paste a searchable Google Map with all listings in your MLS to a blank page.
To see the Diverse Solutions map search feature in action, feel free to download a free demo from them, and see what it can offer.
The Bottom Line
Adding MLS search to your website is one of the most effective real estate marketing ideas. By using a plug-in that makes MLS IDX integration easy, such as the dsIDXpress plug-in by Diverse Solutions, the process of setting up your website becomes far easier.
With a free Saturday afternoon and a few clicks, you can have your own website up and running—one that will allow users to conduct an MLS search in your area and encouraging potential buyers and sellers to contact you about further services.