Maintaining a presence online with a professional website for your rental business is one of the best ways to establish yourself as a leading property manager or landlord. A website allows your current and future renters to learn more about your properties and the way you manage them.
Property managers and landlords are able to publish vacant rental property information, provide tenants and owners with easy to find contact information, accept and process rental applications online, offer information about the local area, inform renters of commonly asked questions like what happens if rent is late or who to contact if there is an emergency and provide access to a tenant portal for online rent payments.
You can find tons of information on how to create a website for your rental business, what content to include on your website, and how to rank on Google and search engines with SEO tactics.
- How to Write an Awesome Website Homepage
- SEO Tips for your Property Management Website
- How to Create Powerful Content for Your Property Management Blog
While the right content is vital to the success of your website, equally important is the security of your website. Taking proper steps to ensure the security of your website and the information stored on there will build trust with your renters, owners, and other website visitors. Consider the following tips when evaluating your rental website’s security.
Selecting a Website Creation Tool and Hosting Service
There are several website creation tools available to you, such as WordPress, Joomla, Weebly, Wix, and options available in your property management software. These platforms are often referred to as a Content Management System (CMS).
Regardless of the CMS platform you choose, you need to make sure proper security measures are in place to protect your website. Before selecting a CMS, do some research to make sure they offer secure options for your content, including protection from vulnerabilities, malicious attacks, hacking, and malware.
You will also need to consider where your website will be hosted. Some CMS solutions will also offer website hostings. A good hosting provider will offer multiple levels of security for your website. Always ask questions about security and encryption measures before choosing a hosting platform. Paying a little bit more for a reputable hosting platform with proven security is always recommended over the stress and cost of dealing with a hack or an attack.
Be Selective with Plugins
When designing your website there is a good chance you will consider using plugins to add features to your website. For example, in WordPress you can find a plugin for social media integration, preventing spam comments, and improving SEO, all great features for your property management website. However, an outdated or unpopular plugin can make your website vulnerable to attacks, so it’s important to be critical of the plugins you choose to use.
A plugin should have a minimum of a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of previous downloads, this shows that thousands of people trust working with this plugin. You can also check out whether or not the plugin has active support options.
Install a Firewall
A firewall is essentially a digital wall around your website that provides an additional layer of protection for keeping bad guys from accessing your site. Some hosting platforms will automatically provide a firewall for your website. If you are self-hosting your website on your own servers or server network, make sure both hardware and software firewalls are turned on.
Get an SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate (secure sockets layer) creates an encrypted link between the web server and the browser. An SSL certificate provides a secure way for data to travel between the server and the browser so the information is private and secure.
You can easily check whether or not your website has an SSL certificate by looking for a little lock symbol in the URL bar of your browser. A website is without an SSL certificate will not have the lock symbol and your browser might even issue a warning to the website visitors if the site they are trying to access has some security issues.
An SSL certificate is extremely important if you are collecting rent payments online or other sensitive data, like rental application information as it ensures that nobody in the middle is intercepting that sensitive information.
Beyond providing an additional level of security to your website, a website with an SSL certificate will also rank higher on search engines. Adding an SSL certificate to your website will not only add an additional layer of security to your CMS but will also help with SEO because it tends to get your website ranked higher in search engines.
Keep Your Website Up-to-Date
Security measures for websites are often introduced to a CMS or hosting service through software updates. In order to access the most recent security measures, you will want to actively update your CMS or hosting platform.
Website Options within Your Property Management Software
Property managers and landlords can take advantage of the tools available in their property management software to create professional websites for their rental business. When a software company offers you a website, you want to go through the same security verification process you would if you were building and hosting the website yourself. Your property management software company should be very transparent about their system security and the information should be very easy to find.
If you are a Rentec Direct client, we have tons of information we love to share of data security and website security with you. Check out this article on System Security with Rentec Direct, which also applies to the free property management website you get with your software subscription.
The Bottom Line
When making decisions about a CMS or website hosting platform, make sure that you evaluate security as much as the price and ease of use. Each platform or service should be happy to share their security measures with you and make the information easy to find.
If you have a website for your rental business, the best way to instill trust to your renters, owners, and online visitors is to ensure your SSL certificate is up-to-date, and your website runs quickly and securely. This is especially important if you collect rent payments or rental applications online.