4 Tips for Using Google My Business to Drive Traffic to Your Real Estate Website2 Mar Charles Witt - RealSavvy Customer Success Guru
If you are a real estate agent or broker and it is not easy to find you on Google Maps, you could be losing valuable leads and customers. Why? Consumers are increasingly using Google Maps to find professionals and businesses by searching directly in Google Maps, and they are frequently adding the term “near me” to the search request (the use of “near me” in Google searches has exploded 34 times since 2011*, per a Google report cited by Inman.)
Our #1 tip for real estate brokers and agents? Claim and maintain a Google local business page!!
We cannot emphasize this enough. Why? You need to make it as easy as possible for your potential customers to find you. How do you do get a free Google local business listing? Visit this site and claim your local business if you have not done so thus far: https://www.google.com/business/
Note: This service has been re-branded and is now called “Google My Business”. When we refer to a Google local business listing, it is managed on your Google My Business page.
Google will need to verify your local business address, and they do so in most cases by mailing you a postcard with a validation code on it. We don’t recommend using a home address for privacy reasons, and the validation address needs to be a physical mailing address, not a post office box. Even if you only go into an office once a month, as long as you can receive US mail at the address, you can validate that location as your place of business for the purposes of setting up a Google local business listing.
Once you have a Google local business listing, make sure you upload relevant photo content (Google allows a carousel of photos, so we recommend adding some crisp professional landscape-oriented images of homes, condos, skylines, neighborhoods, etc.), your contact information, exact mailing address with ZIP+4 as used by the USPS plus room or suite number, website address, hours of operation, etc.
Don’t forget to write a Mission Statement for your local business listing if you don’t already have one. Many brokers and agents skip this step, and frankly it is one of the best ways to introduce your real estate business to potential customers that have found you via Google Search or Google Maps but who do not know about you — so tell them who you are, what areas you service, and why you are the best. You can also use keywords to describe your business:
Make sure your contact phone number area code matches the local area code where you are licensed. If you are unwilling to give up your existing mobile phone number, sign up for Google Voice or Skype and receive business calls on that number. A phone number that matches your local area gives potential clients confidence that you have local knowledge are here to stay.
This leads to tip #2 : Get business reviews on your business listing that pops up on Google Maps.
Why? Per Inman**: “Businesses with 10 or more reviews get 3.5 times the attention and 6.5 times the inquiries. Need data to back that up? A 2014 Local Customer Review Survey of over 2,000 consumers found that 88 percent of respondents read or used reviews to determine the quality of a local business.”
When a potential client finds your business on Google Search or Google Maps, the number of reviews will also be displayed. If you have all your reviews on Zillow or Yelp, you can link to those from the Google listing, but we recommend that you ask current and former clients to leave you a separate review on your Google local business listing, too. This will help your search engine ranking as Google likes to promote local businesses with lots of 5 star reviews; keep in mind you need at least 5 reviews before Google displays your top reviews alongside your Google Maps listing.
Google Maps results (as well as Search) are a great way to get your reviews in front of potential new clients quickly:
Given that Google has an 80%+ market share in search (and even higher in mobile search), it is critical that agents and brokers claim and maintain a robust Google local business listing.
RealSavvy Tip# 3: Specify Which Areas You Service:
Your real estate business may have a physical office location (or that of your broker), but you probably serve a wider area including the villages, towns, or cities around you. If this applies to your business, it’s crucial that you specify the areas where you list homes in your Google local business profile. You can also specify a radius from your office location if the areas are not clearly delineated by town or city borders and boundaries:
RealSavvy Tip #4: Create An Event
As of 2017, Google My Business allows you to publish limited-time information about your events and services directly to Google Search and Google Maps. This will enhance your ability to communicate with potential clients when you hold an open house, new office opening, charitable events, happy hours, first time home buyer seminars, etc.
Once you create a 100-300 word post, your existing and potential clients will have timely information when they find your business listing on Google Maps or Google Search. As for Maps, an event has the added benefit of crowding out other listings that would normally appear near yours.
To get started, you need to sign in to Google Local Business / Google My Business and then create a post about your event:
Steps to create a Post via desktop:
Per Google: “Once you’ve published a post, it will appear to customers on Google Search and Maps in a few moments. To ensure that posts are timely, they're removed from the default view after 7 days (or when the event date the post referenced has passed). However, a historical view of posts is shown under the "Posts" tab on mobile.”
How To Make Great Business Posts:
Ideas for posts related to the real estate business:
• Events such as open houses
• Offers/specials such as price reductions
• Announcements such as “New Office Opening”
Creating a Post and then Event can be a little challenging the first time you try it, so take it slowly and don’t forget Google offers free tech support for local business listings (the number is on the Google My Business landing page).
Once you are familiar with the process you can even download the App:
Here Are Your Savvy Takeaways:
• Leverage a Google My Business listing to promote your website
• Upload professional photos and write a brief introduction to your business
• Get verified
• Make sure to link your listing to your website, phone number, and business address
• Get reviews in order to increase your Google Search ranking
• Create events and post them to Google Maps / Search
• RealSavvy websites can be synchronized with your favorite Google Search keywords
The ultimate objective of Google Maps marketing is to help your local real estate business rank higher in Google Search and Google Maps results. If you type “real estate agents near me” into a Google Maps search box, you will see how results are displayed and how important it is that your local real estate business is on that list!!
RealSavvy web sites allow you to program Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords into almost every unique page. These words and phrases tell Google Search / Maps what your site is about, what contents exist, and how to index your real estate business for Google’s master internet “yellow pages”. Make sure to discuss your preferred SEO keywords with your RealSavvy fulfillment engineer, or ask for recommendations from our Customer Success Guru.
While proximity may be the number one variable that Google Maps uses for ranking results, it is not the only one — not everyone has location services enabled or is currently located in the area in which they wish to search. Thus, organic (unpaid) rankings are critical, too, and this can be greatly enhanced by setting up a local business listing, getting verified, getting 5 Star reviews, uploading crisp professional photos, writing an introduction, linking to your RealSavvy web site, and creating Posts and Events to further enhance your web presence.
Paid advertising plays an important role, too, in competing with established players who have dedicated marketing teams. Exploring various options, you’ll find that $10 a day is probably a good starting point to invest in your business, and at that level Google offers free phone support on their AdWords platform. RealSavvy will be blogging more about this subject later, but to begin researching AdWords options, we suggest starting here:
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