Are Real Estate Agents Eligible for Google My Business?
Let's get real: your SEO game is almost as strong as your real estate game. Almost. Because if you're not using Google My Business to boost your local SEO, you're leaving an opportunity on the table.
Google loves small businesses, and using local SEO to boost your search rankings is a great option for small businesses to take advantage.
But, wait, what does local SEO have to do with it? More than you think. Keep reading to find out how local SEO and this awesome facet of Google Plus can help your real estate business pull ahead.
First things first, for those who are a little foggy on the terminology: what the heck is local SEO?
Let's start at the beginning. More and more people who open Google are searching for local businesses. And local SEO is what helps them find you. Google My Business is what makes that process even easier.
How Does It Work?
You know what SEO is, right?
Local SEO is a lot like that, except, well, local.
Let's break it down.
Let's say someone typed the phrase "real estate agent" into Google. That falls under the usual realm of SEO.
If, however, they type a location as part of the search term, like "Houston real estate agent" you're now dealing with local SEO.
Which makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
See, local SEO is based on location. That's why it's called local SEO – you can't be local if you're in an entirely different place. So in order to use local SEO, Google has to know your location.
Basically, local SEO is the toolbox you need to stand out from your local herd of real estate agents in SERPs – and a better Google ranking is invaluable for your business.
Why You Need Local SEO
Let's be real: local SEO is very different from your typical SEO campaign. Which makes sense when you realize its focus is different.
But it's not something you should be brushing aside in favor of general SEO.
See, despite the fact that local SEO is different, it's not actually an island unto itself apart from standard SEO. To be fair, a few factors conspired to make it seem that way (also known as Google's algorithm and the Pigeon update).
And because SEO and local SEO are secretly not that different, local SEO fits with what you're already doing, with a few added benefits.
How do you know you could benefit from local SEO?
An obvious one is that you're not ranking in SERPs (which, really, is a red flag to any self-respecting SEO-expert that something smells fishy).
But there are also less obvious ones, like your page not having a good page description.
And in case you were wondering – yes, not having a Google My Business page is definitely a sign that you need some local SEO in your life.
Think of it this way. If your SEO and marketing are doing their jobs, then local SEO is the cherry on top for customers who already encountered you through other means. It gives them the sense that you're a real person in their area that they can go talk to.
This is where Google My Business comes in.
What is Google My Business?
What is it? The name tells you a lot.
Google My Business is a free Google Plus tool that helps you manage your business presence across Google, including Search and Maps (funny, how useful those two things are when you're trying to work your local SEO advantage, isn't it?)
Let's imagine a world without Google My Business. You might have made it online because someone reviewed you on Yelp, or your website has a small presence, but otherwise, you're operating mainly on a word-of-mouth real estate basis.
That doesn't sound like a recipe for success.
How Does It Work
Think of it as your go-to Google Plus tool for managing your Google listing anytime.
People need to find you. Google gets that. This includes things like a listing, your contact information, location, holiday information. You know, things that help them know you're a legit business in the 21st century.
And, you know, making sure that information is consistent across Search and Maps so you can avoid that awkward moment when your Search result says one thing and your Maps result says another.
Basically, it's kind of like Yellow Pages. Except digital, and smarter, and better.
What It Includes
What does your customer look for when they type your business (or a related search) into Google?
Or, rather, what do you look for when you type a business into Google? Besides a website, of course.
A listing, contact information, preferably pictures, and lots of reviews.
Google My Business covers all of them. It lets you take control of the steering wheel to determine what your customers (and potential customers) see when they find you on Google.
You can update your listing quickly and easily (including holiday hours or a new phone number). You can include photos of your business or available properties. You can start a conversation in the reviews (you won't be the only one reading them).
And if you play your cards right, you can even get the right kind of reviews to live long and prosper.
How Google My Business Helps Your SEO
So how does all of this work for your local SEO score?
Well, let's have a chat about how Google determines your local search ranking.
Your ranking is based on three primary factors:
Let's talk about each of them.
It's not rocket science, folks.
Relevance means… pretty much exactly what you think it means. You're ranked higher if you have a high relevance to the search. In other words, if your listing is most closely related to what the user was looking for in the first place, you're off to the races.
Which is why Coney dogs don't show up when you search Al Pacino. Makes sense, right?
Another one which is almost hilariously obvious.
Local SEO refers to…well, locality, right? Your location in space. Springfield, Illinois versus Beverly Hills, 90210.
If you're close to the location term used in the search (in other words, you're a Seattle realtor whose website is optimized for phrases like "Seattle real estate agent"), then you'll rank higher.
Because you're closer. Which means you're more relevant than, say, someone twenty miles away.
This one is equally obvious, but a little more difficult to wave a magic wand over in the digital universe.
Let's say your real estate business is a neighborhood staple in the non-digital world. People know you, they love you and they come to you.
Prominence is Google's way of trying to reflect that.
That's why famous landmarks or featured hotels are more likely to pop up in search results.
Before you can ask: no, there's no way to ask for a better prominence ranking on Google. There's not really a way to wizard one, either, except by being awesome at your real estate business.
Benefits of Google My Business for Real Estate
How does it work for you?
It takes your business a step beyond a website. It's the first thing your potential customer will see related to your business in Google.
And that's kind of a big deal.
How Google My Business Works for Real Estate
Which is really a question of how Google Plus benefits real estate agents.
The answer is: pretty darn well.
The most obvious reason is that it benefits your search rankings on Google. Because, surprise: Google owns Google Plus, so it's going to reward you for using its network.
There's another fun fact to keep in mind about Google Plus: because they're owned by Google, it's already tied into digital marketing tools you're already using. Like, say, Google Analytics.
And it's designed to direct web traffic where it belongs – your real estate site.
There's also that nasty tidbit where Facebook discontinued organic search for its business pages. So that delightful SEO boost you were getting from your Facebook business page…isn't nonexistent, because social media still updates frequently, but it's definitely not as good in the SERPs as it was.
Enter, Google My Business. Here to solve your Facebook woes and boost your web credibility.
Oh, and if you're that real estate agent who's driving yourself nuts complaining about how you can't engage with your potential clientele?
Stop complaining. Start using Google Plus – it tied with Twitter as the third most-visited social network site in the world.
So if you want to engage the millennials who have now started buying houses? Go to the social networks where the millennials are. Specifically, go to Google My Business – because even if they're not on Google Plus, chances are high they're going to Google you.
Why not be well prepared to greet them when they do?
Can Real Estate Agents Use Google My Business?
Finally, the million dollar question: can real estate agents use Google My Business?
Well, yes, obviously.
But really, the question is why you're not already using it. No time like the present
How to Use Google My Business
In the end, it's all rather simple – a matter of taking the right information and using it the right way.
Otherwise, you may not appear in relevant searches. Which is definitely not the golden ticket.
Enter the Right Information
You should always make sure that you've entered the correct information. It seems pretty basic, but it's not going to help you if the little things are tripping you up.
The information about your business is your customer's first chance to get to know you. So make sure you make it count.
This includes (but isn't limited to): your physical address, your website, phone number, and business category.
Oh, and make sure to keep updating it as your business grows and evolves.
Accurate Operating Hours
And while you're on the subject of correct information, you should make sure your business hours are listed accurately. It seems like a small thing until you remember that your hours probably change during the holidays, and your customers will be looking on Google to figure out what your modified hours are.
Your listing isn't going to help them all that much if it isn't actually accurate, now is it?
Change your hours for the holidays (and don't forget to change them back!)
Location, Location, Location
You should also make sure to verify your business location. Again, it sounds basic, but the little things will help you go a long way.
This particular little thing will help give your business the best chance to appear for users on Search and Maps.
And we all want to make sure that you have the best shot at showing up wherever your potential customers are searching for you.
Read, Manage and Respond to Reviews
Reviews are like a conversation. They're also a way to show your customers that you care about their responses to your business, in a direct, conversational way.
Plus, few things speak more highly of your business than a high-quality customer review.
So why aren't you participating?
Google My Business lets you read, manage and respond to the reviews that are left on your profile with a click of a button – and lets you encourage your customers to review you with a link.
A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words
And before you sit back and admire your handiwork, don't forget to include pictures in your profile.
A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. It shows people what you bring to the table (and as a real estate agent, a few great property pictures are a great enticement).
Work Your SEO Like a Boss
Google's benefits for real estate agents don't end with Google My Business. And chances are, your questions don't end there either.
Good thing we have answers.