We tell agents all the time that the most important action they can take to boost their online reputation and earn more leads online is to optimize their Google presence.
Still, even we were struck by our data scientists’ finding that in 2021, Homesnap agents spent 20% more on Google advertising in 2021 than they did in 2020.
Compare this 20% increase in Google advertising spend to other digital platforms:
- Agents spent 12% more on Instagram
- Agents spent 9% more on Facebook
Clearly, agents are emphasizing Google more than they have before, and more than other digital platforms. Why is Google the source of such increased agent attention? In short, Google has adapted well to stricter digital privacy regulations and now features more local search results – making it the leading digital platform for agents who want high-intent, local leads.
1. Stricter Digital Privacy Features
The first reason that agents are putting more emphasis than ever before on Google is more strict digital privacy features that have upended the digital marketing landscape.
In April 2021, Apple introduced a privacy update in which iPhone users received pop ups asking if they wanted to allow their mobile apps to target them for ads. Most people opted out.
This update, called App Tracking Transparency, represented a major change – especially for Facebook. In the past, Facebook sold ads on the basis that advertisers could target consumers who were browsing, clicking, and searching for specific terms, content, and topics. Real estate agents, for example, could pay to target people who were engaging with real estate content, searching for real estate professionals, and clicking on home listings.
Apple’s privacy restrictions have rendered that level of hyper-targeting far more difficult. If fewer buyers and sellers can be found through targeted social media ads, it makes sense to plug the gap by finding them at the place they’re most often searching for real estate services: Google Search.
2. Google’s Vicinity Update
At the same time it became harder to target the most high-intent real estate consumers on other digital platforms, it became more likely that agents at the top of Google search results reach the most high-intent local searchers.
Basically, it’s because Google has, in a recent update, made vicinity a more important part of search results. In practice, this means that Google is more heavily weighting proximity when serving up local search results. When people search for an ice cream shop or cleaning service or real estate agent, they’re more likely to see business profiles that are located nearby.
Vicinity has always been important to Google, along with relevance and prominence, but with the so-called “Vicinity Update,” Google is telling businesses that it considers distance to be essential.
Just consider a search for the term “real estate agents near me.”
The displayed real estate providers aren’t just in the same town or state – they’re practically down the street from one another, and all located in the same town.
With vicinity emphasized, Google search results should, in theory, serve searchers with agents who are best-able to provide them with high-quality services. Conversely, agents are more likely to be found by searchers in their neighborhood or town – making leads from Google even more relevant and high-intent.
How Does Homesnap Pro+ Help Agents Own Google Search?
Appearing at the top of Google search results is important. Agents recognize it, we recognize it, and it’s the focus of Homesnap Pro+, the leading software solution to optimizing your Google presence.
The first way Homesnap Pro+ helps agents like you own local search is by verifying your Google business profile. Your Google business profile is what appears at the right side of the page when people search for you on Google. It includes your address, phone number, hours of operations, and up-to-date listing photos.
Pro+ syncs your information and listings from Homesnap to your business profile, signaling to Google (and to people viewing your profile) that you are a legitimate, professional agent who is ready to do business.
But that’s not enough to appear at the top of search results. Next, Pro+ helps you take the crucial step of soliciting positive reviews to appear on your Google business profile. Remember that search result page for “real estate near me” we looked at earlier? The listed agents all had dozens of reviews and a perfect or nearly perfect Google rating. That’s no accident – Google prioritizes reviews as a sign that agents are worth recommending, and you won’t appear on local searches without them.
Pro+ helps you meet this expectation with the One-Click Review Tool, which allows you to request reviews from colleagues, clients, colleagues, and friends with a simple, easy click. One-Click Review also sends out up to three automated follow-ups, which means you don’t have to waste time tracking who has and hasn’t responded to your review request.
Agents who use the One-Click Review Tool regularly have an average Google rating of 4.95. Those who don’t? They average a 1.5 Google rating.
Real estate agents who want business are prioritizing Google more than ever. Agents who want to succeed on Google? They’re best-served by upgrading to Homesnap Pro+.