Did you know Google lost search engine market share in 2020? Granted, the overall dip was small: 88.65% of all U.S. search queries in January to 87.81% in December. But, still, it’s noteworthy. It’s the first time traffic fell year over year, and it’s likely the beginning of an irreversible trend, as upstarts like Bing and DuckDuckGo seem poised to further muscle their way into the online Q&A space.
Now, the decline itself shouldn’t be of any real concern to real estate agents; Google will remain the dominant search platform for years to come. But the company’s changing strategy in response to slipping traffic is worthy of your attention. Google is investing heavily in local search, believing it to be a key differentiator and a cornerstone of its future success.
Moving forward, Google won’t really care (to a degree) if a small percentage of the public uses Bing for meatloaf recipes or DuckDuckGo to learn how to tie a tie. Its main priority, in 2021 and beyond, is to ensure that every time a consumer wants to find and vet a local business, be it a pizza place, a hairdresser, a dog walker, or, yes, a real estate agent, they turn to Google—and only Google.
So, what is Google changing?
On the public-facing side, Google is retooling its advertising. Last year, Google spent big money promoting Google Assistant . This year, it abandoned that approach, opting instead to push local search into the limelight. Look no further than the company’s major commercial foray of 2020, ‘”The Return of the Macks,” which debuted in July and encourages consumers and owners alike to leverage Google to discover, review, and promote local businesses. Expect to see a blitz of similar messaging over the coming months.
On the backend, Google is bolstering its Google business profiles. New changes include expanded messaging features, greater emphasis on profile updates, and advanced performance analytics options. Google is also investing heavily in Google Maps updates, which are tied to Google business profiles and critical to local search.
What does this mean for real estate agents?
If we know Google is prioritizing local businesses in an effort to stave off its rivals and solidify its monopoly among community-minded search engine users, then we can reasonably assume businesses that choose to work in tandem with Google (via the newly updated Google business profile) stand to increase their chances of discoverability. Conversely, we can also conclude that those businesses that continue to rely solely on third-party web presences (websites, social media profiles, etc.) will be deprioritized and pushed further down page rankings. Look at it this way: Google is seeking to convince consumers it’s a one-stop-shop for all things small business, and it’s willing to reward businesses with increased discoverability if they make accomplishing that goal easier.
In practical terms, it works out like this: If an agent creates a Google business profile and another in the same market does not, Google will direct home buyers and sellers to the profile owner. If both agents possess a Google business profile, Google will prioritize the agent who regularly updates (with photos, reviews, etc.) his or her profile. The more you do for Google, the more Google will do for you.
How can an agent work with Google?
To give themselves a chance of a high search result ranking as Google pivots to emphasize local search, agents must create, manage, and update their Google business profile. Unlike websites and social media platforms, which can remain largely static, Google now views regular activity as a signal of an ongoing, credible business. Sustained maintenance is the key to thriving on this new, locally focused Google.
Agents can manage this on their own, but the process is tedious. Google is notoriously fickle, and many small business owners have lamented the need to pour constant attention into their profile. In a recent article in Forbes, the author described Google business profiles as an increasingly necessary digital marketing function but a “time-consuming” process that can, unfortunately, slip through the cracks all too often.
How Homesnap can help
As an established Google Premier Partner, Homesnap Pro+ can help get your business to the top of Google. We’ll instantly verify, manage, and optimize your Google business profile for you so Google has all the information it needs to push your business to the top of the rankings.
We’ll help you claim your profile and load it with your photos, listings, contact information, and more. Then, we’ll continue to monitor and update your profile so you’ll always be viewed as an active, credible business. Finally, we’ll send you regular performance reports that allow you to monitor your progress towards becoming a top, sought-after agent in your area.
We’ve helped more than 50,000 agents across the country increase their appearance in Google search results by 50X and the number of organic leads generated from the platform 7.5x.