Technology has shifted how consumers approach real estate, and now, the vast majority conduct their customer journeys digitally. They’re turning to search engines like Google to discover and vet lenders, and have placed a greater emphasis on social proof, such as reviews. No longer are word-of-mouth recommendations and traditional, offline advertising enough to win new business. Consumers trust what they, themselves, are empowered to learn online.
So, to compete in today’s landscape, lenders need to expand their online presence, particularly on Google, and appeal to these digital-first, research-driven consumers. If they’re successful, they’ll establish trust and credibility, broaden their reach, and generate more interest from high-intent consumers.
In partnership with Google, Homesnap Pro+ for Loan Officers was designed to help lenders increase their presence on Google by more than 5,000%, build a more effective digital marketing strategy, and establish a reputation as a trusted, credible expert in their area.
Below, we’ll explore how Homesnap can help you boost your Google ranking, build a stronger Google strategy, and help you establish prominence in your local market.
- A Google business profile is the single most important component to ranking high on Google and attracting borrowers who use popular, broad search terms like “top-rated mortgage lenders” or “best mortgage lenders near me.” This type of query-based searching is how the vast majority of consumers, including mortgage borrowers, interact with search engines.
- As a Google Premier Partner, Homesnap Pro+ for Loan Officers manages and optimizes your Google business profile for you. Our team of digital marketing experts deploy data-backed and tried-and-tested strategies to grow your digital presence, and we can do this for you even if you already have a Google business profile.
- On average, Homesnap customers see a 380% growth in appearance in search results in just three months, and a 5,037% spike after 18 months.
- Due to their exponential increase in search rankings, our customers significantly increase their probability of appearing in the Google Local Local Pack—a curated selection of three highly regarded local businesses appearing on a Google search results page—which accounts for nearly half of all Google user clicks.
- As a result of their high search ranking on Google, Homesnap customers see a measurable increase in the number of organic, high-intent leads they generate.
What is a Google Business Profile?
A Google business profile can be thought of as a digital storefront. It displays details about your business—contact information, client reviews, photos, and any articles you produce for publication (e.g., market insights, thought leadership), your website address, etc.—and it sits on the top right-hand side of the Google search results page on desktop or on the top of the results page on mobile.
You’ve seen one, even if you’re not aware.
Think about when you’ve searched for some restaurant for dinner on Google. You saw a list of search results, but you also probably saw a display pop up prominently on the right side of the page featuring a local business.
That’s a Google business profile.
Why is a Google business profile important?
To understand what makes a Google business profile so important, we first have to understand a little bit about how Google goes about ranking businesses on it’s search engine.
Google is the world’s preeminent search engine. Eighty percent of homebuyers use search to begin the home-buying process, and they continue to rely on Google throughout the process—up to and including finding a lender. In fact, prospective homebuyers trust Google so much that, even when they see a lender’s traditional marketing or receive a word-of-mouth referral from a friend or colleague, they still turn to Google to conduct their own research. When it’s all said and done, Google connects users to home-buying and financing information more than 20 million times per month.
Google’s business model is built upon delivering accurate and helpful information to its users. When a user searches for a business by name—say, MMK Lender Group—Google provides users with the results for those exact keywords. These are known as direct searches, so named because consumers are searching for a business directly.
However, when a user searches for more broad terms like “best mortgage lender” or “top-rated mortgage lenders near me”—which are also known as earned searches and are how the vast, vast majority of users search—Google has to decide what results to display. It must determine which businesses most accurately reflect the users search parameters and are therefore most likely to satisfy the query, and the more information Google has about a business, the more likely it is to recommend it (i.e., rank it higher in search results) to its users. You, as a lender, want Google to recommend your business as often as possible.
In years past, you could have accomplished this by SEO. You could’ve filled your website with keywords and information about your business. Then, Google would have crawled your site, and moved your business up the search rankings.
Now, though, Google has changed the game. Instead of going out and crawling the web for the information it needs to make a ranking decision, Google wants businesses to provide that information directly to Google. Put simply: Google wants you to use a Google product to rank high on Google search.
And, yes, you guessed it: That product is the Google business profile. And that product is completely free.
What happens when I make a Google business profile?
There are four main benefits of creating a Google business profile.
Increased earned search rankings
Because you’re giving Google the information it needs to make decisions, Google prioritizes your business to users searching with those popular, broad search terms we mentioned earlier.
Homesnap recently ran a study that traced the growth of our customers using Homesnap Pro+ to verify, manage, and optimize their Google business profiles and found the following results:
- After three months, customers increased their appearance in earned searches 380%
- After six months, customers increased their appearance in earned searches 1,037%
- After one year, customers increased their appearance in earned searches 3,087%
- After a year and a half, customers increased their appearance in earned searches 5,037%
Even more illuminating, customers saw their direct search appearances grow by 4,376%. That’s likely because mortgage buyers discovered lenders via earned searches, we’re intrigued by what they saw, and chose to search for the lender by name in an effort to learn more—e.g., visit the lender’s website and social media accounts, read reviews, customer testimonials, etc.
A presence in Google Maps
How many times have you patronized a local business because of its proximity to your home or office? Granted, ordering a pizza is less of a commitment than applying for a mortgage, but still, why wouldn’t you want your business to appear on Google Maps? No, you don’t need people driving to your mortgage office, but you do want to be everywhere on Google, and “near me” searches automatically trigger Google Map results/local pack. It’s yet another avenue to get your name out there.
But the real benefit of Google Maps is…
Appearance in the Google Local Pack
The Google Local Pack is a boxed-in section of a search result page that shows three local businesses related to a user’s search query. In the example below, a user searched for “best mortgage broker near me” and those Google-recommended businesses that fit the query are displayed under a map of the area.
While there’s a host of unknown factors that go into the algorithm that determines what businesses appear in a Google Local Pack, two of the biggest ones are the frequency of appearance in earned searches and the ability for Google to determine your location, which comes from Google Maps.
Appearance in a Google Local Pack is a significant boon to any business, as 44% of all users click on a link contained within a Google Local Pack before any other result. That’s right: Nearly half of all searchers’ first choice for a business is one that appeared in a Google Local Pack.
If you have one takeaway from this whitepaper it should be this: If you appear in a Google Local Pack and a consumer searching for a mortgage lender decides to click on a website or profile, there’s a near-50% chance it will be yours.
A place to display your reviews
Google is the most widely trusted online review platform, more so than Facebook, Yelp or any online real estate or lending marketplace. As you probably have figured, a Google business profile is the single best way to share reviews with consumers.
Reputation management aside, though, reviews also do wonders in boosting your search rankings even further. When we ran the numbers:
- Homesnap Pro+ users with an average review rating of 4.0 or better on Google appear in 350% more Google searches than agents with an average review rating of 0-3.
- Homesnap Pro+ users with a 4.0 average review rating on Google received 300% more actions (calls, texts, website views, and direction requests) than those with a review rating of 0-3.
- The more reviews a user has, the better they perform in search, views, and actions.
These numbers are in addition to the search results mentioned above.
Is it that easy? Do I just set up my Google business profile and climb to the top?
Many business owners mistakenly believe that they can set up their Google business profile and then forget it, in the same way they’d do with a website. But that’s not that case.
Google places a heavy emphasis on management and frequent updates. That means continual postings, publishing thought leadership and marketing content, updating photos and headshots, and the regular submittal of new reviews. In fact, we found that the boost given to profiles by a review expires after about 90 days. When you think about it, it makes sense. Google is always looking to serve the most relevant results possible to its users. Without a well-maintained, regularly updated and optimized Google business profile, Google assumes the information is outdated and, therefore, inaccurate. For all Google knows you moved, retired, or went into a different area of work altogether. And thus, Google will stop prioritizing you in search results.
How Homesnap Pro+ helps
As an established Google Premier Partner, Homesnap Pro+ for Loan Officers can instantly verify, manage and optimize your Google Business Profile for you. We’ll take all the guesswork, technical know-how, and general head scratchers out of managing a Google Profile. We’ll help you claim your profile and load it with your photos, listings, contact information and more so that you can boost your appearance in indirect searches. Then, we’ll send you regular performance reports so you can monitor your progress towards becoming a top, sought-after agent in your area.
In entrusting Homesnap Pro+ to manage and optimize your Google business profile, you’ll climb to the top of Google rankings and generate more organic, high-intent leads.
What if I already have a Google business profile?
That’s not a problem. Homesnap can easily assist you in the transfer of your Google business profile. We’ll keep everything you’ve already published intact. There’s no loss of information, and you won’t be forced to start from scratch. We’ll simply optimize and build upon the presence you’ve already created. We can even import reviews you’ve had from other sites like Facebook directly onto your profile.
Am I able to claim the same business address that my company already claims?
Absolutely. If you work out of a branch and your company already has a profile associated with that address, Google allows certain industries to have several profiles with the same address. Many loan officers at mortgage companies big and small have Google business profiles without issues from their respective companies.