Primary and secondary keywords used to hold all the power in SEO. Search engine giants like Google indexed websites based on the frequency of particular words and phrases, assuming their content would be most relevant to related search queries. To game the system, all real estate agents had to do was keyword-stuff their content and then watch its ranking improve.
But those were the old days. Real estate SEO has changed.
Today, keywords are still important, but many additional factors are coming into play for how agents rank on search engines, especially on the coveted first page of Google.
Why your real estate SEO should focus on Google
Google is more than a household name. The brand is a verb. We say “Google it” instead of “search for it.” And consumers don’t just talk the talk either—their collective actions prove their love of using Google over other search engines like Bing, Yahoo and Duck Duck Go. As of May 2020, Google holds more than 88% of search engine market share in the US. The next-highest is Bing at a paltry 6.5%.
If you’re focused on anything, it needs to be Google.
Google also spends countless hours and dollars to learn more about consumer behavior and what actually makes for relevant (and quality) content. And they put these findings into the algorithm that determines how agents are ranked. In 2016, Google rearranged where ads are shown to make way for the Google business profile listing on the right side.
A google business profile listing is essentially a business profile—for restaurants and real estate agents alike—that will prominently appear whenever it’s relevant to the search query. This strategic move, while helpful for consumers, allows Google to prioritize its own product.
Google will place a GMB listing on the right side if it’s relevant to the query. But when there are multiple GMB listings for Google to choose from, you can bet that it’ll select a listing that consumers will want to read and click through. That is, a GMB with complete information that’s well-managed and frequently updated.
So, why’d Google make this change to how agents rank on its platform? Well, in short, the company is trying to suddenly nudge business towards using it’s products. It’s what’s good for Google and its bottom line.
Making your GMB attractive to Google
Google is forthcoming about what it wants from businesses:
Providing and updating business information in Google business profiles can help your business’s local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Search and Maps.
Essentially, in the years prior, SEO was a bit of a guessing game. Now, with these changes, Google is giving its users a clear, no-questions-about-it path towards optimization and high search rankings. There’s no more gaming the system.
Not only should you fill out every field in your GMB listing, but you also need to regularly maintain it by posting content, adding photos, answering questions, soliciting reviews each month, and responding to every new review (even negative comments).
Reviews signal to Google that your business is reputable. Just one review can increase a GMB listing’s views by 71%, which means that Google is prioritizing these listings over those without reviews.
Here at Homesnap, we publish and manage thousands of GMB listings for real estate agents across the country. When we look at the activity on these listings, it’s clear that they add enormous value to agents’ businesses. On average, we see 300% more views, clicks, and actions on GMB listings that have at least one new review in the last 90 days.
This is the new world of SEO. But it’s also a better world. GMB listings give consumers much more information about you and your real estate expertise instead of just seeing a snippet of text from your website, buried under other search results. It’s like a souped-up digital business card.
How Homesnap can help
There’s much to gain from a well-managed GMB listing. Our experience as an established Google Premier Partner has helped thousands of agents improve their rankings and the performance of their GMB listing. Through Homesnap Pro+, we’ll instantly verify you on Google, build a complete and optimized GMB listing for you, and update it with fresh content on a regular basis.
You’ll also have access to our One-Click Review Tool, which helps you solicit reviews from current and past clients, sends you alerts when you receive a new review, and minimizes the impact of any negative reviews on your profile. We’re the only real estate tech company that partners with Google and your MLS to make this happen.