Google My Business is best thought of as a digital storefront. It displays details about your real estate 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 the top of your screen on mobile.
But Google My Business isn’t just a convenient way to organize your business’ information online, it’s a hugely beneficial tool for real estate agents seeking to earn more organic leads from ranking higher on Google.
To understand why, though, we need to a few steps back.
Why Google is vital to real estate agents
First, let’s start with Google itself.
Google dominates the online search engine market. When we want to research a business on the internet, we Google it. We don’t Bing it. We don’t DuckDuckGo it. We don’t even say “look it up online,” as was more common just a few years ago.
For real estate agents in particular, consider:
- 90% of the world’s searches happen on Google.
- More than 80% of interested homebuyers and sellers Google an agent prior to hiring them, even if they’ve seen an agent’s marketing or had a word-of-mouth referral.
- Google connects consumers to homebuying information more than 20 million times per month.
- Google is one of the most trusted tech brands, and consumers view reviews on its platform as more credible than anywhere else.
Needless to say, for any real estate agent, high Google rankings directly correlate to more leads, enhanced credibility, and the winning of new business. It’s not a complicated concept; it’s Marketing 101, really: Those businesses that are prominently displayed in front of one of the web’s largest audiences stand to benefit the most.
The trick is getting there.
How Google My Business affects how Google ranks real estate agents
When a user searches for a business by name, Google prioritizes the results matching the specific keywords used. These direct searches account for about 16% of total search volume on Google, and there’s little anyone can do to influence what Google returns—either a business’ name matches the search query or it doesn’t. For example, Papa John’s will never (organically) appear above Domino’s if a consumer types “Domino’s Pizza” into the search bar.
Earned searches, which account for the other 84% of search volume, refer to the use of more broad terms like “best real estate agents in my city” or “best agent near me.” In these cases, Google has to decide what results to display. It must determine which agents most accurately reflect the users’ search parameters and are therefore most likely to satisfy the query, and the more information Google has about an agent, the more likely it is to push that agent up the search rankings. In other words, earned search results are subjective—which means there’s an opportunity to influence Google’s decision-making process.
In the past, Google relied primarily on its web crawler to scour the internet and gather the information it needed to answer earned search queries. An agent that wished to supply Google with information about its business could leverage traditional SEO tactics—filling their website, blogs, social profiles, reviews, etc. with the right keywords and links—and wait for Google to discover and recommend them.
But now, as the number of earned searches outpaces direct searches by about 900%, Google decided it would be easier—and make its search results more accurate—if agents supplied information about their business to Google rather than Google going out and digging for it itself. In other words, Google wants agents to be active participants in the information-gathering and ranking process, not passive.
And, as you probably guessed, Google wants agents to take this active role via Google My Business.
What happens when a real estate agent creates a Google My Business profile?
You can think about Google My Business profiles as a bit of a quid pro quo with Google: You make it easier for Google to have accurate, up-to-date information about your local business, which gives it a competitive advantage over its competitors and helps it more accurately satisfy 84% of its search queries, and Google rewards your business by:
Increased earned search rankings
Recently, Homesnap ran a study that compared real estate agents who had an optimized, regularly updated (more on what that means later) Google My Business profile than those who did not. We found:
- After three months, agents increased their appearance in earned searches 380%
- After six months, agents increased their appearance in earned searches 1,037%
- After one year, agents increased their appearance in earned searches 3,087%
- After a year and a half, agents increased their appearance in earned searches 5,037%
Agents also saw their direct search appearances grow by 4,376%. That’s likely because prospective buyers and sellers discovered an agent via a broad, earned search, we’re intrigued by what they saw, and chose to search for the agent by name at a later date in order to learn more—e.g., visit the agent’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 hiring an agent, but still, why wouldn’t you want your business to appear on Google Maps?
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.
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 blog it should be this: If you appear in a Google Local Pack and a consumer searching for an agent decides to click on a website or Google My Business 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 other online real estate marketplace. As you probably have figured, a Google business profile is the single best way to share reviews with consumers.
Reputation management aside, 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—an additional boost, if you will.
Is it that easy? Do I just set up my Google business profile and climb to the top?
Many agents mistakenly believe that they can set up their Google My Business and then forget it, in the same way they’d do with a website. But that’s not the 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. As we mentioned, 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, potentially inaccurate. For all Google knows you moved, retired, or went into a different area of work altogether. And thus, Google will deprioritize you in search results.
How to rank higher on Google with Google My Business
Ranking higher depends on the regular maintenance of your Google business profile. We, at Homesnap, recommend logging into your profile every day and adding new content (listing photos, thought leadership writings, etc.) at least twice a week. Any less dedication and you could run the risk of de-prioritization. We also encourage you to collect as many genuine reviews as you can as often as you can.
If you don’t have the time or know-how, as an established Google Premier Partner, Homesnap can instantly verify, manage and optimize your Google 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.