It’s time for a Google Places refresh. For those of you not familiar, please go here immediately and set up your account. The majority of you should be familiar and probably assume that your marketing person or agency has taken care of this. With the tips below I guarantee that within a week your company moves up at least one page on a simple Google Maps search.
On the list of things that one should do for their local real estate business, this certainly ranks ahead of anything related to social media or agent review sites. It’s proven that over 42% of people when looking for an agent use a google search product, outperforming any social media or word of mouth recommendation.
On Google Places your goal is to appear in the first 7 results of whatever a user is searching for in Google Maps as well as appearing higher on other search products. Without following the points below, this will be next to impossible unless you’re serving a really niche market. Without further ado, here are 4 things you can do right away to get your real estate business more exposure with Google Places:
- Confirm that your Google Places listing has a 100% score – With more than 20 different fields in your Google Places listing, many businesses don’t bother to fill them all in. At the end of the day, the difference between showing up on the first page of Google Places or not can boil down to not having 5 photos uploaded that nobody will ever view. I imagine that Google will correct this someday, but in the meantime keep adding information and real estate photos until you get to that magic 100% score.
- Write a meaningful description full of your target keywords in your listing description – I would list all the cities and suburbs that you target as well as every neighborhood. Combine that with your usual pitch and keywords, and you should be set.
- Encourage your clients to write a review on your Google Places listing – Think about it, if you and 10 local brokerages all have 100% scores on your Google Places listing, what will Google use to rank order these businesses? The one component of the profile that is open-ended is the review section so in many cases, the business with the most reviews can win the day. People also will tend to click-through on those profiles with reviews as the reviews are displayed fairly prominently. I don’t think Yelp needs to worry yet, but integrating user feedback is not lost on the smart people at Google.
- Choose Generic Category Terms – There is strong indications that Google uses the category information you provide, in part, to decide when and how prominently to display your listing. Based on our experience, Google Places category optimization is different from SEO keyword optimization. It seems that having a few general terms out of the 5 that you are allowed, such as real estate or property, will greatly increase your total number of impressions and activity as opposed to your 5 best SEO keywords. Your listing description will still have these keywords and you will still have 3 category slots to add your specialty such as Portland Condos or Eden Prairie Short Sales.
As local and neighborhood real estate search remains a key way that agents and brokerages can compete with the big online portals, doing all the little things right is imperative. If you follow the advice above, your business listing will have a better chance of getting on the first page of Google map search results and in many cases, will even help with your organic search results.