“69 percent of home shoppers who take action on a real estate brand website begin their research with a local term, i.e. ‘Houston homes for sale,’ on a search engine.” ~ National Association of REALTORS®’s recent Digital House Hunt study
Google My Business for real estate is a big deal. The last 5 clients I have built websites for have not had Google profiles. According to BrightLocal, “42% of local businesses don’t have their business information claimed”. I suspect that percentage is higher with real estate agents.
The very first thing you should do if you want to eventually rank on Google for anything is to “Google My Business”.
You can build SEO without it if you really know what you are doing. But if you really know what you are doing why wouldn’t you?
To me it would be like expecting business leads from an Networking group, but not joining the group. I mean you could still get some leads from the group… but you would probably get a lot more if you joined the group.
What is Local SEO
Simply, it is putting a location in front of a search term.
Non Local SEO Search Term:
- Real Estate
Local SEO Search Term:
- Seattle Real Estate
- Las Vegas Agent
- SoDo Homes
- Chicago Listings
If you want to rank for the local search terms then you need to tell Google where you are. It can guess… but it is a robot. You should probably make sure you tell them.
What Does Local SEO Look Like
There are 3 ways that your real estate business can stand out from the crowd once you Google Your Business.
1. With a Knowledge Graph
The Google Knowledge Graph as defined by Wikipedia:
“The Knowledge Graph…provides structured and detailed information about the topic in addition to a list of links to other sites. The goal is that users would be able to use this information to resolve their query without having to navigate to other sites and assemble the information themselves. The short summary provided in the knowledge graph is often used as a spoken answer in Google Now searches.”
You can see below that I typed in my business name…
Jason Fox Web Design
and you can see my Knowledge Graph to the right:
FYI: Below is why using your name as your business name might not work out the best. When you just type my name in you get the NFL football player Jason Fox’s Knowledge Graph.
2. With A Local Pack
Google’s Local Pack is a map display of listings that match a service provider and the corresponding area.
In the image below you can see I typed in…
Web Design + Bothell
and below is what the Local Pack or Map Pack looks like:
3. As a Place On the Google Map
“Your verified business information can appear in Maps, helping customers find directions to your business. They can also find contact info as well as ratings and reviews of your business”. (Google)
As you can see below when I am on Google Maps and I type in…
Web Design + Bothell
you can see my listing and my pin on the map:
Real Estate Local SEO Results
Google took Local Packs away from real estate for a while. It used to be that you would see the Local results when you entered the search term…
Local Area + Real Estate (I always suggest not trying to rank for this keyword unless you are advanced)
As you can see from the image below that no longer produces results for local real estate agents, now it is just the big syndicates:
It looks like Real Estate Agents can get their Local Packs to display with the search term of…
Real Estate Agent + Local Area
As you can see below I entered Seattle + Real Estate Agent and the Local Pack is displayed:
FYI: When I type in…
Real Estate Broker + Seattle
a different set of Local Pack results display, as you can see below:
Google My Business
This is where “Google My Business” comes in. It is Google’s way of letting us tell their robots where we are. Or, what local search terms we should rank for. If your office is in Seattle. Then you should have the opportunity to get ranked for search terms with the word Seattle in front of them.
*I can not guarantee that you will rank for your Local Search Terms if you Google Your Business… but, I can guarantee that will have a better chance if you do.
Google explains their product as:
“Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses, brands, artists, and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.”
There are 4 general parts:
- Google My Business
- Google Listing
- Google Maps
Google My Business
This is the back-end of the service, or your Google Dashboard.
Here you can:
- Edit Your Business Details
- View Your Page Insights
- Manage Your Google Reviews
- Manage Your Adwords Express
- Manage Your Google Analytics
- Manage Your Google+ Page
2. Google Listing
This is the front-end of Google My Business or what searchers see when they find your Local Business on Google.
This is your Google+ Page
This is what searches see when they search on the Google Map.
Don’t let all of that confuse you. The Dashboard is all you need to worry about.
When you Google Your Business it will automatically create all of the above.
Let’s Google Your Real Estate Business
>> If you already have a Google Account then you can just login.
>> If you don’t have a Google Account you can “Create Account”.
Once you are logged in you will see a “Google My Business” page that will show you:
- Brand Pages
Yours will probably be empty.
Add A Location
>> There is a blue button in the bottom right hand corner with a + on it.
>> This will prompt you to search for your business. If you, or an associate, have already claimed your business in the past it will be displayed. If not then “Add Your Business”.
>> Complete The Form.
*This part is VERY IMPORTANT.
You will be entering your Business Name, Address, and Phone Number. This is called your NAP. You are like a toddler with your NAP… it is very important. This is how Google Identifies your business on the web.
Be sure to list your Business Name, Address, and Phone Number exactly as it is on your website.
Including small details like:
- Area Code
Also make sure to pick the category that most closely resembles your business… “Real Estate Agents”.
>> Verify that you are authorized to create the business listing.
>> This will create a Google+ Page (a requirement for having a Google Business Listing) and will prompt you to Verify Your Business.
Google wants to be sure that you are a verifiable and legitimate business.
If you can use the “Call Me Now” button do it and you can get instant verification.
If you have to use the “Mail Me My Code” button it will take a week or so for you to get a card in the mail with a verification code that you will need to enter later.
>> If You have to verify by mail and have received the verification pin postcard from Google.
- You must login to your Google My Business dashboard.
- Click the “Enter Code” button.
- Enter your verification code.. and Boom.
- Your are a verified Google Listing.
Optimize Your Google Listing
Now that you have alerted Google to the fact that you are a Local Business that would like to be indexed we need to give them a reason to rank you higher than other real estate agents in your area.
Rest assured if you only go as far as getting your Google Real Estate Business Listing set-up you will already be ahead of most.
If you would like to take it to the next level than you need to optimize your listing.
You can do this in 4 steps:
1. Complete every detail of your business.
- Cover Photo
- All Contact Information
- Hours of Operation
- A Complete Business Description
2. Get Positive Reviews On Your Business Listing
3. Add Business Citations with the same NAP (Business Name, Address, & Phone Number)
- Business Citations are simply business listings on other similar websites as Google with the same Business Name, Address, and Phone Number.
- Sites such as:
- Bing, City Search, Mapquest, Dex, and SuperPages.
- If you want the easiest possible way to add citations you can try YEXT
- YEXT is quite pricey at $499 year
- YEXT has a contract with many of the large sites and it is the only way you can get listed.
- If you move or need to make changes YEXT has a dashboard that allows you to submit to 50 sites at once.
- You can have someone do them for you on Fiverr but they will not get access to the sites with the most juice.
- You can do them yourself by using a service like:
4. Make sure that your NAP (Business Name, Address & Phone Number) are displayed on your website exactly the way it is on your Business Listing
- If you want to take it to the next level you should use Schema Mark Up to display your business information.
- Whitespark does an excellent tutorial on this: Local Business Schema
As a local real estate agent being found online for local searches is beneficial. The easiest way to get started doing that is to Google Your Business.
Google has made it much easier recently to get your Google Business Listing up and verified. By doing this your business will be more likely to display in local searches.
Your real estate business may stand out by displaying:
- A Knowledge Graph
- In a Local Pack
- On The Google Map
- As A Google Page on Google+
Increasing your chances of getting found.