An easy-to-find Google Maps listing is essential to every real estate brokerage. It can increase foot traffic to your brick and mortar location and boost local SEO rankings of your website. It directly affects your bottom line, impacting the number of people contacting you each day. If you don’t want your brokerage to stay obscure on Google Maps, here’s an actionable blueprint to accelerate your visibility.
Google Maps visibility is fundamental to local search. It’s especially true for mobile searches which account for the majority of overall local searches. Of course, it makes sense: to find businesses ‘near me’, on-the-go customers just type their location in their smartphone and get a variety of results most of which are usually Google Maps listings.
*Stats taken from Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behaviour survey by Google
Moreover, Google Maps are reported to be the 4th most popular app according to the 2016 US Mobile App Report by comScore (click the image to view a larger version):
This means that if you want people to easily find your brokerage, it’s vital for you to show up in snack packs and Google Maps search results. Not only does this boosts your digital presence, it also translates into more foot traffic, enquiries and sales. After all, most purchases still happen offline and it’s especially true for the real estate industry.
It might not be easy to start appearing in Google Maps search results organically, especially for the new businesses that just claimed their profiles. Here are a few effective tips from the field on how to boost your Google Maps visibility.
5 Ways Agents Can Boost Their Google Maps Visibility
1. Optimize Google My Business listings
First things first: To show up on Google Maps, you need a Google My Business listing. It has to be 100% perfect. Address, phone numbers, business categories, areas you service – everything has to be relevant and up-to-date. You (should) already know how important it is for the NAP data to be relevant and consistent everywhere on the Web.
When completing your business profile on Google, make sure to specify an actual and, above all, correct address which you use for postal purposes. Even things like extra spaces or tiny mistakes in the address can stop you from appearing in Google Maps search results.
According to the Local Search Association, about $10.3 billion worth of potential annual sales are lost because of wrong, missing or incomplete local business information. So it’s a good idea to double-check.
Apart from posting your physical address, make sure to:
- specify the areas you serve. This is important because you might have an office in a city but serve surrounding localities as well. If you specify these localities in your profile, you can appear in search results coming from these areas. Besides, you’ll be offered to tick this option: ‘I also serve customers at my business address’ which you don’t have to tick if you don’t;
- select all categories that apply. Google offers you to choose a primary category which all businesses do, But there’s also an additional opportunity. You can add secondary categories that describe the services you deliver to broaden your sales reach;
- craft a great business description. In your Introduction section, explain what your brokerage is all about. You may use links and a keyword or two in your copy. Don’t overdo it, though, so as not to end up being marked as spam;
- share photos. Photos are an essential part of your listing. According to Google, you can add preferred photos, a profile photo, logo, cover photo and additional photos.
Here’s one of the Google guides where you can find more information.
2. Get citations and backlinks from third-party websites
In our latest post, 7 Tips on Creating a Local Real Estate Brand to Outrank Large Portals, we explained how important it is to earn any kind of social recognition: backlinks, reviews, check-ins, social media activity, testimonials, etc. According to Moz, these factors account for around 50% of the overall local ranking factors.
When doing so, remember to double-check your data and ensure it’s up-to-date and consistent everywhere. If not, it can seriously hurt your rankings.
3. Be active on Facebook
When googling your brokerage, one of the results you get is a link to your Facebook business page. Evidence shows that businesses with no Facebook business pages typically perform worse in search results.
Of course, a Facebook page on its own might not be that helpful – unless you actually use it. Posting frequent updates with a strong focus on your locality is a powerful signal to search engines to associate your brokerage with a particular area and rank you higher.
[Related post: Facebook Ads for Realtors: New Benchmark Data to Watch in 2017]
3. Produce more hyperlocal content
Whether it’s your blog, neighborhood pages or listings, make sure to optimize them for local keywords. Evidence shows that search engines are extremely likely to return results about any specific business if that content contains local info and keywords.
Locally relevant content helps brokerage boost SEO and outrank large portals that dominate search results. It also does a stellar job of educating your leads and becoming their go-to source for finding answers to their questions. That being said, you can never overestimate the importance of neighborhood landing pages and consistent internal linking.
4. Earn more reviews, all the time
When judging a local business on its reviews, 60 percent of customers say the overall star rating is the No.1 factor they pay most attention to. What’s more, 51 percent of customers select a local business if it has positive reviews.
All in all, it means that stars do matter. However, even if you have a decent number of Google reviews, you should never stop earning more and more of them. The reason is that people pay literally zero attention to older reviews:
*Stats taken from 2015 Local Consumer Review Survey by BrightLocal
This means customers want fresh reviews. They want to know that the brokerage is still servicing the locality. So if your Google listing has a couple of reviews from 2015, it’s a good idea to start earning new ones from your recent customers. Most importantly, you need this process to be on-going so you won’t end up in the same situation in half a year.
We have a big post explaining the mechanics of this: Real Estate Agent Reviews: Are You Missing Out the Crucial Ingredient?
5. Get featured in local media
Getting featured by the WSJ is a fantastic achievement, but for a brokerage servicing a particular locality, coverage by local media is equally important. Local press can do your agency a lot of good since it’s a whole ecosystem of websites revolving around the local area you serve.
Getting press coverage might take some time, but one huge benefit of local media is they’re easier to reach. Imagine pitching to a national newspaper that gets thousands of requests every day. Meanwhile, local media outlets are usually much more open to writing about businesses in their area.
Other valuable local websites you should target are convention and visitors bureaus, a local chamber of commerce, government programs for SMBs, etc. You can find a full list here: SEO for Real Estate: a Definitive Guide to Local Link Building.
To generate more business, you need your brokerage to be easy-to-find and on top of search results. Optimize your Google Maps listing and you’ll be one step closer to that goal.