Has your friend recommended a dentist or plumber to you? You probably checked them out online to verify that you actually want to hire them.

Same goes for real estate agents. In the digital age, an agent’s sphere of influence is not the pure gold it once was. There’s another layer to the sphere, through which most business must now pass: the Internet.

To help agents navigate the art of search engine optimization, Coldwell Banker Real Estate has launched a four-part “Digital Reputation” video series based around what it calls the “Google referral.”

The videos are geared to help the 87,000 agents at Coldwell Banker’s company-owned and affiliated offices take control of what consumers see most prominently when they Google their name. The videos school agents on how to best cultivate their presence on six platforms: their Coldwell Banker profile, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Yelp.

“Consumers are now vetting traditional agent referrals on Google and considering an agent’s digital reputation when deciding who they want to represent them,” said Sean Blankenship, Coldwell Banker’s senior vice president of marketing, in a statement. “It’s critical for sales associates to not only establish an online presence but go beyond to create an effective digital resume.”


Part 1 of Coldwell Banker’s online reputation video series.

As part of its website revamp in early November, Coldwell Banker introduced a new look for its agent profiles, giving agents the ability to add videos and photos and link to their social media accounts.

In some respects, Coldwell Banker is chasing the big listing portals, which have been focused for some time on becoming consumers’ first stop not only for home search, but to check out agents. The big portals all invite agents to build out their profiles on the sites which, like the listings that brokers feed to the sites, serve as content that attracts consumers.

Zillow has been ahead of the curve. It rolled out unfiltered ratings and reviews on its agent profiles in 2010, and began adding transaction histories in fall 2013. Together with the listings and market insights offered on the site, those features are helping Zillow realize its ambition to become real estate’s Google.

Trulia revamped its agent profiles with unfiltered ratings and reviews in July. This year realtor.com rolled out redesigned agent profile pages that feature recommendations and, if agents allow it, transaction histories.

Coldwell Banker’s agent profiles appear to have great SEO potential.

Take Oakland, California-based Coldwell Banker agent Caitlin Krembs. Enter “Caitlin Krembs real estate” into Google, and her Coldwell Banker agent profile page shows up at the top of search results.

CB-agent-profile
Animated GIF of agent Caitlin Krembs’ Coldwell Banker profile page.

The Coldwell Banker profile for another Oakland Coldwell Banker agent, Ruta Krusa-Anthony, shows up No. 3 for the same Google search, behind her profile on the her local office’s website and her realtor.com profile.

The Realogy brand might be on to something by helping to catapult its agents up in Google’s search results and coaching them on how to burnish their online reputation.

However, that’s assuming that Google is indeed the place consumers will go to check out agents. Zillow, with its massive market share of website traffic, might cut Google out of the process altogether.

For consumers who view Zillow as the place to begin searches for all of their real estate needs, only agents who have built out Zillow agent profiles will be in the running.

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