• Over 90 percent of Realtors utilize social media, but few focus their efforts on search engine rankings.
  • 54 percent of homebuyers utilize search engines for research purposes.
  • Client testimonials are a critical factor in local search engine rankings.

Client testimonials have always been a valuable asset to any real estate agent. They provide genuine feedback to potential clients that shape opinion and trustworthiness.

In a similar vein, Google utilizes client testimonials to determine the credibility of a real estate agent’s website.

Typically, the more meaningful, positive reviews your company receives, the higher your site will appear in local search engine rankings, thus increasing the potential of generating leads via organic search.

Unfortunately, simply asking previous clients for reviews is often easier said than done. Below, we list a few tips and best practice techniques that will help set you up for success in local search engine placement.

Setting up your account

If you haven’t set up your Google business account, it’s the best place to start.

Google will prompt you through a series of steps to build your profile based on the specifics of your agency. Basic information such as your office address and phone number will be required.

The next step is verification. The company will send you a postcard by mail that arrives within a few weeks with a code you will use to verify the location of your office. Once verified, simply build out your Google Plus business profile, and you are ready to begin accepting reviews.

Pro tip: Be sure to build out every option within your Google Plus profile including photos, hours of operation, contact info, links to your website and other social media pages as well as a detailed description of your services. Robust profiles are often rewarded in local search engine rankings.

Asking previous clients for reviews

Setting up your profile is only half the battle. Often the most difficult part is acquiring positive reviews from previous clients. Start with your most trusted clients and those who are more technically savvy.

It’s important to remember that while the process to submit reviews isn’t difficult for the average internet user, it’s easy for some individuals to get confused or sidetracked. That’s why giving detailed, step-by-step instructions on exactly how to submit a review is critical.

The best way to request a review is with a personalized email. Be sure to mention the person by name and add a few personal notes to avoid the feel of a generic templated email.

Next comes your step-by-step guide to reviewing your agency. It should look something like this:

To leave a review for [My Company]:

  • On your computer, open Google Maps, and make sure you’re signed into your Google account.
  • Search for “(My Company),“ and click on the pin.
  • On the card that appears below the search box, click “Write a Review” (at the bottom).
  • In the window that appears, click the stars to score. If you want, you can also write a personalized review.

The goal here is to be concise while providing all the necessary information they will need to complete their review.

Mentioning that the entire process will only take 30 seconds is helpful because the majority of internet users have never left a Google review and will wonder how long it takes.

As the reviews start coming in, the most meaningful milestone to reach is five reviews; Google will place colored stars by your agency’s name, which enhances visibility.

Pro tip: To continue to drive better visibility in local search results, build local business citations across the web. Typically, the more trusted websites’ search engines are able to verify your business information on the web, the more credible they deem your agency. A great place to start is with a service such as Moz Local or Yext.

Although there is no silver bullet to mastering local search engine rankings, there are techniques to put yourself in the best position to succeed. Google reviews are not only a great tool to increase visibility in search results, but can also be used in marketing collateral on your website, social media and other creative domains.

Everyone’s process for obtaining reviews will differ slightly based on what works best for them, but remember to stay concise and clear, find a process that works, and most importantly, stick with it.

Sean Killian is a consultant with Calcagno & Hamilton Real Estate in Santa Barbara, California. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Email Sean Killian

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