Real estate agents who want to get more attention — and business — from the internet can start by doing one simple thing: get friends and family to write online reviews of their work.
That’s one of the conclusions reached in a new study, from real estate search platform Homesnap and Google, that examined how agents can boost their rankings in online search results. The study looked specifically at Google My Business profiles, or those card-like pages that show up when you search for any sort of a company or service.
And it found that for real estate agents, reviews make all the difference when it comes to those profiles’ visibility.
“Agents with one review appear in nearly double the searches as those who have no reviews,” the Homesnap study states, adding later that “one review nets an agent a 71 percent increase in profile views and a 122 percent lift in actions.”
The study also found that agents with more reviews on their profiles did better in searches than agents with fewer reviews.
The underlying argument here is that many consumers begin their real estate experiences via a Google search — sometimes looking for a particular professional and other times looking for more general information — and if agents want to capitalize on those behaviors they need to figure out how to show up in searches. In that context, Homesnap’s research indicates that agents need to have a Google My Business profile and need to make sure it appears high in consumers’ search results.
“This is really not a luxury for an agent,” Tim Condon, Homesnap’s senior vice president of marketing and engagement, told Inman. “This is table stakes. They need to be there when a consumer is searching either directly for them or indirectly.”
Homesnap also believes that agents shouldn’t be choosing between having a Google My Business profile and their own website. Instead, they should have both.
A company spokesperson also told Inman that 62 percent of mobile searches and 35 percent of desktop searches never actually leave Google — meaning many real estate consumers never even make it outside of the search giant’s ecosystem.
Homesnap’s study does note that reviews aren’t the only thing that boosts agents’ searchability, but also adds that “they are the top factor that Google’s algorithm considers when deciding which businesses to populate in search results.”
Condon added that reviews also are important for agents at all productivity levels.
“Essentially an agent can project themselves as a high production agent by getting a lot of reviews,” he said.
Homesnap’s study additionally found that the timing of reviews is pivotal.
“If you don’t have a review in the past 90 days, you’ll receive roughly half the number of indirect searches as agents who do have a recent review,” the study explains.
So how can agents actually use this information to improve their own rankings in Google searches?
For starters, a number of services exist to help agents to boost their search engine optimization, including Homesnap’s own Homesnap Pro+. That product builds and maintains an agent’s Google My Business profile, and helps solicit reviews to make sure the profile shows up for consumers.
Homesnap Pro+, which debuted last year, also helps agents get their profiles “verified” — or a status that ensures that a business page is authentic.
In the study, the company said that it has so far verified more than 12,000 Google My Business agent profiles. Homesnap also describes itself as the only real estate company that actually partners with Google to offer these services for agents.
However, the study offers tips even for agents who don’t want to sign up for a dedicated service. For example, agents can obviously get positive reviews from their clients, but the study actually suggests they also solicit them from friends, family members, fellow agents, neighbors and anyone else who can write something positive.
While the idea of getting business reviews from non-clients might sound strange or sketchy, Condon explained that Google’s approach actually appears to focus on a kind of democratization of information. And, he added, Google saw the study results and did not object to the suggestion of soliciting reviews from friends and family.
“The sort of key point to get across is it doesn’t have to be a client,” Condon added. “It just has to be somebody who speaks highly of you. They want all voices to be heard.”
How do you stay ahead in a changing market? Inman Connect Las Vegas — Featuring 250+ experts from across the industry sharing insight and tactics to navigate threat and seize opportunity in tomorrow’s real estate. Join over 4,000 top producers, brokers and industry leaders to network and discover what’s next, July 23-26 at the Aria Resort. Hurry! Tickets are going fast, register today!
Thinking of bringing your team? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy tickets together. Contact us to find out more.