For more than a decade, agents have been hoping to outsmart Google’s “black-box” search algorithm. You’ve refreshed your local content. Beefed up your video strategy. At one point, you probably joined Google+ and posted content… and were met with crickets.
Still, the Google algorithm in its entirety remains a mystery. But as local search gains ground with Google Local Pack, it’s critical that agents unlock its secrets.
Here are a few new revelations:
- Reviews are now the second most important factor to Google’s local search algorithm1.
- Consumers searching for local businesses consider reviews above all else. The top three conversion factors on Google are a company’s star rankings, review quantity, and the sentiment of their reviews1.
The secret to beating Google, then? It’s all about reviews. Here are three ways you can strengthen your online review strategy and beat Google at its own game.
1. Get your reviews on Google
Make sure you have a plan for getting every one of your reviews on Google. Whether you ask clients to review you directly on the site or use a done-for-you service that flows your past, current, and future reviews to your Google My Business profile, you want Google to be the #1 place you have strong client reviews.
2. Help your reviews gain legitimacy
Consumers are wisening up to scammers, and more than 80%2 of say they’re concerned about trusting fake reviews.
To combat this distrust, businesses can work to ensure their reviews have data, media or other indications of validity. Real estate agents have a slight advantage here because they can, through tools like RateMyAgent, tie their reviews directly to real MLS transactional data. A verified review that’s posted alongside a property’s price, location, and the listing photo is more likely to gain credibility among consumers.
3. Respond to every Google review
Remember, Google’s algorithms are designed to promote legitimate local businesses with great reputations. For that reason, their local search algorithm considers engagement between local businesses and consumers leaving reviews3.
After receiving a positive review, comment back. Make it clear that you know exactly who left the review, and that you continue to have a great relationship.
“Todd, these kind words mean so much to me. It was an honor to work with you and Marilyn and I hope to see you guys again soon for dinner!”
If an incoming review is negative, you still want to reply. However, you may try to call the past client first. Not only will this minimize any miscommunications, but it also makes it less likely that they will double down with even more negative feedback. The only time to avoid calling is if you know beyond a doubt that it would be unproductive and lead to more tension.
After the call, draft a response that calmly and professionally explains the situation, any miscommunications, and your plan to ensure that the situation won’t happen again. Try to avoid sounding defensive or upset.
“Brad, I’m glad we just got a chance to discuss this directly. In my 20 years as an agent, I’ve worked with buyers who have different communications preferences, from text to email, phone calls or face-to-face discussions. I’m sorry that we didn’t seem to get on the same page, and I’m working to ensure that all my future clients are given a better experience. Thanks again for your feedback. Take care.”
Ready to beat Google?
When it comes to building up a stable of business, you need a review solution that helps you get Google on your side. For a free profile that allows you to collect, control and promote your reviews on Google and across Facebook, Instagram, and more, claim your free RateMyAgent profile today.
- White Spark, 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey Analysis
- Bright Local, Local Consumer Review Survey 2020
- Chatmeter, Google Confirms Responding to Reviews Improves your Local SEO