The majority of buyers and sellers begin their buying or selling process online, and 87.76 percent of those searches are done through Google, according to Statista. Our ability to position ourselves as the local expert on Google is even more important now and in the future.
What if I told you that Google has a free tool that you can call yourself a local expert and that this tool will help your ideal client trust that you are the perfect agent for them? That free tool exists – and it’s Google My Business.
I interviewed Heidi Harris with Home Sweet Heidi Realty in Raleigh, North Carolina about optimizing their Google My Business page to help their business grow steadily. This article shows you how to:
- Set up your page
- Build it up through photos and testimonials
- Optimize it to position you as a local expert
Claim your company and create your profile
Begin the process by Googling the term “Google My Business”. Click the Manage Now button. When you set up your account, click the “Add Your Business To Google” option. From there, start creating your profile. Add your company name, address, and any other contact information you want your prospects to see when they search for you.
The address helps Google identify agents near a particular location, and Google rewards you for having a unique address that others don’t know. (So if you work in a building with many other agents, for example, you might get better results using a home address instead of a work address.)
Google also authenticates your address by mailing you a postcard with your GMB pin on it. Your address must therefore be legitimate.
Your service area indicates the areas that you focus on in your business, so you should probably include more than one area here. It also helps you rank in searches related to these areas.
Enter your availability times according to your own limits. Be aware, however, that if you limit your working hours, customers may be looking for agents with more availability. Keep in mind that if you mark yourself open 24 hours, customers can call or email you anytime. And if your availability becomes an issue, you can always edit your profile later.
Also, be sure to include a phone number and website where customers can find you.
Optimizing your profile
Think of your Google My Business page as your resume. When people look for you, this is the first thing they see. Make sure your profile is complete, including your bio, phone number, email address, hours of operation, and links to your website and social media accounts.
Also, think of the things that give them confidence in your ability to give them the best real estate experience they have ever had. What gives them confidence that you are the perfect agent for them?
Also note that Google searches for certain criteria in order to place you in the organic search results as the authority for real estate in your area.
The following will help you rank high on Google and will give your ideal client the confidence that you are dedicated, active, and professionally qualified to help them buy or sell real estate.
There’s a reason Google is putting the Photos tab at the top of your profile. It is important for Google and potential customers to be able to visually review you.
This section contains both photos and videos, and a good rule is to add more than 100 photos and videos to your profile as soon as possible. That might sound daunting, but here are a few photo ideas that will engage and interest potential customers.
- Photos of your team
- Photos of satisfied customers upon completion
- Photos of you in the community at parks, attractions, or venues
- Photos or videos showing your favorite places in your town or farming community with a brief description
- Photos or videos of schools in your area with a brief description of the schools
- Photos or drone recordings of your targeted farm environment with a brief description
- Photos of you in your favorite restaurants near you
The possibilities are endless, but think of your Google My Business page as an organic search tool for Google to find the most engaged person around. The more photos and videos you have tagged with keywords for your region or neighborhood, the more likely it is that the Google algorithm will identify you as an expert and rank you higher in the search.
According to the testimonial tree, 89 percent of people now trust online reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation. Accumulating Google reviews is the best way to increase your trustworthiness for your ideal customers that you can find on your Google My Business page.
Reviews on Google My Business pages are not verified sales reviews. In other words, you can get reviews from customers and people who you haven’t done direct business with to sell or buy a home with. The priority is customers, but you can also get reviews from vendors that you use like lenders, inspectors, title companies, etc.
You may also receive reviews from real estate agents in other markets that you may have referred clients to or who may have referred clients to you.
Think of it this way: if you are going to a new city and are looking for a restaurant to eat out on the town on your first night, do you go to the five-rated restaurant or the one with 50 five-star ratings? It is similar with potential buyers and sellers. Be conscientious about adding as many reviews as possible to your Google My Business page.
To make it easier for them to collect reviews, when you close, ask your customers if you can send them a link to share their reviews with. You will likely get a resounding “yes” based on the emotions of the deal, but you can always state that these reviews will help you grow your business and gain the trust of potential new customers.
As part of their process, Harris’ team sends a follow-up email, including the settlement documents from the transaction, in the first few hours after closing.
In the email, they add links to their Google My Business page and invite customers to post their reviews there. The team sometimes even sends a summary of the transaction details to help the customer write an effective review.
Whatever it is for you, create a systematic process for soliciting reviews from your current and past customers.
Questions and answers area
Ask a friend or customer to post a frequently asked question about your region on your page for you to answer. Google places the question-and-answer section just below your contact details because potential buyers or sellers in your area are likely to check it out.
Here are a few great questions you can answer:
- What are the most popular neighborhoods in (your area)?
- Is there a place I can find school district maps or school performance metrics for (your region)?
- What is the average price range for a home in (your area or farm neighborhood)?
- Why does (your farm neighborhood) seem so popular?
- If I am considering selling my house in (your city) what should I do first?
Answering these frequently asked questions on your Google My Business page will increase your responsiveness and trustworthiness.
Your Google My Business page is your digital resume and helps your prospects get to know, like, and trust you. Use it to help others learn more about you and get a sense of who you are.
The profile won’t cost you anything, and by spending just a few minutes a week updating it, you can expand your online presence and improve the chances of new customers finding you. The result will be new relationships, a larger database and, ultimately, business growth.
Jimmy Burgess is the Chief Growth Officer of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties in Florida, northwest Florida. Connect with him Facebook or Instagram.