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Not All Reviews Sites Are Created Equal

August 17 2020

hsnap reviews sites not created equal 1There is no shortage of sites that accept consumer reviews. Google, Facebook, and Yelp are some of the most popular in the real estate industry. And you likely have a few static testimonials posted on your agent website, too.

While it's important to have a presence around the web, when it comes to reviews, it pays to prioritize just one site: Google.

Why Google?

When a prospect wants to read your reviews, they almost always start by searching for your name. Most likely, they're using Google. It's the go-to search engine for an overwhelming majority of Americans. And since so many of them trust Google for search, naturally, they trust Google for reviews, as well.

Why? Without getting too deep into the weeds, many consumers are skeptical of whether third-party websites, built specifically around reviews, are truly unbiased. Many of them are, after all, businesses, meaning they could be incentivized to alter reviews. If you poke around online, you'll find many accusations about review manipulation on these sites. Google, on the other hand, has no such doubt, as their business model is built upon bringing accurate data to consumers.

Where does Google display your reviews?

Short answer: The Google business profile.

The Google profile appears prominently to the right of search results, and is filled with business-related content like contact information, your latest listings and deals, a brief bio and, most importantly, consumer reviews.

Here is how it looks on Google Search:

hsnap reviews sites not created equal 2

It also appears on Google Maps:

hsnap reviews sites not created equal 3

Maintaining a Google business profile with recent reviews needs to be part of every agent's marketing strategy. This profile isn't something consumers just scroll past. It's a search result, and they're used to exploring its content. Just think about the last time you searched online for a restaurant or business. You probably looked at the Google business profile to see the hours of operation, read the reviews and scroll through the photos. It's an easy way to see all the business information you need without clicking into a website that might turn out to be a dead end.

How to get reviews on your Google business profile

If you don't already have a Google business profile, the first step is to claim your business on Google. Then fill out as many fields in your profile as possible and upload photos, like a headshot, happy clients, and your recent listings and deals. This content will show prospects that you're an active, successful agent and help them understand what differentiates you.

When you're ready to generate reviews, do it strategically. Don't ask your entire sphere all at once. The worst thing you can do for your profile—whether it's new or not—is to have a slew of reviews given around the same date and then no new reviews for months. Generating new reviews regularly, ideally every 30 days, is important for maintaining and increasing your search ranking. So spread out your initial requests, and then solicit new reviews at least once a month.

Yes, it's okay for you to solicit reviews. Unlike review sites like Yelp, Google encourages it. Why? Google wants its platform to provide as much value as possible to consumers so they continue using Google over its competitors. Social proof in the form of firsthand reviews is a big value-add—82% of consumers read online reviews—plus it builds trust in the source.

How reviews impact your ranking in Google search

Whose Google business profile will appear when a consumer searches for "real estate agents near me"? Google isn't transparent about how its search algorithm decides to show one Google business profile over another. Experts believe that the quantity of native Google reviews (with text, not just star ratings) is one of the top factors that influences ranking.

Homesnap's own data scientists reviewed the thousands of Google business profiles that we professionally manage for agents and found that those with just one review are likely to see a 71% increase in profile views and a 122% lift in actions, like calls and clicks. These results suggest that a higher quantity of reviews do, in fact, influence ranking.

When our team looked at how star ratings affect profile performance, they found that positive reviews boost its ranking even more. Homesnap's data reveal that agents with an average review rating of 4 or better on Google will appear in 350% more Google searches than those with an average review rating of 0-3.

Even if you're early in your career as a real estate agent, you can still generate a high number of positive reviews. Google doesn't care who leaves you a review, just as long as it's a real person. So you can feel free to ask anyone you've worked with in the past, as well as those who can give you a character reference.

To view the original article, visit the Homesnap blog.