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How Google Can Make or Break Your Real Estate Business

December 08 2020

hsnap how google can make or breakIn 1959, Xerox introduced the world's first photocopier. By the early 60s, the machine proved so ubiquitous that Xerox itself became a verb--you didn't photocopy a document; you Xeroxed it. Merriam-Webster added it to the dictionary in 1965, and marketers have considered "verbifying" to be the ultimate measure of a brand's dominance ever since.

Over the last fifty-plus years, a handful of products have been verbified—rollerblade, Velcro, superglue—but none has more been impactful or all-encompassing than Google. Google dominates the search engine market so completely that it has become synonymous with online search itself. When we want to research something, we Google it. We don't Bing it. We don't DuckDuckGo it. We don't even say "look it up online," as was more common just a few years ago.

And much like Xerox was an indispensable aspect to the mid-20th century workplace, so too is Google to today's homebuyer and seller.

Consider:

  • 90% of the world's searches happen on Google
  • More than 80% of interested homebuyers and sellers Google an agent prior to hiring them, even if they've seen an agent's marketing or had a word-of-mouth referral
  • Google connects consumers to homebuying information more than 20 million times per month
  • Google is one of the most trusted tech brands, and consumers view reviews on its platform as more credible than anywhere else

How Google Can Break Your Real Estate Business

As we mentioned, the overwhelming majority of prospective homebuyers and sellers conduct their own research on Google—even if they've encountered an agent's marketing or received a word-of-mouth referral. So, what happens if a prospect goes to Google and can't learn more about you?

Well, according to recent research, they lose trust in your business. No easily findable contact details? 80% of consumers say they're leery of working with you. Poor-quality or out of date photos? 50% would rather take their dollars elsewhere. Lack of consistent hours of availability? 51% would opt for a competitor.

And then there are reviews: Without the ability to find reviews of your business on Google, consumers are less likely to hire you. Eighty-four percent of consumers view online reviews as equivalent to a personal recommendation, and given the choice between an agent with reviews vs. an agent with no reviews, an overwhelming majority would prefer to avoid taking a risk on an unknown. And while you may have reviews on other review sites such as Facebook, they're not displayed prominently on the search result page like Google. You have to trust consumers are willing to do the digging. Some might, but will all of them?

And what about your website? It's a good thing to have, absolutely. But how easily can a consumer find it? If you type your name into Google, is it one of the first few things they see? Or are you hoping that they'll click on a link you provided, or—worse yet—type your URL into the browser, based on some print marketing they've seen?

Bottom line: Without the ability to be found on Google, you're undermining your other marketing efforts—be it offline print, social, or word of mouth. Some interested homebuyers and sellers might still hire you, but the data overwhelmingly points to the majority being turned off by the lack of a presence on Google. So, why put yourself at a disadvantage? Why risk losing potential business?

How Google Can Make Your Real Estate Business

Google isn't just assuaging the concerns of already interested prospects; it's also an ideal vehicle to earn the business of those who don't yet have an agent in mind. To explain, we have to know a little bit about how consumers search:

The vast majority of Google home buyers and sellers search for broad terms like "best agent" or "top-rated agents near me." Because these are subjective questions, Google can't provide a one-for-one answer like it does when someone searches for a name. Instead, Google has to decide what results to display. It must determine which businesses most accurately reflect the users' search parameters and are therefore most likely to satisfy the query, and which are not. And the more information Google has about a business, the more it is able and willing to recommend it (i.e., rank it higher in search results) to its users. Conversely, without a strong, maintained Google presence, Google is likely to push an agent further down in search rankings, as it can't know for certain whether an agent is running a credible business.

Furthermore, the more often Google recommends a business, the more likely it is to appear in the Google Local Pack, which is a boxed-in section of a search result page that shows three local businesses related to a user's search query. Appearance in a Google Local Pack is a significant boon to any business, as 44% of all users click on a link contained within a Google Local Pack before any other result. So, if you appear in a Google Local Pack and a consumer searching for an agent decides to click on a website or profile, there's a near-50% chance it will be yours.

Bottom Line: In establishing a complete presence on Google, you enable Google to push you up the search rankings, thereby increasing the probability that you'll be recommended to homebuyers and sellers actively looking for an agent.

To view the original article, visit the Homesnap blog.