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How to Set Yourself Up for Busy Season Success

February 01 2021

homesnap busy season successBelieve it or not, we're not in busy season.

Yes, the real estate market has been red-hot since June, with a record number of buyers looking to relocate in the wake of the pandemic. And, yes, this winter has been one of the most active in recent memory—so much so that, to many in the industry, it's as if last year's buying frenzy never ended.

But the truth is, the market is comparatively slower right now, and it will pick up steam in the coming spring and summer months, just as it always does. In fact, as more sellers gear up to enter the market to capitalize on record-high home prices, we might be on the precipice of one of the busiest busy seasons in recent memory.

To that end, we recommend agents take the time to solidify and/or build their online presence now, so they can capitalize on a wave of new homebuyers and sellers then.

Why building your online presence is important—and why you need to start now

Let's start with a little background.

For a few years now, Google has been the primary way in which homebuyers and sellers find and evaluate real estate professionals. Eighty percent use the search engine to begin their buying and selling journey, and they continue to rely on Google throughout the process—up to and including finding an agent. In fact, prospective homebuyers trust Google so much that, even when they see an agent's traditional marketing or receive a word-of-mouth referral from a friend or colleague, they still turn it to conduct their own research.

Even more powerful is 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 it before any other result. So, if you appear in a Google Local Pack, you stand a good chance of capturing near-50% of homebuying and selling business in your sphere.

Yeah, Google has become that important.

How Google ranks real estate agents

Obviously, though, discoverability isn't easy. If it were as simple as having a website and a few social profiles, well, every agent would rank high. Instead, it's a little more complicated.

You see, most homebuyers and sellers are not searching for agents by name. The vast majority of them are using broad terms like "best agent" or "top-rated agents near me." And because these are subjective queries, Google can't provide a one-for-one answer like it does when someone searches for someone directly.

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 surfeit of information, Google will push a business down in search rankings.

So, how can you give Google the information it needs to recommend you as a real estate agent?

The Google business profile

Answer: The Google business profile.

A Google business profile can be thought of as a digital storefront. It displays details about your business—contact information, client reviews, photos, and any articles you produce for publication (e.g., market insights, thought leadership), your website address, etc.—and it sits on the top right-hand side of the Google search results page on desktop or on the top of the results page on mobile.

You've seen one, even if you're not aware. Think about when you've searched for some restaurant on Google. You saw a list of search results, but you also probably saw a display pop up prominently on the right side of the page featuring a local business. That's a Google business profile.

Instead of going out and crawling the web, as the company once did, Google wants businesses to provide the information it needs to make a ranking decision via the Google business profile. In other words, Google wants you to use a Google product to rank high on Google search. It's a bit of a quid pro quo, really.

So it's that easy?

Theoretically, yes. In all practicality, no.

First, the process takes time. You can not simply offer your business information to Google and expect a rapid climb up the rankings. Instead, once you complete your Google business profile, Google slowly moves you upward. Consider it akin to a trial: Google ranks you higher; if users click on your profile, Google recognizes your business as credible and valuable and moves you further up. The more people that click, the higher Google ranks.

Second, many business owners mistakenly believe that they can set up their Google business profile and then forget it, in the same way they'd do with a website. But that's just not the case. Google places a heavy emphasis on management and frequent updates. That means continual postings, publishing thought leadership and marketing content, updating photos and headshots, and the regular submittal of new reviews. In fact, Homesnap found that the boost given to profiles by a review expires after about 90 days.

When you think about it, it makes sense. Google is always looking to serve the most relevant results possible to its users. Without a well-maintained, regularly updated and optimized Google business profile, Google assumes the information is outdated and, therefore, inaccurate. For all Google knows you moved, retired, or went into a different area of work altogether. And thus, Google will stop prioritizing you in search results.

That is why we're recommending agents start the process now.

So, to recap:

  1. Google has become one of the most powerful tools available to agents looking to source new homebuyer and seller leads
  2. Ranking high can make all the difference between winning and losing new business
  3. Google wants you to feed it information about your business via the Google business profile to rank you higher
  4. But that process takes time
  5. So, agents would be best served to start now, so they can reap the benefits come busy season

To view the original article, visit the Homesnap blog.