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Google Local Search Results Just Went Through a Huge Update. How Can Agents Rank Higher?

January 30 2022

hsnap google local search update 1You already know that when people look for a real estate agent, they're seeking a trustworthy professional who demonstrates the real estate knowledge and reputation necessary to help them buy or sell a home quickly and at the right price.

You also know that a consumer in Detroit probably won't be happy searching for an agent online but only seeing results for agents in San Diego – people want an agent who lives, works and has specific expertise in their local market.

With its most recent search algorithm update, Google is demonstrating an effort to meet consumer demands for relevant, local content.

Last month, Google went through its biggest local search algorithm update in five years. This matters for agents: More than 90% of real estate searches start online, and Google is the most popular search engine in the world. When Google makes significant changes to search results, it affects your business.

The results Google searchers see are going to be tied more closely than ever before to their location – which means that you should take simple, effective actions to win the local SEO battle.

By following Google's local ranking guidelines, you can show Google that you are the leading local real estate option, vault to the top of local search results, and earn more clients and business.

What's Changing About Google Local Search?

It's been called the "Vicinity Update," and that just about sums up what's changing. Google is more heavily weighting proximity when serving up local search results. Whether people search for a lawyer or accountant or restaurant or real estate agent, they're more likely to see business profiles that are located nearby.

Weighing proximity isn't a new method for Google. Distance has always been a consideration for Google local search results, along with:

  • Relevance, which is how well a Google business profile matches the service someone is searching for
  • Prominence, which is how known and respected a Google business profile appears to be

Having completed, detailed business information helps Google measure your relevance. Prominence is based on the information Google has about a business, and is especially aided by having numerous, frequent positive Google reviews.

With the Vicinity Update, Google is demonstrating that it considers distance to be an important part of a business's relevance and prominence. For real estate, this makes sense – being locally based means that an agent can provide relevant real estate advice. And the more local the agent, the more known and respected they are likely to be in the community where clients want to buy and sell.

This community-centric search update is clear when you consider a search for the term "real estate agents near me."

hsnap google local search update 2

The displayed real estate providers all have a high number of positive reviews, a website, business hours, and a local address.

Take a look at the map and you'll see that the displayed providers aren't just in the same town or state – they're practically within walking distance! This indicates that Google is trying to eliminate the kind of keyword stuffing or misrepresentation that allowed businesses to rank at the top of local searches far from their actual location.

No more games, no more tricks, no more search results that don't directly meet searchers' local, on-the-ground needs – that's the message Google is sending to businesses with this local search update.

How Can Agents Adapt to the Vicinity Update?

We get it: SEO can be complicated, and Google updates can seem intimidating. How can you be sure that amid these changes, consumers find your services when they search online?

The answer isn't convoluted or grandiose. Just follow Google's local search guidelines.

Google gives clear, written instructions for improving your local search ranking. It instructs users to create a Google business profile that includes information such as your address, phone number, website, and industry. The profile should also have a verified location, accurate business hours, and up-to-date photos.

Most importantly, Google urges businesses to solicit and manage reviews. Again, Google uses these reviews to determine your prominence and relevance and decide whether to feature you as an agent consumers can trust. Solicit reviews from clients, fellow agents, friends, and family – anybody who can speak to your skill, professionalism, and ability should give testimony. Additionally, Google wants you to list a website.

SEO doesn't have to be scary. With a Homesnap Pro+ membership, you can make the most of your digital presence, and make the best of this Google Local Search update.

To view the original article, visit the Homesnap blog.