Table of Contents:
Google My Business Strategy | Realtor Keywords for Map Pack | Video on GMB for Real Estate |Common Misconceptions | Google Maps Checker | Real Estate Leads | Map Pack Ranking Factors | Steps for Optimizing Your GMB for Real Estate | Types of Business Profiles | Tips & Tricks
Google My Business for Real Estate Agents
In 2023, the most effective way for Realtors to generate online leads is by optimizing their Google Business Profile, previously known as. Optimizing your Google My Business (GMB for short) listing will improve your brand visibility, generate direct phone calls and drive more website traffic. All of which means more leads and more sales.
Quite a bit has changed in real estate SEO over the last couple of years. Because of updates in Google’s algorithm, search phrases like “Realtor near me” or “best Realtor in New Orleans” now trigger a Map Pack, making your business profile a significant lead source for Realtors and brokers alike.
People doing Google searches directly for a local Realtor are often in the final stages of their sales cycle. They most likely have become an “online lead” mulitple times while searching real estate online. They may have even found which home they want to buy, but haven’t found a Realtor to work with yet.
This intent of literally “finding a Realtor” is shown by executing the search itself. Because of this, the real estate leads acquired from your Google My Business close more often and close faster. This is only one example of real estate keywords that now trigger a Map Pack or a 3 Pack as search results.
Google understands their users intent and if Google dictates that the user is searching for a local business, they will show the Map Pack in the search results.Dean Cacioppo – Founder of One Click SEO
Google My Business Strategy
Google has a huge push behind their Google My Business ecosystem. This trend addresses a long-time challenge for the search engine… People do a search, look at the results, click a link and go to a website. This takes the user away from Google and to the respective website found in the search results. But isn’t that what a search engine is supposed to do? Yes…but all other major tech companies do their best to KEEP you on their site and interacting with them. Google wants to keep you there too.
Google’s strategy is by displaying a local Map Pack with Google Business Profile listings, they keep you in their system longer. That is why they have built out the GMB listing to contain reviews, posts, events, photos, driving directions, videos, hours of operation, business descriptions, services offered and even setting an online appointment.
This change in how Search Engine Results Page (SERPS for short) get displayed has paid off. Instead of having the user “leave Google” and go to another site, they now are displaying a Google 3 pack of listings at the top of the results. This small difference engages the user with the business description, products and services offered, reviews and even Google Posts (like a mini blog post) to keep the user within Google’s ecosystem. A lot of search queries that used to show traditional “blue links” now display a localized map pack – which is populated from Google My Business Listings.
What does all of that mean?
Realtors need a strategy for ranking their Google My Business in the Local Map Pack!
Which Keywords pull a Map Pack in a Google Search?
Google works very hard to keep their users happy. Their users are the people doing the searching. They want to provide the most accurate and informative results to keep people coming back. Google has many data points on its users and understands their users intent. When Google dictates that the user is searching for a local business, they will show the Map Pack in the search results.
As of 2023, most real estate based searches now pull up the Map Pack! Here are some examples of Google searches that now pull up a Map Pack, displaying Google Business Profile listings on top of the traditional results:
- Realtor near me
- Best real estate company
- Top Realtor
- Realtor specializing in new construction
- Best real estate agent in *city*
- Discount real estate broker
- Property Management
- Top luxury real estate agents
- Any real estate search with “near me”
Not only will the above types of searches have a Map Pack but many searches that includes a city name such as “New Orleans real estate” will also include a Map 3 Pack on the page. Although initially, GBP listings only were displayed for mobile device searches, they now show on desktop too!
Get real estate leads from your Google Business Profile
Here are some quick statistics on the power of ranking your Google Business Profile.
- 46 % of all Google searches are seeking local information Source
- Local SEO is 15-20 times more cost effective than traditional SEO when it comes to return on investment. Source
- 86% of consumers rely on the internet to find a local business Source
- 88% of those who search for businesses are looking for local results, and they call or visit them within 24 hours. Source
- “Near Me” mobile searches grew by 136% last year Source
Most Realtors and Brokers have a false sense of security
Let me tell you a secret…You don’t rank where you think you do on Google Maps! Most Realtors are under the misconception that they rank MUCH better than they actually do in local searches. Why is that? Because the search results are extremally biased based upon the searchers exact physical location and proximity to the results.
Meaning, if you are checking your own rankings by searching from your office (or whatever address is listed on your Google Business Profile) you will artificially rank MUCH higher. Your highest ranking will be on top of the address used in your GBP since proximity is a major factor in who displays in the 3 pack of Google. The profile address acts as the epicenter of your rankings and they will fade as you get further away. So if you go just a few blocks down the road and do the same search, you will most likely get different results!
Use a Google Maps Rank Checker
Because location is so very important for showing up in the local 3 pack, search results are verified and tracked over a map, using a Google Maps Rank Checker such as Local Falcon. This is the ONLY way to see how well you actually rank. Below is an example of a localized search result for “Realtor near me” with the real estate office at the center of the map, with a 4 mile radius. In the below example of local rankings, this brokerage has been optimizing their Google My Business already. Local competition in real estate is fierce!
Is Google My Business effective for real estate leads?
Local SEO is simply the most cost effective real estate marketing you can do today. Because Local SEO puts your brand directly in front of buyers and sellers searching IN YOUR AREA. Thee buyers and sellers are directly looking for the services you offer. Google Maps ranking is now the tip of the spear for lead generation for individual Realtors and brokers alike.
*NOTE* Specifically for individual Realtors: Because the Google results on a smartphone include a “CALL” option, dominating your local search will result in an influx of direct phone calls.
As we all know, if you call 100 Realtors, you get 95 voicemails. If you are to invest in Local SEO, you must commit to answering your phone or implementing an answering service. This generally doesn’t apply to real estate brokers as many have someone answering the phone within regular business hours.
What are the Factors in Ranking your Google Business Profile?
If you want to appear in the top 3 of the Map Pack, your main challenge is to outdo your competitors who are also vying for the same spot. The good news is Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia and others DONT PULL UP IN A LOCAL PACK. The bad news is you are still up against every other Realtor and Broker in your geographic area. Because competition is fierce in online real estate you need to understand the various factors that affect your Google Business Profile’s ranking.
The biggest factor in who shows in the Map Pack is the searchers location and their proximity to the address of the GBP within a specific Business Category. Other ranking factors include:
- How well you have optimized your profile including
- Correct primary and secondary categories
- Keywords in the business title
- Proximity to person doing the searching
- Local content on the associated website
- Services on GBP being properly selected and described
- Number and star rating of reviews
- Quantity and quality of Citations across the web
- Accuracy of your NAP (Name, Address, Phone #) across the web
- Authority of the main website
- There are many factors in a website’s authority including quantity and quality of backlinks, on-page SEO, technical SEO, amount and quality of original content and much more
- The number of branded searches (people searching for your business by name)
- The number of people requesting directions using Google Maps
- Google Updates (Google Posts)
- These include standard Updates, Offers and Events posted from within the Google Business Profile to the public
- We recomend at least 1 post per week
- Number and quality of photos
- Number and quality of videos
Remember all of the above is compared to other local business profiles that are in the same business categories. Meaning, you need to have more/better of all of the above than all of your competitors if you expect to outrank them on Google.
It is also important to understand that digital marketing agencies that specialize in Local SEO for real estate have additional, proprietary steps and processes they do to improve your rankings. They spend thousands of dollars every month on systems to grow a Google My Business listing. The most successful GMBs will not only rank in the 3 pack for many real estate keywords but they have a larger radius of 1-3 rankings on maps.
Steps to Optimizing your Google My Business
What are the steps for optimizing your Google Business Profile for real estate? We will go through what to do from claiming your Google business listing to tips and tricks for optimizing your GMB for maps.
Look like way too much work? One Click SEO offers a Map Pack SEO package that takes you from creation of your GMB to dominating all of the Local Real Estate search terms.
Claim your Business on Google
The first thing that must happen is you claim your Google Business Profile. Upon claiming your GBP, you will most likely have a postcard mailed to the respective address with a code, of which you will need to put into Google to verify your location. Once you have claimed ownership of your business listing you can start to fill out the information and optimizing.
Can an individual Realtor get a Google My Business Listing?
Real estate agents, as independent contractors, can sign up and operate a Google Business Profile (previously called Google My Business.)
Can real estate agents use their home address for their GMB?
For individual Realtors, Google will accept a home based address. You may want to choose not to display your address online and become a Service Area Google Business Profile, which does not show an address.
Choose Primary and Secondary Categories
Next, you will want to choose your Primary Category. This is extremally important and a major ranking factor! You also have the option of adding Additional Categories. We recomend that you choose EVERY category that your real estate business endeavors in.
As an example, if your brokerage handles Property Management, be sure to include that as a category. If your real estate team focuses on luxury real estate, you will want to add that category also. There are tools like GMB Everywhere that let you see what other real estate brokers, teams and Realtors are using as their Primary and Secondary Categories.
We recomend a minimum of the following Categories for real estate:
- Real estate agent
- Real estate consultant
- Real estate agency
Add Business Services
Next, you will want to add your Services. You will have Services under each Category you have claimed. You will want to write a brief (under 300 characters) description of each service listed. To rank well for searches that have to do with a specific Realtor service, you will want to have corresponding information on your website. If your brokerage provides a service that is not listed in Google, you can create your own.
Examples of Services for Real Estate:
- Property buying & sales
- First-time home buyer services
- Foreclosed property sales
- Luxury property buying & sales
- Real estate investing
- Relocation assistance
- Seller’s agent services
- Real Estate Sales
- Buyer Representation
- Seller Representation
- Discount Real Estate Brokers
- Full Service Real Estate Brokerage
- Full Service Realtors
- Lots & Land for sale
- Property Sales
- Luxury real estate
- Property Listing Services
Products in your Business Profile
As a real estate broker or agent, you will want to be careful when adding Products to your Profile on profile. There are very few actual Products you may have in the real estate industry and violations of Google’s rules will get your GMB suspended. According to Google Products cannot be “labor, time, effort, expertise, or actions, which do not result in ownership of a tangible product.”
We do not recomend adding property listings as Products to your profile as real estate is explicitly prohibited and can result in suspension of your Google Business Profile. To avoid having your GMB suspended you will want to familiarize yourself with all of the guidelines for representing your business on Google.
Update Your Business Description
Next, you will want to write a Business Description for your Google Business Profile. We don’t recomend just doing a copy/paste from your website…it really should be original copy. You will want to use all of the 5,000 available characters if possible, including the most important Realtor based keywords in the first 150-500 characters.
Add Your Service Areas
The next step in optimizing your Google Business Profile for Realtors is adding your Service Areas. These are the areas in which you will travel to list a home or show a home. DO NOT add areas that you are not wanting to work in as it will dilute the strength of the other areas. You will have up to 20 Service Areas you can use.
Add Your Additional Business Information
You will want to meticulously add all of your businesses information to your profile including:
- Opening Date
- Phone Number
- Business Hours
- Holiday Hours
- If the location is handicap accessible
- Is the business veteran owned
- Appointment contact phone or URL
*NOTE Make sure that all of the business information on our profile is EXACTLY the same as all of your citations.
Add Photos & Videos to your GMB
You will want to add as many photos and videos to your Google Business Listing as possible. Upload Realtor head shots, pics of the real estate office, pics from the office party, everything that is associated with that address. Make sure all photos and videos are of a high-resolution. If you have high-quality, original videos, you will want to upload those too. Never upload stock photos or video as that can get your GMB suspended.
Start Getting Google Reviews
Lastly, you will want to get your Review Link so you can send that out to all past clients. That link will send them directly to you leaving you review.
Reviews are one of the most powerful ranking factors for your Google Business Profile…The more great reviews, the better you will rank on Google. In addition to reviews on Google, they aggregate reviews from across the internet for your business and display them on your Google My Business page.
Here are some statistics on the value of reviews:
- 81% of consumers said they read Google reviews
- 87% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses in 2022, up from 81% in 2021.
- The percentage of consumers using Facebook to evaluate local businesses has fallen for the second year running, from 54% in 2020 to 48% in 2021, and from there to 46% in 2022
- Google is the most trusted review platform across all industries, although Tripadvisor still has its place for accommodation businesses, Yelp maintains a strong share of trust for food and drinks businesses, and BBB is trusted for businesses in professional trades and real estate industries.
- 76% of consumers “regularly” read online reviews when browsing for local businesses, compared to 77% in 2021.
The 3 types of Google Business Profiles
Although there is no checkbox to choose, there are 3 types of Google Business Profiles that you will want to be aware of and each has its own purpose for Realtors. What are the 3 types of Google Business Profiles?
Service Based Listing
This type of GBP does not display the address and does not accept walk up traffic. You will still be required to have the postcard mailed and verified, but the address won’t be displayed. Your GBP will have the potential to show in the Service Areas you have listed in your profile. Because many Realtors use their home as the verified address, many choose a Service Based Google Business Profile, but that is not recomend for the best results.
Address Based Listing
This type of GBP does display the address and theoretically does take walk in traffic. These types of Business Profiles on Google may need to verify their listing with a Google consultant by live video of your door, sign and the overall office.
A hybrid GMB is one that uses an address displayed AND puts in service areas. The above instructions for setting up a Google Business Profile was using this type. A hybrid type of profile is the best for Realtors and the one we recomend.
Tips and Tricks for Ranking Your Google My Business Profile
Build Out Your Business.Site
You will want to build out your business.site as having one created provides mulitple benefits. This may be going away soon, but take advantage of it while it is still available. Under Website, choose to build a site with Google. This will launch a WYGIWYG type editor in which you can add MORE original copy. Don’t worry, once built and live, you can change that to your actual real estate website.
Add as much content as you can, using real estate keywords, headers and links back to your website. This will create a unique URL, on Google’s very own domain, which automatically updates with your new Google Posts, Events, Pictures and more. The backlinks you have placed to your main real estate website adds additional authority, pushing your rankings even higher.
Look like too much work? One Click SEO offers a 4 week Google My Business Foundation package that insures your Google My Business profile is properly set up and optimized for real estate.
One of the largest factors in ranking for local SEO searches are the quantity and quality of the citations that refer to your business. Directory type websites that display business listings such as Yelp or Yellowpages are known as citations. There are hundreds of Citation Websites with varying degrees of authority.
Some examples of citation websites that are unique to the real estate industry:
- Zillow (agent/broker profile)
- Realtor.com (agent/broker profile)
- Trulia (agent/broker profile)
Depending on the citation website, it may offer more information such as the products and services, online reviews, a map to your business or other information. You will want to create as many citations for your real estate business as possible. It is critical that they all have an identical NAP.
The NAP Factor
There are many factors that can help your real estate agency rank in local searches. However, one of the most important factors is known as NAP. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. You want all of the citations that reference your business to have an EXACT NAP. That means if your GBM says “Suite B” you do not want your Yelp account to say “ste B”.
A recent Constant Contact study revealed that while providing this basic information might seem obvious, more than half of small businesses knew there were errors in their NAP listings. However, 70% of these businesses claimed they did not have the time to update their listings in all directories. It is critical to insure that your NAP is consistent with your GBP, your website, your websites schema and all business citations across the internet.
One Click SEO offers a Foundation Citations SEO package which creates 40+ of the main business citations for you.
Social Media is an important factor when it comes to local SEO and dominating the Map Pack of Google. Because most Realtors are very active on Facebook and other social media platforms, the information in their profile generally has authority. Optimize the information in your social media profiles (especially your Facebook Business Page) to exactly match that on your Google My Business and other local directories. You will also want to share your regularly posted Google Posts on social media. Don’t forget to have a link pointing to your website in all of your profiles!
Google Map Embeds
Embedding the Google Map from your Google My Business Profile can be another powerful tool to boost your Local SEO rankings. Whether it be a social media account, citation or any type of web 2.0 website, if you can embed the map from your GMB that is helpful.
High Quality Backlinks
Other real estate related websites that have links pointing to your website is a major factor in any SEO campaign. If you have friends or business associates that have websites (especially if they are local) try to have them link to you. Backlinks from other websites act as a “thumbs up” to Google and pass authority to your website. Don’t go crazy with thousands of backlinks, as the wrong backlinks (not high quality or not topically relevant) can actually HURT your rankings on Google.
Write ups in local papers
Being mentioned in a local newspaper (the online version) can move the needle in ranking your Google profile. If you are interviewed by a local paper or institution, try to have them provide a backlink to your website. At the minimum, have them include your EXACT Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP).
Create a Google Stack
A Google Stack is utilizing Google’s online tools to build out keyword rich content, embedding your Google map and linking between the respective Google URLs as well as your website. A properly built Google Stack will create hundreds, maybe even thousands of interlinked pages using Google’s own tools. You will want to interlink your business.site from your GMB too. Make sure that the security on your Google Stack is not secure and open to the public so it can be scraped by Google.
Google Tools include:
- Google Drive
- Google Sheets
- Google Slides
- Google Docs
- Google Sites
Local SEO has changed the marketing landscape for real estate agents, brokers and teams. Having your Google Business Profile show up for major real estate keywords can be a game changer in generating leads from the internet. Although anyone can optimize their own GBP following the guide above, but for most Realtors its advisable to seek out an SEO agency that specializes in real estate SEO to insure you get the results you want.