Google is About to Revolutionise The Way People Find Real Estate Agents


 

What wollongong, Kiama & South Coast real estate agents can do right now to take advantage and make sure they're ready!

I'll warn you now, this is a bit of a lengthy post and you might be asking yourself "why do I care about this" but trust me, this could be the biggest impact on your real estate career since digital marketing.

I came across a great article recently that I thought was relevant to all real estate agents in our area. It doesn’t matter if we work together or not, this will change the way you do business forever so I wanted to share it out. Call it my good deed of the day.

If you read no further than this, make this your take away from what this article is about.

"Agents should be less concerned about their websites, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social accoutrement that encompasses the status quo of an online presence. Throw out the playbook, burn it, recycle it if that’s your thing — Google My Business will soon be the single most important piece of content for the real estate agent’s digital footprint.

It will also take a huge bite out of word-of-mouth referrals. Since 2016, Google observed 92% growth in searches for “best real estate agent,” (Source: Google Data, US, 2018 vs. 2017) and a 61% increase in searches for “homes for sale near me.” (Source: Google Internal Data 2018 vs 2017)


If that’s all you need to know. That’s fine, thanks for stopping by. If you want to know what Google us up to, grab a coffee and lets get started.


Delete your browsing history, re-install your browser, clean out those cookies and go incognito. Google is about to bring the power of aggregation to real estate

Before we get in to that, let's start with a brief backstory of Google marketing.

Back in 2016 Google used to sell ads on the side of search results. These ads didn't have anywhere near the performance of ads that were placed at the top of search results, and there's good reason for it. The ads at the top of search results were the first things you saw when searching so they stood a fighting chance of being clicked on. Ads over to the side were in direct competition and were off to the side, so most of the time they lost out in the performance rankings.

Google had some decision making to do. What do they do with the side of the page? That blank space after all is an opportunity just begging to be exploited.

If Google were just out to take advantage of their customers they would have continued to sell this ad space despite poor performance and advertisers would have continued to buy them, Of course they would!

But, Google knew that sooner or later a Silicon Valley tech wizard would have clued in and challenged them and they would no doubt lose the battle.

Google always has been, and always will be a purpose driven business. Even before it was the col thing to be. Their sole purpose is to connect people to accurate, relevant information as fast as possible. This isn't just because Google wants to be "Mr Nice Guy" they know it's good for business.

It should be no surprise that Google collects data. A LOT of data, and all the data they had, combined with some straight forward intuition told them that "relevant" meant "local". To give you an example in 2015 - 2017 mobile searches that included the words "near me" grew a whopping 900%.

At the same time, big brands with big budgets had the money and tech teams to be able to afford out rank local businesses using any means necessary.


So, why should you care? Well, to put it simply, goodbye Sidebar Adwords. Hello: Google My Business.

Adwords will soon be a thing of the past.

Adwords will soon be a thing of the past.

Pizza and real estate (stick with me I promise this is relevant)

You already know what Google My Business is and have seen it in action, even if the name is unfamiliar.

Two to three years from now internet scholars (yes, that's real thing) will cite it as the most significant innovation to the search engine since… the search engine.

Marketing experts (which is what real estate agents really are) everywhere will herald Google My Business as more integral than websites, business cards, and social media. (Side bet: Google competitor Bing will soon copy Google My Business if it hasn’t already).

Google My Business gives local businesses a free, large spread on the right-hand side of the page when a consumer searches for them directly.

This ensures that when I enter Centrepoint Pizza into the search bar while taking a break from my book in my Kiama apartment, I find Centrepoint Pizza easily, expediting my Friday night reservation rather than being intercepted by Domino’s or Papa John’s or getting frustrated by not finding website because it’s buried in the organic results far down the page.

Problem solved: If someone wants to find your business, they'll find your business. Thanks, Google.

Google allows businesses to load their profile with contact information (address, website, phone number, etc), photos, Tweet-like content posts, FAQs, and more. Profiles appear as pins on Google Maps and gather consumer reviews because online reviews are now the number one source for inspiring consumer trust. (Like I said earlier, goodbye word of mouth. The internet is now your referral) Google has quietly become the most trusted review source on the internet.

On top of direct searches, Google My Business has enormous ramifications on broader consumer searches. When I search for ‘best pizza near me,’ Google knows I don’t want Papa John’s. I want Centrepoint or Olive & Vine or anyone else local to me. That’s why Google introduced the humbly-named Google Three-Pack, and thus we come to that aggregation I mentioned at the beginning.

Using good old Google magic — including review frequency and rating, geography, popularity, content frequency, and a bunch of factors we’re not privy to — Google computes and presents the three most relevant businesses to me in a map-based search with listings underneath, effectively creating a local marketplace. I find Centrepoint Pizza, and Zia’s Care in the Three-Pack.

I can expand my options by tapping ‘More Places’ to discover other options. I can compare reviews, business hours, cost, and proximity to my location in a single view. Adios, Dominos! (yes I know Dominos is in this example, but Kiama is a small area. You get my point)

I present, the Google Three Pack.

I present, the Google Three Pack.

And here is why this matters. While restaurants are a relatable case study, Google intends to do this for all small businesses, including real estate.

It’s a virtuous circle: consumers get to the information they want faster, small businesses get greater exposure, and Google gets access to small businesses and can then sell them ads. Oh yeah, Google also sells ads in the Three-Pack. (Side bet #2: this will soon be Google’s top performing ad unit.)

To date, mainly real estate offices have taken advantage of Google My Business for the real estate vertical, as opposed to agents. Read that again, the business is doing this, but not you the agent. But that’s about to change, and fast, because Google knows that when I work with an agent to buy or sell a home, my experience isn’t defined by Ray White, Raine & Horne or Harcourts, even if they have local offices. The majority of my experience is defined by the agent themselves.

Real estate is also one of the few verticals uniquely positioned to take on Google My Business at the individual level since real estate agents essentially are a business within a business.

Agents should be less concerned about their websites, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social accoutrement that encompasses the status quo of an online presence. Throw out the playbook, burn it, recycle it if that’s your thing — Google My Business will soon be the single most important piece of content for the real estate agent’s digital footprint.

It will also take a huge bite out of word-of-mouth referrals. Since 2016, Google observed 92% growth in searches for “best real estate agent,” (Source: Google Data, US, 2018 vs. 2017) and a 61% increase in searches for “homes for sale near me.” (Source: Google Internal Data 2018 vs 2017)

Agents should rejoice that Google has committed to digitising the real estate agent marketplace. It means more traffic and leads directly to your businesses and less stolen traffic from the realestate.com.au and Domain’s of the world.

If you’re an agent, you need to claim your profile… right now. If you’re a principal or licensee in charge, urge your agents to do this today.

Now, let’s get pizza.

 
Ben Greaves