Local search SEO for real estate agents can offer significant advantages over the competition once they unlock Google Local Pack’s secrets and follow Google’s SEO rules.
Leveraging onsite and offsite SEO can boost your search engine rankings and your position in the Google local pack - the first-page section of the search results showing you local businesses as a result of your query. This section displays only three businesses under a map: you will have to click “view all” to expand the results in Google maps. Sometimes, Google may include an ad in this section, above the other results, to give advertisers an advantage.
Having your business features in the local pack section of the research is a highly competitive endeavor. Google displays these results on desktop search results, mobile devices and tablets, sites, expanded maps results, and the Google Maps app.
To have your real estate business featured among these results, you must follow a few Google and SEO experts’ recommended steps.
List Your Business with Google My Business
You must have a Google account to list your business with Google My Business. Create an account and upload your business information:
- Begin with the correct NAP: Name, Address, and Phone number. Do not include aggressive keywords in your business name. Use your legally registered business name and not one designed for “SEO rankings.” Respect the GMB guidelines:
Represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognized in the real world across signage, stationery, and other branding. Your name should reflect your business’s real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and known to customers. Accurately representing your business name helps customers find your business online.
Google My Business
- Ad a valid link to your website.
- Write a short description of your business, services, or products. Make it informative enough for Google users. Keywords in this description help, but keyword-stuffing is a bad idea. You have 750 characters to make a good first impression.
- Choose the appropriate category listing for your business.
- Add a list of services and products if you sell any.
- Add relevant business photos: logo, offices, street view, meeting rooms, etc.
- Verify your listing with Google: depending on your area and scope of business, you can verify by mail, email, phone, or Search Console. Once you claim your business on Google My Business, you will see what options are available for you. Note that verifying your business is one of the most critical steps for a successful local listing.
You could include a few other things here: business attributes (has Wi-Fi, outdoor seating, etc.), hours, service area (if you operate only at specific locations), opening date, and other details based on the company’s niche.
Manage and Respond to Google Reviews
Reviews are a critical factor in ranking in Google’s local search. Of course, the number of reviews and their score (more positive reviews will give you a higher score and better rankings) are essential, but your company’s replies to these reviews are equally important.
Reviews can offer your business a boost in “prominence” - one of the three factors used by Google to determine local rankings. The other two are relevance and distance. The search engine will deliver the most relevant results to a user’s query. Distance matters too: Google either considers how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search or calculates the distance based on what it knows about a user’s location.
But when it comes to prominence, things are not very clear.
Google derives prominence from all your SEO and marketing efforts. It’s all about how well your business presents itself on the web: backlinks, articles, social media profiles, forums, and directories may send signals Google algorithms will consider in determining your business’s prominence. Famous landmarks like museums and attractions may be more prominent offline, but Google can still consider them relevant to show in local search and the Google local pack box.
Reviews are highly relevant, too, and you must encourage customers to review your business on Google, Facebook, and even RateMyAgent. The latest is a platform that connects to Google My Business. You could use it to manage your reviews, manage social media profiles, publish digital ads, share video testimonials, and much more.
Whatever you do, your reviews must be verified and authentic – from real customers and business partners. Fake reviews may result in permanent penalties from Google.
Whether you receive a positive or negative review, always comment back and make your responses professional and insightful.
See these examples from Debbie Sowell - InCity Realty and Fast Track Realty, LLC.
Other Tips to Elevate Your Business Presence in Google Local Pack
To elevate your business prominence in “local pack,” you must understand the ranking signals used by Google to list businesses in the search results.
Creating a well-optimized Google My Business profile is critical. First, include the correct category: real estate agency, real estate agents, real estate consultant, real estate developer, real estate rental agency, etc. Then, do not stuff your business name with keywords. No “top real estate firm” or other keyword phrases. They can cause the suspension of your business profile from the Google My Business, the “local pack,” or even local searches. In a survey by Colan Nielsen published on the Search Engine Land website, we see that about 40% of the businesses that practice keyword stuffing have suffered penalties:
I analyzed the impact of reporting 50 examples of keyword stuffing, and in that study, Google took action on 40% of them. Some businesses were given a soft suspension, and others were given a hard suspension.
Colan Nielsen, Search Engine Land
You can only use more than one category for your business if that is relevant to what you do and offer and never use categories as keywords. Google My Business recommends to:
Use as few categories as possible to describe your overall core business from the provided list. Choose categories that are as specific as possible but representative of your main business.
Google My Business
Building a solid backlink profile would be best, with high authority links pointing to your website. Of course, niche websites are the best, but links from popular publications and real estate-related directories, forums, and social networks will work.
Do not forget to remove spammy companies, misleading information, or fraudulent activity on Google Maps. Spam companies may your business name without your permission in an attempt to undermine your brand and popularity in Google My Business. Flag them or fill out the Business Redressal Complaint Form offered by Google.
Get the Top Local Pack Spot with Google Local Search Ads
If you want your business featured at the top of the Google local pack and above your competitors in the Google maps app (with over a million users), you could use local search ads.
Google uses its standard cost-per-click (CPC) format for these types of ads, and you will be able to monitor: get location detail clicks, get direction clicks, mobile clicks-to-call, and website clicks.
Use ads to:
- Get your business featured prominently above others on Google searches, extended maps, Google maps app, the local pack, and local searches.
- Attract more customers to your office when they are close to your business.
- Get more calls with an easy click-to-call feature, whether when customers are nearby for a real estate business close to your location.
- Enable your customers to learn more about your real estate business, as the local search ads will link to your GMB profile, which features address, phone number, hours, reviews, photos, updates, and more.
To show Google local search ads on Google Maps, you must enable location extensions for your Google Ads account. Here is the complete list of instructions from Google.