Google Maps is about more than helping you get from A to B. It is a valuable marketing tool that connects businesses with local customers – something most estate agents could benefit from.
Five years ago, Google launched Google My Business (GMB), to help searchers find companies close to them. Using Google Maps functionality, GMB gives searchers information about local businesses including reviews, photos, videos and Q&As.
If you’re not sure what we mean, type ‘estate agents + near me’ into Google. You’ll see a map and a listing of three businesses close-by, with contact information and review scores. This is known as the Local Pack. Click on any of the pack entries and you’ll see a more detailed listing with photos, reviews and more.
As long as your property business has a physical location, you can register with GMB – for free.
We all know the importance of mobile when it comes to search, and the majority of mobile searches are looking for a local business. Even if your property business does not rely primarily on very local trade, research has shown that many searchers feel more positive about a company based near them.
Good, regularly updated GMB profiles really do attract customer attention but they also do a great job in boosting search rankings. So, it’s baffling that many business owners have either failed to create a profile, or allowed theirs to dwindle, unloved and full of dated information.
If you want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Google Maps and GMB, read our quick guide to improving your GMB profile and making the most of its features.
If you haven’t done so already, you need to create a GMB account on the Google My Business page.
Sign In with an existing Google account or use the Get on Google button to create one.
Completing your GMB profile is simple and there’s a visual guide to its various functions plus some FAQs if you need help. You will need to update your business information, including your address (full, correct postal one), phone number and the services you cover.
Make sure you answer all the questions Google asks you to get the most from your profile.
Google will then ask you to verify that you manage the business. This may take a couple of weeks.
Once done, Google will use your business information in local search results and give you the ability to read and respond to customer reviews and get insights on how people are searching and from where.
Don’t forget to update your profile with anything new, such as changes to your opening hours or any new services. Go into your GMB profile to edit your contact information, business description, hours, website URL and more.
Google gives you the opportunity to introduce your business here with 750 words descriptive text. The first 250 words will show up, so this is the most crucial. Use it to write a compelling description of what you do, adding links to relevant areas of your website. But don’t cram it with irrelevant links and keywords in the hope of a better ranking, Google won’t like that. A bulleted list of your services may work better than a long narrative.
Don’t forget to keep the images of your business up to date. As a default Google will add its Street View image, but these sometimes look less than inspiring, especially if they are getting old or the premises surrounding you look tatty. Read more about changing the photos that appear on your GMB page. You can also add 30-second videos, for even stronger customer engagement.
Reviews are important; they can make your business stand out. Plus, research has shown that consumers often trust online reviews as much as personal ones. They also impact on search results. Unlike Yelp, Google allows you to solicit reviews from customers – as long as you don’t apply pressure or offer bribes. If you receive reviews, good or bad, make sure you respond – it shows you’re monitoring traffic and that you care.
Another useful interactive feature of GMB is that your customers can ask questions for you to answer. As with reviews, you need to keep on top of this and make sure there are no unanswered questions lurking there. Also, be aware that anyone can answer a question, not just the verified business owner, so it’s even more important to get in first with the answer you want recorded.
Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to advertise on google for free? The posts feature might be your answer. Posts allow you to create social media type posts or mini ads, which show up in your listing. Just log in to your account and you’ll see a post button. You can add photos, links and a call to action. They are particularly good for forthcoming events or promotions – maybe your property of the week - but make sure you update them regularly.
There isn’t too much you can do about bad reviews. If the person has made a fair comment, do what you can to put things right and respond. A one-star review that looks like it’s from a troll might be best refuted then ignored.
If you receive a bad review, which you feel breaches Google’s guidelines or is libellous, you can flag it as such (click on the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner of the review, then click ‘flag as inappropriate’). You can also contact Google support through your GMB account. The important thing is to keep an eye on your reviews and always know what people are saying about you and be quick to respond.
As we said earlier, GMB is really simple to set up and use with plenty of guidance for getting the most from your profile and complying with google guidelines. The easiest way to find out more about using it for your estate agency is to read Google’s pages then get stuck in to creating and improving your profile!
Need help with GMB?
Wondering how your branches can best be optimised better?
Google My Business is a free tool managed by Google, offering businesses and organisations ability to show their local business based on their physical location. The tool will show your branch or office on Google Maps and allow you to add additional information, such as address, phone number, images and even encourage 3rd party reviews. If you verify and edit your business information, you can both help customers find your business and tell them your story.
Absolutely. Google My Business does not replace your website, quite the opposite. It compliments it. Although your website may already be ranking for your services in your location, Google Places lists businesses in the so called ‘3-pack’ – a dedicated section in the search results, which only shows businesses registered with Google My Business.
Yes, anyone can suggest a change or an edit to your business listing. This includes people you don’t know, including your competitors. These user-generated changes can be made live on your listing, as long as other people verify those changes. This includes changing your physical business location.