Having a website will be more important for small businesses that want to grow in the coming year. SEO or search engine optimization is the process of creating and evaluating your website so internet users can find you. The goal is to rank for a targeted keyword or phrase that your ideal customer will put into the search bar. Eventually, after engaging with the content on your site, the hope is that they will convert to being a customer.
Don’t have a website? That’s not a dealbreaker when it comes to beefing up your SEO game. While having a website will definitely help get more eyeballs on your brand, companies that get the majority of their business from local traffic, like restaurants, small shops, and, of course, real estate agents and title companies can leverage platforms like Google MyBusiness, Yelp, and Facebook to be seen… and get clients.
Here’s how… Google is the most used search engine. There are over 63,000 searches per second on any given day. Those users are looking for answers and solutions to a plethora of questions and problems. Some of those users are looking for services that you or your business provides. The term “title company near me” receives 1,300 searches a month while “realtor near me” gets 1,000.
But guess what? There are over 3 BILLION with a B search results!
So how do you cut through the noise? Especially if you don’t have the time or resources to create a website? Leverage Local SEO and customer reviews.
What is Local SEO?
When I was in Boston for a marketing conference, there was one must on my list of cuisine adventures: a lobster roll. But not being from the area, I had no idea where the best place was to go for such a delicacy. While asking a local is helpful, that’s just one person’s opinion, so most people these days turn to Google for the answer. There, you can find hundreds of reviews on restaurants in the area, so you know what to expect.
Local SEO is all about finding ways to come up as a top result when a potential client searches for your services or product in their area.
Even though digital closings are a growing trend, most people buying or selling a house will be searching for a local real estate agent to work with and those agents, in turn, will usually want to work with a local title company or law firm when closing deals. So, real estate professionals should be thinking about how they can leverage Local SEO searches to their advantage.
Get started by setting up your Google Business page
Google My Business is “a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.”
The first thing you’ll need to do is to claim your business and then continually optimize your Google My Business page in order to capture new searchers in your area.
Step 1: Create your page and verify your business
There are some basic guidelines that you must fulfill in order for your business to qualify. There are also some important things to note about authorized users and business ownership. After reading through and understanding these requirements, you’ll want to take a moment to choose the right category for your business.
Step 2: Fill out all the information for your Business Listing
You want to give Google and users more than just the basics. By completing your company profile, you’ll build more trust and interest. Google will always give preference to listings that give the most information. The people on the other side of the screen will also be more likely to click through on the listing with more details.
Keep your business hours, especially holiday hours, up to date. Add photos, links to your website (if you have one), industry-related article posts, and other important information.
Step 3: Add photos
Be sure to add some photos to your business page to help catch the eye of your audience. This will also give you a chance to show off your team and office and build some rapport with future clients before you have your first conversation.
Add alt tags and geotags to every photo you upload. This helps the search engine know what the picture is about and will help with image search results.
Step 4: Engage with Customer Reviews
One of the most powerful business tools today is social proof. Your customer reviews are one of the best ways to influence potential clients to work with you over your competitor. Whether the feedback on a Google review is positive or negative, always respond quickly and be sure to address any issues in a non-confrontational way.
Even if someone has had a bad experience, other consumers will be waiting to see how or if you can handle a negative response and turn it into a positive interaction.
These reviews will also help with your rankings. If you’re having trouble getting reviews, reach out to clients who have been pleased with your recent services and request they leave feedback.
Facebook is a must
There are over 2 billion monthly users on Facebook. Even if you aren’t a fan of the medium yourself, your company should have a presence here. This will help you build new connections and maintain old ones.
Facebook makes it easy to setup a free business Page in minutes… of course, because they want to encourage business to put money into their advertising options. You don’t have to pay money though to build your audience organically over time. Posting consistently with either curated helpful content or photos of your team will strengthen your ties to your followers.
Facebook offers another platform for customers to review your company and recommend your services to their friends and followers. This is another great opportunity to capture new business by leveraging the influence of your current and past clients.
Other sites for real estate professionals to get customer reviews or referrals
Like Google, these platforms allow consumers to rate the professionals they work with.
- Angie’s List
These sites don't have customer ratings but allow future clients to find you easier.
- Your local or regional professional organization’s registry list
- For title agents and agent-attorneys, ALTA registry is a great place for lender’s to access your information.
These are the top organic results for the search term “Sarasota Realtors.” If you haven’t listed your services on Zillow, Realtor.com, and yelp.com, you could be missing out on countless opportunities.
Look for other opportunities to get found by the right people
The idea of local SEO is that your business will show up for those who need your services in your area. Yet, as real estate professionals, you shouldn’t limit your audience to one geographical location.
While the bulk of your business may come from the local area, not every potential client will be currently living in your area. The increase in internet home shopping and buying means that local SEO is simply one tool to increase your audience.
Homebuyers, lenders, real estate agents, and title agents are all online, looking to connect and close a real estate deal. In order to grow your business effectively, you’ll want to make sure that you have a long term strategy that will reach your potential client wherever they are now.