How Estate Agents can Use Google Maps and Other Tools to Improve Local SEO
The internet has provided businesses in every industry and of every size with the opportunity to not only reach customers in their home country, but also to expand into the global market.
However, for estate agencies, the ideal target audience is local, rather than global.
For estate agents, a successful digital marketing strategy should focus on reaching customers who are based in the local area by appearing on localised search queries. This enables users who are searching for an estate agent in a particular area or who are in your area already to find you as quickly and as easily as possible.
Because of this, performing local SEO should be a top priority for any estate agent, and a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy. Read on for some top tips for local SEO for estate agents.
Registering your Estate Agents with Google My Business
Google provides a one-stop-shop for a number of local businesses, including estate agencies, known as Google My Business. This is a tool which enables you to increase your agency's visibility within Google search results, Google Plus and Google Maps, making it extremely useful for smaller, local organisations like estate agencies.
It also provides extra convenience by allowing you to manage all of your business' Google services from one platform. Visit https://www.google.com/business/in order to quickly sign your firm up for this service. Once you have done this, you will need to ensure that you include correct details for your estate agents, including an address, before going to the verification process.
Google send postcards to the locations given, each with a unique code that is quoted back to them to complete the verification process. They advise that it can take up to 4 weeks to receive the postcards but it often takes a matter of days and in the meantime, your estate agency is visible as unverified on Google Maps from the point of registration.
Include Your Address on Your Website
It is hugely important that Google understands exactly where it is that your business is located in order for it to show up in local search results. To improve your visibility in the search results, it's worth ensuring your business address is fully listed on your agency's website, including the postal code. If it fits in well with the design and is appropriate, your first choice for including your address should be in the footer of every page on your site. By doing this, you will reinforce the relevancy of each and every page on your whole website for local searches.
Separate Branch Pages
If your estate agency has a number of different branches in different locations, keep them separate from each other on your business website. Having a separate page on your site for each branch that you have will ensure that you create optimum search result visibility for all of your physical locations. Each page should include your full address including the postcode, and your telephone number including the area code. This enables Google to have a clear picture as to where your branches are active and keeps them separate from each other in order to avoid confusion.
Location Relevant Keywords
In SEO, the process of using location relevant keywords in your website's content is known as optimisation, which is the process of ‘optimising' your website so that each page is as relevant as possible to the search terms for which you would like to appear in Google's search results. If you want to be found when people search for local place names or estate agencies in your area, you will need to ensure that the name of the area and local place names are used across your website. This means creating content which talks about where your branch is, where the houses that you have for sale are located, and which areas your company serves, for example.
While it's important to highlight the area you cover with location keywords throughout your website, Google will throw out any unnecessary over-mentions of where you operate for ‘location stuffing' and you could be penalised. All location keywords should be included in content naturally and with relevance to score highly with the search engine overlord.
Links from Local Websites
Links are a hugely important part of SEO. When another website links back to yours via a hyperlink, it endorses your site as being relevant and of quality in Google's eyes and you're rewarded with a boost in visibility in its search results. By getting links to your website from other websites that are based in the local area, you can help to improve your own local visibility. These could include links from local government, local area news or general community information for the area your estate agency covers. You could also get more involved with your community, for example by sponsoring a local sports team in return for links back to your website from theirs.
Positive Reviews on Google Maps
One of the best features of Google Maps is that when your estate agency is displayed, there is an opportunity for your satisfied clients to provide you with a review that is shown as highlighted stars on your information panel. Considering the proportion of people accessing the internet via smartphones, it is essential that your estate agency is visible on Google Maps.
One particularly compelling reason is that Google Maps now doubles-up as a satellite navigation system in that you can be directed to specific destinations with voice alerts. As well as ensuring your agency is on the map, it's also worth identifying where your properties are on Google Maps alongside the listings. This not only improves your local SEO without annoying Google but also allows interested parties to organise their own drive-by viewing if they like what they see.
Google is continually updating its algorithm to improve user experience. What this means for estate agents is that all the content you distribute and publish online is required to be unique, of a high-standard and current in order to hit the top spots on the search results pages. However, where they have tightened up content standards on the one hand, they've improved their offering to businesses on the other, particularly in the world of property which is obviously location-centric. Ultimately, Google has become so all-powerful online that it's a case of ‘if you can't beat them, join them' and for estate agents, there's every incentive to do so.