For more than a decade, agents have hoped to outsmart Google’s “black box” search algorithm. You have updated your local content. Improve your video strategy. At some point, you probably came across Google+ and posted content … and faced crickets.
Nevertheless, the Google algorithm in its entirety remains a mystery. But as local search is gaining ground with Google Local Pack, it is important for agents to unravel its secrets.
Here are a few new revelations:
- Ratings are now the second most important factor in Google’s local search algorithm1.
- Consumers looking for local businesses are primarily considering reviews. The three most important conversion factors on Google are a company’s star ranking, the number of reviews and the sentiment of its reviews1.
The secret to beating Google? It’s all about reviews. Here are three ways you can strengthen your online rating strategy and beat Google at its own game.
1. Get your reviews on Google
Make sure you have a plan to get each of your reviews on Google. Whether you are asking customers to rate you directly on the website or using a service done for you that pushes your past, current and future reviews to your Google My Business profile, you want Google to be number 1 for Your strong customer is reviews.
2. Help your reviews gain legitimacy
Consumers are aware of scammers, and more than 80% 2 of respondents say they are concerned about trusting fake reviews.
To counter this mistrust, companies can work to ensure that their reviews contain data, media, or other evidence of validity. Real estate agents have a small advantage here as they can use tools like RateMyAgent to link their reviews directly to real MLS transaction data. A verified rating that is published alongside the price, location and listing photo of a property is more likely to gain credibility with consumers.
3. Reply to every Google review
Remember, Google’s algorithms are designed to promote legitimate local businesses with good reputations. Because of this, their local search algorithm takes into account the interaction between local businesses and consumers who leave reviews3.
Comment back after receiving a positive review. Make it clear that you know exactly who left the review and that you continue to have a great relationship.
“Todd, these nice words mean so much to me. It’s been an honor to work with you and Marilyn and I hope to see you again for dinner soon! “
If an incoming review is negative, you’ll want to respond anyway. However, you can try to go to the previous client first. Not only does this minimize misunderstandings, but it also reduces the likelihood that they will double up with even more negative feedback. The only time to avoid calling is when you know beyond any doubt that doing so would be unproductive and create more tension.
After the call, draft a response that calmly and professionally explains the situation, any misunderstandings, and your plan to ensure the situation does not recur. Try to avoid sounding defensive or upset.
“Brad, I’m glad we had the opportunity to discuss this directly. In my 20 years as an agent, I’ve worked with buyers who have different communication preferences, from text messaging to email, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations. I’m sorry we didn’t seem to be on the same page and I’m working to ensure that all of my future customers have a better experience. Thanks again for your feedback. Watch out.”
Ready to Beat Google?
When it comes to building a stable business, you need a review solution that will help get Google on your side. Claim your free RateMyAgent profile today to receive a free profile that you can use to collect, control and promote your reviews on Google and on Facebook, Instagram and more.
- White Spark, Analysis of 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey
- Bright Local, Local Consumer Review Survey 2020
- Chatmeter, Google confirms response to reviews improves your local SEO