If you are a real estate agent and haven't checked out your online profile lately, you definitely should because chances are somebody else is. And that somebody could very well be a prospective client.
According to a recent California Association of REALTORS® study, over 60 percent of consumers Google real estate agents to find out more about them. They see one of your listings online and they Google you. They drive by one of your "for sale" signs and Google you. They meet you at an open house and Google you.... They do it even when one of their friends recommends you! Why? Because the Internet provides them with a safe, non-committal environment where they can find out more about you, learn what you might be able to do for them, and generally see what you're made of - without ever having to interact with you.
Now more than ever, it's imperative to take stock of how you appear online and determine whether this online persona is attracting business or turning it away.
Managing what I like to call your "Google Juice" has become a critical part of overall personal brand management. What shows up on the first page of Google search results has a huge impact on how the majority of today's buyers and sellers will judge your professional abilities.
There are two key categories of online activity to which Google search algorithms give a lot of "juice": industry profiles and social media profiles. The good news is that these online listings are well within your control.
Your Industry Profiles
Your Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, brokerage or brand profile pages are all critical to what comes up in your Google search results. Having these profiles complete and up to date is essential for today's agents.
One of the most common mistakes agents sometimes make is not having consistent information across all of these industry related profiles. Basic information needs to stay current if you want people to find you. So if you are Peter Smith on one profile and Pete Smith on another, that is a problem. If you work for ABC Realty on one profile and XYZ on another, this is also a potential problem. If you are using different email or website addresses...well, you get the picture. All these inconsistencies can impact your rating with those Google search robots we are all at the mercy of in today's market. When the algorithm is unsure whether these profiles are for the same person or for different people, your Google Juice takes a hit.
Your Social Media Profiles
LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the big three in the social media community. Other social networks will rank of course, but these three carry the majority of influence and are the best known to today's consumers. The same principals apply here in terms of providing consistent information. Make sure your name, company name, email address and any other contact information match across the social platforms where you have a presence. And on Twitter, where you don't have the same profile options, make sure your bio identifies you as a real estate professional and includes your company name.
The more effort you invest in building effective online profiles to foster maximum online customer engagement utilizing these social networks, the more relevant you'll become on Google's search results. And managing your various profiles is a great first step. From there, you'll need to determine your content and engagement strategy as well to achieve "page one" relevancy on Google.
When you're finished reading this article, I challenge you to take three action steps that will help you improve and manage your Google Juice moving forward:
- Google yourself and take a screen shot of the first page of results. Save that screen shot for future reference.
- Do a sweep of all your online profiles and make sure that all of your key data matches and is up to date.
- Set a reminder to Google yourself in 30 days and compare the page one results to the screen shot you took one month prior. See any difference? Note those changes and think about what else you can do to influence this online reflection of who you are as an agent over the next 30 days. Then make a commitment to continue repeating this activity as a regular part of your online brand management.
The end goal is simple. Whenever someone Google's your name, you want the search to return you, identify you as a real estate professional and provide validation by associating you with your current brokerage company.
As it turns out, the best place to go "find oneself" -- or at least the image everyone else sees -- is on page one of the Google search results. I'll let you ponder that for yourself. In the meantime, good luck in your endeavors and enjoy that Google Juice! I'm about to pour myself a tall glass of the same.