Why Real Estate Agents Need Online Reviews
Whether or not you like online reviews as they apply to you personally, they’re an important part of your marketing plan. Consumers love online reviews, and use them to evaluate everything from baby formula to cars to … YOU.
Sure, you’re not a Bluetooth headset, but consumers begin their search process for agents in much the same way. Online reviews are over 12 times more trusted than what you say about yourself online and trusted 6.5 times more than your advertising (eMarketeer)! Here’s the kicker: People who interact with reviews and other people looking at reviews are 105 percent more likely to buy (Bazaarvoice, Conversation Index). Although these stats are impressive, there’s another, equally important piece of online reviews. Reviews provide fresh, unique content for search engines. They increase your chances of being found by Google. Reviews increase click-through. People who leave reviews frequently use language other people use when searching, increasing your chances of being found using long tail keywords… SO FOR BETTER OR WORSE, YOUR REVIEWS WILL BE FOUND!
95% of consumers say that online feedback and research
influence their decision to purchase.
~ Google, 2015
How Your Reviews Will Be Found
What’s a long-tail keyword? It’s a long string of 3-5 words, like “Rumson Real Estate Agents NJ” that people use when they’re looking for very specific things. Long tail keyword strings are often associated with purchase, meaning that people are farther down their decision process when they use them. You can imagine that if someone is searching for something as specific as something you sell (say “Rumson Real Estate Agents NJ”) it would be more than advisable for you to have a great review pop up at that moment. What’s more, reviews are popping up in places that consumers use every day, like Google Maps and Siri. Reviews are everywhere, and you need to get in the game. Is it a Review, or a Testimonial? It’s simple, actually. Your clients create reviews on third party sites, and you create testimonials on web properties you own. You earn reviews. You own testimonials. Think of it this way. Let’s say a client gives you a review on Zillow. Whether you’re pleased, surprised or disappointed, it’s out of your direct control. You can respond, but you can’t direct. These kinds of reviews have the most credibility to prospective clients. Now let’s say you arrange for that same client to give you a fantastic testimonial. You can go so far as to hire a crew, arrange a location, coach the client on what to say and produce a lovely two-minute video extolling your virtues. You publish the video on your own website, Facebook, YouTube. You even use it in your listing presentations. It’s good for you if you have lots of testimonials. But whether you have one or 15, prospects still trust online reviews more than they will your testimonials… even after all the effort you put in to an amazing testimonial. What Makes Online Reviews So Powerful...
And Unique From Testimonials? Outside of your site, prospects will find and vet you — whether it’s on Google, Zillow, Realtor.com, Yelp! or other sites. When they’re looking at your reviews on third-party sites, they’re deciding if you’re worthy of further exploration. Research shows that consumers value authentic, natural language reviews that represent diverse points of view from real people (and not from “a happy customer, in Fair Haven, NJ”). Prospects want to see through the words of others if you are a real, credible and active professional. Think of it this way: If you were shopping for a real estate agent, would you choose the one with a single anonymous review from 2010, or one with 15 reviews within the last couple of years on several different sites from real, verified people? Once prospects have decided to click through to your site, however, they have a different set of expectations. They want you to provide valuable information about you, your listings and your services. Yes, testimonials are important and play a part in demonstrating your value – but they are not earned – and that is understood by your prospect. Original Content Means Just That If you have single, identical review popping up all over the web, it’s not only bad form, but it will reduce your credibility and you will pay for it. Third-party sites like Google look for suspect, duplicate reviews and will penalize you if they find them. How do they know? It’s easy. They look for identical or even similar phrasing. They also look at the dates the content was posted, where it came from, who authored it, and where it appears. If you have what is substantially the same review popping up on Google, Zillow, Realtor.com, Yelp!, City Search, YP.com and Google Plus Local, search engines will see it as duplicate content. These reviews appear flawed and suspicious, and will ultimately be flagged, deleted or hidden. Yelp! Will go so far as to label your profile as suspect, which is obviously bad for business. The point is to have a mix of original reviews across the major portals and search engines, so that when a prospect finds you — wherever they find you — there is original, authentic content. Responses Don’t go crazy over good reviews, either. If there’s an especially positive review, send a thank you note privately to the client. But don’t gush about it online. And by all means, don’t advertise your services in any response to a review.