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Recent research indicates a significant shift in internet search behaviour among Generation Z. While some real estate marketers and coaches suggest focusing solely on social media, the data presents a nuanced picture, especially for service-based industries like real estate in Australia.

The Real Estate Perspective: Why Google Still Matters

Real estate agents primarily sell services, which often require more credible and detailed information. This is where Google retains its dominance. While Generation Z may use TikTok and Instagram for discovering consumables and trends, they still heavily rely on Google for evaluating services and local businesses.

Key Insights from the Data:

  • Local Services: Only 12% of Gen Z searches for local services like car repairs and cleaners on TikTok, compared to 66% on Google. This stark difference underscores the importance of maintaining a strong presence on Google for service-oriented businesses.
  • Financial Services: A mere 17% of Gen Z uses TikTok for financial services searches, whereas 54% turn to Google. This indicates a clear preference for Google when it comes to more complex and critical service-related searches.
  • News and Current Affairs: Gen Z still relies on Google (43%) more than TikTok (22%) for news and current affairs, suggesting that for trusted information and important updates, traditional search engines remain crucial.

Social Media for Brand Discovery, Google for Validation

Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are becoming central to brand discovery. The study revealed that 24% of people find new brands daily through social media, and this figure rises to 44% among Gen Z. This shift indicates that brands need to maintain a strong and active presence on social media platforms to reach and influence potential customers.

However, while social media excels in brand discovery, the majority of users across all demographics turn to Google to validate their perceptions and compare options, especially for significant decisions like choosing a real estate agent.

The graph below clearly shows that while younger generations are more inclined to use social media for searches, the chart above proves they still turn to Google for service-based searches, including real estate.

In contrast, older demographics predominantly use Google for all their search needs. This is crucial for real estate agents because the older generations, who are the primary buyers and sellers of property, rely heavily on Google. Therefore, it is essential to ensure your presence on Google is robust and optimised to effectively cater to all demographics.

Why Dominating Google is Essential for Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents need to focus on where their audience is most likely to seek reliable information. While social media is excellent for engagement and brand awareness, Google is irreplaceable for establishing credibility and capturing leads in the real estate market. As highlighted in this article, being the first point of contact for potential sellers isn’t just an advantage; it’s a game-changer.

Most property sellers begin their journey on Google. Before diving into major portals or rating websites, they type their needs into Google’s search bar. Agents who master Google’s algorithm can capture potential sellers’ attention before they’re lured away by industry giants like realestate.com.au or ratemyagent.com.au. This initial touchpoint can make all the difference in a competitive market.

Something to consider… nearly 40% of realestate.com.au’s traffic comes from a Google search.

Balancing Act: Social Media and Google

While it’s essential to have a presence on social media to attract younger audiences and stay relevant, abandoning Google altogether could be a costly mistake. Here’s why:

  1. Credibility and Trust: Google’s search results often carry more credibility due to its ranking algorithms and the perceived reliability of its sources. For real estate agents, being visible on Google helps build trust with potential clients.
  2. Local SEO: Optimising for local search on Google ensures that your agency appears in relevant local searches, capturing those actively seeking real estate services in your area.
  3. Comprehensive Information: Real estate decisions often require detailed information that is easily accessible through Google’s structured search results, including reviews, maps, and business information.

The Broader Digital Shift: Mobile and Social Media

The data highlights a significant movement towards using social media platforms for more than just social interactions. Platforms such as TikTok and Facebook Marketplace have become vital search and shopping tools. With 24% of participants using these apps in ways traditionally reserved for search engines, and 13% purchasing directly within these apps, the need for businesses to integrate social media into their digital strategies becomes clear.

Mobile-First Internet Access

The migration from desktops to mobile devices is evident, with a third of respondents using their smartphones as their sole means of internet access. This shift necessitates that businesses ensure their websites and digital content are optimised for mobile to capture and engage this audience effectively.

The Role of Video Content

YouTube’s rise as a search tool highlights the increasing importance of video content. More than half of the respondents use YouTube for searches, paralleling its use with Google. This trend suggests that brands should invest in creating high-quality, informative, and engaging video content to attract and retain viewers.

Conclusion

The hype around social media as the new primary search tool for younger generations is partly justified but does not encompass the entire picture, especially for service-based industries like real estate. While Gen Z may turn to TikTok and Instagram for consumables and trends, they still rely on Google for more significant decisions and services.

Real estate agents should continue to invest in their Google presence to capture local leads and maintain credibility while also leveraging social media to engage and attract a younger audience. The key is not to ditch one for the other but to create a balanced strategy that harnesses the strengths of both platforms.

As the digital landscape evolves, staying adaptable and informed about where different demographics search for services is crucial for long-term success. Social media might lead in brand discovery, but Google remains the go-to platform for validation and detailed comparisons, making it indispensable for real estate agents.

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