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Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve its search results.

Most updates aren’t all that noticeable but Google says these regular updates “help us incrementally continue to improve the experience for searchers”.

But every so often, Google releases an update that has a significant impact on search results and just last week, on 25 May 2022, Google released one of its less frequent, yet significant, updates that will have an impact on how your brand appears on Google’s platform.

While there are many factors to consider with this latest update and how it will impact your online visibility, there is one other seemingly minor change to Google reviews recently that will have a significant impact on how visible your brand will be at the top of Google search results for prospective clients.

Let’s take the keyphrase “best real estate agents Sydney Eastern suburbs” for example… by default, Google sets the star rating to 4.0+:

Why does this matter?

Searches for “best <insert_something_here>” have grown over 80 per cent in the past few years and people don’t want any ol’ real estate agent. They want the best real estate agent. And based on the example above, Google is simply not going to show your business to these searchers if you have an average star rating of less than 4.

Businesses on this list don’t just benefit from the social proof that comes with being more visible on Google. Once the searcher clicks through to their website, it’s a huge competitive advantage that lasts for as long as their competitors keep letting their Google reviews wane.

The first (unpaid) results that people see on Google when searching “best real estate agent <insert_suburb>” are the businesses listed in Google’s “Local Pack”. With the overwhelming majority of consumers scrolling straight past Google ads to these search results anyway, we’d argue it’s the first thing they see on Google full stop.

There are many factors that Google takes into account when deciding on which businesses appear on this list but, importantly, getting more Google reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking substantially.

More Google reviews = higher rankings.

But it’s not just about how many Google reviews you have, it’s how many of your reviews are 4 stars or above. It also helps boost your rankings by responding to reviews:

“Respond to reviews that users leave about your business. When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility.” Google

So if you want to rank highly for the popularly searched phrase “best real estate agents <insert_suburb>”, it pays to take a more proactive approach to Google reviews.

Important: Reviews from other platforms such as RateMyAgent, realestate.com.au and Facebook don’t factor into your Google rankings in the “Local Pack” or for your own website in Google search results. Only Google reviews matter to Google when it comes to them deciding how trustworthy your business is.

Many home sellers will start their search for an agent on Google first, very likely by searching for “best real estate agents <insert_suburb>”. They visit the websites in the highest-ranked positions second. The more Google reviews you have and the more positive they are, the more likely your business will be among the top results and the more likely you’ll drive traffic to your own website where you’re not competing for attention against every other real estate agent.

Related: Real Estate Agent Reviews: 4 Email Templates For Requesting Reviews

In closing…

Many real estate agents generate a tonne of 5-star reviews on third-party websites seemingly unaware of the fact that Google is actually the first place home sellers will see their brand. And there is no shortage of real estate businesses with an extremely small number of Google reviews or (worse) negative reviews at that.

As Google further tinkers with its algorithm and increasingly rewards real estate businesses with higher rankings in Google search and the “Local Pack” for their efforts in generating Google reviews and optimising their own website, those with a heavy reliance on alternative review platforms and third-party websites will very likely see a significant drop in their presence on Google more broadly.

Google reviews are about rankings, sure. But more importantly, they’re about revenue. Consistent revenue. It pays to play!

Interested in learning how to get Google reviews from your clients with one click? Check out this article.

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