If you’ve never used Google, you’re in the stark minority. Since its inception in 1997, the California-based company has taken the world by storm, now boasting 92.04 percent of worldwide search engine market share and 3.5 billion searches a day. These numbers are no joke, and the site’s massive audience makes it ripe for advertising, especially for real estate agents.

In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, “69 percent of home shoppers who take action on a real estate brand website begin their research with a local term, i.e. ‘Houston homes for sale,’ on a search engine.”

Google marketing is particularly important in real estate because of its location-based nature. The leads you get from Google are often high-intent, as clients are actively searching for homes and agents near their specific target area.

As a real estate agent, you need to be there when summoned.

So how, then, do I show up in Google searches?

Luckily, there’s a pretty easy way. Create a Google My Business profile. A Google business profile is an important piece of real estate on Google that lets you craft (and boost) how you appear on Google Search and Maps. It puts your business right where you want it to be: front and center. Take a look at this example of a restaurant in New Orleans.

This is what a proper business profile looks like. Notice the aura of legitimacy it emits: It’s got its location, photos, reviews, website, hours, description and phone number — everything a consumer could need — on the homepage. The customer doesn’t have to do any clicking, and it’s clear the business is doing something right to be on the most prominent part on the page. Here’s an example of Maps view. Take a look.

When you claim your business, you’ll see it on the map like this, just like in Search view. Elsewhere, this New Mexican example is what a Maps view with a more generic search looks like.

These establishments have one thing in common: They’re all maintaining their Google Business Profiles regularly.

Showing up high on this list is key. According to a study done by former online ad network, Chitika, the first position on Google search gets 32.5 percent of the traffic, perpetuating the notion that perusers like and trust the high-up options.

As the old adage goes, the best place to hide something is Page 2 of Google results.

Okay, I’m sold. How much does it cost?

It’s free, but it costs time. As touched on, maintaining your page regularly is absolutely vital and something many agents and businesses fail to do.

Here’s an exhaustive list of aspects you need to not only include but update on a regular basis. It’s important to include all of these.

  1. A headshot

An up-to-date, friendly-looking photo of yourself is key to attracting customers. Prospective clients want trustworthy agents (stat?), and it’s hard to appear so without a photo.

2. Hours

You need to let your customers know the times during which they can expect a quick answer from you.

3. Website

As a real estate agent, you should have a website. Google has a nice spot for it, allowing customers to click it straight from the search page.

4. Address

Pretty self-explanatory. Prospective clients need to know where you’re based. Google won’t let you create a business profile without a verified address.

5. Phone number

It’s of paramount importance to give prospective clients an efficient way to contact you.

6. Reviews

Your reviews need to be plentiful, recent and positive. This instills trust in prospective clients and shows you’re a reputable, active agent whom people like. Replying to reviews can be a great way to show you care, but be courteous and personable, even if the review isn’t 100 percent positive.

7. Posts

These are a great way to get consumers’ attention and get ahead of your competitors. Posts are like mini-ads or social media posts, polished off with some sort of Call To Action. Posts are vital in making sure your business profile stays as high up on the list as it can be, but they expire every seven days, so it’s important to post weekly.

Where do I begin?

Claim your business! Fill in as much info as you possibly can. It will then ask you to verify your address, and it does this by mail, which can take upwards of 10 days. It takes a lot of effort and maintenance, but don’t let this sway you!

If you don’t have the time or capacity, there are companies that can help you set up and manage Google business profiles for you. It’s so worth it.

According to Search Engine Optimization blog Moz, “Getting on Google My Business can increase your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and organic rankings.

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