Posted in: News on February 6, 2012
Search marketing giant Google has adjusted its algorithm to give greater prominence to local businesses, a move which should benefit estate agents.
Following a similar move in the US, Google has shifted certain UK search results, previously on the first page of its organic listings, onto the second page to make room for local listings from Google Places (formerly Google Local).
For local searches like “estate agents in SE19″, Google now only displays six organic search results instead of ten, one at the top and five below six items from Google Places. The Google Places results are referenced on Google Maps which has been shifted to the right and now displays on every search query.
So far Google does not appear to have changed the algorithm significantly for the large keyword phrases (ones that contain “property”, “property for sale in” etc) so immediate traffic changes are likely to be small.
However, people searching for “estate agents” are likely to be either vendors or buyers who are are relatively far through the purchase process. This makes the change important in terms of lead generation.
If you are not on Google Places, you can sign up here. For a guide to how to make the most of the service, click here. Note, Google has a premium service which gives enhanced visibility for $25 a month.
A template for “property” search results?
The big question is whether Google will use a similar format and layout for searches for “property” and “real estate”?
After much media fanfare, Google’s property service has failed to make much of an impact in Australia, which it used to test its proposition.
A big reason for its lack of traffic is the fact that it has not as yet promoted its properties in the main search results (you need to go to Google maps to find them which most people don’t do).
We argued recently that the main reason for this was Google had not found a profitable way to do it as promoting its own properties seemed to distract from the Adwords results, which is the company’s main revenue stream.
Has it found a way around the problem? Maybe. The new template shifts the map to the right and puts three sponsored links at the top, positions which attract high click prices.
If the new template proves to be both profitable and delivers a good user experience, expect “property” and “real estate” searches to change too.
This is bad news for property portals. Ed William’s, Rightmove’s founder, may have been shrewd to sell his shares.
Note: To list properties with Google, you need to use Google Base. Not all countries qualify.