Expert Blog: The Google Test You Must Pass

by Julie Broad18 Feb 2015
“Hmm what was her name?” I thought as I opened up Google. “I think it was Jane Olsen, but it is Olsen with an e, or Olson with an o ….”
 
I entered the first option into the search bar.
 
A Facebook link for Jane Olsen is first so I click that.
 
She’s in my city, but this can’t possibly be the real estate professional my friend told me about. There are so many pictures of her tattoos, cats and her dancing at concerts, tongue out and beer in hand.  
 
I click back to the Google search results.
 
The next link goes to a name with results for a running race. The next link is for LinkedIn. There are eight results but none seem to fit.
 
This isn’t working so I try the other version of the name with “Realtor” beside it.
 
Ten minutes later, I haven’t found Jane but I did find another real estate agent in my area that had some interesting blog posts, so I reached out to her instead.

Do you pass the Google test?

Jane was referred to me but I still ended up working with someone else. She failed the Google test. Let’s make sure you don’t miss out on business because of your Google Test results.
 
1 – Is your name easy for people to remember so they know what to search?
You may think that people will pass around your business cards or send your website (and that does happen), but how many times have you asked someone for a name when you see them socially?
 
Last week, walking out to our cars after class, one of my fellow Crossfitters said “Hey Julie – do you have a plumber you recommend?”
 
I told him and we drove away.
 
Hopefully he remembered his name and it all worked out. 
 
If your name is hard to spell or not easy to remember, come up with a way to be remembered.
 
We’re not all born with names like Broad (and even with that name, you would be impressed at how many people get it wrong or forget that it’s my last name) so you may have to get creative with your branding.

I haven’t lived or purchased real estate in Toronto in more than eight years and I still remember the name of an agent that a few of my friends used. Her name is Margie K.
 
That’s not what my friends nicknamed her, it’s what she called herself. If you Google “Margie K Realtor” the entire page is full of links that lead you to her.
 
Her last name is long and very difficult to spell so she went with Margie K. Smart move. It worked.
 
I am not a big fan of billboard ads with your face on the top of an animal, but it certainly gets people talking and remembering who you are, doesn’t it? People all across Canada became familiar with the name Brad Lamb just because of that advertising.
 
In an ideal world people will text or email your contact information to each other, but it often doesn’t happen that way! So, if you’re name is not easy or memorable, come up with another way for people to remember and refer you easily.


2 – What will people find when they do Google You?
When was the last time you Googled your own name?
 
Go ahead … try it right now.
 
What shows up on the first page? What are the first couple of links? Are they you?
 
If they are you, are you happy with it? Does it reflect the brand image you’re going for?
 
What if that first Jane Olsen actually was the agent I was looking for? I never would have called her because nothing about what I saw seemed like she would be the real estate professional I needed.
 
If you aren’t showing up in the first three links when someone searches your name, then you need to do a better job of controlling your online real estate. And, if something you’re not happy about is showing up, do everything in your power to change it or bury that link.
 
That means you should own your yourname.com, yourname.ca and your personalized links on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
 
You don’t have to be overly active on social media to take advantage of the opportunity it offers to control more Google Search Results. You just need a well thought out profile with your name and some contact information so your searchers can get to your website or, even better, your email and phone number.  It’s better if they arrive at an active social media profile but the most important thing is that you own your name and control what shows up under it.
 
If someone else owns your name online right now – especially if it’s the .com or .ca version, get creative with your branding and then buy whatever URL you can get that fits for you (like Margie K). Do your best to optimize your web pages for your name, real estate and realtor, and then watch for your full name becoming available. JulieBroad.com was used by a psychologist in Australia for awhile, but I kept checking back every month or so and after a few years I was able to grab my name. 
 
What if you’re competing with someone famous?
A coaching client of mine shares a name with a famous baseball player. That’s a tough break because it’s pretty much impossible to compete with that to rank first for your name in Google. What he had to do was make sure that when someone searched his name with his city or the words “real estate” or his specialty (student rentals), he was the first result that showed up.
 
Most savvy searchers will go back and add a word to help narrow the search – you just need to be good at guessing what that word is and then ensuring you do show up when that word is added to your name.
 
We can get into search engine optimization (SEO) another day, but for now, three things you can do to boost your SEO for your name and key word is first, to ensure that your name and key word show in the URL of your main site or at least in a few of the sub pages on your site. Second, you need to create some lengthy (more than 1,000 words) high quality content on your website that contains your key words in the first few sentences. Additionally, in that post, ensure the key words show up in the H1 tag on that page. The H1 tag is the largest heading on your web page and tends to be the heading at the top of the page. It only takes a few carefully placed words on a high quality content page for Google to start giving you your rightful place at the top.
 
If this is too much for you right now, that is OK. Focus on getting control of your online real estate and make sure it reflects who you are as a real estate agent.
 
Make sure that is the image that is showing up.
 
3 – Is it easy for people to connect with you?
This is meant in two ways – can they physically find your contact information and can they see themselves as your client?
 
Ask friends and colleagues what they think when they Google your name. Is it easy to find your contact information? Do they quickly get a sense of who you are and the kind of service you offer? Think about who your ideal client is, what are they going to want to see when they search your name? Is that what you have available online?
 
As a first time home buyer, when I arrive at your site if all I see are multi-million dollar homes I am likely going to be intimidated. That’s OK if your market is the luxury home market, but if it’s not, you want to make sure your ideal client is comfortable and feels confident contacting you.

And, once someone sees you’re the right person to help them, make sure it’s easy for them to see what the next step is (usually contacting you).
 
Great, now that you’re passing the Google test make sure you Google yourself at least every month. Clear the cache on your computer or do it from different computers to make sure nothing has changed. Google is dynamic – the results are always changing so you need to make sure you’re showing up where and when you want to.

 

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