Trevor Bragg·SEO·21 March 2019

Review & Comparison Websites. What's best for your real estate business and online profile?

With realestate.com.au releasing it’s Agent Reviews, many in the real estate industry are questioning where they should be directing their clients to for their testimonials and reviews. Adding another provider to the mix has made the process of getting reviews from clients all the more difficult. It takes time to get a client to commit to writing a review or testimonial but to then ask them to do it on 3-4 platforms becomes a stretch.

Also, it’s important to consider the Comparison component being present in all agent searches on the portals. This pits the competition and options directly onto the screens of the consumer.

With all this information, where should agents be directing their efforts?

Your choice includes industry-specific platforms such as Rate My Agent and Open Agent and the more generic business reviews and testimonials available on Google, Facebook and your own website.   

Agents will have to make a strategic decision as to which platforms they will direct their clients too.

Careful consideration needs to be given to the following points when deciding on what’s best for your real estate business and online profile;

    1. How easy the platform is to manage and moderate reviews

    2. Is the platform using reviews to disguise their true business model which is “lead generation”

    3. Which platform will deliver a true reflection of the business or service and the success of the real estate agent?

Below are some of the main Review & Comparison options available to the real estate industry.

realestate.com.au Reviews & Comparison

The big new entrant into this area cannot be dismissed considering the number of visits it attracts to its website every day. Your clients too would instantly recognise the brand and wouldn’t need a lot of convincing to leave a review on their website.

Agents are conscious of the power realestate.com.au yields over them and are alert to the proposition that this review option could be used as a way (in the future) to generate more revenue by offering seller lead generation packages back to the agents. If this eventuated this would dilute the commission rate effectively earnt by agents.

However, realestate.com.au have proven time and again to be able to deliver to agents a reliable stream of leads.

In the short term having your reviews on realestate.com.au could only help boost your online profile. They are just too big to ignore and exclude as an option.   

Domain.com.au Comparison

Domain has provided consumers with a very easy to read and informative analysis of an agents performance in a chosen area. Even though there is no option to leave a review, it’s possible that won’t be the case in the future.

To date, agents don’t need to do anything but list, sell and lease properties and ensure that the information is accurate and updated on Domain for them to be compared correctly.

Rate My Agent

Probably the pioneer in real estate agent reviews and ratings. It will be interesting to see how they maintain their position with realestate.com.au entering the review field.

Agents who have been using rate My Agent will probably continue to recommend this to their clients. It is a good platform as the reviews are verified and this gives assurances to both consumers and agents that the information is correct.

Rate My Agent Awards are also a benefit of using this service. Rate My Agent ranks and awards agents who are top of their area. Agents receiving these awards are leveraging this by promoting the awards to their clients and service areas. Again this adds enormous credibility to the award and the recipient.

Agents can access Rate My Agent for free but can also access a fully featured subscription service. Rate My Agent has available integrations with Google and Facebook to assist the single feed of reviews to those platforms. This lessens the need for agents to have to ask clients to place their reviews on multiple platforms. Further to this, Rate My Agent provide Widgets which can be easily embedded into your own real estate website.


Open Agent

Open Agent promotes itself to consumers to be a comparison and review website. However, the true nature of the business is lead generation. Open Agent actively seeks the details of consumers who want to compare agents and then sells those leads to the agents who choose to sign up for the service. The premise is that anyone who is thinking of selling would logically want to review and compare agents. Open Agent can easily identify these people. Their service also solves the age-old problem agents face in identifying people who are thinking of selling!

Agents who enter into agreements with Open Agent will forfeit a percentage of their commission on the sale of any of those Seller leads.

For some agents, this is an attractive proposition in that the prospecting and client nurturing process is eliminated and seller leads are delivered directly to them.

However, the credibility of Open Agent could be questioned when not every single agent is represented on the website.

If you are happy to forfeit a percentage of your commission in return for seller leads then this is right for you.

 

Google Reviews

For many real estate agencies, they have been dragged into Google Reviews mainly due to having to respond to negative reviews left by customers. For many customers who haven’t bought or sold through an agency, this is their only avenue to leave a review without it being moderated.

Upon reading some of these Google Reviews on an agency, there appears to be a high percentage of tenant complaints, particularly around the loss of bonds and not having a successful tenancy application. Unfortunately, you cannot stop these reviews but you can respond. If your response is polite and logical, most people reading will appreciate that the negative review was probably made in the heat of the moment and can be easily passed over.

But, with a potential build-up of negative reviews, we need to counteract that with positive reviews. This helps to get the star rating higher and obviously portrays your business in its’ true light.

So it’s vitally important to have a Google Review Strategy.

Like realestate.com.au, you can’t dismiss the power of Google and how it can help you be found online.

An article from Rocket Digital states;

“The quality and quantity of reviews on Google is one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO. And, when a person scans the search results for a local product or service in Google, the business listings that include customer reviews present greater credibility and, naturally, receive more clicks.”

Making a conscious effort to get more Google Reviews is highly recommended and should not be excluded from your SEO and Review strategy.


Facebook Reviews

The strategy for Facebook reviews should probably be the same as what you do for Google. See section above.

Facebook and Google are two online juggernauts and because of their reach and influence, you would be remiss to not pay attention to the review on these platforms.


Your Website

If total control of reviews and testimonials is important to you, then the logical place for you to promote them is on your own website. Once you have a testimonial that has been supplied on any of the above-mentioned platforms, there’s nothing stopping you from copying them onto your own website.

An agents website is more than just a place to show your listings. It’s where your prospective clients come to check you out!

Try and look at your website from your customers' eyes.

Consider having happy clients and testimonials on the home page of your website rather than an image of a nice property?

The use of a video testimonial is so powerful as it envokes and quickly displays to visitors how you or your business operates. It brings in the human element where other written testimonials and reviews are just words on a page.

Don’t think that prospective clients don't go to your website - they do!

Your real estate website is the one platform over which you have total control of the message and should be a priority in your Review and Testimonial strategy.

 

Conclusion

Ultimately there is no precise and exact answer as to what is the perfect formula for advertising your reviews and testimonials.

You need to consider all the options carefully and make the time to manage the reviews to ensure the success of your online presence.

 

To learn more about how Eagle can assist with your Reviews and Testimonials, call us on +61 3 9016 0444 or visit our website at www.geteagle.com.au


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