Google inserts a real estate search before organic results. How to use this to your advantage.

Google sometimes inserts a simple real estate search box at the top of real estate related SERPs (search engine result pages). It isn’t consistent, yet. But it does offer some interesting marketing opportunities (and probably is a bummer to whomever worked hard for that #1 ranking).

Usually a SERP will start off at the top with an advertisement and then go directly into the organic listings. Now, Google sometimes inserts a quick housing search asking for town (and including the option to remember the town) and number of bedrooms. Using this search tool will bring you to a Google Base property search.

Let’s see it all in pictures.

Google Housing Search inserted on “real estate” related searches.

Google Real Estate Search Engine Result Page

Above we can see a real estate search. Below the advertisement and above the first organic result you have Google’s property search. So at the main area of attention we have:

  1. Advertisement
  2. Google Housing Search
  3. Organic listing

Which of these three options do you think the searcher will trust more? Which one offers the most utility and helps the searcher accomplish their task best?

If the visitor chooses to use the Google Housing Search here is what they get:

Google Housing Search Results for Real Estate

Pretty slick. Mighty nice for the person searching for a house.

How can real estate pros make use of this?

It will be tempting to whine a lot about disintermediation. But it probably won’t help. This development also alters the game a bit for search engine optimization.

Let’s come up with some tactics for using this development to improve business.

  • Make sure your listings are correct in Google Base. Union Street Media clients can make use of our Google Base Real Estate Syndication services, the rest of you are on your own ;).
  • Listings in Google Base can be used to draw in site visitors. Think of those listings on the left of the map as super-enhanced meta-description info.
  • Understand how searchers use and sort data on Google Base Housing search. Perhaps you should make it a point to have a property that will list first within searchers’ sorting.
  • Are there neighborhoods and zip codes that get a lot of search traffic? Perhaps you should make it a point to have a property listing there.
  • Are all of your MLS photos excellent? You get a free picture on a Google search result. Make it count.

What tactics are you going to try? Or are you already thick into making the best use of the Google Housing Search?

[Addendum: Read Joel’s synopsis of the Google feature and check out Greg Swann’s assessment of Google Housing Search in relation to real estate aggregators and business models.]