What is Apartment SEO
What is Apartment SEO?
New to apartment SEO? Part of an apartment marketing team and need to polish up your SEO knowledge? This article will walk you through the basics of apartment SEO and why your communities position on Google is the most crucial aspect of any apartment marketing campaign.
What are the first 3 Rules of Apartment Marketing? 1. Location, 2. Location and 3. Location, sound familiar? It should, this golden rule of real estate is just as important in the online world as it is in the real world. Search “apartments in _____” you will quickly see that most communities and portfolios have given up on trying to put their community in a highly visible online location that brings in the renters they need to cash flow.
It’s almost like the entire multifamily housing industry has collectively given away their sovereignty and power to listing sites like ApartmentGuide, ForRent, Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads. Portfolios invest tens of millions of dollars and assumed risk, without even trying, submit to paying 3rd parties billions of dollars every year to sell them back that traffic that was looking to find the property in the first place. Remember, you searched “Apartments in” not
What most apartment marketers do not understand it’s that it is easier than they think to get their property website in the mix of the top performers, reclaiming all those hot, qualified, local renters for themselves.
What is Apartment SEO (Apartment Search Engine Optimization)?
Apartment SEO is an apartment marketing discipline that focuses on getting an apartment community’s website and available units in front of renters at the precise moment they are looking to sign a lease and in the exact place they are looking, Google.
Apartment SEO focuses on making Google love your property’s website so much that they place you in most visible organic (non-paid) apartment search results bringing your leasing office the hottest, qualified, local renters looking to move.
If you have been unsuccessful in the past the reason your community never achieved top results will be attributed to one or both of these two factors:
First, not following all the guidelines laid out by Google.
Apartment SEO works, but to get top results for ultra-competitive keywords like “apartments in _____” involves much more than the simple website changes most SEO companies charge you for and then find they are unable to get you results. You will want a company that works hand-in-hand with Google and stays up to date on everything that must be done to rank your website. It is more than just the words on your homepage; it also includes the way other real estate and renter friendly link there content to your apartment community on the web. Apartment SEO is also making sure that your apartment website and its content is structured in a way so that search engines can easily understand what the site is offering the reader.
Second, not giving your website enough time to be placed in high ranking positions on Google.
There is nothing more valuable than being on the first page of Google for the top searched terms renters are searching for. However, Google wouldn’t be the #1 search engine in the world if they allowed a website to step in and dominate overnight. That is why Google is trusted. Rankings must be earned great content and helping Google have a better idea what your website has to offer. Avoid companies that claim instant results and look for a company that is willing to work for your community on a month-by-month basis, earning their fee each month but at the same time being honest and realistic about how long it should take to have you dominating the market.
Apartment SEO isn’t just about designing search engine-friendly apartment websites ora adding a blog post here and there. It’s about constant communication with Google and making sure your apartment website offers value to renters and that value adding other renter-centric content is choosing to link to your website month after month.
Why do my property websites need Apartment SEO?
Great question, and understanding the answer is the reason why some portfolios continue to grow cash flows, add properties and achieve massive returns for their investors while other portfolios struggle to justify their marketing budgets because no matter what they do, occupancy and rents remain flat.
The subject of apartment SEO is avoided so much that it could have conspiracy theorists raising more than a few questions and eyebrows. If you have attended any of the hundreds of apartment marketing conferences put on over the last decade chances are you were served hours of content from a seemingly endless line of experts talking about social media, events and other ways to generate traffic to your website, but very little about apartment SEO.
The unspoken truth is that the majority of web traffic is driven by The Big 3 search engines (Google 80%, Yahoo 9.5%, and Bing 8.5%) yet all the experts want to talk about is social media like Facebook. The bottom line is that is if a person needs to decide on something as important as where they are going to live, they don’t check their Facebook feed or open their Instagram app. They start their search for their new apartment on Google.
Even when renters land on apartment ILS like Apartments.com, ForRent or Zillow they still originated their search on Google using a keyword like “Apartments in ____” not by typing in the ILS’s website address.
Another often-overlooked important factor about search engines like Google is that the traffic they generate to your community is by nature, targeted as the searcher self-qualifies by looking for precisely the type of apartments you have available rather than passively being advertised to on social media. Apartment SEO places your community in front of someone actively looking for an apartment, and it doesn’t get better than that. If Google is unable to find your community website and determine it is a proper match for people searching for apartments in your city, you miss out on an incredible opportunity to sign leases leaving you to pay the ILS’s in hopes of showing those same people that end up there after searching Google.
Keywords are the words that renters type into Google or speak to AI assistants like Siri and Google Assistant (did you know that Google powers Siri’s search?). Apartment search keywords have tremendous value, and the first component of Apartment SEO is to have a deep understanding of the keywords renters in your market are searching.
Just how important is it to work with someone that can tell you precisely what terms renters are searching for and how many renters search each term? Let’s take San Antonio for example.
You can see from the chart below that there are 2,505 terms that Google considers related to looking to rent an apartment in San Antonio. Admittedly, a non-apartment SEO expert could take guesses hit keywords that are included in the 2,505 relevant ones Google has cataloged; but would they know that every month more than 27,000 people search for “Apartments in San Antonio”? Would they know that the second most searched term is “San Antonio Apartments” but it 75% fewer people searching that term than “Apartments in San Antonio”.
Anyone who has been to even one Google conference has most likely heard Google’s mantra “The Data Doesn’t Lie” spoken more than a few times. Proper SEO means knowing what the keyword data is and never guessing.
Everyone searches Google for an Apartment, guessing vs. knowing precisely what renters are searching for is what separates the winners from the losers when it comes to leasing units.
Why can’t Google find, figure out and rank my property’s website without Apartment SEO?
Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, utilize some of the smartest artificial intelligence in the world but they still need help from the websites themselves. Google is always working to improve its RankBrain algorithm, and the best SEO minds in the industry spend countless hours in training and Google conferences, meetings and symposiums to stay abreast of everything that is happening. The bottom line is that it takes the right kind of Apartment SEO to help Google help you.
For example, searching “apartments in Houston” Google can find 144,000,000 websites with information that can pertain to apartments in Houston. Quick reminder, Google shows ten results on each page, therefore, the results way down on Page 10 (nobody goes to page 10 of Google) still beat 143,999,900 other websites to make it to page 10.
The margin of error between renters finding you on Page #1 or #2 of Google and never seeing your property’s website at all is massive. You need to give Google as many reasons as you can as to why you should be placed at the front of 144,000,000 other sites and hoping for the best is not a strategy that works. Google wants help, help them. The payoffs of Apartment SEO performed precisely the way Google wants it is massive.
Not doing apartment SEO will only ensure that your community’s website is buried so deep in the millions of pages of results that it is never found.
Can we do Apartment SEO in-house at our management company?
As any apartment industry expert will tell you, apartment marketing is complex and sophisticated. There are hundreds of moving parts to marketing and managing an apartment community. Although apartments SEO is as critical to leasing units as concrete is to the foundation asking the in-house marketing team to run their apartment SEO campaign would be like asking property manager to mix the concrete and pour it just the right way at just the right temperature to ensure a safe and strong foundation. Engineers go to school for years before they ever pour a foundation and they spend thousands of hours continuing their education. It no different for the engineers that run apartment SEO campaigns.
Although, learning the basics of SEO is about as easy as learning that wet concrete is poured and then becomes a solid. All apartment marketers should have a firm grasp on the basics. The winners partner with a specialist to make sure they are doing everything they can to help Google. Apartment SEO must be performed in the right order and in the right amounts at the right time to build the best foundation of strong Google rankings that will bring hot, qualified local traffic that converts into leases.