How are you using search technology to improve your online marketing results?

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Matt Easton's picture
search is a key to finding your next tenant

How well is your apartment complex showing up when prospective tenants search for their next home?

Does your marketing spend on search justify the cost and bring your more leads?

Are you spending enough on search technology in the right way in the right place? Blogger Matt Easton takes on a few of these questions.

 

By Matt Easton

There are several ways to get your property to rank in search results and bring you more leads and more good tenants.

Paid search using Google AdWords is one strategy that can work, but you also want to be sure your website has the content your prospective tenant is looking for when they land on your website from that paid campaign.

Better content to improve your organic search ranking, along with a paid campaign, will help build your presence in search. Always remember that content you want to build is not about you and your property necessarily. That of course is important.

But content for the tenant also involves your site providing the top 5 places to eat, play and shop near your apartments. What is 5 minutes away? What is 10 minutes away? Do content better than your competitors and you will see good results in search.

A little content marketing on your site can help the tenants and show them you can be helpful and useful in their lives. You will get a return on it along with your paid search plan.

Remember, do not try to outsmart Google’s algorithms. Get help from an expert. And be careful not to put all your eggs in one basket. Bigger players with bigger marketing budgets can outbid smaller players in paid search and take over the rankings in your geographic area. So get expert help.

Using paid search

One example of a manager using paid search (Google AdWords) is Mark Hunter in Austin, Texas. He found a way to stand out from all of the other properties rushing to lease apartments in Austin's hippest neighborhood using search engine optimization (SEO) and Google AdWords without a special offer like free rent or a lower lease rate. 

“I found myself questioning why my community website did not appear on Google by itself for the top keywords luxury renters in Austin were searching for,” Hunter said.

So he got expert help and the results? His property went from 82 percent occupancy to 100 percent occupancy, with a wait list, in just 120 days using SEO and AdWords. “We decided we weren't happy only being visible to Austin renters in the cattle-call of Internet Listing Services and that it was time for us to stand out and attract renters willing to sign a lease today without a concession." 

Apartment managers are having to take digital marketing and apartment SEO more seriously as weaknesses are starting to show up in the boom that has sent apartment rent rates skyrocketing for the last five years all across America, according to Axiometrics which you can see in the chart below.

Use search technology to improve your online marketing results

 Now with many cities like New York, Dallas, San Francisco and Denver starting to build a surplus of new apartment units, rents are beginning to slow and leasing units is becoming increasingly more difficult without solid online visibility. 

Over the last five years, many community developers have decided to concentrate much of new construction on luxury communities in an effort to help them achieve the profits needed to cover the added expenses of staff salaries and rising cost of land to build on. With many new properties featuring trendy locations, rooftop pools and fire pits, managers like Hunter will have to work harder to find renters.

Getting to the top of Google search

"We found that once we started to rank the community at the top of Google search results, renters called our leasing office before anyone else," Hunter said. "By being the first property a renter visits, I don't have to be saying “me too” as the prospect mentions amenities they have already seen somewhere else. The best part about SEO is that I get the first at bat and when those renters that visit us before any other property and sign a lease, I can avoid a price war with my neighbors."

So if you are as concerned as many operators are that your units will not be able to fetch premium rents and you won’t keep occupancy at 100% what can you do to get Google working for you?

These days 98 percent of all leases start with a search online. If your property is not in the search results it may as well not exist.

Search technology can be a key to get your next tenant

Search is how your tenants start to find you. Photo ©Pressmaster via Canva

So then why are renters calling you if you are not in the search results? The answer is, you are – you just happen to show up via a surrogate like an apartment listing service. Services like Apartments.com are fantastic but as Hunter put it “a cattle call is not the best place to get the highest rent.”

Listing services are great but by nature they make you compete with other properties.  If you want the highest rents and 100 percent occupancy you don’t want to compete. You want to dominate your space. That means when someone even thinks about an apartment in your city, your property company comes up. Working with the right apartment SEO and certified Google AdWords specialist can help you ensure that your community dominates as renters look for an apartment.

The first step is knowing what the top searched keywords are in your city and where your website ranks for them. Multifamily Traffic has a dedicated research team that performs this as a free service for anyone. You can call that team directly and have your research back free of charge in less than one hour in most cases. They are available at 888-683-5885.

The next step is looking for a partner that can drive renters to you without asking you to make changes to your website or overcharging you for the work they do. There are many SEO providers that charge thousands per month for a mixed bag of results. You want to work with a firm that understands the industry and can guarantee results for a price you can fit in your budget.

Once you get your property to the top of the search results you will hear the results in the form of calls to the leasing office. Make sure your staff is ready to follow up quickly.

About the author:

Matt Easton is EVP of MultiFamily Traffic the leading apartment SEO and digital marketing provider. MultiFamily Traffic works with 500 communities across the U.S resulting in thousands of leases signed every day. Matt can be reached at 303-803-7372 or www.MultiFamilyTraffic.com 

Resources:

Refining the strategy: A case study

Paid, owned, shared and earned media

Ranking factors: understand how the deck is stacked

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