Most apartment marketing professionals have a hyper-local focus to their business. They are trying to rent properties in a specific community, neighborhood or city. Trouble is, many have no idea where to start. By strengthening your local search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, and putting a full strategy into place, you will get discovered by your target audience online and increase your bottom line. This article will give you five simple local SEO tips you can implement to start gaining momentum in local search results.
1. Optimize Business Listings to Increase Local Visibility
Online business directories are an important aspect of local search optimization and helping your business get discovered. Having accurate and optimized business listings have been shown to improve the ranking of a business within local search results — on Google and other search engines. Conversely, having incorrect or duplicate listings hamper a business’ ability to rank well in local search, decreases the consumer experience, and impacts engagement.
Search engines like Google are factoring in elements such as the number of citations to evaluate the online authority of your business. According to our Reputation Management partners at Vendasta, "a citation is an online reference to your business's name, address and phone number (NAP). Citations can include directories, articles, blog posts, or any other format. These are typically smaller, hyper-local and industry-specific sites, as opposed to the larger directories.
When a business has many listings with consistent listing data, they build a “Citation Effect.” Two primary positive outcomes occur from this effect:
- Google finds the same information in multiple places and adds more confidence to their business data, and
- Good backlinks are created with more sources that refer to the business’s website, which creates better SEO."
Follow these two steps to establish an accurate identity and increase your citation signals:
- Claim Your Apartment Business Listing in Local Listing Directories - Claim your business listings and ensure they are accurately listed in all of the directories, including Yahoo! Local, Google My Business, Bing Local, Yelp, YellowPages.com, Citysearch, MerchantCircle, Ziplocal, 411.com, Waze, and more. Listing data is also at the core of voice search technology, and according to comScore, by 2020, 50 percent of searches will be voice search.
- Submit Your Business Data to Listing Distribution Data Providers - Consider partnering with major data providers like Factual, Acxiom, InfoGroup, and Neustar to increase your exposure across the web, including mapping and GPS services and mobile apps, which will also grow the number of citations over time.
2. Protect and Promote Your Ratings and Reviews
Today’s apartment shoppers place a high value on what current and former residents say about a community they are considering. In fact, after unit cost, online ratings and reviews rank as the second most important factor influencing an apartment decision for all ages. That is a powerful incentive for property managers to monitor and respond to these posts as well as proactively solicit reviews from residents.
Reviews not only impact engagement, purchase decisions and revenue, but they also impact your local search rankings. Reviews are absolutely a feature that the search engines examine and may potentially display to searchers directly in the results, giving them an instant view into the subjective rating of your property.
According to industry surveys, online reviews are thought to make up 13 percent of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results. Google wants to see recent reviews, a high volume and a good velocity of reviews.
To improve your online reputation and local SEO, follow the steps below:
- Improve Your Star Rating - The higher your star rating, the more likely that potential renters will engage with your company. To that end, 4-star companies see customer use at 94 percent, while engagement with 3-star and 2-star companies drop to 57 percent and 14 percent respectively. Not only does online rating affect engagement, but real dollars are at stake. According to the Harvard Business Review, a difference of 1 star in a company’s average rating can lead to a 5-9 percent difference in revenues.
- Increase the Volume of Your Reviews - Make sure your apartment community has reviews on the top sites including Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and ApartmentRatings.com. If you don’t have enough reviews, empower your residents to speak out by asking them to review your apartment community. According to BrightLocal, 68 percent of consumers left a review when asked – with 74 percent having been asked for their feedback.
For more tips for managing your online reputation, check out my [Infographic]: 10 Reputation Management Tips for Apartment Pros.
Apartment Search Results in Google
3. Share Engaging Content and Grow Audience with Micro-Influencers
Creating fresh, relevant content and gaining inbound links can be challenging for apartment marketers and that is why leveraging micro-influencers is a great strategy.
Not only can influencers create content for you, but they also maximize a social campaign by leveraging their followers and encouraging them to share the content as well. With links continuing to be a foundational factor in SEO, influencer marketing can help you to generate authoritative links which have the additional benefit of increasing your user engagement signals, traffic, growth in social media traction and visibility for your apartment community. Ultimately, influencers become an extension of your marketing team to develop unique and compelling content that your target audience can’t resist.
The more you engage your residents and prospects, the more traffic you will drive to your site and property. Here are four steps to implementing a micro-influencer campaign for your apartment community:
- Select Your Influencers - Find the best fit by analyzing their domain authority, unique visitors, engagement per post, and audience demographics.
- Define Your Objectives - Outline the expectations for you and the micro-influencer in writing to ensure the value is mutually beneficial. Invite local, influential bloggers to an exclusive event at your property in exchange for blogging about the experience.
- Identify Metrics, Goals, Audience, and Platforms - Evaluate performance insights to ensure they are aligning with or exceeding your goals to increase brand awareness, engagement, followers or other relevant goals.
- Develop a Content Plan - Map out your micro-influencers’ content in advance including an Instagram Loop Giveaway, Instagram or Snapchat Takeover, have a local foodie blogger provide unique recipes, and tap into residents with large followings to promote property events.
ForRent.com Micro-influencer Campaign
4. Location, Location, Location - Highlight Local Hot Spots
Aside from the size of the monthly rent check, the main factor influencing apartment selection is the proximity of a property relative to nearby points of interest such as schools, restaurants, nightlife, and public transportation.
These findings highlight the importance of showcasing nearby facilities and services in listings and promotional materials. Messaging like “top school district,” “in the heart of downtown,” and “walking distance from the train” can help. So can listing site functions like ForRent.com’s map search, which allows consumers to set boundaries for school districts and neighborhoods as well as display amenities near each rental with a tap.
Additionally, you can build geo-specific location pages. For example, ForRent.com focuses on developing geo-specific ‘local area guides’ and ‘off-campus housing guides’ that cover topics like population, cost of living, top cities in the metros, best neighborhoods, things to do and see, sports teams, jobs, culture, and demographics.
Not only do efforts like these help consumers make more informed decisions about moving or relocating, but they also help increase your local search results by including relevant keywords and links.
Here are a few tips to follow when creating local pages:
- Target regions, cities, or neighborhoods.
- Build unique, helpful, Youtility based location-specific content.
- Present information in an easy to understand format.
- Have a good backlink strategy in place.
- Optimize the location pages for mobile.
- Include a custom Google map to show the area or any other elements that you feel are useful.
- Include online reviews with proper schema markup.
ForRent.com Apartment Map Search of Phoenix, AZ
5. Showcase Strong Visuals to Influence Renters
According to our 2017 survey of apartment search trends, renters indicated that after price, visuals were the third most important factor they consider. A picture is still worth a thousand words, and arguably even more so with visual content just a digital tap or click away. A study by international listing website Domain.com, revealed that real estate listings with video receive 403 percent more inquiries than those without. That means quality photography, video walkthroughs, and other visual assets are worth the investment, helping turn browsers into serious prospects while also minimizing interest in competitive properties that have less visual appeal.
On top of that, infographics are a universal approach to visually displaying pieces of information which include figures, facts, and statistics on a multitude of topics. They are incredibly useful when you need to explain complex information in a time effective manner. This is the organic link building that Google loves to see, and they reward websites accordingly. Aside from the local search benefits of infographics, they also do a great job at building brand awareness and positioning you as the local real estate expert. Keep your infographics simple with minimal text and design them to be easily shareable on social media.
ForRent.com has produced a number of valuable infographics that focus on broad apartment lifestyle topics like ‘Best Dog Breeds For Your Apartment’, ‘Mover’s Checklist’ and ‘How to Keep Your Apartment Safe’, all the way down to market specific infographics like 'Top Amenities in Phoenix'.
Infographic ideas for apartment professionals:
- Create compelling market reports.
- Compare your property to your competitors.
- Show your property features and amenities.
- Demonstrate how you rent more apartments in a specific area.
- Make a demographics chart of your local neighborhood.
- Create helpful renter tips that are related to moving, signing a lease, decorating, storage solutions and more.
ForRent.com Infographic Strategy