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Your Website is No Longer Your Most Strategic Marketing Asset.

Welcome to The Local Search Economy.  Google My Business (GMB) is upstaging your community website. This spells trouble for a few reasons:  You’ve invested (and continue to invest) time and money in your website. Users form first impressions based on your GMB profile, then decide whether to visit your website. You depend on your website to generate leads and leases.  So, what’s going on?  Things change rapidly in a digital-first world. Google introduced GMB in 2014 and since then has steadily evolved the platform and its localized search algorithm. GMB is now a critical part of local search for any business with a physical location and an ideal solution for apartment marketers.  Consider the following six points: GMB is Free. Setting up a GMB profile for a physical location is free and helps ensure your communities can be found on Google search and Google maps while prospects are actively searching.  The Rise of Zero-Click. 65% of Google searches end without a click to another website, with users' queries resolving directly from the search results page. Prospects can call, get directions, view your offers and other info, right from your GMB profile. Catch prospects where they are and provide them with what they need to choose your community.   Google is (Still) Eating The World. Google dominates the global search engine market share, handling more than 92% of all search queries globally. And Google's local search algorithm favors signals from GMB profiles that are complete and consistently updated. Optimizing your GMB profile is you......
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Google Ads Now Tracks Community Visits

Google Store VisitsApartment marketers have been longing for the day that they can attribute their ad spend to onsite community traffic. Google is making this dream a reality for more communities as they roll out store visit conversions in Google Ads. Up until this point, apartment marketers have been able to attribute ad campaign success in Google Ads through website traffic, website events, and phone calls. While these metrics do a great job of measuring the intent of searchers to visit a location, store visits allow communities to see how this online intent actually translates to foot traffic. In this blog post, I'll explain how Google tracks store visits, how apartment marketers can use this information to generate more foot traffic, and the criterion communities need to meet to be able to take advantage of this new metric. Who can take advantage of Google’s store visits?  Communities that have a Google My Business account set up for each location and 90% of their location links verified Communities using location extensions in Google Ads Communities that received thousands of ad clicks and impressions Communities that have enough foot traffic and pass user privacy thresholds How does Google track store visits?  Google uses a variety of signals to arrive at the store visits data they report in your Google ads account. Google maps data, store locations, wi-fi signal strength in stores, GPS location signals, Google queries, visit behavior, and a sample of 1 million users who opted into allowing Google to track their location history are all used to de......
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How to Build your Apartments Knowledge Graph for Google

How to Build your Apartments Knowledge Graph Knowledge Panel BreakdownSo far we have covered how Google will take over the Multifamily ILSes’ business with their Apartments Knowledge Graph. But, property management companies (PMC) can get more leads from Google by building their Apartments Knowledge Graph. How Can a PMC Build Its Apartments Knowledge Graph? Google does not single-source the data for its Apartments Knowledge Graph. Here is an example of the different sources needed to build Google’s Apartments Knowledge Graph:   Let’s dive into how you can use each source to position your apartment well with Google’s users. #1. Fill in the Info Section on Google My Business Your first change should be made in Google My Business: Go to Google My Business Pick your location Select the “Info” section  Fill out the fields to make your knowledge graph as complete as possible #2. Write a Wikipedia Article Next, write a Wikipedia article about your property. Google loves to use Wikipedia as a resource and will use it to enhance your knowledge graph. For example, here is the description of a property from a Wikipedia article being displayed in its knowledge graph: #3. Push Information to Google Using Structured Data on your Website Google uses structured data to assemble its Knowledge Graphs. Structured data is a machine-readable format to pass information to Google. Here is an example: The following steps are slightly technical, but not crazily so. In general, web developers should provide this functionality out-of-the-box, so you don’t have to do this. If your web developer does not provide this, you can build one yourself: Go to s......
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Using Google Trends To Determine Student Housing Search Popularity

Using Google Trends To Determine Student Housing Search Popularity
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, once stated, “It's difficult to imagine the power that you're going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.” The collection of big data online has increasingly played a vital role in analyzing consumer trends and popularity; and as of 2015, this data became even more accessible, thanks to Google Trends.  Google Trends allows the general public to access the world’s largest real-time datasets, enabling the average user to seek out data about what’s most searched and what’s most popular. This data is particularly useful to a marketer, who can analyze information for any respective industries.   Google Trends can be applied to the student housing industry in a variety of ways and can help in answering questions like:   When are students searching online for student housing most? What geographic areas have the highest search volume for student housing? What other topics related to student housing are users searching for?   To showcase how Google Trends can be utilized to gather information about student housing, we’ve provided a few different search query examples. 1. Determine the most popular states and provinces for student housing search queries:The graphs below show search data for ‘student housing’ from April 2016 – April 2017 for both the United States and Canada.For the United States, the top 5 states were Utah, Hawaii, Mississippi, Idaho and Colorado (honorable mentions to Montana and Rhode Island, who were a point or two behind Colorado).     For Canada, the top 5 provinces were On......
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How to Improve Your Online Presence As A Property Management Company

How to Improve Your Online Presence As A Property Management Company
Going by Google’s report on consumer behavior, about 97% of consumers now rely on the web in finding local businesses, including property management firms. In real estate alone, 80% of all home buyers and renters are searching online for suitable properties. Evidently, the playground has shifted drastically over the last couples of years, in favor of online based businesses. In the past, firms with extensive local presence had an upper hand over their digital counterparts. But now, with Google getting over 100 billion searches a month, having a property management website has shifted from just an extra business element, to a critical asset. Interestingly, the internet scene is only getting warmed up. While we feel that the internet is almost getting overpopulated by websites, experts indicate that it’s yet to mature. There is still a lot to come, as businesses and individuals continue leveraging the internet on different levels to not only improve their operations, but also take advantage of the ever-expanding market base. The potential is immense, and it’s all yours for the taking. Capitalizing on its potential however, is not just about tweaking your website according to search engine keywords. Constant property management website improvements has become the standard survival tactic for firms that are already enjoying a web presence. It’s like a continuous race, and it involves both large and small property management firms, on a level playing field. Your strategy’s efficacy and finesse ultimately determines your rank not only within search engines but also other internet platforms like social media sites, which are excee......
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Virtual Tours

Virtual Tours

One thing is clear about individuals looking for space to rent today: online research. Google has become the go-to solution for most renters today and it’s become increasingly difficult for multifamily communities to stand out. So the question becomes, “what do we have to do differently to stand out? What else can we offer individuals making decisions before they ever visit the property?”

The answer is: Create a virtual experience.

Google understood the benefit of that experience when it created the Street-View program. Although you’re probably familiar, the Street-View program maps out most of the areas google covers on Google maps. This would allow us to walk down Hollywood Blvd. without being in Hollywood, or scope out the area around a community I’m considering moving into. It changed the way we imagined the world by virtually teleporting us to almost any location.

Google Maps

 

Now Google has begun bringing that experience indoors, allowing potential customers to experience the inside of certain spaces to experience what a real-life walk-through would be like. Potential customers can explore the interiors of buildings across residential, commercial, hospitality, and even healthcare facilities. The most popular choice is using photography, while other locations are amplifying by providing virtual tours. 

Accurate listings on Google have become the standard. Simply managing your Google Business listing, although important, is not enough to compete with every other community out there. Appealing Photography and engaging Virtual Tours will help you stand apart from your competition.

Experience for yourself: Live at Runway

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The Shifting Ride of SEO

The Shifting Ride of SEO
Have you ever tried to run along the deck of a ship in a storm? I don’t recommend it—between unexpected waves, slippery puddles, and a continuously-moving surface, you’re liable to get hurt. A ship in a storm is a chaotic, ever-shifting ride. In many ways, Search Engine Optimization is the same way. We’ve mentioned before how search engines and their algorithms are constantly changing, which is why SEO is an ongoing process. But the changes in the realm of the internet aren’t always unpredictable—sometimes, it’s possible to see what’s coming ahead of time. Here’s a few developments that will soon alter how we all market and find information on the internet: Twitter and Google’s new friendship A few months ago, Twitter Inc. and Google Inc. struck a deal1 that will allow Google to index posts from Twitter and show them in Google search results. What does this mean? It means that Tweets are going to be a whole lot more visible to a wide audience—even people who don’t use Twitter will be able to see what’s going on there. So if your apartment community or company maintains a corporate Twitter account, your posts will be a lot more visible. And if you’re not engaging in marketing on Twitter, now may be a good time to start! Mozilla and Google are taking a break Mozilla’s Firefox browser2 is one of the most popular internet browsers available, partly because it was the first browser to allow users to run internet searches straight from the address bar at the top of the window. And while ......
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Why Property Management Companies Should Embrace Google's Newest Deal with Twitter

Several years back, it wasn't rare to find tweets in Google search results. Twitter and the search giant had arranged a deal so that Google could get lightning fast results from Twitter's data stream. In turn, Twitter received leads for users who previously didn't use the social platform. That is, however, until 2011, when the deal between the two companies expired. Fast forward four years and it looks like the two companies are rekindling their friendship with a new deal. And this new deal comes with some serious marketing opportunities for property management companies. As Erica Tafavoti pointed out in her coverage of the story for Inman.com, "If tweets begin appearing in Google searches and you're an active Twitter user, this could be a boost to your search engine optimization (SEO) and lead to more traffic to your Twitter page." In other words, this new development will allow clever marketers to deliver a one-two punch. The first advantage is that high quality tweets will reach an audience outside of Twitter, which allows you to expand your sphere of influence. The second advantage is that Twitter will act as lead generator or funnel to your content, granted you have made all the necessary connections between your account and website. So, how can property management companies make sure they're doing all that they can to embrace this new deal's offerings? First off, sign up for a Twitter account if you haven't already done so. Twitter is both extremely simple and incredibly powerful, and......
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Can Click-To-Call Buttons Help Your PPC Campaign?

Can Click-To-Call Buttons Help Your PPC Campaign?
Recent studies have confirmed what we have been predicting for some time now; people expect locally relevant information in their search results1. This hardly comes as a surprise to many in the multifamily housing industry, who have noticed an increase in the number of people using map listings to find their community. But how can you use this to help you reach your goal of maximum occupancy? The answer is simple: Optimize your PPC ads for local search. Adwords allows you to target ads to customers in a variety of ways. These include specific keywords, if they have been to your site before, and even down to specific cities and zip codes. This means that you can show your ads to a much more qualified group of people, who are more likely to come in and sign a lease. A recent study conducted by Google found that four in five users wanted search ads to cater to their location2. What’s more, the majority of those involved in the study mentioned using click-to-call buttons and links to driving directions specifically. These are important because they help consumers find what they are looking for in the fastest possible way. I know I’ve rephrased a search or two in order to get a listing with a click-to-call button. What, you expect me to search for a business, remember all ten digits of the phone number, THEN open the keypad to punch them in manually?! That sounds like way too much work. Despite the risks associated with using a mobile device whi......
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Protecting Your Apartments Website From Negative SEO

Protecting Your Apartments Website From Negative SEO
Negative SEO is any action that damages competitors’ organic search rankings. Some of the ways to do this are by hacking into a website and injecting malware or inserting HTML hyperlinks in code. Making duplicates of content or even stealing content can hurt website rankings as well. One major issue is building low quality links that point to a website, which will be further discussed. Is your apartment site being affected by negative SEO? How to find out: Regularly look through your backlink profile, at least once a week or once a month. To get a proper view of these links, be sure to utilize Google Webmaster Tools or consider other options such as Majestic SEO, Opensite Explorer, etc. The main things to look out for with these links include: Any new links that are not normal for your apartment website Links with anchor text for competitive keywords Links from low quality domains or blogs How do I resolve negative SEO issues? The first solution would be to personally request a site to take these links down. Keep a record of any of these interactions so Google is aware of your efforts to clean up your backlinks. If links are unable to be removed, you can also disavow these links using a Google and Bing Disavow Tool. Disavowing asks these search engines to not take these links into account when assessing your site. Especially if this has become more of an ongoing issue, communicate with the website to determine how these l......
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