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Property Management Blogs

Industry-related blogs are a great way to pick up expert tips, tricks, and insider knowledge quickly and for free. But, of course, there are a lot of blogs out there. Since you only have so much time in the day to surf the web, here’s a quick run-down of five property management-related blogs you should be reading. Marketing and More Property management veteran Mike Brewer, who runs the M Brewer Group blog, is one of the most seasoned and consistent bloggers in the industry. While his blog focuses in large part on marketing, you’ll also find various additional industry topics included as well. Brewer has his fingers on the pulse of current industry conversations, so this blog is a great place to stop by to get a quick gauge of what’s currently being discussed by industry professionals. Cyber Consultant With Behind the Leasing Desk, Seattle-based property management consultant Heather Blume provides readers with musings on the industry and insights on how to up your property management game.  On her blog, Heather writes about everything from staff-related training class excerpts to tips for greening up your property. With quick, snappy reads, this blog is a great place to pick up a mish-mash of ideas to help you better your own business, including everything from tenant retention to customer service. Property Renovations Though Brownstoner.com’s Renovation Blog is Brooklyn-based, property managers from everywhere can learn a lot from the site’s home renovation section. If you’re the type that likes to take on projects—or if......
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The 4 secrets to kicking your ILS habit

Technology is designed to make our lives easier. I mean let's face it, no one is producing that cool tech gadget or website to give you more work to do. So when the ILS's hit the market place they promised a whole new approach to Marketing; let's get technology to bring the prospects to you. All the ILS's spend a ton of dough on SEM (Google Ad Words) and SEO and utilize our content to drive traffic. Over the years this has worked out great for all of us. We get leads with little effort or energy and the burden of all that Marketing is done for you. Don't all of you feel a bit cheated from a creative standpoint? Isn't it really difficult to apply a Cost Per Lead/Lease metric? Having ILS's as your main Marketing mix is just lazy Marketing. I mean seriously... technology is so useful and gosh darn helpful why do we need to Market at all? Just slap our properties on these ILS's, throw up some decent copy and let err go. So what if this stuff costs us a boat load of money? We're now able to focus on way more important things because who wants to bother with those minor details like lead generation? Bah. ILS's are everywhere. "It's impossible to compete. You ever see the Google organic search results?" Oh quit your complaining. Here's how I feel about it. Our biggest demographic is 20-30 year olds. This generation isn't really keen on grabbing a......
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Why Marketing and IT must succeed... together

For so long IT and Marketing have lived in separate worlds. We've always eaten lunch at separate tables, watched different TV shows, and lived in different neighborhoods. Marketing's goal is to deal with people, get customers fired up about the product and brand, and drive leads. IT's goal is to make sure the systems that everyone relies on are working. Before we talk about success or marriage, what are some things these two worlds need to understand about themselves first? To be effective, Marketers need to understand technology. Technology today is no longer optional. We've transitioned ourselves from pages and print to RSS feeds and websites. We gobble up new technology by the boatload. How does Mobile change the internet landscape and get me leads? How does SEO work for my business? All of these new ideas are Marketing functions but are driven by Technology. You can't have one without the other... not anymore. IT people need to understand the business they work in. I'll use myself as an example here. When I started for Maryland Management as the IT guy back in 2001 I had no clue about what Multifamily was. I was an experienced Marketing dude with some computer classes under my belt but that wasn't going to help me "fix" their processes. Over the past 9+ years I've spent that time learning as much as I can about what everyone does. I'm no expert (and will never claim to be) but I have a good understanding of things......
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Should My Blog Go On a Sub-domain or a Sub-directory?

So you’re considering adding a blog to your website. That’s great! But hold on a second. Where you put that blog can have an impact on search engines and how they view all that great, new content you’re providing them. When you or your developers are building the blog, more often than not, this question comes up: “Should we put the blog on www.companyname.com/blog or blog.companyname.com?” Putting the blog at “companyname.com/blog” would be classified as using the “subdirectory” and the “blog.companyname.com” format would be “using a sub-domain.” When you replace the “www” in your site with something else, you’re adding a sub-domain. So where should this blog go? I’m here to give you what I believe is the answer and why. Put it on a subdirectorySorry if that was anti-climactic but, for 99% of the cases, that’s the answer to the “where” question. I highly recommend, where possible, to use the “companyname.com/blog” location.  Sometimes, there’s just no way around using the sub-domain. For example, you might be using some free blog platform and they only allow use of the sub-domain. However, if you have any control over this whatsoever, put the blog in a subdirectory. Why the Subdirectory? Links and Link ProfileOne of the reasons SEO consultants recommend creating a blog in the first place is the ability for that content to generate links back to the website. Blog content is fresh, shareable and can generate discussion. Links are essentially “votes” that carry a lot of weight for search engines ......
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Using Related Keywords for On-Page Optimization

Everyone’s heard of finding a keyword and trying to rank for it. Next thing someone does is put that keyword in their Title Tag, Description Tag and throughout the copy someplace like their homepage. As far as on-page keyword optimization, what else can you do? Turns out, there’s more you can do on the page to let the search engines know that your page is about a specific keyword or phrase.  Allow me introduce you to latent semantics. Latent semantics is just the technical term for using surrounding words to gain or provide meaning and context. Placing relevant and related words and phrases in close proximity to the keyword you are targeting can actually be a stronger signal to search engines than simply repeating the targeted keyword over and over again. Let’s take a look at an example of how to research and implement latent semantics.  I don’t know if you’ve heard of “search hacks” but they can come in handy. Let me show you one that helps us do a little research. The “tilde(~) search” in Google will highlight words the search engine believes are related to the word you’re searching. Let’s try searching “~apartments.” See how some words throughout the page are displayed in bold type? Google is telling us which words it believes are related to the word “apartments.” That’s a pretty powerful sneak-peek into the brains of a search engine. For example (and let’s exclude the obvious “apartments” and “apartment”)…  Housing  Rent  Real estate  Properties  Rentals  …......
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Net Neutrality, Digital Islands, Google Instant and what this means to your social and online efforts

We, in the United States, have been blessed for the last fifteen plus years of enjoying essentially free internet. As a business, a company could purchase a domain for a few bucks and upload some html and the business was "in business". Initially, we had some digital islands, or groups, like Compuserve and AOL that made you purchase access to their hubs. Then Yahoo, MSN and other free hubs came around and eliminated the need to "pay to play". We started to once again enjoying free access to explore and search the internet. And then we fell in love with Google. Google over the last ten years gave us the power to quickly explore the millions then billions of websites just by adding in a few key words to a search. This search became very powerful, so powerful that Google realized their ability to "sell" keyword searches and bought out groups like DoubleClick to better understand the people that clicked through. Adwords, Google's primary revenue source, auctions keyword phrases that made sense to business for a certain dollar amount and business, realizing the opportunity, gobbled it up and started hiring companies or people to handle their new online ad spend. Well, this happy marriage between Google and business continues, but then emerged social and mobile technologies.  During this time period, MySpace, Napster, Friendster and eventually Facebook sprung up and created social networks, or new versions of digital islands, to connect people to each other b/c of like mindedness. As you are......
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Google Instant and Keyword Selection

Google Instant Search ExampleUnless you’ve been living in a non-WiFi-enabled cave for the past few weeks you have heard about Google Instant, the latest “innovation” from Google. (I say “innovation” because Yahoo actually tried to do this in 2005 but couldn’t pull the trigger on their main site). I just wanted to scratch the surface of what Google Instant is and how it could impact how you choose what keywords to use  for your site. Essentially, Google Instant renders search results as you type, attempting to predict what it believes you are looking for. The common consensus is that rankings have not changed as a result of the Google Instant. It’s more to do with how the results are displayed. Google Suggest was the precursor for Instant and was the part responsible for that drop-down of suggested phrases that would appear as you typed. It seems like Instant now acts as the visualization of what results are sitting behind each suggestion and that the rankings for that suggestion have not changed. However, looking at the examples below, it does appear that something has changed in Google Suggest, and that might be the most important change of all…not the fancy display. What they suggest to a user is ultimately going to drive more and more search traffic to results related to those suggestions. EXAMPLES: First, I’m using my work laptop (from Chicago), not logged into my Google account and have search customization based on history disabled. I’ve just typed in “apar” Notice how Google ......
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Experimenting With Real-Time Search

Google search engine results pageIf you’ve been following search engine optimization at all in the past year, you’ll have undoubtedly heard the term “real-time search.” One aspect of real-time search refers to search engines using the social media pipeline, including channels like Facebook and Twitter, to provide up-to-the-minute results. There is a growing contingent of bloggers out there who believe that real-time is the “next big thing” for SEO. I decided to run a few experiments to help illustrate how this all works. So how DOES it work? If we take an extremely newsworthy topic that is “trending” right now, you might see Google employing real-time results right there on the first page. Below, I’ve performed a search for “Prop 8.” Google has taken a portion of its search engine results page (SERP) and inserted a constantly updating box displaying the latest blog posts and tweets. I tried to bring up the same box with “alex rodriguez hits 600” but was unable to do so. This should tell us something about how newsworthy the topic must be or the amount of “trending” that must be occurring in order for Google to display this in their main results page. Unfortunately for us, it is less likely our multifamily news or our latest special rental offer is going to make it to this level of newsworthiness in the eyes of Google. So does that mean that real-time search is out of our reach? I’m not quite ready to give up yet. If we type in “apartments in......
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Five SEO Myths You Should Avoid

We’re all busy people and time is short, right? We need to be out there filling vacancies, so time to spend on the website and SEO is limited. Let’s see if we can help you by debunking a few myths that could be eating up valuable time and resources.  Myth 1: Keywords in your Description Tag can affect your rankings  They don’t. Search engines stopped placing any importance on the content of these tags years ago. It’s just too easy to manipulate them for the engines to really care what they say.  That doesn’t mean they’re not important. These description tags are likely to be the first thing a potential renter is going to see when they find your link in a search engine result page (SERP). This is your chance to make a first impression. Don’t waste it with some unreadable, keyword-rich mumbo jumbo. Use it to entice the searcher. Also, keep in mind that keywords in the description that match the user’s search phrase will be bold-faced. This can be eye-catching as well.   Myth 2: Using the Keyword Meta Tags matters  Due to constant abuse by websites in the past, search engines have all but given up on the keywords meta tag. There is some research out there that possibly suggests Yahoo minimally uses this tag for ranking. However, its impact is still — like I said — minimal at best. Considering Yahoo’s market-share and the fact that they are going to be using Bing’s algorithm very soon, the......
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Property Websites Made Simple – PART II: Prospect Portals

In my last installment we reviewed three different functions a property website may serve.  Now we’re going to discuss the Prospect Portal in more detail, describe the differences between some of the choices available (template sites, custom sites, etc.), and help you understand which is best for your property. Let’s clarify exactly what we mean by Prospect Portal.  This is a website with the sole purpose of helping your community prospects get to know, like and trust you.  The desired outcome is to provide your prospect with enough information to take the next step towards contacting the property and consider the apartment as their next home. There are two things you need your site to do.  First, you need the content on your site to inform, educate and motivate the prospect to call the property for a tour.  This may seem obvious, but finding the right content and displaying it in a concise and consistent manner is more difficult than it sounds.  Secondly, you need your site to “look good” to search engines like Google and Bing, so when prospects are searching for things like – apartments Phoenix – your site gets listed (ideally on the first page) . Next, determine if you’re going to build the site yourself, or if you’re going to use a third party provider.  Subsequently, what kind of site is best for you?  There are two general types – customer built websites and template websites.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and there are no hard......
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