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Top Rental Sites SEO Rankings Report

Top rental sites share of search engine rankingsSearch engine optimization is one of the things we’re passionate about, and periodically we like to do a deep dive and get a handle on what is happening in related industries. Recently we ran across Andrew Shotlands’s post “IYP SEO Rankings Report 2009” ranking the different internet yellow pages sites by their share of competitive search engine rankings, and decided to apply a similar methodology to see how the different rental sites stacked up against each other. Since many of you use these sites to publish your rental listings, we thought you’d be interested in seeing which of these sites perform the best for the most important rental keywords in the search engines. In brief, here is the methodology we followed: Identified the top 20 rental keywords using Google Suggest and the Adwords Keyword tool (see below) Performed Google searches for these keywords in the top 20 U.S. cities, with personalization turned off (for a total of 400 geotargeted queries). Each time a site appeared in the serps, we awarded it 1 point for each position, starting at the bottom. (On a page with 10 results, the first result got 10 points, the second 9 points, etc.) Weighted each search by the U.S. monthly search volume for that keyword reported by Google. Summed up the points for each domain to determine its final score. So, in theory, this data should tell us which rental sites dominate the search engine rankings for the most important and competitive rental keywords. And here are......
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The 800 lbs gorilla in the room, web traffic, key data points.

Web TrafficWhen looking at marketing strategies to help gain more clients there are 3 most likely outcomes to consider; Gain a visit to your community Generate a phone call Drive more traffic to your website In the first two outcomes there is a very likely chance that human interaction will occur. We all understand that not all are created equal in being a top performer in picking up phone calls or being present to greet a visitor. That being, we all understand the value of doing this well. As these interactions take place we gain knowledge and leverage that knowledge to be more effective at converting these opportunities into prospects and clients. When it comes to internet traffic many simply have no idea about their anonymous web shoppers’ behavior.  Some do measure traffic and few actually look at what actions take place after the entry into the web site. Such information is very important to focus on. Your website is most likely one of your busiest sales space, knowing what your prospective clients do is very valuable, powerful information is available for you to optimize your websites. Here are some key data points to know: How did they find you? - Referring source including keywords What did they look at? -Number of pages viewed, what page, Click path Is it their first visit? – First time shopper or repeat visitor Where did they leave from? - Exit page, bounce rate When did they visit you? - Daily traffic distribution As you spend......
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ASKING FOR IT. "Bring it." Nuggets are out there.

Litmus Test - Ric Campo, CEO of Camden, national REIT based in Houston, BELIEVES in litmus tests. Camden is awaiting waves and raves. Multifamily Executives are asking for it. They're sticking their toes into the water...they just want Reviews and Communication through Social Media done RIGHT. They are seeking new ways to bridge the Consumer & Community Gap. Check out these recent Tweets; A national Apartment Management Company sent out this St. Paddy's Tweet..."My Lucky Day! I just turned my first negative Resident Tweet into a Positive!" And this one during March 19th's weekly Friday afternoon Twitter #AptChat. "Rented on of our apts recently? If so, let other renters know how you like it by rating it at http:..." In an ironic twist and despite the ever-growing frustration with various apartment ratings sites, several Multifamily executives are not only willing to put their properties up for review, but they are actually asking for it. “Regarding apartment reviews, it’s not that somebody has to do it, it’s that somebody has to do it right,” said Mark Juleen, VP of marketing for the JC Hart Company based in Carmel, Indiana. “Ratings and reviews have been out there for a long time in the form of ApartmentRatings.com and now Yelp.com. The problem is, these companies aren’t fostering open communication between the renting community and the apartment community.”  Companies eager to engage in the two-way dialogue taking action today include Camden, Mission Residential, Mills Properties, Gables Residential, Urbane Apartments, and the JC Hart Company.“We believe in......
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People change when the pain of changing is less than the pain of not changing... True or false?

leaky bucketThis statement was made on a call I was on and at first I agreed. Something did not ring right though... Here are my thoughts and I would love to hear yours. No doubt this economy is impacting all of us in some way and it is safe to say that many are now looking at change as a necessary evil. It is human nature to be content with status quo in most cases. So here is the question that came to mind; have we changed over the last 200 hundred years because we had to or because we felt we could make things better? I strongly believe that most changes have come from the possibility of a better way to do things and not from the pain that could be caused by not changing.   In fact most inventions may have been looked at unnecessary by many and are now "indispensable". Do you believe that Thomas Edison thought that electricity was a need or did he see opportunity for a better and more comfortable life? I know my great grandmother did not let electricity be connected to her home until 1974 because she was just fine that way it was... What does that have to do with you?... Everything! Today's challenges are tomorrow's opportunities. By embracing change as a new and better way to do things you will gain a source of excitement rather than a feeling of beating beaten up. The key word that I see tied to cha......
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Search Engine Optimization is Changing

A friend of mine, who is an ecommerce entrepreneur in a very competitive space and in the middle of a shopping cart migration, recently asked me for some SEO advice. After answering his specific questions, I suggested we do a few searches for high volume keywords to see what his competitors are doing. Some of the results were rather surprising. Here were the two biggest eye openers. 1. Numerous first page Google search results included pages that didn't even contain the search terms we used. 2. For many keyword searches, half of the results were video and other social media sites rather than his direct competitors. These results were not a fluke. I have been able to repeat this outcome with several searches for my own site. The first results for “4walls sterling apartments,” which would have previously delivered the listing page, now serve up my index page— which does not have the word sterling on it—as the first result. 100% of our social media clients are seeing their Twitter, Facebook, or both of these pages on the first page of search results for their community within 30 days (we now take before and after screen shots to demonstrate this finding). Getting great search results used to be straightforward. If you started with good content, didn't screw up the title and description meta tag or on-page text, set up appropriate internal linking and got a few sites to link to yours, you'd be golden. Everyone would think you were a ......
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Apartment Marketing: Get REady, Get SHARP - Call your ILS Account Rep!

 1/12 of the year is over, and the clock is ticking. Have you made progress towards your occupancy goals, or have you started the year off already behind? Your PRIME leasing season is coming - are you ready? Whatever the case, the best way to maximize your upcoming leasing opener is to call your Internet Listing Service (ILS) account rep TODAY.Why?#1: ILS's for the apartment industry are your BIGGEST source of traffic.#2. Because you are UNDERUTILIZING all that they offer.It's time to Get READY, Get SHARP, CALL! Work smarter and pull ahead of your competition. Your ILS partner can help.(Picture provided by ShellyS on Flickr through creative commons license.)ILS technologies change all the time. In the apartment industry, we complain all the time, and the few people who actually listen to us and DO something about it is our ILS's. The technology changes constantly, there are new marketing/advertising packages out there, new reporting capabilities. Want to know what is working and what isn't working? The one person who would know, AND willing to share with you their vast sea of knowledge is your ILS representative. The advice, training, and information your Internet Listing Service representative can bring you could amount to HOURS of research, hundreds of calls, and a TON of reading. Your rep can shave HOURS out of that process and share with you the information YOU need. And the price can't be beat - it's usually part of doing business.Here is a list of things to discuss with your ILS representative so that you can better......
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Episode 35 - Managing your social media expectations

First off I would like to give a hat tip to Brent Williams, the chief at MultifamilyInsiders.com, for spurring this conversation and inspiring this post. We had an interesting conversation going on from one of my previous posts, and it came around to "managing one's expectations with social media." I've said all along that social media is a part to building your online brand. With building any brand we all know it takes time, and building an online brand can seem like you're doing it all over again. The good news is that if you already have a brand then it's not a complete rebuild, but it's taking a different view point for how your brand is going to present itself online. This doesn't happen overnight, and the "build it and they will come" concept just doesn't work. No longer can you just build a website and hope people find you. You need to continually build your presence online, you need a strategy, and you needed to start yesterday. For those of you that have started, GREAT! For those of you thinking about starting, it's time to get a move on.In my comments to Brent from that post I shared what I've helped J.C. Hart do over the last 2 years to build a better online brand. That's right 2 years. Here's what I shared:This is a challenge and a hurdle so many struggle with. The main issue really isn't where the resources are coming from, but how people are stuck......
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Your Apartment Community's Facebook Page Needs a Vanity URL by Daisy Nguyen

Your community's facebook page should have a facebook username, also known as a vanity URL.Why? Being able to choose the URL for your facebook page is like a vanity license plate - it not only makes it easy to remember (and hence share with others), but helps you claim a little piece of facebook space as your own. Why let someone else (facebook) randomly set your URL, when you can control how people find you, remember you AND how google ranks you?(Photo provided by aprilzosia on flickr through creative commons license.)What am I talking about?Most facebook URL's are something like http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=123456789  - that's hard to remember!Now take for example, RENT SODA's facebook URL: http://facebook.com/rentsoda - WAY easier!In terms of SEO, having a facebook vanity url will help your facebook page rank higher in google searches than pages without a vanity url.Follow these steps to claim your facebook vanity URL for your apartment community:1.) First, carefully think of a username you want to use. Once it's been selected, you won't be able to change or transfer it. Usernames need to be at least 5 characters made of only alphanumeric characters. A period (.) is also allowed.2.) Go to http://facebook.com/username  . Follow the prompts for your profiles and each fan page administered by your profile. For fanpages, facebook requires that your page have a minimum of 25 fans.What's your facebook vanity URL?Don't get it? RENT SODA. GET IT! -Daisy Nguyen in Minneapolis, Minnesota MNDaisy Nguyen is owner and CEO of RENT SODA, a business and marketing consulting company. Become a FAN of RENTSODA, connect on LinkedIn, FOLLOW RENT......
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Google's 'Near Me Now' Kicks Local Search Up a Notch

iphone near me now google feature

This morning's article from Daily Finance starts off "another day, another new product from Google". As an iPhone user I'm pretty excited by all of the fast moving mobile additions Google, and many others, are making these days.

Google's new addition is pretty self explanatory:

"Near Me Now," a service that makes it fast and easy to learn about your immediate vicinity with a much simpler interface than other local search applications use.

And since pictures are worth a thousand words ... here is a screenshot:

iphone near me now google feature

This of course will create a push for Google local advertising. With so many location-based apps being thrown into the market place, my recommendation is that you make sure that your property is listed in all of the right places. A really quick way to do that is GetListed.org and of course you can go directly to Google Local to add/edit your listing.

Also, if you have a blog or a resident portal/bulletin board this may be a fun resource for new (or existing) residents to find places local to your community!

Elysa Rice is Ellipse Communication's Emerging Media Consultant. Ellipse is celebrating 10 years providing websites and software to the multifamily industry.  

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Top 10 Opportunities that Social Networking Offers

The Internet connects us like no other medium, and social networking sites are a great way to stay in touch and turn connections into business. Here are the top ten opportunities that social networking offers and why you should stay connected in 2010: 1.     Spread a consistent message/image to a large audience about your brand, identity, and products/services 2.     Meet people in your industry, find employees and employers, ask for referrals, and get/give advice 3.     Put a "face" on your business and show your corporate personality 4.     Help build your website's search engine ranking by cross-linking on all sites and optimizing media assets (the more quality links to your site, the better!) 5.     Compliment your existing online and offline presence (Do not replace them) 6.     Provide helpful, relevant information that is useful to the masses 7.       Turn your new and existing customers into repeat customers and fans 8.       Target specific demographics/industries/companies by using proper and consistent keywords/phrases for your audience 9.       Promote your events, promotion and specials to a wider audience 10.   Elevate your customer service to a new, transparent level Here are ForRent.com's Top 10 favorite social networking sites in 2009: 1.     Facebook 2.     MySpace 3.     Twitter 4.     YouTube 5.     LinkedIn 6.     Yahoo! Answers 7.     Flickr 8.     del.icio.us 9.     Digg 10.  Stumbleupon...
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