Having a strong online presence is nothing new to the multifamily housing industry. Each year we witness a rising percentage of guest cards and potential leads coming via the web. But just having a website isn’t enough to reach an optimal market of potential leads. In order to reach future residents when they’re searching online for their next home, you need to have a proactive digital presence in order to cut-through the competing chatter of other sites that rally for their attention.
SEO (search engine optimization) is a key component to any site, and especially for apartment community websites. In short, it involves optimizing your online presence i.e. website, content (on and off-page), and building reputable links that grow your online presence, credibility, and visibility. If you have been wondering why your property is not being found on the first page of a Google search result, it is because you don’t have a solid SEO strategy.
So if you’re just getting started with online marketing, or if you’re looking to affirm your existing strategy, here are 3 SEO “must haves” for your apartment community website:
1. Google Plus/Places
If there is only one thing you do to improve your online presence it will be to create a Google Plus/Places listing. It is no surprise that Google will reward you for using Google products. (Insert narcissistic joke here). Creating, maintaining, and interacting with your audience through your Google Plus page can generate exponentially positive SEO results.
Google recently updated the dashboard for Google Plus/Places. They streamlined the two listing allowing you to manage both under one Google account. Having this account fully updated with high quality pictures and content will allow users to get driving direction (via Google Maps) when they do a mobile search. This is just one of the added benefits of having an optimized Google Plus/Places account.
To stress the importance of this: don’t you hate when you do a mobile search and you can’t find the address and/or phone number for a specific location? So do I! (And so does Google.)
2. High-quality Content
One of the best things you can do is to create rich, dynamic content. Don’t you hate when you click on a search result and it takes you to a website that looks like it was created in 1999? It is stale, unkempt, and stale. I instantly click the back button and move on to the next link. This is called your Bounce Rate. When users “bounce” off your website it is a result of not finding what they were looking for.
By creating relative, updated, and easily readable content you will increase the time users spend on your website. This alerts Google that you regularly maintain your website, you have rich content that users want to read, and that those specific search terms correctly correlate to your website/content. Overtime this positive relationship will cause Google to increasing your page ranking. With time your website will climb the charts like a newly released Justin Bieber song. (Is he still even popular? Or is One Direction a thing? I don’t know I will stick to SEO).
3. Social Media Activity
I am sure this is like beating a dead horse, but social media is shifting from suggested to mandatory. It is estimated that social marketing budgets will nearly double in size in the next few years. Your social media presence must be more than just creating a page and then letting it go dormant. You need to have rich media i.e. pictures, videos, and content. You need to post regularly.
This is where your potential clients are spending their time. If you want their attention create content they want to consume, digest, and share. Get creative and out of the box. Have fun with it!
User interaction is a big part of social media. Respond and validate the thoughts of the users. Practice reciprocity, show that you actively monitor and use your social mediums. Responding to reviews/responses on your Google Plus page will result in organic page rank increases. Again, using Google products has a positive impact with Google search results.
In the past, SEO was an added benefit, but its since evolved to an essential component to online multifamily marketing. If you want to be on Google’s first page then you need to institute a strong SEO campaign. If you don’t, your competitors will.