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3 Ways to Check Apartment Website SEO Cover Photo

3 Ways to Check Apartment Website SEO

Today we want to talk about three steps to understanding your website's SEO performance and, particularly, what practical steps you can take to identify any potential problem areas that could be limiting your visibility on search engines.

Before you do anything else, it will be helpful to start by actually searching for your community on Google and seeing how you do. So to begin, open up an incognito or private browser window and search for a few common keywords associated with your community--(community name) in (city, state), (community name), and so on.

If you want an automated way of doing that, you can download Rank Tracker, a cool tool that will allow you to check your performance across multiple keywords and multiple search engines. We'll talk more about Rank Tracker in another post later this week.

By: Jake Meador

September 9, 2014

SEO for Apartment Websites, Web Traffic for Apartments

Google Pigeon for Apartment Marketers Cover Photo

Google Pigeon for Apartment Marketers

(For the less geeky, read this to understand the reference.)

If you're working in SEO or online marketing, you're likely already well aware of this, but Google has been incredibly busy lately. They've been adding new ranking signals (Jacob wrote about that earlier this week), making massive changes to the SERP, testing new forms of advertising, and doing all of this on top of their normal work. (And all while explainer-in-chief Matt Cutts is on a well-deserved vacation.)

One particular innovation from the past month is the Google Pigeon update, so named by Search Engine Land.

Briefly, Pigeon is an update focused on local search verticals that elevates the importance of traditional ranking signals and minimizes the presence of local SEO results based on Google's Google My Business listings. In many cases, search verticals that once had a seven pack and map results now have a three pack with map results or have even had local results stripped out entirely. For example, the screen capture below shows the search term "apartments in Omaha" both before and after the Pigeon update:

By: Jake Meador

August 15, 2014

SEO for Apartment Websites, Google for Apartments

Everything You Need to Know about HTTPS for Apartment Websites Cover Photo

Everything You Need to Know about HTTPS for Apartment Websites

Last week, Google announced that they would be starting to use HTTPS encryption as a factor for the search engine rankings algorithm. In other words, your apartment website will receive a search engine rankings boost if your website is HTTPS with an SSL certificate—and conversely, if you don't get HTTPS encryption for your website, you'll probably see your rankings slip a little.

This raised some eyebrows around the SEO community, since there are A LOT of websites that simply have no justifiable reason for creating a secure, encrypted channel for the end-user. For example, why should Google care whether apartment marketers encrypt their video tours, photography, and pet policies? For many websites, SSL is indispensable (and, if you are accepting credit cards or social security numbers through a resident portal on your website, SSL is indispensable for you there), but to require HTTPS encryption from the entire internet makes no sense to me.

It's no small irony that Google would announce this change on one of their websites that does not use HTTPS encryption.

Currently, this isn't a huge bump for your search engine rankings—so small that it should only affect 1% of all search queries. Ominously, however, Google included this in their announcement:

But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

In other words, Google is not-so-subtly insinuating that using SSL is going to become a really big deal for search engine optimization, so you might as well surrender now. Because Google controls so much of the internet, they can make silly demands like this with the force of blackmail by promising to grade websites accordingly. Google is saying jump, so I'm writing this article to help you calculate how high you need to go.

If you are a Rentping Media client, we have you covered. We are migrating every website we have to SSL for you right now. I think Google is mandating an unnecessary change, but we want to make sure you're in the best position to rank highly on the search engines, so we'll take care of everything I'm going to talk about in this article.

But if you aren't one of our clients, this article will lay out (1) what SSL is and how it works, (2) why Google is making this change, (3) what kind of SSL certificate your apartment website needs, and (4) how to make sure you don't hurt your search engine rankings in the process of transitioning over to HTTPS.

This is a complicated subject, so be forewarned—this is a longer article than most we publish.

By: Jacob Gerber

August 13, 2014

Apartment Websites, SEO for Apartment Websites, SSL

How to Recognize Apartment SEO Scams Cover Photo

How to Recognize Apartment SEO Scams

Recently we received an email from an SEO company that promised to help us get off of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and to start generating more affordable leads through SEO. Here's a portion of the email:

I would like to disclose some facts about your website. I hope you won’t mind spending only 2-3 minutes to have a look at the following lines: . I found your website listed under the Google sponsored listing for which you pay a significant amount. But sometimes this sponsored listing or PPC creates bidding wars. You pay every time somebody clicks on it. It certainly hurts! Why not try organic SEO for your website and boost its growth? . In PPC, you may get the sales but only after paying a certain amount every time and if you stop paying, then the sales will be vanished soon. But in SEO, leads and sales won't vanish even if you stop paying. Hence, make sure you enjoy this long-term benefit unlike PPC. . 90% of users prefer natural results over the sponsored ones because these results are more relevant and valuable. So just imagine how many valuable customers you are losing by not focusing on organic search results. By investing a few months in SEO, you can see drastic changes in your website internally and externally. We will show you improvements in your keyword rankings, link popularity, organic traffic and many more. When visitors search for your desired keywords, do you want to be seen on the first page of Google, Yahoo and Bing or you are happy with your current position and sales? You can see the more powerful sites over the Internet are having more backlinks and high PageRank (PR). A well planned and executed SEO can make these things happen.

Obviously there are some huge red flags from the start that show this is a scam. The punctuation is inconsisten and often incorrect and the prose reads like something from your aunt's long-lost friend in Nigeria who has a million dollars to give you if you'll just provide your banking information. That said, not all scams will be this obvious so we want to talk a bit about how to recognize a scam.

There's three things we want to point out about this email.

By: Jake Meador

August 6, 2014

SEO for Apartment Websites

What Got Updated with Google Local for Apartments? Cover Photo

What Got Updated with Google Local for Apartments?

Google Local for apartments has been a critical part of making sure your community achieves maximum visibility on the search engines. Sadly, for the average apartment community, Google Local just got a whole lot harder.

Over the weekend, Google updated their Local Search algorithm in a way that essentially removed any Local search results whatsoever, so that individual apartment communities and companies are going to have a nearly impossible time ranking highly on Google for local search terms.

What Was Updated on Google Local?

The newest update to the Google Local algorithm (affectionately nicknamed "Google Pigeon" by Search Engine Land) tried to make Local search results explicitly more like organic search results, where Google had previous incorporated both kinds of results into their search listings.

By: Jacob Gerber

July 31, 2014

SEO for Apartment Websites, Google Maps, Google Plus Local, Google for Apartments

The Problem with Mobile Apartment SEO and Flash Cover Photo

The Problem with Mobile Apartment SEO and Flash

Google recently announced an update to how they will handle sites using out-dated website technology that is no longer supported by the device being used to perform the search. The screen capture at right shows how they are going to handle this issue going forward.

So if your site uses Flash, when people find you on a search engine on a mobile device, the first thing they see will be news that your site is broken. Needless to say, that's not the first impression most communities will want to make with prospective residents.

The good news for apartment marketers is that most multifamily websites have gotten off Flash and no longer use such out-dated technology to build their site. So for many communities this change won't mean a whole lot.

That said, there are still a few sites out there that use Flash and for them this change will simply become one more problem they have to deal with when trying to generate traffic and, ultimately, create more leads and leases. There is one group in particular that is going to be hurt by this change.

By: Jake Meador

July 30, 2014

Mobile Apartment Websites, SEO for Apartment Websites, Apartment Marketing Strategy

A 400 Word Primer on Apartment SEO Cover Photo

A 400 Word Primer on Apartment SEO

 

A good apartment SEO strategy will help your site stand out in the crowd online.

Apartment SEO is something of a perennial topic in the world of apartment marketing. With around 90% of housing searches happening on the web (and internet usage in real estate becoming more ubiquitous by the year) it's more important than ever for apartment communities to have a viable strategy for competing for search engine traffic.

The Problem with Apartment SEO

Unfortunately, there are lots of potential problems for communities wanting to improve their performance on search engines. There are scammers. There is outdated information. And there is information out there that is simply wrong.

By: Jake Meador

June 16, 2014

SEO for Apartment Websites

7 Essential Factors in Local Apartment SEO Cover Photo

7 Essential Factors in Local Apartment SEO

Think about the last time you needed to find a place to eat or get directions to a business--you almost certainly got out your smartphone and searched for it on Google, Yelp, or Apple Maps. And if you did that, then you've used Local Search listings.

Local Search is something that search engines have developed in order to make their results more relevant to their users. Many people use search engines to find information that is fundamentally local in nature, so if they google "restaurants," it's probable that they aren't interested in the Wikipedia page for "restaurants," or a link to some national association of restaurants. They almost certainly want a listing of restaurants in their area. So search engines have developed local business listings, which they use to help service those users looking for local information. (We've written before about new innovations in local search on Google. )

By: Jake Meador

June 3, 2014

SEO for Apartment Websites, Google Plus for Apartments

Changes to Apartment Search on Yahoo Cover Photo

Changes to Apartment Search on Yahoo

Here's an interesting development. Look at this screen capture from Wednesday, May 21 on Yahoo:

If you recall, we've written before about how Google has a fairly robust carousel feature for some of its local search verticals. It's particularly powerful for hotels, an industry with some overlap with multifamily. That said, we haven't seen Google move to introduce the carousel to apartment search. But above you can see Yahoo, in their own uniquely clumsy way, is a little ahead of Google in how it handles searches for apartments.

To be sure, they'd be better off stretching their carousel across the entire top of the screen, in order to display more results, but note that they are showing several communities in a layout very like Google's carousel. Also note that the listings even include the rental price for a floorplan in the community.

By: Jake Meador

May 29, 2014

SEO for Apartment Websites, Web Traffic for Apartments

What Panda 4.0 Means for Apartment Websites Cover Photo

What Panda 4.0 Means for Apartment Websites

Last week Google rolled out its latest major updates. There were two major ones, Payday Loans 2.0 and Panda 4.0. It appears that Payday Loans came first and Panda followed a couple days later.

There are three main things we want to note with this story as it affects apartment marketers and apartment websites.

First, hopefully this conclusively buries that silly AdWords study done by eBay last year.

Last year eBay did a study that basically concluded that AdWords was an ineffective waste of money. Slate breathlessly reported on it before Wordstream pointed out that eBay's campaigns couldn't be set up worse if they tried.

By: Jake Meador

May 27, 2014

SEO for Apartment Websites

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