SEO for Apartment Websites

3 Title Tag Mistakes Killing Your Apartment SEO

Posted by Jake Meador on April 02, 2014  /   Posted in Apartment Websites, Google for Apartments, SEO for Apartment Websites

title tag apartment seoDuring my time at Rentping Media, I’ve analyzed the web presence of hundreds of apartment communities. I’ve seen some that are doing great things, some that are decent, and some that are really awful. (My favorite is finding a community whose photos make it look like the set of an old Hitchcock movie. Sadly, I find communities like that way more often than I should.)

One of the most common mistakes I see is an incorrectly formatted title tag. The title tag is really important for several reasons. First, the title tag is what displays as the big blue text in search engine results. So if you look at the example above, the title tag for the top search result is, “Yia Yia’s – Lincoln’s Best Pizza and Beer.” So the title tag is the first thing search engine users see that tells them what your site is about. On a related note, the title tag also tells search engines what your site is about. Third, the title tag is what will display in the tab at the top of the page in your web browser. Point being, it shows up in a lot of places and does a lot of things for your site–which is why you can’t make mistakes with your title tag.

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2 Benefits of Organic Apartment Website Traffic

Posted by Jake Meador on March 27, 2014  /   Posted in SEO for Apartment Websites
organic search

Organic search traffic provides a few key benefits to an apartment community website.

As we’ve said several times lately, you should think about your online marketing strategy as divided into several discrete parts each attempting to accomplish a slightly similar small task, all serving the larger goal of using your website to attract warm, qualified leads. Today we’re talking about the two main tasks being accomplished through organic apartment website traffic.

What is organic apartment website traffic?

Organic apartment website traffic refers to traffic to your apartment website that comes from organic search–those are the blue links in Google. Google’s algorithm for ranking sites is proprietary, but we can make a reasonably informed guess at the factors that go into ranking sites–user satisfaction (measured by time on site), credible, naturally-generated links to the site from other websites, creating useful, helpful content on the site, setting up your title tag correctly, etc. For apartment communities, this basically means two things: You need to use walkthrough video tours in order to provide users with relevant content and keep their attention, and you need to set up your title tag to tell Google exactly what your site is about. There are two main benefits to be gained from a strong organic search presence.

You gain free traffic to your website.

The first value from organic search traffic is that it provides a free source of traffic to your community website. You’re not paying any advertising costs to get those rankings. You’re not buying the clicks. You’re just getting free traffic direct to your website. You’ll pay something to create the content the gets you there, of course, but the traffic itself is free. (And the content can be purposed in so many different ways that it will pay for itself rather quickly.)

Organic search traffic is a sustainable traffic strategy.

Getting this point clear will require some explanation since many communities have experienced the nightmarish scenario in which a new Google update results in a drop in organic search traffic. But if you’re doing what search engines want you to do, then organic traffic is extremely sustainable.

The business of a search engine is its users. If a search engine doesn’t have users, it won’t last long. So the search engine needs to provide consistently valuable, useful results to its users in order to keep them and to gain more users. This means they need to show their users things that the users find interesting, useful, helpful, or relevant to their interests. So if you’re creating content on your website that is helpful to apartment shoppers, search engines want their users to find you. This means that if you’re creating content that is truly helpful to your intended users, then you can count on organic traffic as a sustainable source of web traffic.

photo credit: pasukaru76 via photopin cc

Apartment Website SEO and Organic Search

Posted by Jake Meador on March 05, 2014  /   Posted in Google for Apartments, SEO for Apartment Websites
apartment website SEO

Understanding how apartment website SEO relates to organic search is an essential piece of any marketing strategy.

There’s three things your apartment website SEO should be accomplishing on the organic search front. Today we’re going to cover all three.

You should be building a broad, accessible presence that people can come across through a variety of search terms.

The Rentping Media website ranks in the top ten search results for hundreds of search terms. (We’ve earned those rankings through producing valuable, relevant content that people in the industry read and share.) This means that there are tons of different ways that a person could come to our website from a search engine, which means that it is easier for people to find our website through a search engine.

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Branded Keywords for Apartment Marketing

Posted by Jake Meador on March 04, 2014  /   Posted in Google AdWords for Apartments, SEO for Apartment Websites
branded keywords for apartment marketing

When people search for brand-specific keywords, you want to make sure that your community website is the top result.

One of the terms we talk about a lot on the blog is “branded keywords.” When we talk about branded keywords for apartment marketing, we’re talking about the keywords that explicitly refer to a community or company by name. So if your community is Sunny Meadows Apartments and you’re managed by Acme Property Management, any search term with “Sunny Meadows Apartments” or “Acme Property Management” in the search query is a branded keyword.

Why do branded keywords matter?

Branded keywords are significant because they reflect a level of familiarity with your community that could also indicate a specific commercial interest in your community. If someone searches for your community by name, that means they’re looking for specific information about you. To be sure, this doesn’t necessarily prove that they want to lease an apartment from you. It could mean that they simply are looking for your address because they need directions to visit a friend, who happens to live in your community. But often when someone searches for you by name, it suggests that they’re specifically interested in leasing from you.

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Local Search SEO and Apartment Marketing

Posted by Jake Meador on February 13, 2014  /   Posted in Google for Apartments, SEO for Apartment Websites

There are two main ways Google displays local search results that it pulls from its own business listings. Apartment marketing folks will want to be familiar with both so that they’re prepared for all possibilities.

One way is the vertical search listings that have been in common for years and that look quite like organic search results. There are a series of results listed in a vertical list in the middle of the SERP.

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Bing and the Future of Apartment Website SEO

Posted by Jake Meador on January 08, 2014  /   Posted in SEO for Apartment Websites
search engine marketing

If Google gained a search engine monopoly, what would that mean for your apartment website SEO strategy?

If a company lost $11 billion on a product over eight years, you’d expect that company to shut down that product line, right? Well, that’s how much Microsoft’s online division has lost since 2005 according to Business Insider. Here’s why this matters to multifamily insiders: Bing is part of Microsoft’s online division–Bing, also known as the search engine that powers both Bing and Yahoo! search, making it responsible for roughly 30% of all internet searches. Bing, in other words, is what stands between Google and a functional monopoly on online search.

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How Search Engines See Apartment Websites

Posted by Jake Meador on November 14, 2013  /   Posted in SEO for Apartment Websites

One of the persistent problems facing online marketing is the lack of knowledge many people have about how search engines actually work. The most obvious place where this issue crops up is with so-called “black hat” SEOs. Black hat SEOs are search engine optimizers who make shadowy promises like “getting your site to the first page of Google” without explaining exactly how they’re going to do it.

Many business owners, of course, don’t have the time to do lots of research on SEO and see search engines as a kind of impenetrable machine, utterly incomprehensible except to an initiated few who have peered into their mysteries.

So they meet someone who sounds like they know what they’re talking about, start working with them, and pretty soon they’re in all sorts of trouble because Google has caught onto their SEO’s tricks and has punished the sites using them. (Our marketing director has written a bit more about some of the SEO scams that are out there. You can read about them here.)

Search engines don’t need to be mysterious.

The good news is that search engines don’t need to be an opaque mystery forever. Search engines are only valuable to internet users to the extent that they’re able to actually provide internet users with relevant information. Search engines that can’t give people what they want will fail–which is why search engines like WebCrawler, Ask Jeeves (now just Ask), Alta Vista, and Lycos are dead or dying.

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Apartment Website SEO After Hummingbird

Posted by Jake Meador on October 29, 2013  /   Posted in SEO for Apartment Websites

What does the Hummingbird update from Google mean for apartment website SEO?

It’s been a momentous month for Google, SEOs, and online marketers. First came the rollout of Google’s latest algorithm update, Hummingbird. (In fact, technically speaking, Hummingbird isn’t an update so much as an entirely new way of organizing search.) Then came the news that Google wasn’t going to provide marketers and webmasters with keyword data. Finally, Google rolled out its latest Penguin update, Penguin 2.1. In other words, we had an algorithm update that affects 90% of all searches and a shift in company policy that completely eliminates one of the most valuable pieces of data traditionally relied upon by marketers. The past month represents a fundamental shift in how SEO functions and how marketers should approach their work.

That said, it isn’t a shift that should come as a great surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to what Google’s been doing lately. Google’s long-standing advice to webmasters has been “Build your website as if search engines didn’t exist.” Google’s goal has always been to create the most intuitive, human-like search engine imaginable.

Viewed that way, keywords were essentially a necessary evil–they aren’t the most natural way for a human to search and access information, but they were the best option available to us with the technology we had. But with the rise of Siri, Google Glass, and similar devices, finding this kind of information has become easier–simply ask a question and the tool gives you an answer. “Siri, what is the weather going to be like tomorrow?” etc. Hummingbird is simply a change to Google’s search that allows you to access information with search the same way you would with Siri or Glass. And the good news is that this approach is much harder to cheat than keywords were and makes accessing the correct information significantly easier for users.

Hummingbird and Apartment Website SEO

So what does this mean for apartment websites? Well, for those SEOs who built solid, relevant, helpful sites, it actually isn’t that much of a game changer.

Think of it this way: If I tell my toddler daughter not to touch the stove, there’s two ways she can obey that command. She can crawl as close to the stove as she can and play right next to it without ever actually touching it. This obeys the letter of the command I gave her, but completely misses the spirit of that command. But it’s hard for me to know how to respond to that because technically she hasn’t disobeyed. The other way to obey it would be to play a safe distance from the stove, which is what I was really wanting her to do all along.

The spirit of Google’s laws for webmasters have always been clear: Create a site that is relevant and helpful to humans, not a gimmicky, dishonest attempt to, as Copyblogger put it, “chase algorithms.” Don’t build a site for robots and formulas, build a site for humans. Unfortunately, the actual rules themselves haven’t always been able to distinguish the person obeying the letter of the law from the one obeying the spirit of the law.

Hummingbird is a step toward solving that problem. With Hummingbird, Google is rewarding the people who have been following the spirit of the law all along. (For what it’s worth, the Hummingbird updates have been very kind to us here at Rentping Media–we’ve seen a 50% spike in organic traffic since the updates.)

Did you create an apartment community website with useful information, valuable visual content, and an easy-to-use navigation? Great! Google wants people to find your site. So don’t change anything. Keep doing what you’ve been doing.

Did you create a site that didn’t include that valuable content because creating it was too hard and instead used black hat SEO gimmicks to trick Google into ranking you highly? Well, you’re going to have a hard time adjusting to life after Hummingbird. You’re going to have to start doing the difficult work of creating valuable content. The good news is that Google’s system will reward that work. The bad news is you’ve given yourself a severe disadvantage by waiting so long to start.

The rise of Hummingbird and elimination of keyword data doesn’t have to signal disaster for your community website. If you’ve been doing your apartment website SEO correctly, then it should only help you.

photo credit: Dario Sanches via photopin cc

Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird & Online Apartment Marketing

Posted by Jake Meador on October 28, 2013  /   Posted in SEO for Apartment Websites
Panda and online apartment marketing

Panda is one of three algorithm updates that should transform your online apartment marketing strategy.

Beginning in 2011, Google began rolling out some major updates to their search algorithm. These updates are all meant to serve Google’s broader purpose, which is organizing the world’s information and creating a search engine to organize that information which behaves as much like a human being as possible. The first update came in 2011 and was called Panda.

What did Google Panda do?

Google Panda was meant to punish sites that published “thin” content. Thin content is anything that is repetitious, low-quality, stolen from another site, or artificially packed full of keyword phrases. If you check out this site, you can see some of the sites that have been punished by Panda over the past 2+ years.

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How Domain and Page Authority Impact Apartment SEO

Posted by Jake Meador on October 10, 2013  /   Posted in Apartment Websites, SEO for Apartment Websites

Is your community site trustworthy and relevant? That’s Google’s chief concern.

Yesterday we said that two of the main ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm are domain authority and page authority. There are two clarifying points that should be made on this issue, however.

First, the search algorithm used by Google is, of course, proprietary so no one outside of a small group of people in the company actually know exactly what influences search rankings. The best we can do is make very educated guesses. The good news is that the folks at Moz are doing precisely that–go check out their survey of leading SEO experts on ranking factors in Google’s algorithm.

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