By Matt Easton is EVP of MultiFamily Traffic
Regional Manager Mark Hunter found a way to stand out from all of the other properties rushing to lease apartments in Austin’s hippest neighborhood: he is using SEO and Google AdWords to skip the line and get instant access to qualified potential residents willing to sign a lease with him today without a special offer like free rent or a lower lease rate.
“I found myself questioning why my community website did not appear on Google by itself for the top keywords luxury renters in Austin were searching for,” said Hunter, whose property went from 82% occupancy to 100% with a wait list in just 120 days using SEO and AdWords from MultiFamily Traffic. “We decided we weren’t happy only being visible to Austin renters in the cattle-call of Internet Listing Services and that it was time for us to stand out and attract renters willing to sign a lease today without a concession.”
Apartment managers are having to take digital marketing and apartment SEO more seriously as weaknesses are starting to show up in the boom that has sent apartment rent rates skyrocketing for the last five years all across America. Now with many cities like New York, Dallas, San Francisco and Denver starting to build a surplus of new apartment units, rents are beginning to slow and leasing units is becoming increasingly more difficult without solid online visibility.
Over the last five years, many community developers have decided to concentrate much of new construction on luxury communities in an effort to help them achieve the profits needed to cover the added expenses of staff salaries and rising cost of land to build on. With many new properties featuring trendy locations, rooftop pools and fire pits, managers like Mark Hunter will have to work harder to find renters.
“We found that once we started to rank the community at the top of Google search results, renters called our leasing office before anyone else”, said Hunter. “By being the first property a renter visits, I don’t have to be saying “me too” as the prospect mentions amenities they have already seen somewhere else. The best part about SEO is that I get the first at bat and when those renters that visit us before any other property and sign a lease, I can avoid a price war with my neighbors.”
So if you are as concerned as many operators are that your units will not be able to fetch premium rents and you won’t keep occupancy at 100% what can you do to get Google working for you?
98% of all leases start with a search online. It can be on a phone a tablet or a PC or Mac it doesn’t matter; if your property is not in the search results it may as well not exist. So then why are renters calling you if you are not in the search results? The answer is, you are – you just happen to show up via a surrogate like an apartment listing service. ILS’s like Apartments.com are fantastic but as Mark Hunter put it “a cattle call is not the best place to get the highest rent”.
ILS’s are great but by nature they make you compete with other properties. If you want the highest rents and 100% occupancy you don’t want to compete you want to DOMINATE YOUR SPACE that means when someone even thinks about an apartment in your city your property company comes up! Working with the right apartment SEO and certified Google AdWords specialist can help you ensure that your community dominates as renters look for an apartment. If they come to you before they ever use an ILS you want have to compete in the cattle call.
The first step is knowing what the top searched keywords are in your city and where your website ranks for them. Multifamily Traffic has a dedicated research team that performs this as a free service for anyone. You can call that team directly and have your research back free of charge in less than 1 hour in most cases. They are available at 888-683-5885.
The next step is looking for a partner that can drive renters to you without asking you to make changes to your website or overcharging you for the work they do. There are many SEO providers that charge thousands per month for a mixed bag of results. You want to work with a firm that understands the industry and can guarantee results for a price you can fit in your budget.
Once you get your property to the top of the search results you will hear the results in the form of hundreds of calls to the leasing office. Make sure your staff is ready to follow up quickly. If you wait to set an appointment the renter is likely to go back to square one and look at an ILS placing both you and themselves right back in the “cattle call”.
About the author:
Matt Easton is EVP of MultiFamily Traffic the leading apartment SEO and digital marketing provider. MultiFamily Traffic works with 500 communities across the U.S resulting in thousands of leases signed every day. Matt can be reached at 303-803-7372 or www.MultiFamilyTraffic.com