By Jeremy Lawson (MultiFamilyExecutive.com Article) — One could assume the customer journey for your community starts in the online search bar—and, more than likely, in a Google search engine. Recent statistics indicate that Google generates more than 68% of global searches. More importantly, 50% of “near me” searches lead to site visits within 24 hours, and 18% lead to purchases within a day, according to Google.
Some prospects start with a long-tail search, such as “pet-friendly apartments with washer and dryer near Downtown Kansas City,” while others are briefer and a little more specific: “apartments near Crown Center.”
With Google updating its algorithm hundreds of times a year, how does a community stand out against the competition? Here are six ways:
1. Make sure your company listing is 100% accurate. With the click of a button, a user can suggest an edit to your Google business listing to include updating the address, switching the map marker, or even modifying your website address. In moments, your information can change, so ensure your marketing team checks listings regularly and corrects misinformation. Both your leads and leases depend on it.
2. Pay attention to Google reviews. With 90% of customers sourcing reviews as having an impact on their buying decisions, Google looks at reviews as an endorsement of trust from users and rewards those businesses with better visibility. By default, listings with more reviews will show up first in a search on mobile and desktop. Give it a try. Where does your community rank? The good news is your team has 100% control of this piece.
3. Pay attention to website reviews, too. Not only do Google reviews make an impact on your search placement, but website reviews also give credibility to your listing. Fresh content is king when it comes to SEO, and reviews are the best source for a boost. Additionally, when a customer lands on your page, reviews often keep them on your site longer. Statistically speaking, the longer a user stays on your page, the more likely they are to take the next step to call or lease. Placing your property on other listing sites can also assist in generating new reviews and drive trust among potential customers. A quick Google search for your community with the word “reviews” can illustrate how your property ranks across the Web.
4. Make your presence known on social media. Is your team engaging on social sites? They should be. According to a study by Hootsuite, there is a positive correlation between social engagements and change in rank. Now, this doesn’t mean you should drop everything and spam all of your followers with content. Just like you, customers want quality posts, which lead to organic engagement and even higher rankings.
5. Don’t stop improving. It doesn’t take an SEO expert to help make an impact on your community’s search results, even if your company has a partner or resource on hand to assist. Nothing can take the place of an on-site team, which knows both the community and the residents better than anyone else. From posting on social media about upcoming area events to regularly auditing listings, on-site teams can make a huge contribution to the overall search performance.
6. Get up to speed. Regularly analyze and test your website page loading speeds, which affect search engine rankings and placement. Google wants their customer’s experience to be a positive one and penalizes rankings if sites have slow loading speeds.