At Generation Marketing, we have worked on thousands of Google My Business (GMB) listings and have seen firsthand the incredible effect this tool can have on driving traffic to any property if utilized correctly.
Local SEO is the act of optimizing your website and Google listing to rank highly in local searches. A local search is any search that includes a location, such as, “Apartments in Los Angeles, CA.” Having a high rank for these searches is beneficial because it connects you with people who are looking for apartments now.
Before we begin, we’d like to share some statistics on why local SEO is important:
– 46% of all Google searches are for local businesses (Source: Web FX).
– Google processes an average of 7 billion searches per day.
– 92% of searchers select businesses on the first page of search results (Source: SEO expert).
The bottom line? If you do this correctly, you can get a crazy amount of calls to your business.
Don’t believe me?
Check out this Google listing from one of our own clients:
That’s 473 calls from this listing alone – that doesn’t include people who visited the site and then converted.
What could 473 prospect calls do for your property?
Before we begin, you should set a goal to give you something to work towards. Setting a benchmark for success is very important.
Below are two great goals you could set for your Google listing:
1) Set a call goal based on how many calls you’re currently getting. I would recommend setting a goal of at least 100 calls per month.
2) Strive to ensure that the top 10 queries that are ranking your listing are all unbranded. This means that people are finding you without using your business name and are therefore still in discovery. See an example below:
See how the top queries for the site are all unbranded? This proves that all the leads coming in likely didn’t know about your business prior to finding it on Google, which is great!
Now let’s get into how you can craft the perfect GMB profile.
One thing to remember when setting up your profile is that Google values UX above all else. If you’re showing that you care about your customers, you will have better odds of success.
a) The first step is to CLAIM your listing! You wouldn’t believe how many properties we’ve seen that haven’t claimed their listing. This means they can’t respond to reviews, update property information, or do anything at all. If you haven’t done so already, you can claim your business here: google.com/business.
b) Keyword research: The goal is to rank for popular keywords in your area, so the first step is to conduct keyword research. Head over to this free keyword tool and find some keywords with a high amount of traffic volume per month. Next, throw them into Google to see if there is a local 3-pack on there (see the image below). If there is, you’re good to go! Here is an example.
If this google maps pack pops up, this is a good keyword for you to focus on!
If not, you have a very low chance at getting traffic because you’ll be competing with giants such as Apartments.com and Zillow. If you only select keywords that have a local 3-pack, then you’re ensuring you only compete with other properties, which gives you a fighting chance at some high rankings. Try and find 5 keywords with a local 3-pack feature and sprinkle them in your GMB property description and across your property website.
c) Select multiple categories. Adding more categories is vital because it makes you relevant for more keywords. More keywords = more calls and leads for your business. Remember to make your primary category the one that is most relevant to your business. Some good categories to add are:
– Apartment building
– Apartment complex
– Student housing center
– Apartment rental agency
– Real estate rental agency
– Furnished apartment building
– Assisted living facility
Make sure all of the categories you add are relevant to your business though! If you don’t do student housing, don’t add it to your listing.
d) Add as many photos as you can, but try and get at least 5 photos per photo category, as that can make a huge difference!
e) Write an in-depth description of your property in the “About” section. Try and make it as long as Google allows. When Google sees you adding as much information as possible, they see that you actually care about your users. Sprinkle your 5 keywords in here, if you can do it naturally.
f) Add a profile short name. This is a new feature and Google tends to give an edge to businesses that take advantage of their newer features.
g) Make a posting schedule. A good schedule would be once per week + every time you’re running a special.
h) Respond to all reviews. This shows that you care about your customers and it can influence your online reputation, which leads to better conversions overall.
a) Turn on messaging. Giving leads multiple options for contacting you will increase your conversions.
b) Virtual tours. You can access Google’s directory of trusted “street view” professionals here: https://www.google.com/streetview/contacts-tools/. Hire one of them and have them add a virtual tour to your listing. This will keep people on your listing longer.
c) Ask questions about your business from a personal profile and answer them from your business page. Many people that are interested in your property will have questions. If they don’t see quick answers to those questions, they might not end up contacting you. You can reduce that number by asking all of the questions you can and then providing answers from your business page. This should increase your conversions as well. Here is what the questions section looks like:
d) Consider adding the word “apartments” to the name of your property. Since many searches include the word “apartments,” having this in your business name can make you more relevant and secure higher rankings.
e) Make sure you mark which holidays your property is closed.
f) Add your floorplans in the “products” section. Add all of the relevant information and link the button to your floorplans page on your website. Too often properties neglect this feature!
g) Set an “online appointments” link in Google My Business to improve your CTR. Setting this gives you a green check mark in search results like this:
b) Posting consistently – These posts show that you’re active and care about your users. Also, as this is still a relatively new feature, it can help your ranking to show that you’re utilizing it.
c) Local links – Getting more backlinks to your website proves to Google that you’re a reputable and established business. Try and get as many links as possible from other sites, especially sites that are local to your area. If you’re in Los Angeles, an example would be a website that only shows properties in Los Angeles.
a) Link to your website with a UTM link. Google shows traffic coming from your GMB listing as “organic” traffic in Google Analytics, but it’s always good to create a UTM link so that you can track the conversions from GMB easily. That way, you can go to the “Campaigns” tab in Google Analytics and see all the traffic and conversions from your GMB efforts clearly.
b) Conversion tracking: Once leads visit your website from your listing, it’s important for you to know exactly how they interacted with your site. Did they call? Email? Submit a contact form? Conversion tracking can tell you this. We recommend setting up Google Tag Manager and creating goals in Google Analytics from there. This is a bit more complex task if you’re a beginner, so we recommend asking your developer or a marketing expert to set this up for you.
c) Tracking numbers: Having a tracking number on your listing instead of your regular property phone number will help you track your phone calls and record the conversations (as long as state law allows). This will make it easier for you to pinpoint which residents discovered you via Google My Business. Unlike the other items on this list, this one isn’t a must, it’s more of an added plus.
d) CRM: If you have an advanced CRM system, such as Yardi CRM, it should be able to provide you with tracking numbers, conversion tracking, and even multi-touch attribution models. Having this type of CRM makes your framework for success ideal, but this article should provide adequate resources to succeed without it.
With local searches surging every year, GMB has become a valuable source of leads for multifamily owners and operators. It’s important to remember that the key to a strong GMB profile is keeping it active and engaging with leads and residents.
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