When it comes to SEO for multifamily websites, most only go as far as inserting keywords in meta tags and page copy before moving on. But there’s one hugely important element to your apartment community’s SEO strategy that you might be overlooking: the Google+ Page. Google+ should be the core of any good Local SEO strategy, and making sure that your apartment community’s page is fully optimized can be the difference between SEO being a major lead driver or a major dud. Here are 11 steps for making sure your apartment community’s Google+ page is optimized for multifamily SEO success:
1. You Down With NAP?
The most critical element of your apartment community’s Google+ page–and local SEO efforts in general–is nailing your NAP. No, I’m not referring to a mid-day siesta beneath your desk. NAP refers to your community’s Name, Address, and Phone number. Making sure your NAP is accurate on your Google+ page and consistent on every other site around the web is what separates SEO winners from SEO losers. The more Google can trust that your Name, Address, and Phone Number are correct, the higher up your Google+ page can potentially rank. That means that tracking phone numbers, leasing office suite numbers, and even additional descriptors in your business name are off limits. To get this right, only use your community’s official business name, a permanent local phone number, and the main address of where the community receives mail and visits from potential renters.
2. Add Ur URL
When adding your community website URL to its Google+ profile, there is one main factor to consider: Is your website a single location community website or is it a multi-location corporate website? If it’s a single location community website, use the home page URL in your Google+ page. If it’s a multi-location corporate website, you want to link directly to that specific community’s landing page. For example, if your website for Main St. Apartments is mainstapartments.com, you’d add that URL to your Google+ page. But if Main St. Apartments is listed on your corporate site for ABC Properties, you’d want to add the URL to the Main St. Apartments landing page, abcproperties.com/communities/mainstapartments. And if you love advanced SEO tracking and metrics as much as I do, tag your URL with UTM tracking parameters so you can track this traffic right in Google Analytics.
3. Categorizing Your Community
Getting your Google+ page categories right is a no-brainer. You want Google to know what it is your business actually does. Currently, the main categories you should be using for your apartment community are “Apartment Building” and “Apartment Complex”, but depending on the specifics of your community, you may also want to use “Furnished Apartment Building” or “Student Housing Center”. Use this Google+ category research tool to be sure you’re taking full advantage.
4. Hour Power
When a prospective renter comes across your community’s Google+ page in search or Maps results, Google will prominently display whether your office is currently open or closed. They get this information right from the “Hours” section on your Google+ page. This doesn’t currently factor into their ranking algorithm, but it’s not hard to imagine a world where Google will display businesses that are currently open over businesses that show as closed, especially to people searching on mobile devices. In any case, you want to make sure the Hours section of your page is filled out and accurate at all times.
5. Pick Your Pictures
This is where Google gives you the chance to visually showcase your gorgeous apartment community, so take full advantage! Add an engaging profile photo of your logo or the front of your building, create a stunning banner image that incorporates your community’s branding and highlights it’s unique attributes, and upload the dozens of photos showing off floorplans, amenities, and location. Make sure to use high-quality photos that tell your community’s story – these photos show up in Maps and Search Results as well as on your Google+ page, so it’s important to get this right. For extra optimization, geotag your photos once you upload them to your page to send an extra location relevance signal to Google, which can help your page rank better.
6. Introduce Yourself
The “Introduction” section of your apartment community’s Google+ page serves as it’s official description when people see the page. It is also used as the meta description that Google displays when the page shows in search results. Use this opportunity to write a compelling introduction that is descriptive of your unique community, listing popular amenities, surrounding neighborhoods, and nearby points of interest. Most importantly, you want to avoid stuffing the introduction with a bunch of spammy keywords all for SEO’s sake. Write in a natural way to attract potential renters and you’ll do just fine.
7. Get Verified
Before your community’s Google+ page can be actively shown in search results, you’re going to have to verify it. Sometimes Google will allow you to do this through an automated call, but most of the time you have to verify through a postcard mailed to the address listed on the page. The problem with this is that it can take at least a few weeks for this postcard to arrive, if at all. One of the advantages of working with GTMA is we can get your Google+ page verified almost immediately due to our relationship with Google.
8. Destroy the Duplicates
Google is usually pretty good about informing you when a duplicate Google+ page for your community already exists, but these get overlooked, especially in instances where tracking phone numbers were previously used or another variation of the community name was used by former owners. To uncover these hidden duplicate listings, be sure to search Google, Google Maps, Google+ Local, and Google Mapmaker during the setup process of your page so you can be sure to claim and delete these pesky listings that can really limit your search engine ranking potential.
9. Review Your Reviews
In addition to being a social network and a local business directory, Google+ is also a review platform. Sure, it’s not as active as Yelp in the review game, but it’s definitely a site where you don’t want to take your reputation lightly. Monitor the reviews that come into your Google+ page as often as possible, respond to these reviews to show users that you’re listening and that you care, and encourage your residents to leave your community a review on your Google+ page. Not only are reviews an excellent way to show prospective residents what life is like at your community, reviews are also a huge ranking factor to help your page get better visibility in search results. Google also displays snippets of your reviews in the “Knowledge Graph” sidebar in search results as well as directly underneath your map pin in Google Maps, so it’s important to make sure your community is being represented accurately and in a positive light on one of the biggest websites on the Internet.
10. Customize That URL
Google now offers custom URLs for Google+ pages, which allow you to set a short, branded web address to your Google+ page that’s easy to remember. You can’t set this up immediately, but a short time after you verify your page, Google will display a banner at the top of your page to select your custom URL, which will typically be a variation of the business name you use on your page accompanied by some location descriptors. When you see this banner with the custom URL option pop up, go ahead and confirm that right away.
11. Don’t Stop Posting!
Once you’ve gotten everything set up on your Google+ page, the last thing you want to do is let it go stale. Google wants page owners to keep their pages active by updating their business information, responding to reviews, and posting content to their page. If you’ve posted within the last 21 days, Google will display your latest post in the “Knowledge Graph” sidebar when prospective renters search for your community. Also, Google uses the first 45-50 characters of each post as its title in search results, so make sure the first sentence of your posts are compelling and descriptive of the content you’re sharing.
Sure, there are a lot of steps, but each one is imperative in order to look good on Google. You do want your apartment community to rank, right? Of course, our SEO team here at GTMA can do the heavy lifting for you.
Any questions, comments, or feedback? Let us know in the comments or reach out to us on Twitter at @GoToMyApartment.