SEO strategies for lease-ups vs. stabilized apartments should not look exactly the same. In this article, we’re going to focus on what your end goal is and then work backward in order to determine what kind of SEO campaign you actually need. Given all of our previous articles on what SEO is, we’ll assume our readers have a basic understanding and get right into SEO strategies for lease-ups versus stabilized communities.
Most apartment communities fall into two buckets; in lease-up or stabilized. Most marketing directors in the multi-family space tend to think of SEO during a lease-up or when ownership changes hands, as they should. But, what should also be considered are ownership’s end goals for a particular asset. Is ownership looking to “fill and flip” or “fill and hold” or “fill, flip and retain management?” What’s the desired timeline for those different scenarios?
Once we have determined the long-term goal of the ownership group, then we can prescribe the correct SEO strategy to support that goal.
I’m not holding my asset for longer than 12-months.
First and foremost you must consider how long you’re going to hold the asset before you determine your SEO strategy. If the goal is to sell the community in 12-14 months once it’s filled up, then don’t waste a lot of money on SEO. Do the basics; some onsite optimizations, create citations on the top 15 platforms, etc. and then spend the rest of your SEO budget on lead generation. After all, your goal is to sell the community quickly and SEO takes time before starting to pay dividends. A 12-month turn on a community means that you’ll just begin to see some ROI on your SEO campaign.
SEO Strategies for Lease-Ups (vs. Stabilized Apartments)- Lead Gen is everything in a quick lease-up like this so:
- Get rid of those useless ILS’s
- Spend $$ on GeoTargeted platforms like Yelp, Waze, Facebook, Instagram, Google, Gmail, Google Maps, etc.
- Do a basic SEO campaign that handles the top 15 citations, on-site optimizations, and keyword research
- Get 6-12 articles up on the site focused on neighborhood guides and hyper-local topics to cover the basic long tail keyword searches
- Fill that building
I’m going to hold my asset for longer than 12-months.
If your end goal is to hold the community for longer than 12-months, then SEO couldn’t be more important. Most of the benefits of good SEO don’t start to show themselves for at least 4 months and sometimes up to 6 months. However, when the SEO Gods shine on you, your URL will show above your competition for all kinds of relevant searches and the dividends will pay-off for years. Start your SEO campaign the minute you launch your website and run it for around 12 months and ensure that the campaign covers on-site, off-site, citation building, content creation (blogging), and delivers great reports on competitors and domain authority. Then, at the end of the campaign, do one more assessment to ensure all of the possible SEO elements available to you have been capitalized on and you’re good for at least 3 months. From there, check-in quarterly, keep blogging, garner lots of reviews on all of the review platforms, and you’ll see your organic traffic rise consistently.
So, the long and the short of timelines is, if you plan to own the asset for less than 14 months from the launch of your SEO campaign, put more money into Lead Generation. If you’re going to hold the asset for a longer period of time and/or indefinitely, then invest in SEO for at least 12 months, do quarterly audits, and you’ll see dividends for years to come.
SEO STRATEGY IDEAS for Stabilized Apartments (vs. Lease-Ups) – Holding your asset for longer than 12-months makes SEO an essential part of your marketing strategy, so invest in a full campaign including:
- Ensure you have done your competitor research and have benchmarks for your SEO team to shoot for
- Start the SEO campaign the minute your website is live
- Pick a community name and don’t change it…ever
- Invest in 4 blog articles-per-month for the first year and scale that down to 1 article-per-month after the first year
- Focus on citation building, backlinks, onsite optimizations, original content creation, and gaining as many legitimate reviews on platforms like GMB and Yelp as possible
THE COMMUNITY NAME IS PART OF YOUR SEO STRATEGY
At GTMA we work with a lot of real estate developers and third-party management companies and one common SEO blunder that we see revolves around changing the name of a community. When a website is indexed with the search engines the name of that community is tied to the actual URL and the content found on the website. This indexing is how the search engine algorithms will decide whether or not to show a given URL against a given set of keywords.
If you change the name you break that alignment between your business name, keywords, how the URL is categorized, and what’s on your website and you dramatically set back most of the SEO work that’s been done. In addition, the online real estate that so much money was spent to build loses a lot of value.
Our advice to developers or merchant builders is to stop worrying about building a brand if you’re going to sell the asset and start naming your communities something unique that is relevant to the hyper-local area where that community resides.
A naming grand slam would be when a community uses some local neighborhood keywords in the name and grabs a lot of online real estate surrounding “apartments” and whatever neighborhood and city that community exists within. If a developer is insistent upon using their brand name then our suggestion is to have that brand name follow the name of the community. For example “Apartment Name by Brand Name.” (but we really wouldn’t recommend that.)
THE VALUE OF YOUR ONLINE REAL ESTATE
Another point to consider when looking to decide what type of SEO campaign to run is that SEO done well will increase the value of your apartment community. When potential acquirers value a community, they should be looking at the amount of online real estate which that community owns and factoring that into the price paid for the physical real estate. If you’re a top community in a search that includes “apartments” and a location name like a neighborhood or a city, the value of that online real estate is truly priceless. To the point where when developing additional communities alongside your current asset, if possible, our suggestion is to build a “phase 2” and a “phase 3” and keep the name instead of continuing to build additional assets with new brand names that compete with one another.
In urban core neighborhoods there may be thousands of available apartment units and if your community has done SEO well, has a hyper-local neighborhood-friendly name, and has captured a lot of online real estate for a search like “midtown Atlanta apartments,” then your communities occupancy rates will be higher than most give the volume of organic search traffic you’ll enjoy.
In short, SEO builds the value of your domain as it directly correlates to the amount of organic search traffic your community receives and if your position is high in the organic search results your community should be valued at a higher amount.
In conclusion, at GTMA we believe in SEO and have seen the positive results that come from a comprehensive campaign. Google’s first page is now full of different possibilities for your community to show up. Whether it be in organic search results, in the Knowledge Panel, or in Local Packs for local search results, the SEO work that an agency like GTMA will do on your behalf gives you a better chance at increasing the value of your online real estate. In addition, answer some of these simple questions, like “how long will we hold the asset?” and “what’s a good name that will add SEO value?” and you’ll see even more success online. Use those questions to guide your choice of SEO strategies for lease-ups vs. stabilized apartments.
For a more in-depth breakdown of all of the SEO options that GTMA offers our client partners, reach out!
We are storytellers, passionate social experts, and real estate marketing specialists. We reach the millions of Americans who have incorporated digital platforms into their daily lives and tell stories that drive future residents out of the virtual space and through the front doors of communities. We design and execute unique comprehensive marketing campaigns for real estate.