Targeting Residents with SEO + PPC
By Jon Simpson
In the world of multifamily marketing, “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO) and it’s cousin “Pay-Per-Click” advertising (PPC) are important to driving qualified prospects to your website and apartment community. It may seem simple enough to think of digital presence in the terms of Field of Dreams -- if you build it, they will come. Sadly, it’s not so simple. Think of it this way:
Remember the days of paper flyers? Flyers used to be one of the main marketing tools for musical shows or events. Think of your website as a paper flyer. SEO allows you to set out stacks of flyers in places where your prospective renters are most likely to be (via search engines). This would be like posting your fliers in local music stores or coffee shops.
PPC is more aggressive approach to this. Rather than leaving behind flyers, PPC acts as a direct hand-off. It’s like sending your guitar player out (flyers in hand) to distribute them to a crowd that’s likely to come. It takes more money and effort, but it often produces greater results.
SEO + Keyword Research
SEO is the art and science of inching your way up in Google’s rankings. Keywords are vital to optimizing your search engine presence. The process with strategy -- understanding what your prospective renters are interested in, what they’re mostly likely to search for, and what they value, then mapping the unique value that your property offers to these interests.
The best way to accomplish this is through creating personas. Most multifamily properties approach SEO backwards: this is what I want someone to find. Instead, you should approach SEO from the searcher’s perspective. What are their needs and their habits? What frustrates them, interests them, confuses them? It’s important to rank for your property name, yes, but if they’ve never heard of you, how are they going to search it. Thinking in terms of what a renter might search first and foremost will help you develop the keywords that count in attracting prospects.
Once you’ve developed your list of search phrases, the next step is to incorporate those topics and keywords into your website, blog posts, social media, links, code, etc. This allows search engines like Google to index your keywords and associate them with your property. This may seem like a lot of effort, and in many ways, SEO is a longterm approach -- it takes time to implement, and time to see ranking results, but it’s an investment that pays off greatly over time.
When we understand what residents are searching for (and how they’re searching), we can target them better than anyone else.
PPC + Targeted Traffic
While SEO is the organic approach to driving traffic, PPC is paid. That is, you’re paying for each click into your website (hence the name, “pay-per-click”). PPC is the act of directly distributing your flyers to a relevant audience, but only paying for those who take a look (click into your website).
PPC ads display at the top or in the sidebar of search engine results. They are differentiated from the organic search results by a yellow “Ad” symbol.
A successful PPC campaign combines your keyword research and your insights to design highly-targeted ads that drive traffic to your website. It’s important to note that well-qualified traffic is the result of research and continued testing. Too many properties “set it and forget it” when it comes to PPC. Understanding your residents should be an on-going learning process and the foundation of any SEO or PPC campaign (not to mention, all digital marketing strategy).
Partners in Crime
SEO and PPC are partners in crime when it comes to driving traffic to your multifamily property. They work in tandem with each other, and yet serve slightly different purposes. SEO focuses on building a long-term presence in search engines, while PPC can be used to drive quick results if necessary (e.g., to promote leasing specials or the opening of a new multifamily property). Both are advantageous, if not essential, for driving traffic in today’s cluttered apartment market.
“Jon Simpson is the C.E.O. and founder of Criterion.B an agency focused on branding and inbound marketing for the commercial real estate and multifamily housing industry.”