These days, it’s more important than ever for your property to capitalize on various digital marketing strategies, such as verifying and optimizing your business listing in Google My Business, in order to reach modern prospective residents.
Why, you might ask?
Well, it’s estimated that one-third of renters seek out apartment listings via internet search engine. With Google’s ever-prospering presence and our reliability on their products, there’s good reason to believe that most of those searches begin and end with Google, which averages 5.5 billion searches per day.
Google is also incredibly business-friendly and has introduced several applications that were specifically designed to help business owners boost their online presence, like the ever-evolving Google My Business (GMB). But despite the application’s user-friendly interface, GMB leaves plenty of room for human error with its constant changes and innovations. Unfortunately for you, this results in account flagging, or in worst case scenarios, deleted listings. Don’t allow all the time and effort you put into your Google My Business listing to go to waste! Nip all mistakes in the bud with our suggestions for avoiding the 7 most common mistakes on GMB.
Mistake #1: Adding SEO Keywords to Your Property’s Business Name.
You may think that adding SEO keywords to your property’s business name is a good way to cram a lot of information into a bite-sized informational field, but doing so only detracts from your business’s standing with the search engine giant. There’s no need to add unnecessary words into your name field—it’s considered keyword stuffing and could signal to Google that something is amiss with your credibility as a legitimate business listing. Keep in mind that if your business is flagged by Google for appearing fraudulent in any way, it can result in lasting damage to your online reputation.
Depending on how misleading your listing is, you may be slapped with either a “soft” or “hard” suspension. A soft suspension will bar you from managing your listing but will not remove it from Google’s search results. It’s similar to falling out of Google verification, and it typically requires re-verifying the listing by receiving a call to your business phone number or a postcard to your business address with a numbered verification code.
For the unlucky few hit with a hard suspension, you can expect complete removal of your business listing from search results, maps, and all other Google applications. In order to get your listing up and running again, you’ll have to contact Google directly with a solid argument as to why your listing should be reinstated. It’s not impossible to do, but you’ll need to be prepared with plenty of evidence that supports the legitimacy of your business such as photos of your address placard or lobby.
Again, it’s important to keep your business name clear, concise, and consistent across all social channels including GMB.
Mistake #2: Claiming a Location That Is Not Yet Open for Business.
We totally get it! You have a new community still under construction that you just cannot wait to promote online. Not to mention, you’ve heard from many renowned digital marketing professionals that you need to establish your digital footprint as soon as possible—sometimes when the thought of a new business is even just a mere twinkle in your eye.
However, don’t put the cart before the horse. Your brick-and-mortar business needs to have a valid mailing address or telephone number in order to verify your business listing in Google. And, if you’re still hanging drywall, you might not be there just yet. Keep in mind that you only have a certain number of attempts to verify your phone number or address with Google, so don’t take this step of the process lightly! It’s one of the most vital and could significantly have an impact on the traffic driven to your marketing website.
If you take away any piece of information from this blog, it should be this: The point of Google verification is to establish yourself as a legitimate business. So, if you have to wait for that to happen, then in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Mistake #3: Adding Incorrect Information Regarding Your Apartment Community.
If your business is experiencing failing search results despite your newfound efforts in the digital marketing realm, check the website URL and phone number found on your Google My Business listing. Odds are, it is outdated, incorrect, or missing key information altogether. Keep in mind that all information regarding your property must be consistent across all of your digital channels. It’s called NAPW—name, address, phone number, website—consistency.
For example, if the website address is pointing to a URL that does not belong to your company, your business will not only miss out on valuable, lead-generating traffic, but it will also be at the mercy of Google. Google penalizes businesses with incorrect listing information. In other words, if a website address on your listing leads to anything other than a full-fledged marketing website or a relevant landing page, Google will not be a happy camper.
When it comes to phone numbers, the number you include on your Google My Business listing must reach someone within your company once dialed. Businesses who list tracking or call center numbers are setting themselves up for disappointing results. While tracking numbers can provide fantastic insight into your call-driven traffic, it’s important to Google (and potential residents!) that your number appears local. For example, Manhattan properties should always have 212 area codes in their numbers as opposed to something electronically generated like 866 or, worse, 1-800.
But, don’t forget that NAPW consistency also includes close monitoring of your property name and address, which will also solidify your brand in the eyes of your prospects, current residents, and of course, Google.
Mistake #4: Failing to Upload Photos of Your Property.
Photographs are one of the many assets you can use to showcase your community, but many property management companies seem to take them for granted. Not only should you step away from the smartphone when it comes to photographing your community, but you should also seriously consider investing in professional shots of your apartment home model as well as the property at-large, including all of its five-star amenities. Your apartment is essentially a product that you’re trying to sell, so what better way to appeal to prospective renters across the web than highlighting it in its most flattering light?
Research shows that posts including images produce 650 percent higher engagement than text-only posts. This is because visual content is growing increasingly popular on social media. Coupled with our 8-second attention spans, visual content remains memorable and effective in the eyes of the consumer, allowing us to process, understand, and retain information quickly and efficiently. And in the immortal words of business owners everywhere, “The customer knows best.” So, appeal to yours with beautifully composed photos of your property.
Mistake #5: Obtaining an Insufficient Number of Online Reviews for Your Property.
Consider the last time you purchased anything of significance online—or, really anything at all. You most likely conducted extensive research on the product itself and read a number of reviews from other buyers on multiple websites. You may have even crowdsourced opinions via social media. This is modern consumerism, plain and simple. You not only want to learn about the product, but you also want to explore the product’s usability, quality, and value from other purchasers.
In the same vein, every day, millions of people search the web for businesses who can help them achieve a specific goal. These clients research companies for services offered and satisfaction rates. And while Google doesn’t necessarily penalize businesses who lack reviews, the companies that do won’t be rewarded with more prospective business, either.
Many business owners realize the importance of reviews, but feel uncomfortable asking for them—they rather allow them to occur organically. But, they don’t always, and sometimes, if they do, it’s not the type of review you’re seeking. If this applies to you, try reaching out to a few trusted residents, former renters, or employees who are familiar with your property. Let them know how important their opinion is and encourage them to share their personal experiences with your community on your social media channels. Even if you start small with just one or two reviews, it is certainly a step up from no reviews at all.
Also, when it comes to reviews, don’t forget to check them regularly. Address any problematic reviews head-on, but don’t forget to respond to favorable ones as well. It’s important to put this tactic into practice consistently, so you can continue to encourage current and former residents to submit those five stars while actively monitoring any potentially damaging reviews that might (and most likely, will) pop up at some point.
Mistake #6: Hosting Duplicate Listings of Your Apartment Community.
This mistake is all too common in our industry and could carry with it many heavy consequences. First things first: a business with multiple listings on Google simply looks disorganized, careless, and unappealing to potential renters. If you cannot even manage your online presence, how could you possibly handle the chaos that is property management?
Secondly, it confuses potential leads, especially if each listing contains differing information. Internet listings exist for this very reason—to drive leads to your business phone, marketing website, or the front door of your leasing center. Potential renters won’t waste time calling several different numbers to determine the correct one. Instead, they will simply move on to the next potential place of residence on their list—and without a second thought.
Finally – and perhaps, most importantly – Google doesn’t like duplicate listings. Not only do multiple listings violate Google’s terms of service, but they also clog up search results with what looks like inaccurate information. Consequently, Google will remove these duplicate listings with haste, so make sure your actual listing doesn’t get eliminated on Google My Business due to a negligent duplicate listing.
We understand that with high turnover and the frequent sale of properties from one property management company to another, social media passwords and access to various online accounts can get lost in the shuffle, but it is vital to request access to all new property listings as soon as you are able. This way, you can quickly start the process of reclaiming and reverifying your GMB listing if your request is not responded to within seven days.
Mistake #7: Using Incorrect Categorization on Your GMB Listing.
Google’s “Category” field maintains a very important search tool for users, which means it’s crucial for you to make use of them on your business listing. Many businesses make the mistake of choosing too many categories or categories that do not accurately explain what the company does. Again, Google views this as inaccurate, or “bad” information for your end user. It’s not unusual for Google to pick up on your usage of the incorrect categories, or an excess of them, then flag your account for misinformation.
If your listing’s categories are deemed as such, it can even affect properties that have already verified their address or phone number through the GMB verification process.
Instead of juggling several categories, pick one or two that most accurately describes your business. You may need to spend some time narrowing down your options (there are over 2,000 categories to choose from), but once you’ve confidently nailed down your category, you’ll be one step closer to effectively reaching your target audience and locking down your leads. Pro tip: For apartment communities, “Apartment Complex” and “Apartment Building” are your best bets.
Google My Business is a fantastic tool for business owners, who’d like to better manage their online presence. However, there are certain rules that must be followed in order to succeed and improve your apartment community’s online impressions. Give your GMB listing some much needed TLC and your property will surely reap the rewards that only a fully-optimized and verified Google My Business listing can supply.