Search engines are useful for just about everything we do online, from finding the best takeout in town and making informed household purchases to boosting our multifamily community’s brand image. In fact, 68 percent of all online experiences begin with a search engine, and the world’s most powerful search engine, Google, racks up about 5.6 billion searches every day.
However, simply being familiar with search engines and their incredible capabilities won’t get you any closer to those higher page rankings within the search engine itself. If your community wants prime access to the massive user base that search engines cater to, then you must invest in a solid SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, strategy – whether you apply your efforts to organic or paid search.
If you’re wondering about the differences between the two, you’ll be surprised to learn that it all breaks down pretty easily. Organic search traffic is generated by users who naturally stumble upon your website in search results. With organic search, ranking factors influence users' access to your brand online. Paid search, on the other hand, comes from those who click on your paid advertisement within a page of search results. Like its name implies, paid search requires that businesses pay the search engine for the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign.
When it comes to search rankings, it’s crucial to consider your competition within the market, which for many of us, are other apartment communities. As with any other business strategy, choosing to run with either organic or paid search tactics depends upon your property’s business goals, available labor, and marketing spend. Ultimately, your decision will be contingent upon the speed, volume, and frequency necessary to amplify your community’s message.
Paid advertisements can certainly provide results without the blood, sweat, and tears required of an organic strategy. Since paid search campaigns do the legwork for you, all you need to get started is an account with a digital advertising platform, like Google Ads. Once your account is registered, set a budget and start to immediately pull in leads with your PPC campaign. Because paid search is a “pay to play” system, you’ll enjoy the instant gratification so many of us have come to love in The Digital Age.
PPC campaigns will help your multifamily brand break through the noise and grab the attention of target audiences, whether they’d be students, seniors, or young professionals. After all, with billions of users globally, the World Wide Web is more crowded than ever before, and PPC ads allow businesses – especially those of us in the competitive multifamily market – to boost brand awareness by 80 percent. Additionally, 75 percent of consumers report that PPC campaigns make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for in a page of search results.
If you have the time and ability to nurture your organic search strategy, though, you will likely see better long-term results. Believe it or not, organic search is responsible for 53 percent of all website traffic, and 70 percent of marketers surveyed viewed the practice as more worthwhile than PPC. Better yet, Google and other reputable search engines consider organic search traffic as more valuable. This is largely because organic traffic is based upon the quality and relevance of your website offerings – two factors that search engines prioritize when ranking sites.
Nurturing your organic strategy starts with creating meaningful, keyword-optimized content. To put it simply, you must ensure that every page on your apartment marketing website contains relevant content designed to respond to users’ search inquiries. Remember, it’s important to construct your content – both on-page and in the back-end code – towards keywords that renters are actually searching for. Unsure what those are? Whatever you do, don’t guess! Turn to keyword research tools built for this exact purpose, such as SEMRush or AHREFS.
You’ll also want to pay attention to your website blog, social media channels, and online business listings, like Google My Business. Ensuring correct, consistent information across every online platform, business listing, or marketing resource reinforces consumer trust in your brand and makes it easier for potential residents to learn more about your community. Plus, it will solidify your community’s place as a reputable business in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
Are you still not sure whether you’d benefit more from organic or paid search? Luckily, you don’t have to commit solely to one or the other to see results. Many savvy apartment marketers utilize a combination of both organic SEO strategy and PPC campaigns to accomplish their business goals. For example, you could optimize your apartment marketing website with keyword-rich content that answers user’s search queries, then link it to a PPC campaign and watch the results pour in. This way, you’ll experience the best of both worlds, as your website pulls double duty and works to establish reputability with both site crawling bots and potential residents.
Search engine marketing is vital to any multifamily community hoping to engage leads and move them through the sales pipeline. Whether you’re interested in boosting your community’s visibility with paid ad campaigns or steadily building a rock-solid online reputation with a more organic approach, both search strategies offer two iron clad methods to build a digital footprint and improve your community’s occupancy rates. Allow your goals, resources, and budget to influence your decision between organic or paid search, and your brand will experience infinite growth opportunities across the world’s best high-traffic search engines.
Kerry W. Kirby is the founder of 365 Connect, an award-winning technology firm within the multifamily housing industry. An acclaimed speaker, author, and award-winning podcaster, Kerry has been a guest lecturer, presenter, and panelist at numerous universities, conferences, and events. He has been featured on the BBC Digital Planet program, NPR News, and various media outlets. Kerry has contributed to an array of articles and studies on real estate and technology, presented in over 135 webcast reaching over one-million listeners from around the world, and is often quoted as an expert in technology.
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