Google My Business is one of the strongest marketing tools multifamily operators need to master in order to make their properties stand out. If used efficiently, GMB listings will drive those looking for a new apartment to the on-site leasing office, and that’s one of the first steps in converting prospects into residents.
As opposed to pay-per-click in Google Ads and search engine optimization, GMB is free. The tool has a unique search algorithm that allows apartment operators to fill in descriptions of their properties, add photos and even post relevant info to draw attention to their business.
READ ALSO: 4 Tips for Choosing the Right Keywords for Apartment Marketing
“Multifamily operators should be taking the time to understand and fully utilize the tools Google has provided in the GMB platform because they’re designed to give the user detailed information and additional opportunity to click through to your website,” Catriona Orosco, director of Yardi’s RENTCafé Reach, told Multi-Housing News.
Building a strong GMB profile
After claiming the listing and ensuring that everyone in the marketing team has access to it, the next most important step is to make sure that the key details—such as the address of the property, phone number, website etc.—are accurate.
“The opportunity goes well beyond those basics. Office hours, photos, products such as floorplan images, are all opportunities to showcase what’s unique and important about your property,” Orosco said.
Adding high-quality photos, videos or 360 views to a GMB listing is another way to make a GMB listing stand out. These elements are among the first that catch a prospect’s attention and they also build trust with the audience. Additionally, they will give potential residents a realistic look at what the community is like.
According to Louis Schiavone, content marketing director at Love & Co., a marketing company that focuses on senior living communities, adding links to social media accounts is also an easy way to enhance the effectiveness of a GMB profile, and simultaneously give prospects an opportunity to learn more about and get in touch with a community.
Furthermore, having a well-moderated review platform where prospects can read verified reviews and official responses is also critical.
“Reviews can be a great way to identify issues you might not be aware of, and your handling of those issues is important to your future prospects. Always be professional and courteous in your responses,” Orosco advised.
PODCAST: Reviewing for Success: Why Reputation Matters
One of the latest features GMB offers is Google Posts, a tool that enables multifamily operators to post content directly into the search engine results pages. Love & Co. has been using it since March to get their messages in front of online searchers.
“For example, for a client in the Raleigh, N.C., area, we made a post about the community’s reopening/vaccination status and linked the post to a blog about their vaccination campaign. It generated more than 2,000 views and more than 20 clicks, all without paying for any search or ad placements,” Schiavone told MHN. “The only downsides are that posts expire and only one post is visible at a time, so you need to be aware of their expiration and update/republish accordingly.”
Orosco noted that although people will not always scroll through Google Posts, it is still important to make regular updates and highlight amenities, specific floorplans, community events or call out local businesses.
Tracking GMB performance
Multifamily operators can check key metrics of their GMB performance through the platform’s built-in admin dashboard that tracks interactions such as calls and messages, search results, and customer actions such as website clicks.
“GMB is a great way for prospects to learn about your property and it’s important to understand if that traffic is also engaging with your leasing staff. (Property managers) should be aware of how much traffic they’re getting from their GMB profile and whether that traffic is converting into leads. If it’s not, it’s important to take a look at both your business listings and your website to find opportunities to better convert traffic,” Orosco said.
To check how GMB listings are performing, Love & Co. runs weekly reports for their clients. This way, they make sure they haven’t missed any new reviews that need to be answered.
“For clients that use the GMB profile and service, we usually work on their profiles about an hour a week. Most of the work comes in the initial setup and optimization phase, which can take four to eight hours,” Schiavone noted.
Optimizing and updating GMB listings is time-effective and rewarding in apartment marketing. And, according to Orosco, thinking strategically about what’s important to both prospects and Google will enhance multifamily operators’ chances to outshine their competition.