If you read our Quick and Dirty SEO Tips for Apartment Marketing, then you know that 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search results. That means it’s incredibly important to rank on the first page of Google results if you want to earn any organic website traffic. But in our increasingly digital world, that fact probably doesn’t surprise you. These days, apartment marketers, owners, and managers all know that SEO is important, but not everyone knows where to start.
We’ve discussed SEO Tips before, but today we want to zero in on Keyword Research—how to do it and why it matters. Not only is Keyword Research an essential step when creating a real estate website, but keyword research can also help you create more effective search ads and understand your target audience better.
So if you’re not sure how to conduct keyword research (or whether you really need to), this is the post for you! Let’s start by exploring some of the reasons why keyword research is absolutely essential to your digital apartment marketing strategy (and how it can help other areas of your real estate marketing plan too).
Why Keyword Research is a Must
Most of the time, keyword research is discussed as the first step of your SEO strategy. After all, optimizing your rank in Google search results requires knowing the keywords your audience searches for so that you can use those keywords in on-page SEO efforts (such as incorporating those keywords into your website headers, meta descriptions, and page titles). Trying to improve your SEO without first performing keyword research could result in a lot of wasted time and effort without much payoff in the form of website traffic or conversions. That’s because you’re just guessing at what keywords people actually use when searching for housing like yours, and your best guess only goes so far. It’s much more effective to take a data-based approach.
But keyword research doesn’t just help SEO efforts. It also leads to more effective messaging, ad targeting, UX design, and so much more. That’s because it helps you understand your audience more effectively. Seeing what search terms are most popular when searching for apartments like yours can reveal what’s most important to your audience. It can show you what floor plans they prefer, which local hotspots they care about being close to, or how important it is to be pet-friendly. Knowing about your audience’s priorities helps you bridge the gap between your prospects and your property by enabling you to emphasize the features they are looking for.
One of the specific and direct ways in which this improved audience understanding can help you is when it comes to paid search ad strategy. Knowing how your audience searches empowers you to build more effective search ads that are relevant to your audience’s priorities and are a genuinely strong match based on their search query. That way your search ad headlines, descriptions, and snippets present a user with information that doesn’t appear out-of-place for their search query.
How To Identify The Best Keywords To Target
To identify the best keywords to target in your digital apartment marketing strategies like on-page SEO and paid search ads, you first need to access a keyword research tool. This is a tool that will help you see the search volume and competitiveness of different keyword variations, helping you find the most relevant and most advantageous keywords being used.
There are many keyword research tools available online, but today we’ll touch on just two of them: Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush. Google Keyword Planner has the distinct advantage of being free when you create a Google business account. SEMRush, on the other hand, is the most popular paid keyword research tool available today and offers some additional functionality. Both these tools allow you to type in a keyword (for example, “apartments in Toronto”) and output a list of related keywords alongside their search volumes and competitiveness. Both also allow you to search for keyword ideas based on a website URL (for example, the website of a competitor).
The main difference between Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush is that those who pay for SEMrush enjoy the option of getting a deeper dive into the keyword strategies of your competitors and where you can most easily beat them at their own game. SEMrush also offers more nuanced representations of the competitiveness of a certain keyword; rather than telling you whether the competition is low, medium, or high, it provides a numerical “competitive density” value as well as a “keyword difficulty” rating. This helps you see both how difficult it would be to rank for a given keyword as well as how many of your competitors are actually trying to rank for it, which is a sometimes subtle, but important distinction.
Regardless of what tool you choose, the basic strategy in selecting your target keywords is simple: find the relevant keywords with the highest search volume and the lowest keyword difficulty possible. This is the sweet spot where ranking for these keywords will actually help you earn added site traffic (because many people are searching for these terms) and there’s not so much competition for the keyword already that your efforts are unlikely to get you within the first page of Google results for those keywords.
Every keyword research journey starts with a query into your tool of choice, but where do you start exploring? Below, we discuss how to get started once you’ve selected your keyword research tool.
Start With Common Sense
When it comes to keyword research, your intuition is a great place to start. Think: if I were a potential resident for this apartment community and others like it, what would I search for? Start relatively broad, with terms like “apartments in Austin” or “Birmingham student apartments” and see what comes up. If your search is broad enough and common enough, a tool like SEMrush or Google Keyword Planner will then pull in an entire list of related keywords, allowing you to compare and contrast among the results. Remember, you’re after the variations with the best balance of high search volume and low difficulty or competitiveness, without straying beyond what’s relevant to your product.
As you see additional variations, you can repeat the process by using one of these variations as your new query to generate a new list of keywords that are related to that keyword. For example, say you search “apartments in Austin” and “2-bedroom apartments in Austin” comes up in the related keywords. You might then search “2-bedroom apartments in Austin” and see more options like “2-bedroom apartments in East Austin,” “2-bedroom apartments in downtown Austin,” etc. As you explore, be sure to keep track of the metrics of the promising keywords you find so that you can make a list of relevant keywords you want to target, organized by priority. Both Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush have useful “save” or “add to plan” options that can help you collect your list without having to write it all down manually.
See What Competitors Are Doing
Don’t forget that keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush allow you to explore keywords that a specific URL is ranking for! You can use this to check in on your competitors and see what they’re up to. This not only helps you see what you’re up against, but it can also be a useful shortcut to identifying keywords that may be relevant to your product too. Type in some of your competitors’ websites to see where their traffic is coming from and identify areas where you might be able to rank for the same keywords (SEMrush is a great tool for this, but Google Keyword Planner works decently as well).
However, keep in mind that you are not your competitor, so the keywords that drive traffic and conversions for them may not always work for you. For example, if you are a C-Class property and there’s an A-Class property nearby ranking for keywords that include the word “luxury,” that may not apply to your property. Even if you manage to drive traffic by incorporating “luxury”-related keywords, you’re unlikely to see conversions from users who arrive at your site after looking specifically for a luxury apartment. Once they arrive, they’ll realize your property isn’t what they were looking for and usually bounce quickly, which can actually hurt your SEO rankings in the long run.
How To Apply Your Findings
Now that you’ve completed your keyword research, how do you apply your findings to start ranking in Google, launch great search ads, and connect with your audience? There are lots of ways you can apply your new knowledge to your digital real estate marketing strategy! See our post below to keep exploring.