March 14, 2014
At PMW we know that you are busy, and that is why we take a very specific approach to search engine optimization. Before you create a content marketing strategy, consider the market that you operate in, and get comfortable with items that you can and cannot control. Content marketing is time consuming and expensive when done correctly, and many times there are factors that will limit your success that you cannot control. Consider these factors before beginning a content marketing strategy:
Do your competitors have great websites?
In many markets, building a great website and paying attention to detail can be enough to achieve competitive search rankings that help reach your growth goals. If your competitors are paying attention to detail, you will have to do better.
How big is your company versus your competitors?
Bigger companies have an advantage in search. If your competitors manage significantly more properties than you do, you will have a tougher climb up the rankings than they will. This is because their conversion metrics are going to be better on average than yours. More properties means more people interacting with the site, more tenants searching vacancies, filling out maintenance requests, browsing FAQ’s, etc. Traffic, time on site, page views, and many other factors that search engines measure are going to be easier to score well on for bigger companies. Set your expectations appropriately; if you manage 10 properties in San Francisco, you are probably not going to outrank the dozens of other companies that manage hundreds or even thousands of properties.
Are your competitors effective content marketers?
If your competition is doing a great job creating content, then you are going to have to compete with them. You will have to produce better content, and distribute it better than they do on a consistent basis. This can be especially difficult if you are a smaller company with a small staff or a small budget.
Why do you want search engine rankings?
If you want search engine rankings to grow your business then keep reading. If you are just mad that your competitors come up before you in a search, then that is not a valid business reason for seeking search engine rankings. Search engine optimization is a tool to grow your business, and increase the value of your company. If you are already growing your business at a rate that you are happy with, then do not tackle the extremely difficult world of search engine optimization. Please see our previous post on how to grow a property management company to decide you want to tackle SEO as a growth strategy.
If you have completed your analysis of your market, and feel that your company should be competing for search but isn’t, here are some best practices for content marketing:
-Identify your target audience. If you are trying to attract new management accounts, then you need to create content that is useful to people that have rental properties. Topics include screening tenants, advertising, evictions, etc. Many of these users will use your content as free advice, in fact most of them will. This is ok, because if your content is good a certain percentage of the people that view it will also hire you. The ones that don’t will greatly increase your conversion metrics as they spend time on your site devouring your content, and beefing up your search rankings.
-Make the content great for humans first, and search engines second. Remember that you are creating this content for two reasons; search engine rankings, and more importantly to gain new clients. Make sure that the content speaks to the clients first and then to the search engines. It is ok to sprinkle in a search term or two that you want to compete for as long it doesn’t adversely affect the message you are trying to deliver to your viewer. Ideally you want to create an anchor text link with a search term that you are competing for to a landing page designed to compete for that search term.
-Place the content in your blog and title the page appropriately for the search terms you are looking to compete for. IMPORTANT: Summarize the blog in a few sentences and place the summarized content on your home page with a link to the complete post in your blog. This has been an extremely effective tactic for our customers.
-Use Video. Effective video lifts all boats. Video helps your viewer connect with your business in a way that a text blog cannot. Video also increases almost every conversion metric that the search engines use to evaluate user interaction with your content. Video also gives you the opportunity to link to the content from YouTube, a website that Google loves for obvious reasons. We will cover this in more detail in our next post.
-Find someone to help you that understands the industry. There are many companies that will do content marketing for your company. There are very few that understand property management. We recommend www.fourandhalf.com, as they only work with property managers. Our mutual customers have done very well, and we do not receive a referral fee.
-Be consistent. Determine a content strategy that you can be consistent with. It is much better to create 12 blog posts and post one per month than to post 5 or 6 at a time and wait months to do another one. Search engines love consistency, and reward it with better rankings. Content marketing is difficult and time consuming, that is why search engines love it. Pick a schedule that you can stick with.
Stay tuned for our next post about using social media…