In today’s blog, we go over Google’s latest changes for 2016, and give you the best strategy to bring in property management leads by optimizing for each part of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). You’ve seen a million of them. It’s the page(s) you get when you enter a search term. Google has been making slight changes to its search results pages for the past few months, which has culminated in a different layout that is drastically different from how it used to be in years past – especially for local service providers like property management companies.
The changes are the result of a study Google did in 2015 tracking the eye movement of people viewing their results page. One of the major findings is that people are doing less horizontal scanning – meaning that people tend to look straight down the left side of the search results page looking for their answers. This seems to have resulted in two major changes:
#1 – Removing Ads from the Right Side of SERPs
In days past when you went to a Google SERP page there would be three AdWords ads at the top of the page and seven along the right side. Now, you will notice that the ads on the right side of Google’s SERPs are gone, as that study found that people weren’t looking at the ads to the right. To make up for the lost ads they moved one of the ads to the group at the top of the page. They then put the next three at the bottom of the page.
#2 – Changes to Google Local Search Results
In past years, above the organic results on the SERP, “Google Local” would list out more businesses for the competition-rich property management space. So, if you were a property manager in Boise, when searching phrases like “Boise property management,” there would be seven businesses listed under a map. Later, they reduced that number to four. Now, Google only lists up to three businesses in that area of the search results page. They call it the ‘Google Local Three Pack’. With the reduction in the number of businesses displayed, it is more difficult than ever to show up in a competitive market.
How Property Managers Can Rank in Each Section of Google SERP
Previously, focusing on traditional SEO got you seen as soon as the page came up. Nowadays, when a search is made, the first organic result shows up so far down the page, a viewer is required to scroll to see it. This is called being “below the fold,” as if the page were a morning newspaper.
Because of that, Property Managers that want to dominate in their area now need to optimize for each section of the search results page that your property management company needs to rank on.
What do we mean by that? The modern Google Search Results Page is made up of three different sections. Here are those sections, and our advice for ranking in each:
The Main Fold (Top 4 Positions on Google Ads)
The first things that a user sees when they make a search is going to be the AdWords ads. It is against Google’s policy to allow more than one listing in Google Ads for any one business. So, there are going to be four companies that get the first crack at getting a viewer’s attention.
However, contrary to popular belief, the first AdWords position isn’t necessarily the best one – although it is always the most expensive. Studies have shown that while the first position gets the most clicks, many of those clicks are simply reactionary – many viewers haven’t really read the ad, so you get many more tenant clicks, which will cost you money and reduce your ROI. The second and third positions get fewer clicks, but more conversions – spending less, and closing more – increasing your ROI.
Second Section (Google Local 3-Pack)
Next up is the ‘Google Local 3-Pack’, which are the three business listings under the map. This is the most difficult of the three to rank for, as Google’s ranking factors are even more secret than those for organic results. Be on the lookout for our blog in the coming weeks on how to best optimize your listing so that you have a chance to be one of the businesses in the ‘Local 3-Pack’. As a start, however, you have to have a Google My Business Listing to even have a chance. It’s free, so there’s no reason not to have one. Think of it like an entry in the old-school White Pages.
Third Section (Organic)
The third section belongs to the 10 organic results. This is where SEO work comes in. If you design your web page correctly, (and you’re lucky) you can get your property management company to get more than one listing on the first page through organic alone. Why? Because different pages on your website can rank for the same search term. Making sure that you have a quality website and that you are bringing traffic to it will have you on the first page.
Remember – even though it’s further down the page, most people still click on the first few organic results than any other section of the results page.
The Rest of the Page (Bottom AdWords placement)
The bottom three AdWords ads appear here – although there is a chance to get clicks here, the dropoff between the top of page ads and the bottom AdWords ads is steep. We simply suggest you design your campaign to bid for the 4 spots on the top of the page. Not having enough budget to appear there is a waste of your efforts.
To recap, the ideal scenario for your business is to take up as much market share on the 1st page of Google as possible. To do this, you will want:
- One listing on the top 4 positions on Google Ads
- One of the three listings on the ‘Google Local 3-Pack’
- As many listings as you can on Organic
That’s what will bring in business for your business.
At Fourandhalf, we have experience in helping many property management companies grow their owner portfolio. If you have any questions, please contact us at Fourandhalf.com or check out our blog for property managers.