Welcome back to The Property Management Show. In our previous episode, we spoke with SEO and marketing guru Rand Fishkin about the shifting tides in digital marketing and the sources of influence that are important today. On the second part of our podcast with this guest, we’re talking about money keywords, vanity metrics, and generative AI. We’re also talking about how to make those immeasurable marketing channels a little bit more measurable.

Here’s Part Two of our interview.

Money Keywords: Where Everyone Wants to Rank

Every business or industry has a set of money keywords that represents where and for what everyone in that industry wants to rank. That’s the bottom of the funnel. If you’re ranking high for property management and your city, you know that people searching for you are very close to choosing a property management company. That’s a good lead.

But, why go to the battlefield and fight with every other management company that wants the same keywords? There are other marketing strategies that can be leveraged.

Remember the blue ocean strategy. Go for those keywords that others aren’t paying attention to. Then, you won’t have to fight as hard and you’ll still draw in traffic from relevant searches.

It makes sense. However, people are so drawn to that battlefield.

Rand says this is how entrepreneurs are socialized and trained. It’s a cultural battle that’s hard to overcome.

To really improve website traffic and gain more leads, results, and profitability, you can rank for more than property management plus geography. When everyone else is chasing one thing, you can beat them all by doing something that none of them are doing.

Vanity Metrics: Measuring Lift vs. Attribution

Are you getting more subscribers and followers or engagement and not necessarily conversion?

In 2017, there was an article in the Harvard Business Review that talked about the actual value of a Facebook like for a business. Marketing researchers did a study to figure out whether it really contributes to a business in any meaningful way. They found that a Facebook like doesn’t necessarily reflect a change in consumer behavior or an increase in spending. Consumers who like a brand on social media, specifically Facebook, are simply expressing a pre-existing preference. If they see the brand, they like it. They were going to buy from you anyway, so of course they’ll like you on Facebook.

It’s much harder to convince someone who has never heard of you to like your page and then buy from you.

Rand points out that hidden in that study is that the measurement can be used to find out how many people are predisposed to buying from you, and who they are.

The Facebook like did not influence 300 new people to buy from you if they weren’t already planning to buy from you. So, it’s a vanity metric. It does not change behavior. But, it helps you measure.

By knowing that 300 new people liked your Facebook page in a month, you can measure the size of the pool of people who may buy from you. This can be useful in a campaign. You can measure what you’re doing that’s having a positive or negative impact. Measure those likes if you want a campaign that grows your brand’s likeability, awareness, and trust. Getting a Facebook like won’t get you more buyers. But, doing things that will encourage more buyers will result in a lift on social media. That’s notable.

This makes an otherwise unmeasurable marketing investment more measurable.

You can measure lift. If you see that traffic went up and conversion went up and the Facebook likes went up, that campaign worked, and you know that similar investments on other networks might be worth the effort. Or, when what you did last month did not work well, you’ll know to try something else. That’s where the value comes from. Instead of disproving the value of the metric, that study suggests there’s a lot of value.

If you’re focused on ranking number one on Google, that’s a problem because you want that metric to go up at all cost.

But, if you instead treat the metric as a way to measure the effect of what you’re doing, that’s going to give you some value.

Branded Search Volume on Google

Rand suggests that branded search volume is the better place for small businesses to focus right now. Instead of Hayward Property Management, he suggests working hard to rank for Marie and Brittany Property Management. When people are looking for your brand name, it means you are doing something right in terms of brand reach. More people are looking not for a generic term, but for you in particular.

Rand says he’d take one new searcher for his brand name over a hundred searches for the generic keyword combo. That’s the bottom of the funnel and the closest you’ll get to conversion. If he searches for a Google Pixel Phone 6, that’s more valuable to the brand than a search for best new android phone 2024.

One of those search terms suggests that the buyer has already made their decision. He knows what he’s looking for. That’s the most valuable kind of marketing you can do. Get people to know, like, trust, prefer your brand over others. Be present in the places they pay attention with a message that resonates with them at the right time. That’s not going to be property management Orlando, Florida.


  • Measuring is different from attribution.
  • Attribution is what caused this person to convert.

Rand believes that it’s nearly impossible to know what causes a person to convert and buy, and that’s why he doesn’t worry too much about attribution. He returns to his basic message:

Be present in the right place with the right message at the right time.

To know if you’re doing that, you can look at your vanity metrics and look for the lift that should come before the rising conversions arrive.

Follow, Don’t Lead: Marketing’s Future and Generative AI

Rand believes that marketing is a field in which you should follow crowds and not try to lead them.

What he means by that is until your audience is present and having relevant conversations in a place, you don’t need to try and reach them in that place. Why spend time there if your audience isn’t there?

In 2010, everyone thought they had to have a mobile app. They didn’t Most companies are just fine with a mobile-friendly website.

The same thing happened more recently with NFTs and blockchain. Marketers were sure they had to be using blockchain somehow but they couldn’t explain why. Does it make your customers happier or give them a better experience? If not, you don’t need it.

Now, we’re looking at the ease with which anyone can use generative AI.

Generative AI can solve some problems. If you have a database of 100,000 rental properties all over the country and you want to classify them quickly, you might want to hand-classify 100 of them, and then have ChapGPT do the rest of it based on your rules.

But, why would that be on your website?

We all know that when it comes to content, generative AI is the very bottom of the floor. It’s the worst content out there. Some humans can produce worse things, but anyone can make generative AI content for no money, so it’s the worst you can have.

Your goal, when it comes to content, must be to ensure everything you produce is better than that.

What’s wonderful for people who invest in marketing is that the more people who make their content with generative AI, the easier it for everyone who doesn’t to stand out. When you’re relying on generative AI to craft your message, you’re essentially taking yourself out of the game. You’ll be outranked and out-marketed. You’ll be the crappy competition that no one has to worry about.

Using generative AI for programming assistance or to understand a concept makes sense. It can tell you what words are likely to come after other words on the internet. It can analyze data. But, to write copy that you would expect someone to read while considering a new property management company? No.

AI looks for tokens coming after other tokens. It does that predictively. What they told you is what their suggestions told them, and it’s essentially a spicy auto complete.

It will never be unique, and the whole point of marketing your company is to be unique.

And that is all we have for our Part Two episode of the Property Management Show with Rand Fishkin. If you aren’t already a subscriber, please become one and give us a like. If you have any questions, go ahead and contact us at Fourandhalf.

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