Can an SEM Campaign Increase Lease Activity for Your Property?


Searching for apartments on the Internet is a way of life for today’s residents. Property management companies with high Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) rankings are best positioned to be found by apartment seekers.

Because this is the time of the year when many people move, multifamily properties have a great opportunity to gain visibility. Summer is typically a time when search volume is high for keywords related to multifamily housing, and employing an SEM campaign will help build SEO authority.

A quick SEM campaign can help properties achieve a top-page ranking based on keyword searches, and will also give a boost when those Internet Listing Sites (ILS) are underperforming.

Why SEM is a good alternative route for leasing managers

SEM is a good option for properties that want to increase leases because it’s extremely trackable and flexible. You can tailor your budget around unit availability, optimize a variety of ads catering to occupancy, and pause a campaign when the property is at optimal capacity.

Perhaps one of the best opportunities for apartments to gain more visibility is Google’s recent dramatic change regarding page positioning. In February, Google reworked the layout of how Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads are displayed on the search network. The search engine giant began replacing right-hand side advertisements with product listing ads and the Knowledge Panel.

Google SEM Multifamily

While the change has left less room for SEO listings, it now provides more space for SEM ads, which means more area for an apartment’s ad to gain clicks! Now, a top-positioned ad via a fully-optimized SEM campaign will gain missed leads while working with your SEO to build domain authority, site relevancy, and increased ranking.

A recent Search Engine Land article says that ads in the top banner positions receive 14X the click-through rate of the same ad on the same keyword on the right-hand side, so this is seemingly a reasonable change on the side of Google experts.

However, to make up for the loss in space of right rail PPC ads, Google has been increasing the frequency of its paid search listings and is beginning to display up to four ads above organic search results. This change reduced the maximum number of organic text ads on the page from 11 to seven, while pushing text ads positioned eight through 11 to page two.

What do Google changes mean to SEO marketing in multifamily?

Because of Google’s update to its PPC layout on the search engine display network, it’s possible SEO experts and advisors will likely have to work harder than ever to produce results.

For companies competing in a highly commercial space on the search engines, the job to nail down a first-page position has seemingly gotten a lot harder. Even if it is in the top organic position, PLAs, Knowledge Graph panels and those four new ads at the top of the page are crowding out sites. That’s only eight percent of the above-the-fold area showing natural search results.

SEM Campaign Multifamily

As the saying goes, SEO is a marathon; SEM is a sprint. It can take several months for Google to crawl and rank a site with implemented SEO. At the same time, with an increase in paid ads on the Google Search Network, these campaigns are quickly ranked and gaining leads after a campaign is built.

Possible opportunities for SEM and paid ads

While the change in PPC layouts has caused much speculation on the future effectiveness of paid Google ads, a recent study has proved interesting.

  • Impressions of paid ads on the Google Network are slightly down.
  • Click-through-rates are up.
  • Total clicks have stayed relatively steady.
  • Cost-per-clicks have actually dipped, allotting more opportunity to lower budgeted campaigns

Overall, Google has allotted more room for paid ads, spreading the love for top positions and clicks on its network for well-optimized SEM campaigns.

A key takeaway is that SEO and SEM work better together. It’s always best to couple SEO efforts with paid ads to mitigate impact from big updates. A top-positioned ad via a well-optimized SEM campaign will make up for possible missed organic leads as a result of Google’s layout change.

So far this change has not caused an immediate uproar, but could shake up the future of organic search listings on the top pages of Google.

Now is an ideal time for multifamily professionals to get a fresh start with an SEM campaign. Use SEM to increase reach more prospects and drive lease activity at your property!


Web Marketing Specialist, Leasestar, RealPage, Inc.

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Larissa currently serves as a Web Marketing Specialist for the LeaseStar Marketing Division of RealPage, a provider of on-demand software solutions that integrate and streamline single-family and a wide variety of multifamily rental property management business functions. Her background includes search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) advisement, utilization of marketing and keyword research, website optimization, as well as advertising budget management. She specializes in determining the best strategies to increase visibility on major search engines, and increase revenue across her client’s marketing solutions.

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