“Hey Google, where are the best luxury apartments for rent in Dallas?”

The answer you receive from your virtual assistant can vary greatly depending on how diligent you are when it comes to your multifamily property’s SEO strategy.

Before the advent of the internet (we know, it’s hard to think back on such a time), when people were looking for a place to live, they’d peruse the Classifieds in the paper or dial the numbers on billboards. Today, they go to the source of all online information — Google.

Google is an intensive resource when it comes to the search and delivery of information, especially in the multifamily market. However, what most people fail to realize is that Google requires assistance from sites to successfully find the right information, crawl the site, and spit it out where and when it’s appropriate. The means by which search engines accomplish this is known as search engine optimization (SEO), and it requires a lot of work — including the correct tags for a website to read, a submitted sitemap, and keywords.

Performing Keyword Research for Your Property

Let’s say you have a problem, and you’ve taken to Google to solve it. What do you type in the search bar? Odds are there are words related to your problem or question. If you’re moving to a brand new city that you’ve never even visited before, what might that search be?

Maybe you want to know which neighborhoods in the city are safest. Typing in “neighborhoods in Dallas” might begin to give you relevant information. Searching “safest neighborhoods in Dallas to live in” would likely give you even more relevant information.

Choosing what keywords or keyword phrases (known as long-tail keywords) a person might type to find your site is key to SEO. If you know your buyer personas well, these may come easily, but sometimes it can be difficult to narrow in on what people will actually search versus what you think they might search. In these cases, keyword research is critical.

How to Approach Keyword Search

The simplest way to approach keyword research is to type your intended keywords into the search bar and see what kind of sites appear. Another good option is to look at what your competitors are trying to rank for. This is as simple as looking at their site and the words that come up, especially if they appear in headers or titles.

A more complex but strategic method that’s worth exploring is to use a free keyword planning tool. Both Google and the SEO tool Moz provide these at no charge. These tools allow you to type in your intended keywords to get a measure of how difficult it may be to rank for and what kind of search volume the keyword receives. They can also suggest or show related keywords. Once you have collected the keywords you believe to be most relevant, the next step is to implement them.

Natural Keyword Usage Is the Key to Being Found

A number of resources will offer technical ways that keywords should and shouldn’t be used on your site. The reason for this is that search engines use algorithms, and the technical details of these algorithms are not public. Google does give clues though, and there are certain things (e.g., keyword stuffing) that will knock you down in the rankings. But ultimately, much of SEO is guesswork by experts as to what little things will help you rank higher.

Rather than try to learn all these tips and tricks, the biggest key to performing well in rankings is to use your keywords as naturally as possible. Further, you should make sure that your content is relevant to what you want to be found for. Remember the buyer’s journey: Are you trying to build awareness for your property? Don’t just focus on the property, focus on the location.

In the awareness stage, people are likely not looking for your property yet. They are, however, looking for resources on the location, places to eat nearby, and what goes on in the neighborhood. Do the same thing based on possible searches in the decision stage and the consideration stage. Keep up with building content around these searches, and your property will find the relevant traffic you desire.