Branded vs. non-branded search: Which drives the most traffic to apartment websites?

Oct 12, 2022

branded vs non-branded search blog hero with a magnifying glass

Do you know where your organic traffic comes from? Potential customers conduct either a branded or non-branded search before visiting your website.

Let’s take a closer look at branded vs. non-branded search. Find out what each one is, why customers use one or the other and which one drives the most traffic to apartment websites.

Branded vs. non-branded search: What’s the difference?

  • A branded search is a search done using the apartment community or property management company name. If your business name is part of what someone entered in the search field, that’s a branded search.
  • A non-branded search is a search done that doesn’t contain your community’s or company’s name. Something like “pet-friendly two bdrm apartments in Austin” is a non-branded search.

Who uses branded apartment searches?

Customers who are already familiar with your brand use branded searches. These are typically renters who have lived at another one of your properties or know someone who lives at one of your properties. But they can also be locals who know the name of your community or brand because you have a strong presence in the area.

Customers using branded searches to find an apartment are past the awareness stage and usually close to making a leasing decision.

Since it’s pretty easy to rank for your own brand, usually branded search doesn’t require much in the way of SEO efforts.

Who uses non-branded apartment searches?

A wide variety of customers use non-branded searches. These could be renters who are just beginning their leasing journey. Or they could be people who are new to the area. They might know where they want to live and what size apartment they want and what amenities are important to them, but they don’t know your brand’s name (yet).

Ranking for non-branded search terms helps you attract renters who are actively looking for a place to live but unfamiliar with your communities. It’s a great way to expand your leasing pool.

Strategic SEO is typically required to rank near the top of non-branded search terms.

What does the data tell us?

If you think the most leads and leases come from branded search, think again. Apartments brands aren’t as well-known as tech brands, fashion labels and fast-food companies. Most renters have no idea what the brand name of an apartment is, especially one they don’t live in.

That said, property marketers often focus on branded search traffic. They may not think it’s worth their time to optimize for non-branded search terms.

To that end, REACH recently conducted a study to see which drives more traffic to apartment websites: branded or non-branded search? We wanted to find out if there’s a significant volume of traffic from non-branded searches to invest in SEO.

We looked at Google Search Console data for 128 luxury properties across 12 states from Nov. 1, 2021, through April 30, 2022. And what we found was a nearly 50/50 split.

In our study of 128 properties over 6 months:

  • 50.11% of organic traffic came from branded searches
  • 49.89% of organic traffic came from non-branded searches

In some states, properties got more traffic from one type of search or the other, but it was pretty close in many areas. This tells us that actively managing SEO to rank for non-branded searches results in a significant increase in quality organic traffic to the website.

If you don’t invest in SEO, you could be missing out on half of your potential search traffic.

By optimizing for hyperlocal long-tail search terms, you can double the traffic to your site. That means more leads and more leases. 

Check out the infographic below to see more interesting data from the study.

Branded vs. non-branded search infographic

Branded vs non-branded search infographic

Learn more about SEO

If you’re curious about what it takes to rank for non-branded searches in your area, check out this series of videos addressing the most common property management SEO FAQs.

This ebook about ongoing multifamily SEO is another great resource that can help you attain and maintain your rankings. It includes a monthly and quarterly SEO task checklist to guide your efforts. Happy optimizing!

Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives is the manager of marketing content at Yardi. She leads content initiatives for REACH by RentCafe. Writing may be her first love, but data is a close second. Geneva is based in Santa Barbara, California.

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