How will generative search affect apartment SEO & PPC?

Apr 29, 2024

Collage of renters using generative apartment search methods in front of a rainbow background

If you’ve read our intro to Google SGE, you know that a new kind of search is coming. It’s called generative search, and it’s already available to Google users in the form of AI overviews.

Generative search aims to improve the user experience by generating hyper-targeted results more closely matched to user intent. Put simply, its goal is to be a search engine that more accurately tailors its results to you.

But what does generative search mean for SEO and PPC? These two search marketing strategies typically aim to help people find what they’re looking for faster. Will AI overviews and other new methods replace them?

While no one knows exactly what will happen as search evolves, here are a few predictions.

The impact of generative search on SEO

First, the bad news. Expect traffic to drop.

In some beta tests, certain websites saw traffic drop by as much as 64%. That’s because generative search serves up the information contained on that website in a snapshot above the search results. Think about it. If the user gets the information they need instantly, why would they need to click through?

Websites where the content is the product — like recipe and how-to sites — will experience the most dramatic drop in traffic.

And now the good news. It’s likely that apartment websites are going to be less affected by this drop than many other kinds of sites.

That’s because users need to interact with our websites to get to the end product. Rent-ready prospects will still want to click through to learn more about your community than they can get in a snapshot. And applicants will still need to click though to apply. Most traffic that does drop is likely to be less qualified traffic anyway. 

Another prediction: Off-page SEO will be more important than ever.

More information from different sources across the web will be pulled directly onto the search engine results pages. Renters will no longer have to go out of their way to visit multiple sources to paint the picture of living at your community. This information will be gathered and generated more efficiently for them. This includes listing information and reviews. Make sure you have solutions in place for reputation and listings management.

And finally, as you’re creating new websites and webpages, think about EEAT (Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) more than ever. Google already cares a lot about EEAT, and we believe this is a precursor to these principles playing an even larger role in the world of SGE.

The impact of generative search on PPC

It’s likely that PPC won’t be negatively impacted by generative search. In fact, PPC ads could become even more effective in this new search environment.

Here’s why we think this is the case. The likely outcome for SGE is that users will spend longer on Google.This move is very good for Google itself.

Historically, the longer and deeper a user engages with any website, the more that website can charge for ads.This is why social media platforms care so much about daily active users and engagement time.Number of users X duration of average engagement = more money for ads, right?

Google Ads revenue is what largely drives everything else at Google. In Q4 2023 alone, Google Ads generated $48 billion in revenue, compared to YouTube ad revenue of $9 billion during that same period.

So, they will be able to charge more for ads, which means they will also want to continue displaying ads that work. Google itself asserts that ads will continue to appear in the SGE environment. “As we use the power of generative AI to create more natural and intuitive Search experiences, ads will continue to play an important role in helping people connect with useful information and allowing businesses to be discovered online.”

Your PPC ads will, in all likelihood, become the most controllable element on generative search result pages. This will be the one place besides your website where you will be in charge of your brand and message. Plus, Google is experimenting with AI features that will help increase your conversion rate.

If you’re not already familiar with the ins and outs of multifamily PPC, now is a good time to deepen your knowledge of pay-per-click advertising.

Generative search: Friend or foe?

We believe that generative search presents both challenges and opportunities for apartment SEO and PPC. As generative search continues to evolve, staying informed about the latest trends and best practices will be key to maintaining a strong online presence for your apartment communities.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated as we learn more!

Kyle Jones

Kyle Jones is the west region manager with REACH by RentCafe at Yardi. He oversees the search, creative and strategic marketing teams supporting REACH clients in the western U.S. Kyle is based in San Diego, California.

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