Google Search On 22: Search updates & what they mean for apartment marketing

Oct 19, 2022

Hilda the cow, an example of a photo review moment from the Google Search On 22 event

Recently Google hosted Search On 22, highlighting their vision for making search more natural and intuitive. The event highlighted new search features and improvements that we can expect in the coming months.

The question we find ourselves asking is: How will these search changes impact apartment hunting?

Visual search updates

In 2017 Google introduced Lens, allowing people to use their smartphone camera to search the world around them. According to Google, Lens is currently being used to answer 8 billion questions every month.

Some of the main updates announced at Search On 22 are to Lens. The updates are designed to enhance the search experience by allowing the user to easily combine images, text and their location for results that are more specific to their questions.

Announcements included:

  • Multisearch — Multisearch was introduced earlier this year in the U.S., allowing a user to select an image or take a photo, then add text to further refine their search question. The feature will roll out to 70 more countries in the coming months.
  • “Multisearch near me” — “Near me” has long been a staple of standard Google searches, using the searcher’s present location to deliver results that are nearest them. “Multisearch near me” will allow users to take a photo, then find that item locally. For example, your friend may have been gifted a beautiful plant, and you’d like something similar for your apartment. With “multisearch near me,” you can take a photo of the plant, then use Google Lens. The Lens search result will display local nurseries or shops where you can find it. For apartment renters, this could prove similar to a “get the look” fashion feature.

Autocomplete improvements

In addition to near me, autocomplete is a staple of Google search. Autocomplete is a feature that makes it faster to search by predicting what you are going to type. Google is looking to improve autocomplete by providing topic options to help craft your question. Coupled with natural language processing, these changes offer promise for apartment hunters. The update makes it easier for users to branch out from simple queries to more complex searches that may be more closely aligned with their original intent.

New for reviews

Per usual, the bulk of the update examples were focused on food, shopping, maps and general search. Here at the agency, we’re always looking to determine how upcoming changes could impact the multifamily industry.

Of all the updates mentioned during Search On 22, the most relevant may be changes to how reviews — and specifically images within reviews — will further impact results.

Google specifically spoke about restaurants when discussing the updates. They provided some detail about analyzing images and reviews to determine what makes a place distinctive. The ultimate goal is to return results that help searchers find what they’re looking for, whether it’s a great soup dumpling or romantic environment, and make a decision.

We can see this impacting apartment communities in the long run. Consider your apartment community. Are you keeping up with reviews? Are you reviewing the photos, if any, that accompany your reviews?

Given the prevalence of social posting and reviews, have you made an effort to provide picture worthy spots at your property?

If you’re wondering what we’re talking about, consider the following. Just outside the front doors of the Hilton Munich Airport hotel, there’s a cow statue with a milking stool. It seems random, but it’s photo worthy. The cow even has a name (it’s Hilda). Travelers take and post photos from there each year, creating buzz for the hotel and positively influencing other travelers.

Seemingly random spaces can create a positive sense of community. If Google is now considering images within reviews to provide better search results, it should signal to you that now is the time to create welcoming, photo-worthy spaces that will ideally be included in your property’s reviews.

Here are some ideas for creating photo moments at your communities:

  • Lobby living walls or murals
  • Neon signage
  • Move-in or welcome kits
  • Animal mascots (especially if you’re pet friendly)
  • Garden statues

Stay tuned as search evolves

While none of the announcements at this year’s Search On 22 were earth shattering for the multifamily industry, it’s always a good idea to consider upcoming enhancements and how they could alter search behavior. Learn more about search trends by generation.

At REACH, we’re constantly monitoring upcoming changes and testing new ideas to provide our clients with stellar results. We’d love to help you too.

Catriona Orosco

Catriona Orosco is the director of REACH and a search marketing expert with more than a decade of experience in real estate-related marketing. She has played a prominent role in developing the search services for REACH clients, along with our Marketing IQ analytics platform. When she’s not in the office, she can often be found riding a tandem bicycle around Santa Barbara, CA.

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