Reputation management & SEO: Everything you need to know to improve your search rankings

Mar 8, 2023

Woman looking at apartments reviews on a mobile phone

In apartment marketing, we used to think of reputation management only in terms of reviews and prospects. How many reviews were out there, what they said and how they impacted potential renters on a one-by-one scale.

Now, of course, we know reputation management has a much broader scope. It impacts every phase of the renter lifecycle: marketing, leasing and management.

In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into how reputation management affects apartment marketing, specifically SEO. Reviews create search signals that help you rank — or tank.

First, we’ll discuss how apartment reviews actually impact search rankings. Then, we’ll share the four things search engines are looking for and give you three tips to catch their attention.

We’ll finish with some reputation resources you can share with your team, including an infographic and an on-demand training video featuring Esther Bonardi, vice president of REACH.

How do apartment reviews impact your search rankings?

Search engine algorithms use reviews to determine how your business shows up in search results.

The reviews that you get send positive search signals, showing Google and other search leaders that you are an active and relevant result to return for local rental searches. If you’re not getting reviews, you are not sending that particular signal, so that’s one less mark in your favor.

Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to return the most relevant results. While the exact makeup of the Google search algorithm is an ever-changing secret, we do know that reviews factor significantly into local results. That’s because Google knows that searchers want to read reviews of businesses before they make a purchase.

Which 4 things do search engines look for in your reviews?

There are four key things search engines look for when evaluating reviews:

  • Quantity: How many reviews do you have compared to competitors?
  • Quality: How authentic are your reviews? What is your star rating?
  • Recency: Are your review current or dated?
  • Responses: Are you responding to both positive and negative reviews?

New data indicates that Google is also prioritizing content in reviews. For example, text-based reviews may have more impact than textless star ratings. And a recent study found that Google reviews with images appear to carry more weight than reviews without images. In fact, by asking past reviewers to add a photo, the study saw those updated reviews reappear near the top of their Google Business Profile, displacing less detailed reviews without photos.

Are you asking renters for photo reviews of your sparkling pool or new counters? Apparently, you should be!

What are renters looking for in your reviews?

It’s never just about the search engines. But it’s worth remembering that search engines have the same customers you do: real people. So it follows that they’re looking for pretty much the same information as your customers.

People regularly use reviews to make decisions about rental housing. According to the 2022 NMHC/ Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report:

  • 69% of renters look at reviews when searching for apartments
  • 79% of them decided NOT to visit a community after reading the reviews

That’s right, people are choosing whether or not to visit a community based on the reviews they read. Reviews you have very limited control over.

If you have too many old or negative reviews, you could be scaring people away before they even visit.

How can you use reviews to stand out from the competition in local searches?

You need to be proactive about reviews if you want to stand out from the competition in search.

Now that you know reputation management directly affects SEO, here are three things you can do to make sure you get the attention of search engines (and renters):

  • Ask for reviews. You need to have as many or more reviews than your competitors. Timing is everything for this one because you don’t want to ask an unhappy renter for a review. Using automated CRM software can help by sending reviews requests after positive events, like a move-in, renewal or quick maintenance repair.
  • Monitor reviews. It’s not enough to just get reviews. You should be actively reading them to see what they say and where you can make improvements. Some reputation management solutions, like REACH reputation management, offer sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis allows you see and sort positive, neutral and negative reviews by property, region and portfolio.
  • Respond to all reviews. Show renters and search engines that your community is active and engaged online. This means responding not just to negative reviews, but also positive and neutral ones. Make it evident that you care about your community and the people who call it home.

Reputation management & SEO infographic

Infographic showing the connection between reputation management and SEO

Reputation management & SEO video training

Watch an on-demand video to learn how you can use reputation management and SEO to lower your marketing costs.

  • See how to compare yourself to the competition and get ahead
  • Get ideas to encourage reviews and build your reputation
  • Review self-service and full-service management options

“When we think of search engine results placements, it’s not just about us. It’s also about everyone around us and how well they’re doing.”

Esther Bonardi, vice president of REACH

We hope this helps you focus your reputation management and SEO efforts. Still have questions? Contact us to let us know. We might schedule a chat, write a blog post or even film a new video.

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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