SEO for AI & apartment marketing: How to prepare your website for new search habits

Sep 6, 2023

Collage of a woman and a vintage computer using speech bubbles to represent voice search and AI search trends

In the evolving landscape of digital marketing, staying ahead of emerging trends is crucial. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has begun to reshape how people search for information online.

As a marketer in the apartment rental industry, now is the time to make sure your SEO strategy caters to new, AI-driven search habits.

In this guide, we’ll explore the intersection of AI, SEO and apartment marketing. Keep reading to get actionable tips to help optimize your sites. We’ll end with some great news for RentCafe and REACH clients!

What does AI search look like?

AI-powered search engines are changing the way users interact with online content. These engines use natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to understand context and deliver more accurate search results.

For example, voice-activated assistants like Amazon’s Alexa rely heavily on AI to process and respond to voice commands. Users can ask questions in a conversational manner, and Alexa’s AI capabilities help it interpret intent and deliver relevant answers.

The increasing popularity of voice search demonstrates the shift towards voice-based, natural language interactions facilitated by AI. In fact, the Voice Consumer Index 2022 found that the percentage of people who use voice assistants daily had approximately doubled since 2021.

Voice search, image recognition and predictive typing are just a few of the AI-driven search features that have already become common.

But the AI revolution doesn’t stop there. Smart chatbots have also emerged as powerful tools for engaging users in real-time conversations. These chatbots — like RentCafe Chat IQ — leverage AI to understand user queries and provide instant responses, enhancing customer support and improving the user experience.

Additionally, the rise of generative AI has introduced new possibilities for content creation that will inevitably impact search. Generative AI models, like ChatGPT, can produce human-like text based on a given prompt. This technology can be used to write unit descriptions, area information and blog posts, helping marketers target common apartment search terms while saving time.

How will AI impact renter search habits?

As AI becomes more integrated into search engines and devices, renter search habits are shifting. Users are embracing voice assistants like never before, resulting in longer and more conversational queries. This means that optimizing for long-tail keywords and natural language is becoming increasingly important to make your apartment listings appear in AI-powered search results.

What is SEO for AI?

AI-centric SEO involves optimizing your website to align with how AI-powered search engines understand, retrieve and return information. This includes not only traditional keyword optimization but also considering context, intent and user behavior. It’s about making your website as AI-friendly as possible to ensure it ranks well in this shifting era of search.

There are a few things you can do now to prepare your website for AI-centric search trends. Since these trends are largely informed by how users actually search, you’ll also be making sure your website works the way renters want it to. People everywhere want more conversational and intuitive search interactions.

  • Prioritize mobile-friendliness: AI-powered search often occurs on mobile devices. If you haven’t already, ensure your website is responsive and offers a seamless experience on phones and tablets.
  • Focus on structured data: Implement structured data markup to help search engines understand the content and context of your apartment listings. This will enhance your chances of being featured in rich snippets and other AI-powered search features.
  • Embrace conversational keywords: Optimize your content for longtail and conversational keywords that reflect how people naturally speak. This will help you especially when it comes to the rising popularity of voice search.
  • Use a smart chatbot: If you’re going to have a chatbot on your website, make sure it has natural language processing (NLP) capabilities so it can deliver on user expectations. That way, the chatbot can search for and return the information your prospects want, instead of them having to poke around. If potential renters can’t find what they’re looking for quickly, they’re more likely to bounce to a competitor’s website.

Specific SEO tips to prepare apartment websites to show up in AI searches

As the marketer of an apartment community or brand, there are a few more things you can do to help your website show up in AI searches.

  • Create comprehensive FAQs: Develop a comprehensive FAQ section that addresses various aspects of apartment rentals in your area. This will align with the conversational nature of AI search queries.
  • Optimize for featured snippets: Write concise and informative answers to common questions renters might have. These could appear on your FAQ page or even on your blog. This increases the likelihood of your content being featured in “position zero” of search results.
  • Provide alt tags for all images: An alt tag, also referred to as alt text, is copy that describes your image. It’s crawled and indexed by search engines to better understand the content and relevance of your page. Make sure bots can “see” and serve your images by writing descriptive alt text for each one.
  • Leverage local SEO: With AI’s emphasis on providing relevant local results, optimize your website for local keywords and ensure your Google Business Profile is up to date. Here are a few tips for optimizing your GBP.

A note about AI SEO

You may also start hearing about AI SEO. This term refers to using AI technology to inform your SEO strategy. It does not necessarily mean creating good SEO signals for AI environments.

There are many AI-powered tools available that can help you identify keywords, analyze user behavior and even predict trends. These tools can enhance your SEO efforts by providing data-driven insights and streamlining various tasks.

However, while AI tools are incredibly powerful, human oversight remains a crucial component of the optimization process. AI is a tool, not a replacement for human intuition and understanding.

Here are a few reasons you shouldn’t rely on AI to meet your SEO needs:

  • Context: AI tools excel at data processing, but they might miss contextual nuances or regional variations that a human would instantly spot. Understanding the emotions, intent and locality behind certain search queries or content requires human empathy and experience.
  • Adaptability: Search trends and user behaviors evolve rapidly. While AI can process historical data and patterns, human SEO experts are more agile and able to quickly adapt to shifting markets and unexpected changes.
  • Creativity: Crafting engaging content, developing strategic marketing campaigns and building a brand voice are inherently human tasks. You can use an AI tool, sure, but without a human touch, your content is less likely to connect with prospective renters looking to make a very personal decision on where they call home.
  • Quality: AI tools can automate various tasks, but the final quality check should be in human hands. From ensuring the accuracy of information to maintaining a consistent brand identity, human oversight is crucial.
  • Ethics: AI algorithms might unintentionally produce biased or inappropriate content. Human reviews of AI content are necessary to ensure that your website’s content aligns with your brand values and ethical standards.

A word from one of our search marketing specialists:

“Artificial intelligence is able to supply search engines with websites that historically prove to be successful, provide a higher-level insight into the user journey and personalize the user experience with on-demand support through the use of chatbots. With this type of technology available, digital marketing efforts need to balance curating an impactful user experience and working with a highly complex algorithm to ensure SEO efforts are poised for success. AI is clearly something that is capable of revolutionizing the industry, but in order to be successfully incorporated, it needs to be driven by humans and consistently kept within the boundaries we define.”

Madeleine Bittancourt

Good news for RentCafe and REACH clients

The good news for our clients is that you’re already set up for success. When it comes to structured data, alt tags, expert SEO, detailed FAQs and chatbots, the tools you need are either in hand or readily available to you.

  • RentCafe websites have a strong structured data foundation. Our website themes are built to include structured data information that’s specific to our industry. Each standard marketing page includes specific schema markup to help search engines better categorize the content of the page. This includes differentiating amenity details from floor plan specifications, for example.
  • RentCafe websites have an AI-powered alt tag generator. This makes your site more accessible to both users and search engines. Read more about it here.
  • REACH SEO experts optimize for longtail and local searches. Our team eats, sleeps and breathes SEO. They’re aware of AI-powered search trends and already optimizing for them.
  • SEO-friendly FAQ pages are available through REACH SEO. We’ll help you post answers to commonly asked questions that frequently appear in searches.
  • Our AI-powered chatbot uses NLP processing. Chat IQ is able to have human-like conversations with your customers. It works so well, in fact, that a recent case study found it had a conversion rate of 33.66%.

That was a lot to cover, but we hope you feel more comfortable navigating the shifting world of search now. When it comes to AI-powered search, just remember that it’s really about giving people — in our case, specifically renters — easy access to the information they want, delivered in whatever way they want.

The bottom line: If you provide relevant information in a clear, organized and easy-to-understand way, it’s more likely that both AI-centric search engines and renters will be able to find you.

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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