Tuning up your website for search engines

The apartment-company or community Web site is a vital tool for

winning over potential residents. Not only can managers tailor the

content to emphasize the amenities and selling points selling point
An aspect of a product or service that is stressed in advertising or marketing.

Noun 1. selling point – a characteristic of something that is up for sale that makes it attractive to potential customers  of a building or

neighborhood, but apartment shoppers also tend to trust the information

more when it’s coming from the community itself.

But even the most enticing Web site can’t attract prospective

residents without any traffic. Many apartment companies are investing

significant time and manpower into optimizing their Web sites for search

engines to bring shoppers through their virtual doors.

“Our consumers look for apartments using Google,” states

Fredda Steinberg, Vice President of National Marketing for real estate

company Carmel Partners. “Anytime anyone develops a Web site, they

need to build a site that is search-friendly.”

“The search engine optimization Designing a Web site so that search engines easily find the pages and index them. The goal is to have your page be in the top 10 results of a search. Optimization includes the choice of words used in the text paragraphs and the placement of those words on the page, both visible and hidden  

[SEO (Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Optimizer) See search engine optimization. ] is important because

we’ve already invested money in our Web site,” says Donald

Davidoff, Group Vice President of Strategic Systems for Archstone.

“Someone who finds us via organic search is basically a free lead

to us incrementally.”

Deciding for Yourself

Spending on search engine results provides a top return on

investment, says Krish Coughran, Vice President of Business Development

for Search Engine Optimization Inc., because the user is taking a

positive action to search for the term that returns an apartment Web

site, making the searcher a very qualified lead. Nevertheless, the

amount of time and money marketers spend on improving search engine

results varies greatly depending on apartment companies’ size and


At Archstone, “SEO is ongoing and never ending,” Davidoff

says. He recites the story of a leadership summit during which he

lamented la·ment·ed
Mourned for: our late lamented president.

la·mented·ly adv.  that he only had a team of four people and was constantly

deciding where to best concentrate their efforts. The other attendees

started laughing. “They said, ‘We’d kill to have four

people,'” Davidoff says. “It’s all a matter of


For instance, Darcey Forbes, Director of Marketing and

Communications for Essex Property Trust, says her company spends little

to no time or money on search engine marketing, because the company is

satisfied with the number of leads received from Internet listing

services and with how the Web site performs already.

Other marketers, such as Chris McEver, Vice President of Client

Partnerships for Indigo Real Estate Services, contract the job to

advertising or dedicated SEO firms.

“It’s evolving daily,” McEver says. “For us,

trying to educate ourselves and trying to constantly monitor it would be

difficult. We contract that out and let the experts do it.”

Indeed, innumerable SEO companies now pitch professional assistance

to marketers or Web developers unfamiliar with the principles of search

engine optimization. Coughran says companies wanting to improve their

results in a competitive market or on a national scale may need

high-end, professional help. But following a few simple principles can

provide most companies with a valuable return (see “Search

Strategy,” p 43).

Simply paying attention Noun 1. paying attention – paying particular notice (as to children or helpless people); “his attentiveness to her wishes”; “he spends without heed to the consequences”
attentiveness, heed, regard  to search engines can have an effect on a

Web site’s results. “We don’t make a single decision on

our Web site without asking, ‘What’s the effect on

SEO?'” Davidoff says. Looking at SEO can lead to more

attention to the details and can dictate TO DICTATE. To pronounce word for word what is destined to be at the same time written by another. Merlin Rep. mot Suggestion, p. 5 00; Toull. Dr. Civ. Fr. liv. 3, t. 2, c. 5, n. 410.  Web site priorities. When

Google started tracking the amount of time it took for Web sites to

load, Davidoff says he went to his IT department to put emphasis on

faster load times. “It wasn’t just for the user

experience,” he says. “SEO made it a higher priority.”

Putting too much emphasis on SEO, however, can be self-defeating.

“You need to balance SEO with other objectives, including customer

experience and usability How easy something is to use. Both software and Web sites can be tested for usability. Considering how difficult applications are to use and Web sites are to navigate, one would wish that more designers took this seriously. See user interface and usability lab. ,” Steinberg says. On some sites, her

company uses “eye candy Images and animated graphics added to Web sites and interactive software that makes the information exciting. In other words, glitz, sizzle and pizzazz. See cornea gumbo. ” such as attractive interior shots at

the top of the page to attract users and then includes text at the

bottom of the page that is both relevant to users and improves

search-engine results.

Focusing on search engine optimization can ultimately bear concrete

leasing results, says Carissa Barry, Vice President of Marketing of Van

Metre Companies, a private real estate developer based primarily in

Northern Virginia Northern Virginia (NoVA) consists of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and the independent cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park. . For a portfolio of eight communities, Van Metre

recently went from spending $2,000 a month to $3,650 a month for a

search engine firm that provides site recommendations, competitor

reports and more.

The results speak for themselves. The Van Metre Web site went from

128,000 impressions in April 2008 to 765,000 in March 2009. The company

had 163 lease conversions in March. In April 2008, it had four.

Pay-Per-Click Can Pay Off

Organic search results aren’t the only way marketers can

invest to improve their Web site traffic. Pay-per-click search engine

marketing (SEM) allows companies to pay to appear in the sponsored links

section on the first page of search results. While costly, such spending

can be useful in certain circumstances CIRCUMSTANCES, evidence. The particulars which accompany a fact.
2. The facts proved are either possible or impossible, ordinary and probable, or extraordinary and improbable, recent or ancient; they may have happened near us, or afar off; they are public or , Steinberg says.

For example, Carmel bought a community (now Carmel Vienna Metro) in

Northern Virginia to convert from condos to apartments. Because every

day that the already-built apartments remained unrented equated to lost

revenue, “We invested in a pay-per-click program to fill it

up,” Steinberg says. “We were willing to spend more money to

generate demand.”


That pay-when-you-want flexibility represents SEM’s biggest

advantage, Davidoff says. “Pay-per-click marketing represents the

one spigot you can turn on and off. But it’s a very expensive

spigot.” The most popular search terms generally cost the most as

companies compete to land on the first page.

To make sure companies don’t blow their marketing budgets,

Coughran suggests they find a “sweet spot” of search keywords

that provide a return on investment and generate traffic–perhaps below

the first three results, but on the first page.

“Play the game you’re going to win,” Davidoff says.

A company with one or two communities won’t show up when someone

searches “apartments in D.C.” But “apartments in

DuPont” (a subsection subsection

any of the smaller parts into which a section may be divided

Noun 1. subsection – a section of a section; a part of a part; i.e.  of the Washington, D.C., market) may find

more relevant prospects. In order to make sure their advertisements

reach the target customers, marketers must become knowledgeable about

how those customers search. Analytics reports that track how Internet

users Internet user n → internauta m/f

Internet user Internet n → internaute m/f  reach a site can help to identify valuable keywords.

“Don’t jump in without a plan,” Davidoff cautions of

search engine marketing. “It’s not for the faint faint (fant) syncope.

An abrupt, usually brief loss of consciousness; an attack of syncope.

Extremely weak; threatened with syncope.  of


Search strategy: How to Improve Your Rankings

Archstone’s Donald Davidoff and Search Engine

Optimization’s Krish Coughran provide some general principles for

marketers hoping to improve a Web site’s rank in search engine


* Create themed pages using target keywords. Search engines operate

with algorithms sometimes called “crawlers” or

“spiders”–that read the source code and page content of Web

sites to determine what they’re about. So pick a key phrase, like

“apartments in San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. ,” and use it in the page content. But

the proper density–not too much or too little–is important. The copy

must still read well for users, and if you use the keywords too much,

browsers will read the site as spam E-mail that is not requested. Also known as “unsolicited commercial e-mail” (UCE), “unsolicited bulk e-mail” (UBE), “gray mail” and just plain “junk mail,” the term is both a noun (the e-mail message) and a verb (to send it). .

* Source code matters. Algorithms read a site’s source code,

as well. so use keywords in the meta data: the titles, descriptions,

keywords and image tags that make tip a Web page’s coding.

* Use a friendly and functional layout and architecture. Search

engines like large, robust sites with lots of pages. Make sure site

pages are tied together with links, and make the site easy to navigate (1) “Surfing the Web.” To move from page to page on the Web.

(2) To move through the menu structure in a software application. ,

which improves the experience for the user as well as the search engine.

* Build external links. If sites that the search engines identify,

as high-quality link to an apartment Web site, the search engine will

think the apartment Web site is high-quality, too. Sending search

engine-optimized press releases and joining directories are useful ways

to build external links. –J.L.

Learn More in Las Vegas Las Vegas (läs vā`gəs), city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States.

If you would like to learn more about marketing during the NAA NAA

Nomina Anatomica Avium.  Education Conference & Exposition exposition or exhibition, term frequently applied to an organized public fair or display of industrial and artistic productions, designed usually to promote trade and to reflect cultural progress. , we encourage you to attend the

“The Idea Factory” with the Apartment All Stars, on Thursday,