Any business, especially B2C, needs a Google Business Profile (GBP). Most multifamily properties I come across have a Profile. However, many multifamily properties are not using their Profiles to their full potential. Therefore, they are losing out on valuable market share. A few examples of this are incomplete or out-of-date Profiles, disconnected phone numbers, and reviews that were not addressed. According to their profile, I have tried contacting the properties that were supposed to be open but were closed. Seen lackluster photos (or no photo, just a dirt lot). I’ve looked for the property on maps, but they don’t appear because they are not categorized accordingly. These issues (and many more) have resulted in a property losing out on an inexpensive opportunity to create brand awareness and bring more residents to their community.
Here are my top 10 Google Business Profile must-haves for your Multifamily property.
1. Make sure you OWN your GBP
I know clients who struggled to update their Profile because they do not own it. The Profile was likely created by someone who previously managed the property, an outside agency, or someone who has left the company. As a result, the credentials are lost in space. So, when a property or property management company assumes the digital asset, they have no access to it. Therefore, they can’t change it or use it, update photos, respond to reviews, etc.
In one instance, I called a property using their Profile’s phone number and received a message saying, “this number is no longer valid or in service.”When I finally found a phone number that worked and contacted the property, they said they had been trying to get in touch with Google to access their Profile and update the number. Imagine what they have missed.
Getting access to a Profile takes time and sometimes documentation. So, if you assume a property, be sure you prioritize the transfer of ownership for all your digital assets, including GPB. If you create the Profile, know where your credentials are. If you are purchasing the property and completely changing the brand, type of property, etc. You will want ownership of the old profile in the event you need to close it and create a new profile under the new brand.
2. Correct or Updated Information
This is a no-brainer, but we are all busy and, more often or not, sometimes fail to do this. Make sure your standard information is present, correct, and updated if necessary. Ensure your address is registered correctly on Google Maps and the pin is in the right place. Check that your hours of operation and phone number are correct and that your website link works. If you are using a tracking number, call it. Be sure your profile is categorized correctly – Google has many options for “apartment type” businesses. Finally, include a great about section that tells the story of your property and why it is a wonderful community. Gather ideas by reading other property’s Google Business Profiles.
Feature an eye-catching, high-resolution, and colorful image in your Profile, then follow up with several high-quality photos featuring different aspects of the property. Be sure to label them. Google indexes these photos and having your brand name, a brief description of the image, and the geolocation will help them appear in searches. Upload and refresh photos on a relatively frequent basis.
Like social, Google lets you post information about events, specials, or just general happenings on the property. Use this as an opportunity to tell your property’s story and highlight what is great about it. Create a posting schedule 1-2xs a month with fun, informative, and valuable content. For example, have a community garden on your senior property, and it is blooming? Feature it in a post.
Gathering reviews are helpful in a few ways. 1. People research your property, and they will take reviews under consideration. 2. The more reviews and interactions of your Profile, the more Google sees the Profile relevant to searches and will serve your Profile more. 3. Reviews that contain keywords help boost your brand’s awareness for common searches and help you show up on Google maps.
So, ask for reviews from residents and prospects any chance you get. Did you have a pleasant exchange or a stellar tour? Did your maintenance person repair something, and your resident is happy? Ask for a review and make it easier for them to do so by giving them the link through email, text, or QR code.
Pro Tip. It is against Google’s practices to compensate the reviewer for reviews.
As I mentioned earlier, people do consider reviews. Still, a few bad reviews aren’t the end of the world. A Profile with a stellar 5-star review rating and nothing less can also be considered suspect. It is how you respond to reviews that matter. And that you constantly have an ongoing campaign to collect reviews.
First, always respond to reviews, both positive and negative. Second, when responding to a positive review, be gracious and grateful. Consider using a keyword or two in your response (without giving personal info). Your brand term is a good one you can frequently use, and if the reviewer uses a key term in their review – bonus! Third, when it comes to negative reviews, your response should be neutral but sincere, do not engage with the reviewer online. Fourth, be sure to alter your responses, continued pat responses come off as insincere.
People who read your reviews understand that a negative review here and there happens. How you respond to the review – speaks volumes. Most importantly, following up on your response is imperative. Do you have a reviewer that mentions that they can never reach you by phone? Don’t say “I’m sorry” and give them a telephone number to contact you. Call them. Reviewers will post follow-up responses such as, “the property never answered the phone when I called this [the property’s response] number”. This lack of follow-up says a lot about what kind of management company you are. Put the ball in your court and reach out, learn more about the circumstance, and do something about it. This proactive approach could turn the review around in a positive direction. After talking to management, I’ve seen some reviewers change their review rating in favor of the property.
Finally, your reputation should be a 3.7 or better to make your marketing dollars work for you. Some may argue a 4.0 or better. Either way, you waste your marketing budget if your online reputation is terrible. Stay on top of your reputation, continue to ask for reviews, and monitor your rating. If you find yourself in a slump, hire a reputation management company to help.
ProTip. Have an inappropriate or explicit review or has a disgruntled employee left a bad review? Google does protect businesses from certain reviewers and review types. You may be able to appeal to Google to have the review removed. Be patient; it may take several attempts. Check out the following link on what qualifies. Click here for Google’s prohibited and restricted content.
When renters use keywords like, “two-bedroom apartments near me” or “two-bedroom apartments” in certain geolocations, you want your property to appear at the top of the results section of Google Maps (at least in the top 3-5, ideally top 3). Therefore, it is crucial to make sure your Profile is categorized correctly, that you continue to engage in reviews, and review and update your Profile frequently because you want to be at the top. Those listed further down risk the chance of not being considered or seen at all.
ProTips. When doing your audit on how you fall in maps, use the incognito feature in Google. Do you have a new property, and you are just gaining traction? Consider a small investment in a map ad, helping you show up at the top of map searches until your Profile is more relevant.
The products section is a great place to feature your property. Post your floor plans in the products section of your Profile. Feature popular floor plans. Populating this section makes your Profile more robust. Remember to use high-quality images of your floor plans. The more color, the better.
My clients don’t use this feature enough, and it is one of my most frequently recommended updates. You may already have some questions in your Q&A section. If they don’t have a response, answer them. Have your team log into their Google accounts and post about 10 of your most frequently asked questions, and have the Profile owner answer them. Be on the lookout for new questions, and be sure to answer them.
10. Analytics and New Features
Be sure to use all the features of your Google Business Profile, not just the client-facing ones. Your Google Profile has analytic capabilities too. You can see call reports, commonly used search terms, how many people have viewed your Profile, etc. Knowing these trends may help your marketing strategy, and uncover opportunities to make any adjustments to your Profile. If you want, invest in a little Google AdWords or Local Maps ads to give your brand a little boost. Especially if you are a new community. Both can be managed through your Profile from a basic level, or you can hire an agency for more robust campaigns.
Google is constantly enhancing its capabilities. For instance, the new Google Maps feature merges street views with ariel images creating a more comprehensive interactive model. This map update should enhance the user experience with your community and its neighborhood. To learn more about what’s to come, check out Social MediaToday’s May 11th blog post. Read More Here.
Notable Mention – Chat. In this day and age, chat is one thing that is growing in popularity among B2C, and I do think you should consider this option. However, I suggest that if you engage in the chat feature for your Profile, make sure you can respond to chats promptly. Otherwise, Google will show that you do not respond quickly, and as a result, it can make you look non-responsive.
Don’t have a profile? What are you waiting for? Finally, if you don’t have a profile, add your business – today. This is especially important for new lease-ups, the sooner, the better. Getting your Profile created is easy to do. Go to the apps in your Google profile, find the Business profile app and add your property there. Be sure you have those essential items (at least one photo or rendering, phone number, address, hours of operation). You will need to verify the Profile and the property’s address with Google. They have made this more manageable now with a few options. You will find the process is straightforward, so why wait – get that Profile created today!
Christina Simms is the Marketing Manager for Sales Inc. In addition to managing the Sales Inc. brand, she advises many Sales Inc. multifamily clients on how to enhance their digital and local marketing presence.