We know your renters and residents care about the physical location of your properties and communities. They want to live in a neighborhood that supports their lifestyle, they want to store their belongings close to their home, and they want to find a senior living community near their family or in their current neighborhood. So, it’s logical to make the leap: Since location matters to your customers, local search definitely influences your ability to connect with prospects (aka marketing). 

In this blog you’ll learn: What local search engine optimization (SEO) is, why it matters, what changes have been made to local search ranking factors in 2021, and how that should influence your 2022 local SEO strategy. 

What Is Local SEO + Why Does It Matter? 

SEO is a way of structuring your online website content so that it is easy for a search engine to understand what is on your website, and what search questions your website can help answer for researching renters and residents. With local SEO, you’re making sure that your website is helpful for researching renters and residents looking for a place in your neighborhood.

Essentially, Google can understand if a search query is trying to find a certain type of business in their area. While “near me” searches are a great example of this, Google takes proximity into account even when these keywords aren’t included. For example, if you search something like “Thai takeout,” Google is likely to show Thai locations near you on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) versus Thai restaurants that are 3,000 miles away. 

According to Whitespark, nearly half of all Google searches are seeking local information, meaning users are actively searching for area-related content, AND 88% of local searches on mobile devices result in a visit or a call to the business within 24-hours. It’s important to connect with move-in ready prospects where they already spend their time, online. 

Something you should know about local SEO is there are a couple of ways that SEO nerds (us) like to break down ranking factors: The Local Pack and local organic ranking factors. The local pack, illustrated below, is a portion of the SERP that appears on the first page of results for any search query with local intent. Local Pack results are created by a Google algorithm, which serves up the most relevant Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly Google My Business (GMB), results for a given search. Local Organic is what you might think of as a general SERP ranking, displayed as a linked headline with a short snippet.

image of the local pack on a serp

Local SEO Ranking Factors

The graph below shows the local ranking factors. One that we’d like to point out, the one, the only, the MVP…that’s right: GBP. Want to know something else? We saw GBP’s influence on marketing conversions (phone calls or website form fills) in our G5 data as well. For context, we asked our data scientists to analyze the top performing digital marketing channels for each of our industries, including self storage, senior living, and multifamily. They dove into customer journeys to understand which channels were involved in customer journeys that ended in either a qualified phone call or a website form fill. We found that regardless of the industry, GBP was one of the top three performing, and most consistent digital marketing channels. 

Graph content by Whitespark.

Local SEO Changes

We’ll focus on GBP again. The chart below illustrates how local ranking factors have shifted over time, with GBP now accounting for 36% of the ranking factor, up 140% from 2015. 

Graph content by Whitespark

How Local SEO Changes Influence Digital Marketing Strategy

First and foremost, if your properties or communities do not have up-to-date and optimized GBP listings, they need to. This isn’t a trend that’s going away, or “just another platform” that may or may not influence your bottom line. GBP is the top ranking factor for local search, which influences your overall SEO ranking, too. This checklist has a few GBP best practices to get you started. 

Rank Higher

The truth is, renters and residents expect easy online experiences that help them find the information they’re seeking. Your SEO strategy is vital to keeping your digital doorstep welcoming and helpful to prospective renters and residents. Learn more about the G5 approach to all things digital marketing and SEO by scheduling a demo