Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic on January 30th, 2020, our search habits online have shifted dramatically. More people are self-isolating during the pandemic, but still staying connected through the internet. Apartment SEO realized the shift in search habits for new prospective residents and pulled some data to see how multifamily web traffic was performing overall.
The first segment of data focused on Google Analytics Metrics. These data points help focus on user experience and engagement for website users. The overall percentage of new sessions was up 6.24% with the average percentage of new sessions at 60.23%. It’s good to see positive growth in new sessions because it means a user is coming back to the website and/or using another device to come back. More engagement helps improve the conversion rate to drive more leases. Another way to help boost your conversion rates is by utilizing iLease Bot, your automated leasing agent. An Apartment Chatbot helps capture leads and schedule appointments/tours, no matter what page of the website the user is on. Also, it can be added to your Facebook Messenger, Google My Business Appointment URL, and Craigslist Ads for capturing all leads coming through the funnel.
We also found apartment websites’ average pages per session were down around 6.27% at 3.40 pages per session. It’s good for users to visit multiple pages on the website to show Google that users are engaging with your site. The average session duration stayed around 2 minutes and 35 seconds, which was down 3.26%. We like to see an average session duration of around 2+ minutes for community sites. If it’s below 2 minutes, then 360 Virtual Tours or Youtube Video Tours would be your best option to improve time on site. The most surprising metric was an average page load time of 5.4 seconds, which was up 20.66%; this could be because more people are online and overall internet usage is massively up. So make sure your images are compressed and, if needed, utilize a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Google My Business
Google My Business metrics for apartments across the USA are showing a massive reduction in traffic from Google Maps. Now is the time to focus on your SEO/Google Maps strategy to ensure the best placement possible for your GMB listing, while also taking advantage of every feature they have to offer. These include Google Listing Management, Google Reviews, Google Posts, and Google Q&A. When comparing Google My Business data from 3/12/2020 to 3/25/2020 to the previous period, we see a 54% decrease in traffic for Google Map Impressions and Google Map Views. Direction clicks and website clicks were also down around 43%.
Obviously, fewer people will be driving to your physical location during the shutdown and will instead call to speak with a leasing consultant or schedule a virtual tour.
Right now, it is essential that your website is ready to take advantage of every piece of web traffic coming through the pipeline by making it easier for the users to convert by emailing or calling. Saving the best GMB metric for last, click to calls is only down 21%; this is a positive signal. Expect click to calls to hold steady or gain more momentum over the next few months.
Social Media Metrics for the multifamily industry showed us how important it is to still be present on all your social channels. Now is the time to be branding. Your residents and future residents will appreciate the fact, you were there with them during the pandemic and never went dark on your social media platforms. If you were active on social media before the pandemic, you should be even more active today. The data tells it all! Total page post impressions for organic is up 51.40% across the board, while page post engagement is up a whopping 105%; this means users are engaging even more during the shutdown and website users are on multiple devices too (up to 3+ devices).
Now is the time to push your digital marketing strategy to the next level. The world of digital is shifting and web users are evolving and changing their daily search habits as well. Those who adapt will flourish, while those who don’t, may find themselves fighting for any traffic they can get their hands on. We know together, we can build a personalized digital marketing strategy to keep bringing your communities real leases, real fast!