July 25, 2012

Google+ Local Help for Property Managers: More Leads & Tenant Love!

Have you heard about Google+ Local? It’s a free web listing for your property that lets you connect with people, encourage reviews, showcase units, help people find you, augment your web site, and improve SEO. We’ve put together some Google+ Local help for property managers.

Google+ Local pages were recently rolled out and connect to other Google services like the Google+ social network, Google Maps, Gmail, and AdWords. Soon, you will be able to connect directly with people through Google+ by posting to your page, creating Circles and Hangouts. You can also view statistics about the number of visitors to your Google+ Local page. In short, it’s really a must for landlords, property owners and REITs.

(Note: Google+ Local replaces the older Google Places service and integrates Google+ Business pages. If you’ve previously set up either, or both, pages, Google will automatically convert and merge your pages into the new Google+ Local service.)

Claiming Your Google+ Local Page

Start by ensuring that you are logged into your business’ Google account. You can then access your Google+ Local by going to Google Places for Business. (At the time of writing, the branding hasn’t yet caught up to the new Google+ Local service, but, be assured, you are at the right place to manage your page.)

Next, select your country and enter your primary business telephone number for Google to verify if your business already has a page. You’ll be taken to the page management console where you’ll be able to create or update all of your Google+ Local page’s information, and as you do so, you’ll see it appear in the listing on the right.

  • Contact Information. Country, street address, main and secondary phone numbers, email address, web site. Setting up a new page or changing your address or business name requires Google to verify the information by postal mail or telephone.
  • Description. You are limited to maximum of 200 characters. This area is very important, as it will be crawled by Google and impacts your search engine rankings. Use keywords and think hyper-local. What will prospective tenants be searching for when looking for an apartment? Include your neighbourhood and specific prominent local features – park/school/shopping district/transit station or bus route/highway – by name. Consider also adding your building style – high-rise, duplex, townhouse, low-rise, etc.
  • Category. You must select 1 category that matches a Google suggestion. You may also select an additional 4, including custom categories.
  • Hours of Operation. Enter your rental office’s hours, including split times (if the office is closed at lunch, for instance). Or, you may choose to not display operating hours.
  • Payment Options. Usually meant for retail businesses, you may consider using this area if you offer alternative choices for rental payments. If you use PayVista, tenants have the flexibility of paying by Visa and Mastercard, which can be featured on your page alongside cheque, PayPal and Interac options.
  • Photos. Link to, or upload, up to 10 images for your listing. Note that each photo is displayed as a square, so advance editing to accommodate this format is recommended.
  • Videos. You can link up to 5 videos from YouTube to your Google+ Local page. This is a great opportunity for you to showcase a video tour of your property. And, because you can update your page at any time, you can also use videos here to promote units that you are looking to fill.
  • Additional Details: This is where you can add whatever information you couldn’t fit into the description into sub categories. Again, be specific with by naming the schools, parks, highways, bus routes, etc. Consider grouping the sub categories by amenities and location.

As new listings are confirmed by postal mail, it may 3 weeks or longer for the Google+ Local page to be verified.

Google+ Local Help for Reviews & Scores

Google has placed a “Write a Review” button prominently at the top of each Google+ Local page, just underneath the photos. Since Google acquired Zagat last year, they have integrated it into Google+ Local pages as scores. Based on a 0-3 point user scale that is averaged to reflect a score out of 30. Scoring a business is integrated into the process of leaving a review. Some businesses worry about the switch from the 5-star system to a 3-point scale, and property managers should keep an eye on the number of clicks from their page to their website.

If you already have reviews on your page, and you are logged into your Google Account, you will see a “Reply” button next to each. This is your opportunity to thank people for a good review, or respond directly to a negative review. (If you have negative reviews, read up on how to handle them in our post Handling Negative Reviews: What Every Property Manager Needs to Know.)

Be aware that individuals are able to return to a review and delete or edit it. So, if you’ve resolved an issue to the reviewer’s satisfaction, ask them to revise their review with the satisfactory resolution.

This is your opportunity to encourage happy residents to leave a review on your Google+ Local page to help showcase what a great property you have. They can even upload photos with their review! Consider soliciting reviews upon lease renewal.

If you’re using our property management products, it’s a great way to reach people while they’re already on their computer or smartphone. Simply send an email with a link to your Google+ Local page and ask for a review. It couldn’t be simpler!

If you have any Google+ Local help for property managers, be sure to share them with us!

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Jenelle Setter

Business Owner, Own Fort McMurray

Describe your experience in a few words

Great customer service ever since we started using this system for our properties.

What do you like the most about the software?

Property Vista makes the collection of rent easy for both the tenant and the landlord. This saves a lot of time on both ends and is easy to use.