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Property Management Mastermind Show

#158: Increase Your Online Presence Using SEO Strategies with Upkeep Media

Dec 19, 2022 by Brad Larsen

How can property management companies optimize their presence on search engine sites such as Google as well as social media platforms? In this episode, learn how search engine optimization is used and how it can increase your exposure and ratings on Google and social media platforms. Alex Hassoulas joins us to share how his company, Upkeep Media, can streamline that process for you

Connect with Alex and the rest of the Upkeep Media team at www.upkeepmedia.com.

Connect with Brad's team at www.rentwerx.com

Brad: For everybody. On today's episode, I've got Alex from Upkeep Media. He's going to be talking to us about all of the good stuff they can do to generate more leads for your business.

Announcer: Welcome to the Property Management Mastermind show with your host, Brad Larsen. Brad owns one of the fastest-growing property management companies in San Antonio, Texas. This podcast is for property managers by property managers; you'll hear from industry-leading professionals on best practices, new ideas, success stories, and lessons learned. This is your opportunity to learn about the latest industry buzz surrounding property management, as well as tips and strategies to improve your business.

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Brad: Welcome, everybody, to another edition of the Property Management Mastermind podcast. I'm your host, Brad Larsen. Now today's guest, I'm bringing Alex from Upkeep Media. And so we're going to have a pretty good conversation about what they do, who they are, what they charge, what they can do for your business because I don't know anything either. And that's the best part about this podcast is we get to start from scratch. Now, I'm just teasing. I know a little bit about what they do. I brought Alex onto the podcast to basically say, All right, let's let's actually find out, you know, let's say this is a discovery call between you and I, and let's find out exactly kind of what you all do, how it works, what you all charge, So that whole thing. So instead of like having it offline and then making a, you know, a stage podcast, this is the actual discovery call I'm having with Alex. So this is a mastermind concept, if you will. So without further ado, I'm going to bring on Alex. Alex, give us a few minutes or time and tell us who you are.

Alex: Hi, everyone. So I'm Alex. I'm the president at Upkeep Media. I'm also one of the co-founders and we've been in business since 2015, basically focused on the property management industry. Our main focus ultimately is to generate more online leads for our clients. It's all about targeting owners, investors or even accidental landlords, all primarily based initially on search-based marketing. And then through that we're able to build other traffic and marketing channels on top of it. So kind of always our first priority is to get the right people to the site. In essence.

Brad: That's a big deal. So we're going into 2023 and we know the downturn is here. And so we know this is our opportunity to shine. This is where accidental landlords come to seek us out because they may not necessarily want to sell or can sell, or they just feel like it's a terrible time to sell. So whether that's right or wrong or other, they're just going to look at the opportunities to rent more than they did 18 months ago, two years ago, when it was just you could sell by raising your hand on the grocery store and saying, I want to sell my home. And you have two offers that day. And so now it's a different landscape. And so this is where you and I bumped into each other at the NARPM conference recently. I said, Yeah, you know, I've heard of you guys. You know, we've talked a couple of times, but now I think it's really getting to that point where we need to reengage and find out more about what you do and get you all hired. So this is this is part of it. It's just like a discovery call. And so this is going to be focused on business development, getting new property management clients. Am I correct in saying that?

Alex: Yeah, definitely so. I mean, the approach we've we've always taken is definitely see that a lot of property managers will implement strategies but not per say in the right order. So we really break it down and let's say three phases of priority. But at the core, really the core of the strategy is, is how to drive the right people to the site, right? So if there's going to be a lot of accidental landlords today, it's not just about targeting people looking for property management, it's targeting people trying to figure out if they should sell or rent a home, trying to figure out actually how to determine and make that decision. There's a lot of other opportunities to drive in the target client base. And obviously, if you're in that position already where you're already getting that traffic, it's going to give you a lot more opportunities to scale the marketing channels once you're targeting the right people.

Brad: Yeah. And so our concern is it ain't broken, you know what I mean? Like, we're doing good on the search engines. You know, we rank pretty well. We got lots of Google rankings. We just want to kind of see how best we can round out and even get a few more because whatever y'all charge in my mind, I can justify it. And we've already talked about that a little bit. I can't remember exactly what you all charge, but the point is, it only took in my mind a few seconds to calculate. Okay, I only need one or two more property management agreements a year to cover all that you all do and it's worthwhile. So that can be the bottom line decision in a lot of folks Mindset is, okay, how do I get the ROI? How do I make this pay for itself after just a few months or years? And so that would be a big thing for for you and I to talk about. And of course, we're going to talk about on this podcast. One of the other things too, is having just a review of our current processes and flow. And so you kind of paraphrase that in your introduction, but you know, look at it like from our end, you know, we already rank well on the RentWerx site, but I always worry that there's, there's meta tags and keywords and things in the background that could be optimized. And so that's what a good resource like you guys would potentially come in and do You can run these analytics at Google has and you can look for these certain keywords that may have changed from when we put them in place two or three years ago and give us a good update. I mean, is that sort of what you all do?

Alex: For sure. I mean, that's an even big part of our actual strategy is let's say we optimize a page, we get it ranking. Let's say we get to the bottom of the first page as an example. We're still working on the site. We're still tracking how the progress is going. But sometimes we see some pages, let's say stall and it comes back To refreshing them, right? So that's kind of a basic view of content, refreshing. But what we actually do is we'll pull the info based off how the page is structured, from how much words are in the actual page. The character counts, the actual keywords being used, the non-keyword essential words as well. So, let's say the main keywords property management, San Antonio. We're also looking at keywords like home or rental, even though it's not a keyword, and we're actually comparing it to the top-ranking sites. And based off density, our team will actually restructure the page and rewrite it. And that helps inch it forward. Right? So, there's always multiple strategies in terms of building, supporting pages, links, and then re-optimizing the page. But you're just always trying to climb as high as possible and make incremental improvements because because obviously, it's a lot harder to inch forward as you get higher and higher because you're always going against more competitive players. But the higher we go, the more click-through rates we get. So, it's actually the most lucrative.

Brad: Yeah, great stuff. And that's always the bottom of the funnel. And I remember teasing Dave Borden about this when we were talking about property manager websites. He goes into all these analytics analytical stuff, and I'm like, Dude, I'm going to sleep right now. So, whatever it is, is it much gooder question mark? And Alex shakes his head, Yes, it's much good or bad and go back to eating your crayons. And so, it's a funny thing because, you know, you hear all about this jargon talk, and a lot of us are property managers. You know, we don't get it. I mean, there's some that are really good at it, but at the end of the day, we want leads generated. We want opportunities to earn more business because I'm very excited to go into 2023. I know it's a it's a rotten thing to root for a recession, but at the end of the day, we know we are poised as property managers. We've been we've been bullied for the last 20 years where you have these big real estate agents, they always laugh and point at us, Ha ha, how you guys are doing property management, you're dealing with toilets, and those big real estate agents are going to be washing cars and delivering pizza here in the next six months to a year. And so when the downturn hits, they all freak out and they turn to property management. And this is where we get a leg up on that is by hiring companies like you to make sure that we're captured in those search engines to garner that business and get that lead first.

Brad: And so, again, I was going back to the jargon, the legal jargon stuff again, one of the things I worry about is the keywords not being correct. One of the other things on top of that is like old content. So let's say we've changed or updated a plan or, you know, there's there's, there's a plan that's out there. Let's say we have a resident benefits package, which a lot of our managers do, and it's not explained very well, or it's explained poorly, or it's explained wrongly with old information. Those are things that I'm hoping a group like you would catch as you come in and we engage with you and you start to really dig into our site and make sure that it matches what we're offering in our content. Let's say the video content and the written content don't match because it's an old video. You would slap us around and say, Hey guys, you got to go record a new video to update that new content that you put out. And so real direct question from there, does this tie into any other of the outside marketing resources like Facebook or Instagram or. I don't know. I mean, Twitter is a real thing, as indeed is it is it LinkedIn? I mean, where does it translate into any of those platforms outside of just Google?

Alex: Yeah. So for us, we we obviously we break it down in three phases, right? So phase one is how the site's actually structured, having good reviews in place, being able to convert visitors. Right? So when the visitor comes to the site, we're confident we'll actually convert a good amount. The second phase is driving people primarily through search based off intent in terms of Facebook, social media, really the best way we've found to use it is more as a remarketing tool. So that's been the best way for us to like target owners. I don't know if you've ever explored running Facebook ads, let's say in your geographic area, but it tends to not. It works, but it tends to not work for for a very long time because the targeting is just not that good. So what we do is we'll create remarketing channels via Facebook, Instagram. We can even do it with YouTube videos and then you can get video testimonials. You can have clients that are talking about your actual services or how they found you. You can do educational content as well. You can do downloadable guides, right? So in this scenario, if there's going to be a lot of accidental landlords, maybe we'll make a white paper based off answering their burning questions. They'll download that, we'll get them on a drip feed. So we use it more as a remarketing channel where we can follow them around like you've seen on Amazon. If you shop, they'll follow you around, but you'll do it more from like a PR educational standpoint, not a time to do business with us. You'll basically say if they don't convert the first time around, then I'm going to put them in a different category of potential clients that have a longer sales cycle. I need to create multiple. Touch points and maybe give them a little more with asking for a little less and slowly drip them into actually wanting to see if that could be a potential client. So that's really how we found it.

Brad: Right. You know, they're listening, right? Here's my iPhone and they're listening all the time. So Google and Apple, they've got it down to a science or listening to my conversation right now. So if I say baby stroller, I'm going to start seeing Instagram ads and Facebook ads pop up with baby strollers. Now, I've said the keyword twice. If I say baby strollers one more time, who knows what? I'll start getting direct message emails. And I joke, but I do think that at some point your online presence is tracked to a certain extent. I don't know how I can't explain it. I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I'm I just took off my aluminum foil hat for this episode just now. But I can tell you, though, I do think that if you're out online searching for property management company and again, whatever keyword there is, Facebook translates that, Instagram translates that. And so when they go into their social media, somehow there is going to be some sort of mention or drive towards those particular things. I know I'm getting out in left field a little bit, but I mean, got to you got to back me up a little bit to say I'm sort of right or do I need to just like go back to my bike?

Alex: I mean, I mean, Facebook and Instagram will track in different ways. Obviously, if you're if you're going from their their website to another website, they can track, depending on how slow you scroll or what you click on, they're using certain demographics when we used to be able to target. So they do have a lot of info on you for sure. The listening to you and the YouTube. Yeah, it's semi conspiracy, but to be honest, you know everybody in SEO actually has has recorded this as actually being something that they've seen. So I don't think it's out of the blue. I do think to some degree it exists. There's there's a lot of people that have tried to run tests, but they get some kind of mixed up mixed information on that one. But you could be on something on that one. I've experienced it myself.

Brad: See, I'm a conspiracy theorist, man. I just I can tell it. I can feel it. I come out of my underground bunker and I'm like, I can feel they're watching me. I'm just messing with Alex. But this is really good because this is why we would engage with a company like you, because that landscape is ever changing. You know, we have to constantly refresh what we're doing there in content to make sure that we are seeing on the social media platforms and more importantly on the Google and making sure that we are in that top three of the pins, if at all costs and nothing. So you should talk to us a little bit about how the pins work on Google because that's a really good topic and I would love to hear your take on it. You know how that works with property management companies and getting ranked.

Alex: Awesome. Okay, So there's there's a lot of factors. Obviously, the way I'll probably kind of go and explain, let's say, the macro view of when when Google looks at a site, the biggest thing is when they look at a site, if they're looking at property management, San Antonio results as an example. They're going to look at a bunch of factors, right? How long has that site been live? How how, how many reviews are on the Google owned business? How active are the reviews generation? Because that's a signal that you're in active business  in the area. How much traffic is the site actually growing in traffic? Are people spending time on the site building links? These are all big factors, but the main thing I would think that is easier for property managers take away other than getting regular reviews obviously is when Google looks at, let's say, property management. San Antonio, they're not only looking at that page alone and saying, is this what the individual wants? They're also looking at the rest of the site and saying, well, this individual benefit from the rest of the site as a general rule. So really from us with working in all these different markets, we're always whenever we take a client, we're looking at the rankings, we're comparing their keyword framework to all the keywords and topics we know within that market. But we're also looking at all the competitors, how their sites are structured, what keywords they have, which pages are actually bringing in traffic for them, and that gives us more ideas. So by doing this at scale in multiple markets, we keep finding new and new topics that you don't necessarily see in a smaller market, less competitive because they're not thinking of creating those keywords. But in more competitive markets there's a lot more content creation. So you see these keywords when they're recorded with our tools.

Brad: But so those that you're talking organic rankings to.

Alex: Right now, I'm talking organic, Yeah.

Brad: Yeah. It's a two headed monster. There we have the pins. And so from what I understand, you're going to have help property management companies work on their online rankings in the pins, which is reviews. Correct. And so the reviews drive those pins, at  least in my understanding. And if I'm wrong, please correct me. But you're going to help people capture good reviews because that's one thing to go around and ask people, okay, leave me a review. It's another thing to have a system set up to where it makes it easy for them. And so let's talk about that particular left side of the two headed monster. And then the organic is, you know, there's a lot of content creation you're gonna have to do to get organic rankings. I mean, all kinds of stuff that could be age of the business, etc.. But let's focus on the review side. I mean, you're able to help property managers start getting good reviews, am I correct?

Alex: Yeah. So that's that's a big factor. Obviously, it makes everything we do a little easier in terms of conversions at the end of the day. So it's always a big push. We actually set quarterly goals as a framework. We always say like at a minimum, if you have whatever number of properties you have, you should probably want at a minimum about 25% in terms of reviews, right? So if I have 100 properties at a minimum, you want 25 reviews as a baseline. The more reviews you have, the easier it makes it because at the end of the day, people will find multiple companies. Some will just look through the content and then call right away. Others will look through the reviews. Some will find them through the Google my business. But you're just increasing the probability of success of actually converting a web visitor to a lead. But in terms of how we get reviews, it's kind of two main ways. One is we call our Band-Aid approach. We use software like like most you'll you'll go out, you'll ask for for a review. If they choose three stars or below, you'll you'll ask for a feedback and you'll send them to a contact form. Four or five star will deem that good, will lead them to Google my business. If they don't have a Gmail, we'll leave them to Facebook.

Alex: Right. These are the two we have the most control over. That's that's a Band-Aid approach. It kind of works because we're doing that. We're going to send it out quarterly. You're not going to always send it to the same people at the end of the day. And depending on the size of the business, you're the bigger you are, the less likely you're going to use that strategy to reach out to to tenants. Right. Because you're doing it more of a cold session. So that's kind of one way which allows us to have quick wins, especially with companies that have a lot of doors already, but just never focused on reviews. So we're just taking all the contacts, we're reaching out to get reviews. But we have eight other strategies, of course, that we've learned through all our clients over the years how to actually build it in operationally. How do you what's the best time to ask clients for reviews? How do you sequence it within the software as you're using? How do you incentivize your clients to leave your reviews? And how do you incentivize your team to get reviews for you and make that a focus right? Depending on the size of the business, that's another factor. If you have multiple property managers, you definitely want to incentivize them to get the reviews.

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Brad: Yeah. So you mentioned you mentioned something that really, you know, the key word you buzz me on was you had eight other things. And so it sounds like you have a numbered marketing plan. And that really got me going because when we go and present to an owner that is looking to hiring us for management, we actually have a written marketing plan. And as basic as it sounds, having a written marketing plan and putting that in front of a particular owner will help you get business. Now, I'm not saying you're trying to like get my business necessarily, but you you have a plan and that's always a good thing. And the plan for property managers when they're looking at hiring or getting hired by a by an owner are as simple as we advertise your home and the multiple listing service. We take good pictures, we take a video, we put a for sale sign up, I mean, for or for rent sign. I mean, those things are part of the marketing plan. We look at it like everyday stuff and to hear you say that you have nine different steps and just helping us get better reviews and more reviews, that's encouraging.

Brad: So that's a big part of what you guys are doing now. The organic side. I bet you could talk my ear off about that because that's that's really I mean, that's something that you can actually control. I mean, a little bit, let's say because of the content and the online stuff, you can't necessarily control reviews because if you suck and people hate you, man, you're they're going to let you know online. It's also a benchmark of your service levels if you're getting nothing but one star review is constantly you know, you may want to look in the mirror and say, okay, is this warranted? Do I get to fix something in my business? Or is this just crazy people out there and, you know, take it with a grain of salt? I mean, the crazy might be 20% and the you suck, you got to fix it might be 80%. The organic stuff is really what you guys that's where you guys are going to shine. And so tell me more about what your plans are with that.

Alex: So on the organic side, definitely like when we first started, that was our specialty. And today probably the biggest division of our team is our writers. So content creation is a big part with any website. You know, there's there's two types of, let's say, content that we create on a website. You're going to you're going to have some that are essentially like gateways into the website, which are what we call evergreen type based content year in, year out. These are the type of topics people search, right? Do looking for property management, buying an investment property stuff related to eviction laws, stuff related to rental agreements. So these are kind of the the really SEO rich content pieces we create and those are essentially the gateways into the site. And then you're going to have a lot of forward facing content, which is, let's say, leading them and educating them on something they probably didn't think of asking. That actually tends to be like the type of content a lot of property managers create, right? So they're going out and educating, but they're not taking that step back to say what are the basic, let's say, problem solutions that people tend to search more in a methodical way of obviously looking at the exact keywords and how that content structure. So that's really the two sides of the organic side. But the advantage on the organic side is that there's there's a snowball effect with that approach, right? Is that if you do that for a long time, year in, year out, you're actually going to increase your lead flow because everything you did from the year before will flow into the next year and actually benefit you being able to get new keywords.

Alex: And the more the more, let's say, authoritative your site becomes, the more keywords you're actually able to to rank higher for and you're able to go after more and more competitive keywords and you're actually able to, let's say, expand your service area. That's that's a big factor, which is when you start wherever your Google my business is, these are these tend to be the cities you have the most likelihood of showing up in. And the more authoritative your site becomes, the more traffic. All these factors that Google looks at, the more we're able to widen that base of exposure. We can go out to more and more cities or surrounding counties as an example. So even with us, when we work with companies that, let's say, have multiple locations, sometimes it's it's necessary. You need to have to Google my businesses, especially if you're in a big market, right? So if you're in San Antonio and you want to show up for that type of keyword, you generally have to have your Google my business in San Antonio. You can't have it in a in a smaller surrounding city as an example.

Brad: Yeah, that's been always a hot topic. Let's say you have multiple markets. Do you get one website? Do you get six websites? I mean that's always been a challenge and I don't know if there's the right answer. You may have a right answer because you're going to you're going to discover when we start working together that we have a faction in San Antonio, which is 80% of what we have and 20% we have another faction in Austin and they're arguably 60 minutes apart, depending on where you end, where you start. And so they're so close, but they're so different what they're growing into each other as well. So we actually cover the entire corridor and there's all these little towns in between Austin and ten. Tonio, like a New Braunfels and San Marcos and etc., etc.. There's, you know, all that's going to be covered in our keyword website and as far as the location searches. So you'll find that challenge. You're going to be like, okay, great, we're opening a can of worms that is going to be kind of tough, but we'll figure it out. Now, the tough question. Glad you're sitting down. Give us the pricing.

Alex: Pricing? Well, it will depend on the market as a general rule for, let's say, the majority of our our clients. They're probably paying between 1400 to 2000. It will really depend on the size of the market and it will depend on how many service areas they do and how competitive that market is. So on the organic side, a lot of it comes down to there's certain things that are standard and a lot of it's going to be based off like deliverables. So if you're doing a huge market and it's competitive, we generally have to create a lot more content, right? So that's a big factor when it comes to pricing and obviously when we're going and doing outreach and link building, which is we're getting the site sourced on other sites. Essentially there's content creation on that side as well from our team. So depending on the size of the market and how many inputs we have to do that, what tends to be the main determinant of the cost essentially. But roughly that that's what it should be around.

Brad: Fair enough. I can see justifying that pretty quick. Again, you get one. So in my head that would be one new management agreement every other month. So let's say I got six more in a year. Four I'd be I could argue for one every quarter. I can totally see where that could come into play. So what's the best way to reach you guys?

Alex: Best way would be to just go to our website and in all honesty up keep media dot com. We have a big button on the right side that says start here we offer a free growth marketing session. So ultimately we want to do this with anyone and everyone. It's really to show you what we actually do, but more from an educational standpoint and we'll actually look at your market. We'll show you competitors using these these actual strategies and we'll look at your company website as well, because we're using that also as a framework to understand where you're situated. And then we're also going to have questions based off your business. What do you make on an average client? We're looking to determine client lifetime value. We're trying to look at your previous growth as well. We're trying to look at what you've historically done in marketing and what's your average cost per acquisition, your closing rates, all of these things. Give us a little more information to see if we would be a right fit. And at the same time, we're doing an initial view of your actual market. But this way they walk away with a lot of useful information no matter what, and we give them a framework of thinking about what what should you actually focus on next? Sometimes it's not the marketing side. Some companies have to get a better website first. They have to get better reviews. They have to add a little more doors before they actually become a good fit for us as well.

Brad: Good question there. On the ADA compliance stuff with websites, I mean, is that something you take a quick look at and can potentially help people and get them compliant if they're not in compliance?

Alex: Yeah, well, there's two ways we can help. We can we can build it in and code it into our sites as an example, depending on whatever site they use, we do work with other company websites as well if they're structured well. But there's also there's also companies out there that they're straight softwares and you pay them, and they'll actually just add the coding on to the site, and they'll actually insure you for the ADA as well. We don't love that approach because you're just adding an extra block of code. So it's it's not the most ideal way, but it's a quick fix. It ensures you, which is nice, but it makes the site load a little slower. And if you're in a really competitive market again, we're trying to do everything from like most valuable to least valuable from an SEO standpoint. And we know loading speed makes a huge difference, and people who have done paid ads will know that as well. If your website loads even half a second slower, you could be throwing a lot of money down the drain, and it makes it.

Brad: Yeah. People will just click off. I mean, if, if the website's slow they'd be like BIY and they're going someplace else. The other side of that is I like that 88 check because there might be companies out there that are being told by their web provider that they're good, they're ADA compliant, etc. and the web provider might be two people in a garage somewhere. They're not really legit web providers. So that would be a good to have a second look like. I always talk about that in accounting. It couldn't hurt on the website. So I think that's a pretty good idea. And I'm glad you're doing that because, you know, as you get going with remote works, you know, take a look at us. I feel we're there. But you know, who knows? I'd rather have a second set of eyes, take a quick glance and reassure us that we are in compliance so we don't get dinged, Right? Because nobody wants to be in that realm where they're dealing with an ADA complaint over a stupid website. So that's frustrating. Yeah. Yeah. Good stuff on how to reach you. And so I thought this was a pretty good conversation we had. I. Really got me excited. As I talked, I'm going to get our team engaged with you and get you all signed up with us and work. Start working with you together. I'm hoping to also be able to see you and your upkeep media team at the Property Management Mastermind Conference going on in the end of March in Nashville, Tennessee.

Brad: And that's March 29, 30, 31, 2023, in Nashville, right on Broadway. Go to PMMCON.com to learn more about it. I think it's going to be a fantastic conference. You guys will fit right in because this is going to be mostly towards the business owners and maybe some of their key staffers that attend this conference. It's in the mastermind time frame and concept inside of that time frame where you get a lot of vendor exposure. So we have long breaks, we have long lunches, and everyone's going to be walking right past you guys, and you're going to get a lot of interaction. So I always encourage people to go to any of these conferences because that's where they learn the ins and outs, right? It's talking to providers like yourself that can say, all right, if you did this, this and this, you can get all your hopes and dreams will come true, but it's going to cost you. Now, I know I'm being kind of funny with that, but it really is the case when you're trying to round out your business and make improvements. The vendors out there in the space are here to help you improve your business. Yeah, it does cost them, but everybody wins. So it's a win-win for everybody. So, Alex, thanks again for coming on. Man. I look forward to seeing you at the conference, and I'm glad you had a chance to come on and tell us what you do. So, we'll talk to you soon, okay?

Alex: Thanks for having me, Brad.

Brad: Thank you. Thanks, Alex.

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About The Host

The Host of this Podcast is Brad Larsen from San Antonio, Texas. Brad is the founder and owner of RentWerx, one of the fastest growing residential Property Management companies in Texas that currently manages over 700 single family homes.