Getting the Most Visibility from Property Photos with Search Optimization



Adding lively, engaging property photos of apartment communities – inside and out – enhances marketability and appeal of any property, but is that property actually getting the visibility you’d hope for?

A property manager or marketing director may stroll a property and snap a few photos on a cell phone or other digital camera and upload them to the website with high hopes they’ll be seen and entice prospects to drive by or make an appointment for a closer look.

The reality is that the imagery may not help to fully tell the property’s story and capture a prospect’s attention even when specifically searching for the apartment community.

Google is becoming multifamily’s search result of choice

Multifamily knows that visibility is all about search engine optimization. Google pulls search results based on the location closest to the searcher at the top, directing traffic to a company’s website rather than intermediary internet listing sites (ILS). Google Places’ shift in search results display makes it more important than ever to have verified, rich, immersive content on websites that can be served up depending on the searcher’s interest.

Google Street View has become the most desirable search that sets multifamily properties apart when apartment hunters shop a specific property. Searches produce a colorful, 360-degree street view of the property that takes the viewer on a journey of the apartment’s surroundings. The prospect can look for certain amenities at the community and get a look at the surroundings.

Also, gaining popularity in Google searches are virtual tours of the apartment’s community.

Uploading content to Google Street View requires using one of the approved 360-degree cameras for the search platform. If the photo isn’t taken with one of these cameras (Ricoh and Samsung make popular versions), the street view is unlikely to come up in searches.

Redefining apartment curb appeal within Google searches

Investing in such a camera, however, can be expensive (upwards of $3,500). And having a knowledgeable photographer to capture the best possible image is another story.

The new RealPage PropertyPhotos is redefining the visual appeal of properties in searches. Professional photographers work with customers to photograph apartments inside and out with cameras validated by Google Street View.

The service positions the property for a quick tour for apartment hunters from any desktop, laptop or mobile device when searched. Interior shots are especially engaging, says RealPage Vice President Sheena Pabari.

“The best views of the property, whether it be the interior or exterior, offer the full experience for the prospect,” she said. “We’re taking that one step further and not only capturing the exterior, but we’re giving properties their interiors as well. It allows the user to walk through the neighborhood through exterior photos and look at interior amenities or model units of the property.”

Google Street View validation heightens search ranking

Interior imagery is gaining prominence on Google, especially in the hospitality industry. Consumers searching for a hotel can not only see room interiors but view the lobby, pool, gym and other areas.

“You can Google any hotel in Times Square and walk through the lobby and see if they have a Starbucks or not,” Pabari said. “In the same vein, we’re making content available for the multifamily industry to establish online presence, especially in today’s world where travel, vacationing and relocation is on the high and continuing to grow.”

It’s all in the tools.

Photos from a Google Street View-verified camera are validated when uploaded. The validation heightens the ranking when the content is uploaded to a website or elsewhere on line.

“The value to that as a whole adds benefits to clients and in addition, having that additional ranking added to their website verifies the content that they have linked to a site,” Pabari said.

Adding a layer of protection for your community photos

PropertyPhotos has a layer of protection, as well. Whether working with RealPage or a third-party company to capture the allure of a property through photos and graphic design, the property management company can be confident that the potential for licensing issues is reduced through the DigitalHealthcheck™, Pabari says.

Erin Mitchell, product manager at RealPage, said property owners and managers have more to worry about with running a portfolio or apartment community than if their digital assets are at risk of a copyright or licensing infringement.

“We’re trying to make licensing easy,” she said. “We recognize that licensing can be quite difficult to manage and understand. We’re making it direct and to the point, only offering one type of licensing solution that will allow them to use the asset however they need to, print it, distribute it, use it on their website, use it in an ILS, so they don’t have to feel constrained of using their newly acquired digital asset in only one way or two ways.”

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