If you’ve ever done a search on Google or Bing and have seen a rich snippet result such as an answer box, a set of “People Also Ask” questions, a star rating review, or a featured event, then you’ve likely encountered SERP results using structured data markup, or schema. Schema is a great way to enhance your SEO efforts, if applied correctly. Learn more about the Digible processes and how we utilize schema in our SEO campaigns.
What is Schema?
In 2011 top search engines, including Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo, first began a collaborative effort to create Schema.org. Their goal was to support a common set of schemas for structured data markup on web pages. Schema uses microdata in backend coding. This microdata helps search engines understand page elements by giving labels to individual content blocks. One of my favorite statements about schema comes from a WordStream article where they say that using schema markup for SEO makes your site “easier to find for stupid machines”. And that, in a nutshell, is exactly what schema does. Until the search engines AI becomes smart enough to read and understand everything on a page from text, to photos, to videos, to referential elements — schema makeup is a great way to tell the search engines exactly what your page is about.
Having schema markup on your webpage can also help the search engines serve up more visually robust results for your content in search results. A SERP snippet that is more visually appealing than the others around it can result in more clicks to your website and more visitor interactions on your pages. This is gold for your search engine optimization game plan because it not only helps you stand out from the competition in the SERPs, it also boosts your session stats and page interactions. Two things that Google pays attention to.
Once you have a searcher on your site, it is important to have strong pages that provide a great user experience to keep them interested in what you have to offer. You want that page to answer the question the searcher has about your products and services and supply them with a robust amount of supplemental information, encouraging them to visit multiple pages on your website. The stronger an experience you can give a site visitor, the more likely they are to follow through with next step actions like contacting you through the online form, calling you for unit or leasing information, or performing another action on site like completing a download or signing up for a newsletter or a virtual tour.
What types of Schema Are Best for Apartment Websites?
According to schema.org, the overall vocabulary currently consists of 836 Schema Types, 1361 Properties, and 341 Enumeration values. Of those, the most pertinent to apartment websites are:
Let’s discuss how each one of these can enhance content within the search results for multi-family property websites.
Local Business Schema
Using LocalBusiness schema types will help search engines understand your business entity and NAP (Name, Address, Phone) information as it relates to your geographic location and business type. This schema type helps search engines identify what type of business you are and better understand what you do. This is great for local SEO as it strengthens your geo location information and clearly defines your business. You will sometime hear us refer to this as NAP schema, here is an example:
"streetAddress": "4755 Main St"
"description": "Maximized living with walkability access and luxury comforts. Our green building promotes energy efficiency. Envision your new home in downtown Lisle.",
"name": "Marq on Main",
"openingHours": "Mo-Sa 10:00-19:00",
"sameAs": [ "https://www.facebook.com/marqonmain",
Review schema is incredible because it is highly visual, showing up as yellow stars in the search results page. But, review schema is also quite tricky to get right. Google has gone through several iterations of allowing review star snippets in search results and then removing them later. Currently it is very hard to get star results to show, but if you can get there, they are very eye catching on the SERP pages and can garner a lot of clicks, especially if they appear on the first page or two of Google.
There are many ways to markup review schema, you can mark up individual reviews if you have a dedicated testimonials page that allows users to leave reviews, or you can mark up an aggregate rating, such as the example below:
"name": "Apartments for rent in Charlotte, North Carolina”,
"description": "Luxury 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments for rent in the Research Park neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina",
"brand": "Bainbridge Research Park",
Note: It is the aggregate rating reviews that are showing less in SERP results since Google’s May core algorithm update.
This is a great set of microdata to add to a page where you have an embedded video or a set of videos, such as a video library page. Because it may be hard for Google and the other search engines to understand the content in your video, adding VideoObject schema is a great way to share data about the subject matter of the video clip that Google may otherwise miss. Here is an example of VideoObject markup:
"name": "Marq On Main - Making Your Mark",
"description": "Learn about urban life at the Marq on Main luxury apartments in Lisle, IL",
"transcript": "Discover maximized living. Marq on Main takes main to the max. Living in an apartment in Downtown Lisle, IL, puts you in a main spot for walkability. Explore shops, restaurants,and walk to the Metra. Inside, you're in a main spot for luxury living - enjoy a resort-style pool,fitness center,and fine features such as quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances."
This is a very popular schema type that you see a lot relating to concerts, sporting events, plays, movies, pretty much anything that attracts an audience can use event schema. A way that apartments could use event schema is when they have an open house or any other type of special organized event at the property. Using event schema not only helps the search engines recognize an offering you are submitting to the community, it also adds a visual element to the SERP results that may garner a lot of attention without a large marketing cost. Here is an example of what that schema type might look like:
"streetAddress": "11001 W 15th Pl"
"name": "Avenida Lakewood"
"name": "Avenida Lakewood Open House",
"description": "Learn more about our active living 55+ community and our open units at our grand opening event.",
Note: it is very important to keep your event schema up to date. If you change anything about the event, like start / end times or dates be sure to update your schema. Even if you update the text on the page, your schema code may reflect the wrong information if you do not update the code directly.
This is good when highlighting a property management company, especially if your branding is well known and highly sought after. Organization schema highlights the brand name, address, and contact information for the parent company and is best used on an “About” styled page on the website. Examples include:
"name": "The Bainbridge Companies",
"alternateName": "Bainbridge Property Management",
"contactType": "customer service",
Question and Answer schema sets are great additions to FAQ pages on your website. They help style your search results into People Also Ask question blocks and can also result in featured snippet results if someone in your area types in that question. Both of these features are highly visible in the SERPs and stand out, enhancing the changes that you will get people to click on your result.
Example of FAQPage schema code:
"name": "How much does it cost to apply?",
"text": "Our application fee is $45 per applicant and our deposit is $400. The application fee is non-refundable."
"name": "How do I qualify? Do you accept Section 8 Vouchers?",
"text": "Our screening guidelines include credit history, criminal history, income qualification, and rental/address qualification. We currently do not participate in the voluntary Section 8 Voucher program."
"name": "Are pets allowed? Are there fees or pet rent?",
"text": "Nuvelo at Parkside is a pet friendly community. The maximum is 2 pets per apartment. Breed restrictions apply. There is a $200 pet deposit, $200 non-refundable fee/dog or a $100 non-refundable fee/cat. There are monthly fees: $40 pet rent/dog; $15 pet rent/cat"
"name": "What utilities am I responsible for?",
"text": "Residents are responsible for all utilities, which includes water/sewer, trash, electric, heat and gas."
"name": "What parking options are available?",
"text": "Your home at Nuvelo at Parkside includes one space in our heated, underground garage."
See Increased Organic Traffic Using Schema
Now that you’ve seen how info-rich schema markup is, you can understand how using schema throughout important pages on your website can enhance your organic presence.
Because schema markup helps the search engines understand the page content quickly and clearly, and because rich results generally get more clicks than regular results, there is a higher chance that using schema would lead to an improvement in organic rankings for marked up pages.
Your website will, in turn, rank higher due to increased visits (click-throughs) and improved interactivity (time on page, pages visited, and time on site) thanks to just a little bit of schema code on your most important pages.
At Digible, we use JSON-LD markup for schema. We keep our sites running and loading quickly by keeping this code off-site, firing from Google Tag Manager, since overall site speed is an important user experience (UX) metric — especially on mobile. If you would like more information on how schema can help your organic SEO campaign, please reach out and contact us. We’d be happy to discuss our marketing options with you!