Acquiring new multi-family properties is an exciting time for your business. Whether it is simply one new location, or several, your company's growth requires careful negotiation and planning in order to gain the best return on your investment.
One aspect often overlooked in the multi-family acquisition process is that of preserving local SEO. While the property itself is valuable, if the previous company has put any time and effort into optimizing its listings for search engines, it is best to attempt to preserve those efforts during the transition. Here's a few tips for doing just that.
Request Access During the Deal
During the acquisition process it is easy to get caught up in the deal and forget about getting the keys to the location's digital presence. Don't forget to request these top 3 things, if applicable:
If at all possible, it is ideal to preserve the current domain of the location you are acquiring. In some cases this may not be relevant, simply because the location's page is hosted on a branded website domain. If this is the case you will definitely have to create a new page on your own branded domain, or build a new standalone website.
In some cases, multi-family properties have standalone websites. If this is the case for your new acquisition, simply request the current domain and either manage it directly, or setup redirects to the location's new web page. This will save a lot of trouble down the road and maintain search engine rankings.
2. Phone Number
Try to obtain the phone number as a part of the acquisition deal. This has several benefits. Not only will previous and current tenants still know exactly where to call, it can also assist with your local SEO as maintaining a consistent Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) is essential to your ranking.
Keeping your phone information the same, or at least setting up call forwarding or routing from that number to another, will ensure that you receive inbound phone calls and will make the transition process much smoother for everyone.
3. Local Directory Listings
Gaining access to any directory listings is not always something that is considered during the acquisition process, but it is very important for multi-family properties that rely so heavily on local directory listings.
In some cases you may have to create brand new local listings in order to be in compliance with the directory's requirements. Even if this is the case, it is typically best to have access to the old listings as you will have more power to remove or correct information. Of course every directory is different, and they are all constantly changing, so double check which listings you can simply transfer ownership. And always be careful not to mark any listings as closed until there is a live replacement listing that searchers can find easily.
After the Deal
If you didn't request access, or the previous owner's didn't have access to all of the listings, there are several things you should do to update your new location's digital presence.
1. Contact Directories for Access
Some directories will allow you to try to contact the listing's creator in order to transfer ownership. This is as simple as filling out a quick form and waiting for a response. The trouble is that sometimes these listings are so old or untouched that you will simply not get a response. If this is the case, you can try a few other methods, including requesting access from the directory, update the listing information, or close the listing after creating a new one with the current information.
2. Deal with Duplicates
In the transition process, duplicates will most likely happen. Sometimes they were generated by previous location owners, or well meaning customers. It is important to clear up duplicates as quickly as possible and ensure that the data displayed is accurate. You don't want to confuse potential and current tenants with incorrect information.
Again, each directory is different. But typically there is a way to either merge two listings, or to request a removal or close of the duplicate listing. Merging is usually the best option as this avoids confusion with a similar, closed business. But it ultimately depends on the directory.
3. Create Missing Directory Listings
Once you have gained access to all directories possible and handled your listing's duplicates, it is time to start creating any missing directory listings. For some locations you may find there is hardly any local directory presence, for others you may not have many missing listings at all. It simply depends on the location.
It is important to prioritize top directories first to maximize your time as these data aggregatores feed smaller directories across the local ecosystem. Once you have established a solid presence in the top directories, it is easier to create new listings in more niche directories across the web.
During the multi-family properties acquisition process it is important not to forget or ignore the importance of local SEO. By requesting the right access during the deal negotiations, and handling your local listings in the proper manner after the deal is completed, your location's digital presence will be better maintained and hold its local ranking.