Top Rental Sites SEO Rankings Report

by Christopher Berkompas on May 21, 2010 · 17 comments

in Uncategorized

Search engine optimization is one of the things we’re passionate about, and periodically we like to do a deep dive and get a handle on what is happening in related industries. Recently we ran across Andrew Shotlands’s post “IYP SEO Rankings Report 2009” ranking the different internet yellow pages sites by their share of competitive search engine rankings, and decided to apply a similar methodology to see how the different rental sites stacked up against each other.

Since many of you property managers use these sites to publish your rental listings, we thought you’d be interested in seeing which of these sites perform the best for the most important rental keywords in the search engines.

In brief, here is the methodology we followed:

  • Identified the top 20 rental keywords using Google Suggest and the Adwords Keyword tool (see below)
  • Performed Google searches for these keywords in the top 20 U.S. cities, with personalization turned off (for a total of 400 geotargeted queries).
  • Each time a site appeared in the serps, we awarded it 1 point for each position, starting at the bottom. (On a page with 10 results, the first result got 10 points, the second 9 points, etc.)
  • Weighted each search by the U.S. monthly search volume for that keyword reported by Google.
  • Summed up the points for each domain to determine its final score.

So, in theory, this data should tell us which rental sites dominate the search engine rankings for the most important and competitive rental keywords.

And here are the results:

Top 25 Rental Sites by Search Engine Market Share

Top rental sites share of search engine rankings

Regional Rankings – Top 10 Rental Sites by City

Those were the nationwide rankings, but we noticed quite a bit of diversity in the rankings for each city. For example, regional websites like AllAustin.com frequently claimed top spots, even though they didn’t make the nationwide list. Property managers and investors operating in these markets might be interested in the following regional rankings:

Austin

  1. apartments.com
  2. allaustin.com
  3. apartmentguide.com
  4. rentals.com
  5. smallplanetguide.com
  6. austinapartmentstore.com
  7. rent.com
  8. statesman.com
  9. apartmentfinder.com
  10. rentalhomesplus.com

Baltimore

  1. apartments.com
  2. rent.com
  3. rentals.com
  4. sublet.com
  5. baltimoreapartments.com
  6. apartmentguide.com
  7. rentalhomesplus.com
  8. mynewplace.com
  9. apartmentratings.com
  10. craigslist.org

Charlotte

  1. apartments.com
  2. rentalhouses.com
  3. rent.com
  4. rentals.com
  5. apartmentfinder.com
  6. apartmentguide.com
  7. apartmentratings.com
  8. mynewplace.com
  9. craigslist.org
  10. 4rentcharlotte.com

Chicago

  1. apartments.com
  2. apartmentpeople.com
  3. chicagotribune.com
  4. chicagoapartmentfinders.com
  5. rent.com
  6. rentals.com
  7. apartmentguide.com
  8. mynewplace.com
  9. rentsmartchicago.com
  10. craigslist.org

Columbus

  1. apartments.com
  2. rentalhouses.com
  3. move.com
  4. rent.com
  5. rentals.com
  6. apartmentguide.com
  7. apartmentfinder.com
  8. craigslist.org
  9. columbusbestrentals.com
  10. columbusrent.com

Dallas

  1. apartments.com
  2. rent.com
  3. rentalhouses.com
  4. apartmentguide.com
  5. apartmentfinder.com
  6. rentals.com
  7. rentalhomesplus.com
  8. apartmentratings.com
  9. forrent.com
  10. move.com

Detroit

  1. apartments.com
  2. craigslist.org
  3. rentals.com
  4. rent.com
  5. move.com
  6. mynewplace.com
  7. apartmentratings.com
  8. rentalhomesplus.com
  9. sublet.com
  10. rentlinx.com

Fort Worth

  1. rentals.com
  2. apartments.com
  3. apartmentratings.com
  4. rent.com
  5. craigslist.org
  6. rentalhouses.com
  7. move.com
  8. rentalhomesplus.com
  9. apartmentguide.com
  10. apartmentwiz.com

Houston

  1. apartments.com
  2. rentals.com
  3. rent.com
  4. houston1apartments.com
  5. apartmentguide.com
  6. har.com
  7. apartmentfinder.com
  8. houstonapartments.com
  9. rentalhomesplus.com
  10. apartmentratings.com

Indianapolis

  1. apartmentguide.com
  2. apartments.com
  3. rent.com
  4. rentalhouses.com
  5. rentals.com
  6. mynewplace.com
  7. apartmentratings.com
  8. dorfmanpropertymanagement.com
  9. placetoliverentals.com
  10. craigslist.org

Jacksonville

  1. rentals.com
  2. apartments.com
  3. rent.com
  4. mynewplace.com
  5. rentalhouses.com
  6. apartmentguide.com
  7. jaxguide.com
  8. firstcoastrentalads.com
  9. apartmentratings.com
  10. rentalhomesplus.com

Los Angeles

  1. apartments.com
  2. latimes.com
  3. craigslist.org
  4. apartmentguide.com
  5. rent.com
  6. westsiderentals.com
  7. 4rentinla.com
  8. forrent.com
  9. apartmentfinder.com
  10. rentals.com

Also see our directory of Los Angeles property management companies.

Memphis

  1. rent.com
  2. apartments.com
  3. rentals.com
  4. apartmentguide.com
  5. rentalhouses.com
  6. apartmentratings.com
  7. craigslist.org
  8. apartmentfinder.com
  9. forrent.com
  10. move.com

New York

  1. apartments.com
  2. citi-habitats.com
  3. rentals.com
  4. nycdwellers.com
  5. rent.com
  6. markdavidny.com
  7. elikaassociates.com
  8. rentalhouses.com
  9. nytimes.com
  10. anchornyc.com

Philadelphia

  1. apartments.com
  2. craigslist.org
  3. apartmentguide.com
  4. sublet.com
  5. 4wallsinphilly.com
  6. rentals.com
  7. phillyapartmentco.com
  8. rentinphilly.com
  9. reinholdresidential.com
  10. apartmentratings.com

Phoenix

  1. apartmentguide.com
  2. apartments.com
  3. rentals.com
  4. azcentral.com
  5. rent.com
  6. rentvine.com
  7. rentalhouses.com
  8. apartmentratings.com
  9. mynewplace.com
  10. craigslist.org

San Antonio

  1. apartments.com
  2. rentals.com
  3. mysanantonio.com
  4. apartmentratings.com
  5. rent.com
  6. apartmentguide.com
  7. forrent.com
  8. rentalhomesplus.com
  9. apartmentfinder.com
  10. sanantonioapartmentstore.com

San Diego

  1. forrent.com
  2. apartments.com
  3. craigslist.org
  4. rent.com
  5. rentals.com
  6. signonsandiego.com
  7. apartmentguide.com
  8. sandiegoapartments.com
  9. apartmentratings.com
  10. move.com

San Francisco

  1. craigslist.org
  2. apartments.com
  3. rentalguide.com
  4. rentinsanfrancisco.com
  5. mynewplace.com
  6. apartmentratings.com
  7. sfgate.com
  8. apartmentfinder.com
  9. apartmentguide.com
  10. rentals.com

Also see our directory of San Francisco property management companies.

San Jose

  1. apartments.com
  2. rent.com
  3. rentals.com
  4. mynewplace.com
  5. apartmentratings.com
  6. sublet.com
  7. apartmentguide.com
  8. move.com
  9. craigslist.org
  10. house.info

Anticipated questions

  • Why did you only use Google rankings? We realized that results would vary by search engine, but collecting data for multiple search engines would have been tricky, and given that Google still commands 65.5% of the market, they were the logical first pick.
  • Why only the top 20 keywords? From a data collection standpoint, this was the only approach that made sense. There are simply too many “long tail” keywords, and we weren’t confident that we could develop a representative sample set. So we decided to focus on performance for the highest traffic “head” terms.
  • What about site traffic? It is hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison based on traffic numbers. Some sites get a lot of traffic from non-organic sources, and some cover a wide range of topics, like Craigslist.org, so Compete.com numbers aren’t very helpful when trying to determine search engine dominance.
  • Were the searches conducted from an IP address located in the searched city? Nope, that would have been helpful but our branch offices in these 20 cities were all tied up while we performing the research ;-) , so to quote Andrew Shotland on this point “c’est la seach”.

If you have any other specific questions about our methodology or the data we collected, let us know in the comments or via email.

Footnotes

Here are the keywords we used, with search volume data from Google Adwords:

Keyword Search Share US Monthly Searches
apartments 28% 37,200,000
rentals 23% 30,400,000
apartment 10% 13,600,000
apartments for rent 6% 7,480,000
vacation rentals 6% 7,480,000
homes for rent 5% 6,120,000
homes rent 5% 6,120,000
rent houses 3% 4,090,000
apartments rent 3% 4,090,000
houses for rent 3% 3,350,000
vacation rental 1% 1,830,000
apartment rental 1% 1,500,000
rent house 1% 1,500,000
apartment rent 1% 1,220,000
rental homes 1% 1,220,000
house for rent 1% 1,000,000
apartment rentals 1% 1,000,000
rental home 1% 1,000,000
house rentals 1% 1,000,000
rental house 1% 823,000

So, that’s it. Thoughts?

Update: There’s more! See our followup post.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Dugdale May 22, 2010 at 5:01 am

Christopher, interest write up and great looking graphics. Nice work and thanks for adding my site in there.

Reply

Christopher May 24, 2010 at 6:30 am

Thanks! And just to be clear, the SERPs themselves provided me with the list of companies; I didn’t tweak them at all.

Reply

New York apartments May 25, 2010 at 7:13 am

Hi,

this is definitely the future of marketing research, market share will be based on SERPs…

Thanks for listing my site. We are still #1 for NYC rentals

Go NYC dwellers, GO! :)

Reply

New Construction Manhattan May 25, 2010 at 7:19 am

Eyeopening research…

But I still believe if you create quality people will know about it, talk about it, use it.
But a little SEO never hurts…

Reply

Matt D June 4, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Chris, great research;

what search terms did you use for the city rankings?

apartments, apartments in ?

What do you think the definition of google search volume is? how many serps were generated for that keyword in a month?

Reply

Christopher Berkompas June 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Hi Matt! We used the city name followed by the keyword, i.e. Austin apartments. According to Google, local monthly search volume is calculated as a 12 month average for your country of origin, in this case the U.S. (https://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&ctx=tltp&answer=161369)

Reply

David Borden July 30, 2010 at 10:33 am

Hi Chris,

Another great post, obviously I need to be reading your blog more often. We were always lost on how to compare ourselves to craigslist and others, but this seems like a pretty good formula. Any way you could do a similar analysis in Canada?

Thanks,

Dave Borden

Reply

Rental Ads September 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Christopher,

Would it be possible to include the total number of points each website received when doing your report? That would be usueful to know so that other websites (like mine) could caluclate how far from the top 25 we were.

Thanks,
Kyle

Reply

Brodsky Organization March 15, 2011 at 8:20 am

Such a great post, Kyle. I used a lot of the resources you mentioned when posting Manhattan apartment listings. This is definitely a great tool for anyone who doing search marketing for real estate.

Reply

Toronto Apartments September 12, 2011 at 9:46 am

Hi Christopher,

Thank you for this post. This is really good information for a new site like mine. Like Dave Borden, I am also very interested knowing if you could do something like this for the major cities in Canada.

Thanks,
Ying

Reply

Orange County Rentals January 18, 2012 at 8:18 am

Hi Christopher,

Great post – I have been trying to optimize search terms and this helps. I have a focus on Orange County home rentals and was optimizing for “Community+Home+Rentals” but now wondering if “Community+Rentals” much more effective. Obviously the more generic “Rentals” picks up misc rentals like tools. Interested in your comments. Thanks.

Reply

office space columbus January 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Nice analysis. It is hard to keep up with the Google search keywords results for all categories. We do commercial leasing, sales, commercial property management and receiverships for office space, warehouses and retail space in Columbus, Ohio so we have a lot of keywords to try to optimize. It is hard to be in the right place at the right time, so you just have to try to be everywhere at once.

Reply

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