Apartments Knowledge Graph

Apartments Knowledge Graph

Google organized travel data and captures more revenue than the industry leader. Google is now organizing multifamily apartments data.

That should scare ILSes.

How did they do it?

Google Will Eat Multifamily ILSes' Lunch

Google is Starting to Organize Multifamily Data. That Should Scare the ILSes.

Google’s vision is to:

“Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

As Google absorbs and organizes information in different industries, it eats into the revenues of those ecosystems. It has done this in the past.

  • It absorbed and organized the data for the restaurant industry. Victim: Yelp.
  • It absorbed and organized the data for the hotel industry. Victims: Expedia & Priceline.

Now, Google is absorbing and organizing the data for the multifamily industry. Multifamily ILSes (Internet Listing Services) such as Apartments.com and Rent.com are squarely in their cross-hairs.

Why Should Multifamily Care?

It should not stretch anyone’s imagination to see that prospects will start using Google as their primary platform for apartment searches. Result:

Fewer leads from ILSes, more leads from Google.

How are you preparing for this change? In this 5-part post on Apartment Knowledge Graphs, we will give you the tools to understand and prepare for it.

Let’s start with a little trip down memory lane.

Google vs Online Travel Agencies

How did Google disrupt the travel industry? The formula is simple:

  • First, as promised in its vision, Google organized data for the Hotel industry.
  • Second, it made the data useful by ensuring users got all the answers they needed without leaving Google Maps or Google Search Pages.
  • Third, the attached ads to those search results started cutting into the online travel agencies’ (OTA) revenues.

Here are the results:

  • In 2016, the revenues of the largest player in the OTA industry, “Priceline Group” (now called “Booking Holdings”), was $10.7 billion.
  • Google’s travel division has caught up fast and is estimated to have revenues of $14 billion in 2017.

Next, we’ll explore Knowledge Graphs to understand how Google is taking advantage of industry data to grab revenues in ways you’d least expect…


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Two Words: Knowledge Graph

How does Google organize industry data? And, how does it shift revenues from the industry ecosystem to itself? The answer is in the deceptively simple, but awesomely powerful Knowledge Graph. Let’s look at the Hotel and the Apartment Knowledge Graph to unpack this technology.

The Hotel Knowledge Graph

Here is Google’s knowledge panel for a hotel visible on the right of a search results page:

Hotel Knowledge Graph

What did it take to organize the Hotel Knowledge Graph?

First, Google collected information from many different sources:

  • Some of the basics come from spidering the hotel’s website
  • Other basics come from information volunteered by the hotel’s owner using Google My Business
  • Photos come from customers that have visited the hotel
  • Photos could also come directly from the owners themselves
  • Finally, reviews have come from third party sites

And, then, Google linked all of the above to create the knowledge graph for a single hotel.

Why is the Knowledge Graph so much more powerful than other search results?

First, the knowledge graph is not a link to other sites.

Second, its goal is to directly answer the most important questions without having to click through to multiple sites. As Google’s Amit Singhal said:

“If people are searching for “2+2″, why shouldn’t Google give a direct answer to that versus sending searchers to a site?”

Third, it has a built-in call-to-action that allows the user to initiate a transaction from Google. In this case, booking a room.

As a result, users are able to do all their research and make their decisions without leaving Google.

In contrast, the online travel agency (OTA) is left out of the loop. At best, it is left to make the actual reservation. At worst, the reservation is made directly on the hotel’s site itself.

The Apartment Knowledge Graph

How close is Google to organizing the Multifamily Apartment Knowledge Graph? Look at it for yourself:

Apartment Knowledge Graph

Pretty close to the Hotel Knowledge Graph, right?

In the next section we’ll compare the evolving state of Google’s Apartments Knowledge Graph to their Hotels Knowledge Graph…


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Apartments Knowledge Graph on Google Search Page

Google’s knowledge graph is their biggest asset in taking down industry leaders. How close is Google’s multifamily Apartments Knowledge Graph to their Hotels Knowledge Graph? We take a close look:

Apartments Knowledge Graph vs. Hotel Knowledge Graph

When a user searches for a hotel, they are looking to do a few essential tasks:

  1. Get and compare a hotel’s basic information
  2. Get and compare a hotel’s pricing information
  3. Book a room

Google’s knowledge graph for hotels supports all of the above functions.

But, Google’s knowledge graph for apartments is not that far behind. It can do the first but not the second and third items.

This is how the two compare on a search engine page:

Google Knowledge Graph for Hotels vs. Apartments

What’s Similar Between the Hotels & Apartments Knowledge Graphs?

Both contain the basics, such as photos, links to maps, links to websites, etc.

Knowledge Panel Slice 1

Hotel and Apartment details are found in both panels. Though, it seems a lot more thought has gone into the hotel’s description.

Knowledge Panel Slice 3

Since reviews are a part of Google’s platform, there is hardly any difference here.

Knowledge Panel Slice 5

What’s Different Between the Hotel and Apartments Knowledge Graphs?

There are two essentials missing from the apartments’ knowledge graph:

  1. No amenities
  2. No call-to-action to “Apply” for a lease or even schedule a tour

Knowledge Panel Slice 2Knowledge Panel Slice 4

However, it is only a matter of time before Google adds apartment amenities and floor plan pricing to their Knowledge Graph.

Once they do that, expect a lot of ready-to-apply leads coming from Google.

Now, let’s do a comparison of these Knowledge Graphs on Google Maps…


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Apartments Knowledge Graph on Google Maps

A Shift is Coming

The Apartments Knowledge Graph is very similar to the Hotel Knowledge Graph. Above, we compared the two on a search page. Now, let’s compare them on Google Maps.

A close look at the comparison shows there is a shift happening in the multifamily industry.

Maps View

Google Maps’ results for a Hotel and an apartment building are almost identical. But there is one vital difference: there is no pricing info for apartments.

Google Maps Hotels and Apartments Results

List View

The story is the same for its list view. They are very similar except for pricing.

Google Maps Result Set

Single Property View

How about the result view for a single hotel vs. a single multifamily complex?

Once again, the only differences are:

  • Price-based Search
  • Amenities

Hotel vs. Apartment

Let’s zero in on those differences:

Difference # 1: Price-based Search

Google has sophisticated price-based search for hotels. Specifically, its knowledge graph has prices for the same room:

  • From different online travel agencies
  • For various travel dates

Price-based search

There is no pricing on the apartment side.

Difference #2: Amenities

For a person searching for a hotel, its amenities are key in the decision-making process. While the Hotel Knowledge Graph has amenities, the Apartments Knowledge Graph does not.

Difference #3: Booking Options

When a prospect is ready to act, it is important that they have the option to book a tour online, just as they are able to book a hotel room with Google.

Knowledge Panel Slice 2Knowledge Panel Slice 4

Just Three Items for Google…

…and, it wraps up its Apartments Knowledge Graph.

All Google has to do is to enhance the Apartments Knowledge Graph with just three items:

  1. Pricing for floor plans and availability dates
  2. Amenities for each apartment complex
  3. Booking a tour

That’s it! Once they finally do that, consider it GAME OVER!

The Multifamily ILS is the next domino to fall.

So, how can Property Management Companies take advantage of Apartment Knowledge Graphs? Read on!


Like what you’re learning so far? Get more illustrated technology explainers for MFEs by signing up for Multifamily Minute!

Want help creating a Knowledge Graph to grab more Google traffic? Get in touch!

How to Build your Apartments Knowledge Graph

So far we have covered how Google will take over the Multifamily ILSes’ business with their Apartments Knowledge Graph. But, property management companies (PMC) can get more leads from Google by building their Apartments Knowledge Graph.

How Can a PMC Build Its Apartments Knowledge Graph?

Google does not single-source the data for its Apartments Knowledge Graph. Here is an example of the different sources needed to build Google’s Apartments Knowledge Graph:

 

How to Build your Apartments Knowledge Graph Knowledge Panel Breakdown

Let’s dive into how you can use each source to position your apartment well with Google’s users.

#1. Fill in the Info Section on Google My Business

Your first change should be made in Google My Business:

  1. Go to Google My Business
  2. Pick your location
  3. Select the “Info” section
  4. Fill out the fields to make your knowledge graph as complete as possible

Google My Business Fields for Apartments Knowledge Graph

#2. Write a Wikipedia Article

Next, write a Wikipedia article about your property. Google loves to use Wikipedia as a resource and will use it to enhance your knowledge graph.

For example, here is the description of a property from a Wikipedia article being displayed in its knowledge graph:

Via 57 West Wikipedia Article Example#3. Push Information to Google Using Structured Data on your Website

Google uses structured data to assemble its Knowledge Graphs.

Structured data is a machine-readable format to pass information to Google. Here is an example:

Via 57 West Structured Data ExampleThe following steps are slightly technical, but not crazily so. In general, web developers (like Hy.ly) should provide this functionality out-of-the-box, so you don’t have to do this.

If your web developer does not provide this, you can build one yourself:

  1. Go to schema.org/ApartmentComplex. Identify the fields you want in your Knowledge Graph
  2. Build & test your script in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
  3. Place the script in the “< head >” section of your property’s website

#4. Encourage Positive Reviews

Finally, we get to the Reviews section of the Apartments Knowledge Graph. This has been covered in many other places, so we will not get into this in detail.

Is an Apartments Knowledge Graph in your Future?

As Google takes over the multifamily industry, PMCs can get ahead of their competition. If PMCs can help complete Google’s knowledge graph for their apartment communities, Google will help them get more qualified leads. If that happens, Google may completely overtake the ILSes.


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Want help creating a Knowledge Graph to grab more Google traffic? Get in touch!


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