Top Rental Sites SEO Rankings Report

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Manage My Property

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 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

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

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".

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.

Originally posted on managemyproperty.com under, "Top Rental Sites SEO Rankings Report"

Comments (5)

Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA
LandlordWhisperer

Craigslist and partner sites * Hotpads and MyNewPlace * of HomeRentals.net have  been my biggest providers of new residents.

Jun 04, 2010 10:07 AM
Tracy Lee Parker
RE/MAX Heritage/PLATINUM PROPERTIES & MANAGEMENT - Royse City, TX
Buy*Sell*Lease

Thank you for this keyword list, appreciate it.

Jun 04, 2010 10:29 AM
Jordan Muela
Manage My Property - Austin, TX
Manage My Property

@Wallace - Do you use any automated tools for posting?

@Tracy - My pleasure

Jun 04, 2010 02:52 PM
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA
LandlordWhisperer

Jordan * I'm not sure what an automated tool is * have a posting daily posting routine whereby I export my HERO listing html to CL * 4 to 6 listings daily.

Jun 04, 2010 07:26 PM
Robin Scott
Robin Scott, REALTOR® - Austin, TX
Broker, REALTOR® - Austin Texas

Jordan, a fantastic posting! Glad I found it and you. Have a great New Year!

Dec 28, 2010 03:54 AM