Google AdWords has become one of the most popular online advertising platforms for real estate professionals.
It takes months, in some cases years, to rank high in organic search results for competitive keywords, but your brand can secure the Number #1 slot within minutes if you are willing to spend money on Google Ads.
While Google Ads can get you high-converting real estate leads for sure, it can also end up being a money pit if you don’t know how to set up fully optimized Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) ads for real estate leads.
Not preparing a conversion funnel before running an AdWords ad campaign is one of the biggest mistakes real estate agents and brokers make. They drive leads to the homepage of their websites where there is no call-to-action or any other mechanism to capture leads. These pages leave visitors in utter confusion as to what they are supposed to do next.
Here is a rule of thumb: You have to make some profit for every ad campaign you run. If you have spent $500 on Google ads without capturing a single lead, then it’s quite obvious that you are not using this advertising platform the right way. It means you need to take a hard look at your advertising strategy, instead of cursing the platform and giving up.
Here are seven most important things you need to familiarize yourself with before dabbling in Google AdWords PPC for generating real estate leads:
Get your keywords right
You have three choices when it comes to targeting real estate keywords with Google Adwords PPC.
‘Broad match’ keywords are good for driving traffic and brand awareness, so you will want to use ‘phrase match’ or ‘exact match’ keywords in order to capture high converting leads.
Basically which one of these keywords an advertiser should target depends on the niche. If you are selling products with a mass appeal in a niche like health, you can definitely go for broad match keywords.
But since you are targeting highly-motivated property buyers and sellers, it would be safer for you to use ‘phrase match’ or ‘exact match’ keywords.
Let’s now understand the basic difference among the three types with an example.
Let’s say you are targeting a keyword: buy homes in Kansas.
If you choose broad match keyword in your ad campaign, then the ad will show even if people use words or phrases in addition to your keywords like ‘cheap homes to buy in Wichita Kansas’, ‘how to buy homes in Kansas’, ‘what is the best time to buy a home in Overland Park in Kansas’ etc.
If you choose phrase match keywords, your ad will show only if people use the keywords in the exact order. For example if a person searches for ‘cheap homes to buy in Wichita Kansas’, your ad won’t show because the keywords are not in the exact order. However, it will show if the person uses the keywords ‘cheap homes to buy in Kansas’.
Exact match keywords are exactly what they imply. Your ad will show only if a person enters the exact keywords: ‘buy homes in Kansas’.
Pro tip: While you don’t need to use any punctuation mark for broad match keywords, you need to enclose a phrase match keyword in double quotation mark like: “buy homes in Kansas” and an exact match keyword in parentheses like [buy homes in Kansas].
If you are not sure what category of keywords you should choose, you can always experiment with each type of keywords and determine which one provides you the highest conversion rate or Click-Through-Rate (CTR).
Realize your campaign’s full potential with Ad Extensions
Ad extensions are basically small links which appear below an advert set.
Studies suggest that these links can increase click-through-rate (CTR) substantially because they provide searchers with more choices.
For example if the headline of your ad copy says ‘NYC properties for sale’, you can put small links below the advert such as ‘Manhattan Properties, Available Coops, Brooklyn Properties, Available Condos’ etc.
A prospect may ignore your ad after looking at the headline because he may be interested in more specific information. But if he happens to be interested in properties particularly in Manhattan, your ad will immediately grab his attention.
Use your brand name in the headline
Apart from targeting high converting keywords, you should also put the name of your real estate brand in the headline.
It’s because most people will click on organic searches showing up below the ads, but even if they do so, they will at least get a glimpse of your brand’s name.
Your brand will get etched in their mind and if they keep running into it multiple times while conducting searches, you get brand promotion completely free of cost.
What’s your return on investment?
When you start a real estate advertising campaign with Google AdWords, make sure you keep track of the conversion rate.
For example let’s say you spent $2000 on Google Ads in a week for capturing real estate leads. You got a total of 250 clicks on the ad which generated three leads.
One of these leads actually converted into a customer, making you $3000.
Now you need to determine ‘cost-per-click’ (CPC) and ‘earning-per-click’ (EPC).
The CPC in this case is $2, while the EPC is $4.
It’s not bad, but now you need to focus on how to decrease the CPC and increase EPC.
Experiment or A/B test several ad sets – targeting different keywords, headlines, text etc.
Know what words or phrases to exclude
A great feature of Google ads or most other PPC advertising platforms is that you can prevent your ads from showing up in search results if people use certain phases or words in addition to your target keywords. These words or phrases are called Negative Keywords.
Adding Negative Keywords is necessary particularly if you are using ‘broad match’ keywords.
For example a real estate broker from New Orleans told me recently that he was getting a lot of traffic for ‘Sell homes in New Orleans’, but that traffic was not converting into leads.
It turned out that lots of people were searching for ‘Brat Pitt Sells New Orleans home’ and clicked on his ad, just for the sack of it.
By adding Brat Pitt as Negative Keywords, he prevented these useless clicks.
When I last checked this keyword, there was only one ad showing up in the search results, and it was from Brat Pitt himself.
As per the company’s website, “Make It Right builds homes, founded by Brat Pitt in 2007, buildings and communities for people in need. All Make It Right projects are LEED Platinum certified and Cradle to Cradle inspired – meeting the highest standards of green building”.
Do you have your brand covered and that of others?
Now let’s talk about a Google ads strategy that will not only reduce your advertising costs tremendously, but also skyrocket the conversion rate.
You should bid on your own brand, a tactic that is largely ignored by small and mid-sized brokerages.
Besides you should bid on other brands if your prospects actively search for them online.
For example you can run ads for keywords such Zillow and Trulia because a lot of home buyers and sellers frequently use the names of these brands while looking for information related to buying and selling homes.
And you won’t believe if I tell you that you can get away with paying less than $0.25 per click, simply because the competition is usually low.
If you are a real estate professional in Kansas, you can add keywords like ‘Zillow Kansas’ or ‘Trulia Kansas’ in order to make your ads show up when people type these words into Google Search. However, refrain from using the name of these brands in your ad copy.
Now, let’s get back to why you need to bid on your own brand.
If you have a fairly popular brand, people may be already searching for it online. If your competitors bid using your brand’s name as keyword, then their ads appear on the top of search engine results driving the leads to your competitors.
No#1 may not necessarily be the best position
You may be tempted to continuously increase your bid amounts to stay ahead of your competitors and get your ad to appear at Number#1 position, but several studies suggest that it may not be the best strategy.
It not only increases the advertising cost substantially, but also leads to an increase in low converting traffic.
So keep changing your ad’s position by reducing your bid amount. Then find out which ad position leads to a higher conversion rate.
You may see a reduction in traffic, but you can probably increase your CTR and conversion rate while reducing the costs at the same time.
The bottom line
Most real estate professionals claim that Google AdWords doesn’t work.
It won’t work for sure if you don’t know how to optimize your ad campaigns.
From choosing the right keywords to optimizing the copy of your ads, you need to get yourself familiarize with the platform.