Interested in learning about one of the most cost-effective forms of lead generation for real estate agents and brokers? You're in the right place.
Our PPC guide will tell you all about PPC advertising for real estate: what it is, how it works, and what it's good for. And this is just the first part, so when you're done, make sure to check out Part 2: The Cost Of Real Estate PPC.
Let's get started...
What Is PPC in Real Estate?
PPC stands for "pay-per-click", which is a form of online advertising where the advertiser pays each time a user clicks on one of their ads. In the context of real estate, PPC advertising can be used to promote properties, generate leads, and drive traffic to real estate websites.
PPC is a popular method of online advertising in real estate because it allows agents and brokers to show ads to people who are searching for real estate specific keywords. So, by using keywords that match their real estate business niche, real estate professionals can ensure that their ads are seen by their target audience.
PPC is often preferable to trying to rank organically, because it allows you to appear above organic search results relatively quickly, and you only pay a small fee when someone actually clicks on your ad.
In short, PPC is superior to many other forms of marketing because you have some control over who sees your ads and you only pay for results. Detailed analytics and tracking tools then provide valuable information to make further adjustments and inform broader marketing efforts.
PPC advertising can be a cost-effective way to drive traffic and generate leads for real estate websites, but properly managing a PPC campaign can also be complex and time-consuming. As such, many in the real estate industry opt to hire the services of a professional real estate PPC management company to ensure maximum returns with minimal effort.
What Do PPC Ads Look Like?
PPC campaigns can be run on search engines like Google and Bing, as well as social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. They can also appear in both search and display formats.
What's the difference between search and display ads?
Search ads typically appear along with organic search results, while display ads are visual ads that appear on websites and social media platforms like YouTube.
However, the most common and widely known form of PPC ads are the search ads which appear on Google Search results pages.
From here on we will primarily be talking about Google's responsive search ads, as seen above.
Advertisers have limited control over how their ads appear in search results, as most of the ad formatting is chosen by Google's algorithms from assets and copy provided by the advertiser. These elements are shown based on their contribution to the quality and the relevance of the ad, as well as the relative quality and relevance of competitor ads. Google will also mix and match between combinations of assets and elements to learn which work best.
You can group these elements into four main components that go into most Google PPC ads: Headlines, Descriptions (the main ad copy), URL (the landing page), and extensions.
Extensions are optional "extras" that Google can include in your ad if deemed appropriate. Here are some common ad extensions:
- Sitelink Extensions - additional links that appear below the main ad to direct users to specific pages on the website.
- Callout Extensions - additional text that provides more information about the business, product, or service being advertised.
- Call Extensions - allows users to click to call the business directly from the ad.
- Image Extensions - allows Google to include small images with text ads
Google periodically changes how they signal that these entries are paid advertisements. At present, they do so with the text "Sponsored" appearing in bold over the ad.
How Does Real Estate PPC work?
Every time someone performs a real estate-related search, Google will select eligible ads based on target location and keywords. These ads will then enter into a formal auction process.
Next, Google looks at AdRank, which is a combination of two elements:
- Maximum Bid
- Quality Score
The Quality Score is on a per-ad basis, and is determined by the ad relevance, predicted click through rate (are the copy and extensions likely to result in a click?), and the predicted landing page experience.
Advertisers can also choose from a range of bidding strategies depending on their business and performance goals. These include:
- Manual CPC: Advertisers set the maximum cost-per-click for each keyword
- Target CPA: Google Ads will automatically adjust bids to meet a target cost-per-acquisition
- Max Clicks: Automatically sets bids to get as many clicks as possible within a set budget
To learn more about how keyword bidding works, check out this video from Google:
The most important takeaway from the bidding process is this: even if your competitor has a higher bid for an ad, you can still win the placement at a lower cost by having a higher Quality Score.
How do you get a higher Quality Score?
- Have a clear relevance between keywords, ad copy, and landing pages
- Make sure landing pages offer a good user experience
- Write high-quality ads according to best practices
- Use as many relevant ad extensions as possible
We'll include more tips in our section on how to improve your Google Ads ROI. However, there are some specific factors that go into improving the quality of real estate ads specifically, having to do with the nature of real estate marketing generally.
For example, people looking for real estate tend to respond to high-quality images and location-based keywords. Additionally, ad performance can show marked seasonal shifts along with the market as a whole.
Real Estate Keywords For Ads
When it comes to running a successful real estate PPC campaign, choosing the right keywords is essential.
By selecting the right target keywords, real estate professionals can increase the visibility of their ads, drive more qualified traffic to their websites, and ultimately generate more leads and conversions.
As mentioned, PPC advertising provides a way to appear in search results and get traffic for search terms that are normally impossible to compete for organically.
However, even with paid advertising, real estate keywords like "[place] homes for sale" and "[place] real estate" are highly competitive, and often better results can be achieved by focusing on keywords more relevant to your niche.
Less competitive and more relevant keywords refer to things like specific property types or smaller communities, subdivisions or even individual streets.
Then there are branded keywords - keywords which relate directly to you or your business name. These can be highly effective for attracting highly motivated traffic in a less competitive ad space. However, it can also be a waste of money if you were going to get those leads organically anyway.
Successful PPC campaigns usually begin with some careful keyword research and selection. However, Google Ads also has tools to suggest keywords to begin with. When starting a campaign it's usually good to keep the list small to begin with, then add to it over time.
To improve your keyword targeting, it is crucial to monitor the search terms report in Google Ads. This report provides information about the actual search queries that are triggering your ads, including keywords that you haven't explicitly targeted. You can then choose to target these keywords or alter your ad copy to make them more relevant.
Additionally, any healthy PPC campaign will require a curated list of negative keywords. These are keywords that the advertiser does not want their ads to appear for, as they are irrelevant or could attract unqualified traffic.
Real Estate Webmasters has their own extensive and proprietary list of negative keywords for real estate built up from many years optimizing effective ad campaigns.
Keyword Types For Ads
Platforms like Google Ads will often let you select how you want to target your selected keywords. Below are the options available in Google Ads.
- Exact match: Ads are triggered only when the exact keyword or phrase is searched. For example, if the exact keyword is "real estate website," the ad will only show for that exact search term. Exact match keywords are indicated by square brackets and are usually suited for high-value search terms that carry a high degree of relevance for your business and good conversion rates for their cost.
- Phrase match: Ads are triggered when the exact keyword or phrase is searched, as well as when the keyword or phrase is included in a longer search term. For example, if the phrase match keyword is "real estate website," the ad will show for searches like "best real estate website" or "real estate website design". Phrase match keywords represent a "happy medium" and are a good place to start for most campaigns as you wait to gather more data. Phrase match keywords are indicated by quotation marks.
- Broad match: Ads are triggered when the keyword or any related variations are searched. This can include synonyms, related searches, and other variations. For example, if the broad match keyword is "real estate website," the ad may show for searches like "real estate websites," "real estate site," or "real estate web design". Broad match keywords are written without any punctuation.
A warning about broad match keywords: Google is becoming increasingly confident in its ability to match users with relevant broad match keywords and has been recommending this match-type more and more over time. However, broad match keywords will still result in a higher rate of unwanted impressions. Broad match keywords can be useful for generating a lot of impressions and traffic when search intent is mostly unknown or ambiguous, but should be used carefully.
Real Estate PPC Strategies
PPC campaigns can be highly effective for real estate marketing, as they offer many ways to target potential customers at different stages of the sales cycle. Here are some goals that might inform a successful real estate ad strategy:
- Increasing brand awareness: Use PPC ads to increase brand recognition and visibility among your target audience. This can involve targeting keywords associated with competitor brands.
- Generating traffic: Attract as much traffic as possible to your website to generate leads and provide more data for Google's optimization algorithm. Use the max clicks strategy as a starting point.
- Capturing leads: Design PPC campaigns to capture leads, such as email sign-ups or form submissions. These campaigns require linking to analytics to track performance.
- Promoting events: Use PPC ads to advertise upcoming events, such as seminars or open houses. This requires careful timing and targeting to reach the right audience.
- Remarketing: Use remarketing campaigns to retarget users who have previously visited your site but didn't convert. This can be an effective way to bring them back to your site and encourage them to take action.
There are other ways to group and categorize campaigns depending on their purpose and targeting. For example, you can group campaigns based on their type (search, display, video etc.), their target area, what product or service they are intended to market (like a specific property type or area), or the type of user they're targeted towards.
Google Ads allows you to both target and monitor the performance of ads with different audiences.
- Affinity audiences: These audiences are based on users' interests and online behavior, and can be used to target people who have a general interest in real estate or related topics.
- In-market audiences: These audiences are based on users' recent search and browsing behavior, and can be used to target people who are actively looking to buy or sell real estate.
- Custom intent audiences: These audiences are based on users' search queries and can be used to target people who are searching for specific keywords related to real estate.
- Remarketing audiences: These audiences consist of people who have previously visited your website or interacted with your brand, and can be used to retarget them with relevant ads.
- Similar-to audiences: These audiences are created based on the characteristics of your existing audience, and can be used to target people who have similar interests or behavior to your current customers.
Additionally, targeting and bidding can be adjusted based on a range of demographic data, although in the case of real estate these can be subject to restrictions based on local laws and regulations.
Is PPC Good For Real Estate?
PPC is a great way to quickly boost traffic to your real estate website—with big returns.
Why does it work so well?
1. Highly-Qualified Leads
With most forms advertising, you often have little control over who your ads are shown to. Plus, you're often required to pay just for the privilege of having your ads shown in the first place. And if your ads do work to create positive awareness, interactions, or leads, it's not always clear that they've done so.
This isn't to say that other forms of advertising don't have their strengths, but with many of them there's just no guarantee that the people being advertised to are even interested in your services.
With PPC, you can target people in the exact moment they're searching for homes. You can choose the time, the place, the device, the keyword, AND you only pay when they show interest enough to take action and visit your site. That level of control means more qualified leads and more deals with less time or money wasted.
2. Fast-Track Online Lead Generation
Without a long-term investment in real estate SEO, it can be challenging—if not impossible—to compete on search terms like "real estate" or "homes for sale."
With PPC, you can fast track your lead generation by paying to show up in the search results. And, with the superior return on investment, you can easily scale up to fit your capacity.
3. Control Your Own Leads
Many real estate lead generation platforms force you to share your leads with other agents.
But with PPC, you pay for someone to come to your site specifically. When you capture that lead, they're yours.
No sharing needed.
Hiring a PPC Management Agency
If you're wondering whether you should run your own PPC campaigns or hire an agency, the answer is: it depends.
Managing your own campaigns can be done, but it requires a significant investment of time and effort. On the other hand, working with a professional PPC management company can save you time, provide expertise, and deliver better results.
If you are looking for a PPC management company, you should look for one with experience in your industry and a track record of success.
At Real Estate Webmasters, we have a proven track record of consistently beating industry averages for real estate ads.
Our extensive experience and expertise means we bring a lot to the table, including:
- A pre-made list of negative keywords
- High-performing ad copy
- Strong tracking and reporting practices
We also stay up to date with the latest best practices and changing policies so we know which optimizations and settings will work best for your campaigns.
In conclusion, PPC advertising is an effective and efficient marketing strategy that can provide a range of benefits to real estate professionals. From greater visibility to highly targeted audiences, from data-driven decisions to direct users to conversion-focused pages, working with a PPC management company can help real estate professionals achieve their business goals and drive growth.
If you're interested in Real Estate Webmasters' PPC services, be sure to check out our PPC page.
Or, follow the link below to keep reading about the cost of real estate PPC..
Continue the Real Estate PPC Guide
- Next: Part 2: The Cost of PPC
What real estate PPC?
PPC in real estate refers to Pay-Per-Click advertising, a digital marketing strategy where advertisers pay for each click on their ads to drive traffic to their real estate websites or landing pages.
What does PPC stand for?
PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, a digital advertising model where advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked, typically used to drive traffic and generate leads.
Why is PPC important?
PPC is important because it allows businesses to target specific audiences, control advertising costs, and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, resulting in increased brand visibility, website traffic, and potential customer conversions.
What is PPC management?
PPC management involves overseeing and optimizing Pay-Per-Click campaigns, including keyword research, ad creation, bid management, and performance tracking, to maximize ROI and achieve campaign objectives.
What are the pros and cons of PPC?
Pros of PPC include audience targeting, immediate visibility, measurable results, and control over budget. Cons include potentially high costs from mismanagement, and the need for ongoing campaign monitoring and optimization.
What are PPC services?
PPC services refer to professional assistance provided by agencies or experts to plan, create, manage, and optimize Pay-Per-Click campaigns for businesses, aiming to drive qualified traffic and maximize return on investment.
How do I start PPC advertising?
To start PPC advertising, create a Google Ads or Bing Ads account, set up payment, choose your keywords, provide ad copy and assets, and choose relevant targeting options. Or you could hire the PPC management services of a reputable company in your industry.