The True Value Of A Real Estate Keyword SEO VS PPC (detailed breakdown)


I talk a lot about the power of combining SEO and PPC together in terms of improving overall performance and brand recognition (the 2 billboard effect)

But there is another reason why we (even if we’re search engine optimization focused) should be leveraging PPC for our real estate sites.

Let’s use this simple case study: “Waterfront Property For Sale Vancouver Island” from

I’ve picked it because it is one of our better-performing keywords this week (with a 17.65% conversion rate and a $3.82 cost per lead.

Not bad right? You just learned the first reason why PPC is valuable to SEO.

What PPC does is: it allows you to determine BEFORE you put a lot of effort into SEO for a specific term, whether or not that term is valuable in terms of performance.

But there are other ways you can use PPC to evaluate the keyword as well.

For example:

  • You can get a true sense (not an estimate) of how much viable traffic there is for a term.
  • PPC can give you a sense of how competitive or desirable a real estate term is it is based on how much others are willing to pay per click.

There are many more benefits, but let’s get back to the point. Once you know how well a keyword can perform on your real estate website, and you know how much traffic is available, you can determine whether it is worth going after or not AND how much you should be willing to spend.

So how much is this real estate search phrase worth?

We already know we can get viable traffic by paying $.67 per click for it. And honestly based on its conversion numbers, I’d be willing to pay 5x that, but let’s use $.67 (since we can buy it for that)

If you have not already been doing SEO for this keyword, this is where your Adwords console can help you estimate the amount of traffic for the term. (which is the whole point :))

But! Since I’m a real estate SEO, and I’ve been doing some work on this keyword recently, I can also show you the other side. The “Actuals in search” which you can see below:

At first glance, it appears as though the keyword is worth 96 clicks (or $64.32) but there are a few things to consider.

#1: Since we are not in the first position “yet” we are not getting as many clicks out of the 1,076 impressions as we would if we were (CTR gets much higher in the top spot) so you can estimate 25% CTR (or roughly 250 clicks) in the #1 position for 6 months. Now your keyword is worth $167.50

#2: SEO is evergreen (if you keep it up, and make sure you stay ethical in your practices) so you can count on 3-5 years of traffic. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. So if the keyword has 250 clicks available in 6 months, it has 2,500 clicks available in 5 years. Now the value is $1,675

  • 2,500 clicks at even a 5% conversion visitor to lead is 125 leads
  • convert 2% of those leads to sales and you get 2.5 deals
  • Average commission per deal at $15,000 you get $37,500 in revenue

From ONE keyword!

Are you starting to see why focusing on specific keywords is worth it?

In theory, you could justify paying $1,675 (or more since $.67 is super cheap for high-value phrases) just to go after a single phrase. But look at it another way, target a 10-1 return on this, and you could still justify spending $3,750 (10% of potential revenue) on just one phrase.

But we SEO’s, we don’t earn our living by working on just one phrase. As they say, a rising tide floats all boats (heh water joke)

Here is a snapshot of some other phrases that are also contributing traffic and potentially going to drive similar results.

Take note - there are 623 of them! (We can do this six hundred and twenty-three times) and these are just words we managed to rank somewhere “so far” with the word “water” in it.

If on average these keywords (in the top spot) gave us only 100 clicks in 6 months that would be 1,000 clicks in 5 years.

The big math:

623 phrases x 1,000 = 623,000 visits
623k visits at 5% conversion = 31,150 leads
31.150k leads = 623 deals
623 deals = $9,345,000

Just imagine the possibilities!

Back to the original premise of the article:

You can’t do all of these things at once (budget and time are always factors) and so when you leverage PPC “first” in order to evaluate which keywords have the potential to convert at a high level, it allows you to get very specific with your keyword targets.

Just checked on one of our customers who have done SEO with us in the past (and now has it in-house)… current leads in just “one” of their websites with us? 307,339 leads.

It’s a LOT of work (and investment) to get to these kinds of results, but if you can make it to the top… worth it!

Posting some other “real world” numbers from select keywords to give folks a range of what you might pay for some of these keywords in PPC

Keep in mind, we did not buy “all” the traffic, each of these has fixed bids per day, whereas SEO gives you unlimited traffic since your budget does not expire per day.

Here are some more real-world examples - these are taken directly out of our AdWords accounts, so they are true representations of achieved results

This one is nice since it’s decent volume, but more importantly, it’s high intent “homes for sale” further qualifies the phrase.

Lots of traffic on this one, and a LOT of conversions. It has homes for sale qualifier and area + province/state. Even more specific

Some phrases from an Austin campaign (big city, big volume)

Just those 3 phrases alone (and just buying a fraction of the traffic) generated over 2,500 leads. Imagine if you ranked 1-3 in those phrases organically (note Austin is super competitive, so it would take a much bigger budget than say Windsor)

My point is - keyword phrases (even just one) are massively valuable. It takes time to truly compete for them (and requires a budget that matches their value)

Hope these extra examples help :slight_smile: