OK, if all you care about are listings, and you only buy print advertising because your listing clients mistakenly think it's effective, then you may want to skip the rest of this post. But, if you like to work with buyers as well as sellers, and you want to find them when they're ready to buy, you should be doing AdWords.
Dose of realty time: If you can get into the top 3 organic (free) results for your area's MOST RELEVANT real estate key phrases, such as "yourtown real estate," or "subdivisionName real estate," you will be doing SEO very well and you'll get lots of leads. However, here are some facts from a HubSpot survey and other sources that illustrate just how difficult this can be:
- Businesses with 401 - 1000 web pages on the site get 6 times more leads than those with 51 - 100 pages...how many pages on your site?
- Companies with more than 300 web pages on their sites got 236% more monthly leads than those with fewer pages...how many pages on your site?
- 60% of all organic (free results) clicks go to the top three search results, and 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
OK, so what's the reality of the situation? Check your MLS area, but in most cities there are many thousands of real estate agents and brokerages, and almost all of them have a website. How many can be in the top three results for the most popular key phrases? Even if you spread the wealth a little, it's likely to be less than a dozen, and some of those will be large brokerages with deep pockets to pay someone to work on SEO. So, in come the SEO "gurus" taking your money and promising huge results. Unfortunately, they can usually get you into the top three results only for key phrases almost nobody is using. Sure, you want to keep working at SEO and for some very focused key phrases you'll get there and get leads. But if you want leads now, good qualified leads, you need to do SEM as well.
SEM, Search Engine Marketing, is paying for position in search results for chosen key phrases. Since Google is the big dog on the block, I'm talking about Google AdWords.
The target image is right on point. There is NO more targeted way to reach the exact audience you want than with AdWords. NONE! I have been paying for placement for a number of years, and never let my monthly budget lapse, as I get most of my leads from SEM. True, I have done pretty well with SEO, being in position five right now for my area's most competitive key phrase. However, I found that once I could quit freaking out about Google's frequent algorithm changes and my free listing jumping around in the top ten or so, I was able to concentrate on other things, like client service and working the leads from my site.
About three years ago, I decided that times were tough, but I could not afford to drop AdWords. I did reduce my budget to $5.00/day, or $150/month though. It's stayed that way, automatically charging my debit card every month. In my next post I'll talk about how I get more than 200 clicks to my site from that budget by getting my Google ad score up, but I guarantee you that it's the case. Here's a screen shot of last month's report:
When I mentioned "ad score," it's how I can get these clicks for $0.69 or so each, when I started out paying more like $1.50 each. But, that's in my next post. For now, let's talk about why AdWords should be in your budget, but only if you do the right things on your website first. I'll yell: IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT CONTENT AND LEAD CAPTURE IN PLACE ON YOUR SITE, DON'T PAY FOR CLICKS! You'll be wasting your money.
The 221 clicks were on a number of key phrases, mostly my main "townname real estate" search. You can see that my ad was displayed more than 3700 times (impressions) to get those clicks, but that's actually not a bad CTR, Click Through Ratio. A new HubSpot survey showed that the average CTR for Google paid ads was 2.5%, meaning 2.5 clicks for every 100 impressions. The last column is "Average Position." The top three paid ads on the left and the long column of them on the right are the paid ads in your Google search results. What this number tells me is that on average, my ad is showing in number one or two positions at the top on the left above the organic results.
RealtySoft's website solution is set up to help you both with SEO and SEM. We see from the statistics that we need a whole lot of pages of relevant information to start looking better in the area of SEO, and RealtySoft makes it easy to create new pages and place them in your navigation structure. However, even if a link to a specific page explaining the exceptions in a title binder isn't all over your site, you need that page for the searcher to find when they're searching on phrases with "title binder" or "title insurance exclusions." Creating these focused topic pages, even if they're only 300 to 500 words in length, will start to bring you traffic from searches on these more focused key phrases. And if you opt for the Integrated IDX feature, your site's IDX pages will be hosted internally and add to your page count and SEO clout with keywords that are inherent in your listings.
However, getting back to SEM, RealtySoft's page creation and optimization features will be critical in helping you to create specific landing pages for key phrases you're paying for with AdWords. In my next post next week, I'll give you specific information about how ad scoring works with Google AdWords and how to create pages and ads that will exceed average CTR, Click Through Ratio. When I show you how much money it will save you, you'll know what to do. You see, even though it seems to fly in the face of Business 101, Google will actually reward high Ad Scoring advertisers by moving them toward the top of paid results and at the same time will charge them less per click!
About Jim Kimmons:
Jim Kimmons, with more than 16 years experience as a licensed real estate agent and broker in 3 states, is a consultant to Realtors in how to use technology to market and manage their businesses. He has also written books and eBooks on Internet marketing and real estate. Jim is RealtySoft's chief evangelist and is a compensated regular contributor to the RealtySoft.com blog.