If You're Paying for Print Advertising & Not AdWords - DUH!

Education & Training with RealtySoft.com Chief Evangelist 15067

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.

Targeted SEM

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:

adwords 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.

RealtySoft SEO

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!




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  1. Peyman Aleagha 05/22/2012 01:06 AM
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Justin Bonney
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Lake Balboa, CA
Your Mobile Real Estate Resource

Great article Jim.  Been rewriting my business plan to get out of cold calling and focus on making an internet presence for myself.  I am so behind the times and used to think if you had time to blog, tweet and post, you had no business.  Well, I am a new believer.  I have had leads come in from other listings, but they all have mentioned reading my activerain page.  So, I know now that I must bulk up in this area.  Thank you for bringing light to another topic I need to review.  

May 22, 2012 05:36 PM #1
Uber Concierge
UberConcierge - Vancouver, BC

Thanks for the tips and for sharing your experience. I do agree with this since I've managed Adwords campaigns. The biggest advantage Adwords has over print advertising is the "targeting" option which you don't have with your conventional print advertising. 

Not suprisingly, when people look for homes they don't automatically turn to the "yellowpages" or the newspaper. They grab the nearest laptop and type in their searches online. People who don't recognize this miss out on a LOT of relevant site traffic.

May 22, 2012 10:59 PM #2
Kathleen "Kathy" Price
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Fox & Roach, Realtors - Millville, NJ
CRS, Broker Associate, Southern NJ

Very good article.  Thank you for the information! 

May 23, 2012 01:54 AM #3
David Stevens
Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty, Victoria BC Canada - Victoria, BC
Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty

Jim - Thanks for the great information. I just wish that we could use RealtySoft here in British Columbia.  Unfortunately only a couple of Provinces in Canada are able to use the IDX feature.

May 23, 2012 01:59 AM #4
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

We are not in the program yet - KEYSTONE MLS, Lancaster,PA (717-569-4625)! Keep me updated !!!!!!

May 23, 2012 06:43 AM #5
Sean Callahan
San Diego Business Resources - San Diego, CA

Hi Jim,

Great article - as someone who has set up and run thousands of Google
Pay Per Click campaigns this is good advice for agents.

The biggest breakdown on Google Adwords is converting traffic
and several challenges now come up in May 2012.

1. Is the website / IDX vendor MOBILE FRIENDLY
Since 65% 70% of Google Searches come from
Smart Phones your IDX must be mobile friendly to
convert the most possible traffic. This means the
real estate search conforms to a Smart Phone
browser making it easy to navigate.

2. How is the Guest Book Log In Set Up and
What Options Do You Have in the Settings?
Pay per click will almost never work unless you have a
guest book log in turned. Some systems have them
in the front and others have options to drop them
in after reviewing a listing. or two listings etc.. 
The setting on this is important and the more upfront
you have it the more leads you will get although it
does require more sifting and calling.

3. Targeting Subdivisions, Neighborhoods and
Communities Outside the Metro Area = Cheaper
more targeted traffic.

I do not get into bidding wars in Google Adwords since there
are so many keywords to spread out under. If you spread
out and go into popular neighborhoods and subdivisons
you can start getting more targeted traffic and begin
to seperate yourself from the masses and convert traffic better. 
I still will go under "san diego real estate" but since I have
spread out I do not need a first page ranking to get my
daily quota fill. The goal with pay per click is getting the
lowest cost per click rates and maximizing your daily budget
with the most possible traffic.

It is very nice to see website companies creating marketing
plans and web pages specially for pay per click conversion
since it is a very fast and effective way to get leads and
home sales.

Google Adwords Special Marketing Tip

Google Mobile Ads

1. If you have Mobile Friendly IDX then set up
Google Adwords Mobile Ads since most agents
are not in there and that is a super good place
to be right now for cheap traffic with lots
of consumers. Pay per click in many ways runs
on a supply and demand in click pricing. With
tons of traffic and few agents running mobile ads
you have a big advantage right now.

Thanks again for the good info and insight on setting up
a succesful cost effective PPC campaign. The same
can also be done for Yahoo/MSN/Bing which also
do the same thing and work together on a seperate
pay per click platform.

Sean Callahan

May 23, 2012 10:05 AM #6
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

This is so interesting.  I still have so much to learn.  Thanks for all of this great information.

May 23, 2012 11:51 AM #7
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