Attracting Sellers with Google AdWords

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Listings are the lifeblood of any real estate business. Finding seller clients to list their homes with you can be a significant challenge, particularly if you’re new to the business. While virtually all of today’s buyers are using the Internet to search for homes, many sellers continue to find agents offline. According to the National Association of Realtors, 38 percent of sellers in 2014 who used a real estate agent were referred by friends or family, while 22 percent used an agent they worked with previously to buy or sell a home.

Nevertheless, this trend is shifting. Generations X and Y (ages 48 and younger), which now account for over 40 percent of home sales, are more digitally invested than ever. That means more opportunities for real estate agents to reach sellers online. While there are a number of digital marketing tools out there to help real estate agents generate seller leads, one of the best ways to start is with keyword-targeted text ads via Google’s AdWords platform.

You'll Learn How To:

Create keyword lists to target local sellers
Create ad campaigns on the Google Adwords network
Write effective text ads for attracting qualified visitors
Capture leads with dedicated landing pages
Optimize campaigns for maximum return on investment

AdWords is responsible for the text ads you see at the top and right of Google’s search results pages. Using their AdWords accounts, advertisers choose keywords or phrases they want to target; write ads tailored to those phrases; and define how much they’re willing to pay each time their ad is clicked (their cost-per-click, or CPC). In turn, Google displays these ads to users who perform searches that include those target keywords.

While Google’s algorithm is extremely effective at serving up ads related to searchers’ interests, it can’t do all the work for you. To successfully attract seller leads using AdWords, you’ll first have to discover the keywords prospective clients are most likely to use; create engaging ads to fit those keywords; and place appropriate bids. This Play is designed to help you do all those things.

Task 1: Research Your Keywords

Choosing the proper keywords is essential to building an effective Google AdWords campaign. Without the right keywords, you could end up wasting time on searchers who don’t click your ads — or worse, wasting money on poorly qualified leads.

Part 1:Seller keywords

To find great keywords for seller prospects, you need to think about what your target clients are looking for. The keywords and phrases prospective sellers are typing into Google are quite different from those that prospective buyers are searching. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Selling and agents. Some folks head to Google already knowing that they’re ready to sell, and looking for an agent to help them.
  • Home values. For many people looking to sell their home, the first step is finding out just how much that home is worth. Many of the big listing portals offer home value calculators (think Zillow’s “Zestimate”), but these tools are often inaccurate. As a local agent, you have the tools, the records, and the know-how to offer something better.
  • Market conditions. In addition to the price of their home, many sellers want to know whether the conditions in their local market are favorable for sellers. With the data and expertise at your disposal, you can put together a comparative market analysis that outlines how they might fare based on sales trends in their area.

Part 2:Keyword tips

When exploring keyword ideas, be sure keep these tips in mind.

  • Think like a seller. The right keyword isn’t just a phrase that describes you and your services: It’s a phrase your target audience is using to search for you and your services. For starters, that means no company names: after all, if sellers already knew about your company, you wouldn’t need to advertise. In some cases, a keyword phrase may not be directly related to real estate. For instance, some sellers may begin by searching for home improvement tips.
  • Be specific. One of the biggest mistakes search advertisers make is choosing keywords that are too broad. You may think that “find a realtor” is the perfect keyword, but the truth is that plenty of other agents in your market, along with big real estate portals like Realtor.com, are thinking the same thing. Instead, look for more detailed keywords that target a more specific audience. Not only will you pay less per click: You’ll also get your ad in front of searchers who have a clearer idea of what they want, and are more likely to take action by browsing your website, or providing contact information.

Before you launch an AdWords campaign, spend some time thinking about your seller clients. Who are they? Where are they from? How did they find you? What are they looking for in an agent? What questions do they consistently ask? Use this information to sort your customers into segments or groups, then come up with an initial list of terms for each.

BonusThe long tail

long_tail-142

Did you know the top 10,000 keywords make up less than 20 percent of overall search traffic? The vast majority, 70 percent, come from the long tail.

Long tail keywords are longer (4–6 words) and more specific than the average keyword phrase. In real estate, many long tail keywords refer to a particular neighborhood, property type, or industry niche: downtown columbus luxury realtor.

Because they’re so specific, long tail keywords are searched much less often — anywhere from a dozen to a couple hundred times a month. While this may not sound like much, long tail keywords can be very valuable for advertisers, for a couple reasons.

  • They’re less expensive. With less competition from other advertisers, long tail keywords require a minimal investment up front.
  • They produce more qualified leads. Anyone searching a long-tail keyword as specific as “owner’s guide to renovating your historic home for sale” already knows what he or she is looking for. That means that visitors who end up on your site as a result of a long tail search will be much easier to close.

Part 4:Using the AdWords Keyword Planner

Thankfully, you don’t have to come up with seller keywords all on your own: Google AdWords offers a Keyword Planner tool to help you refine your list and discover new ideas for keywords.

Before using the AdWords Keyword Planner, you’ll have to create an account. For help setting up your Google AdWords account, check out our play: Keyword Research with Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

Keyword Planner search form new

Once you have your account, head to AdWords Keyword Planner main page and select the first option, “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category,” to reveal a search form. Start by typing in a phrase to use as a starting point for your research: “los angeles real estate agents,” for instance. Then, in the product category field, select “Real Estate Agents and Brokerages.”

Next, under “Campaign targeting,” add your location to tailor keyword and placement ideas to your geographic area. Once you’ve added your town or city, click “nearby” for a list of additional suggestions. You can add as many locations as you want, so try to be as complete as possible. This section also gives you the option to filter suggestions by language, which can be useful if you serve customers in multiple languages.

Once you’re more familiar with AdWords, you can customize your search by filtering according to average monthly searches, competition, and other factors. You can also choose to limit your results to show only ideas that are closely related to your initial term. For now, keep your search broad to get the widest range of keyword ideas.

After hitting Search, you’ll see a range of data on your initial keyword phrase, including a chart for displaying search volume trends, mobile trends, and other information. You’ll also see tabs for ad group ideas and keyword ideas. Click the second tab. (We’ll discuss ad groups later.)

This will bring up a list of suggested keywords, which can be ranked according to relevance, competition (High, Medium, Low), average monthly searches, or Google’s suggested bid. Pay attention to the balance between these categories. Choose a keyword that’s too competitive, and you’ll have to bid significantly more per click in order to win. Choose a keyword with too few searches, and you won’t get any results at all.

In the above example, our initial search term, “best real estate agents los angeles,” is a poor keyword to target, thanks to its low monthly searches, high competition, and high suggested bid. Luckily, the Keyword Planner offers us several superior alternatives with more search volume and lower suggested bids.

Keyword Planner results sellers

Spend some time entering keyword ideas and exploring the Keyword Planner’s features. Once you’ve narrowed your list down to keywords for each of your customer segments, you’re ready to start building your first campaign. Save your keyword lists from the Planner — you’ll want these when you begin building your campaign.

Task 2: Create Campaigns & Place Bids

With your keywords chosen, it’s time to start creating campaigns and ads. AdWords supports several advertising formats, including text ads, display (banner) ads, and even video ads. Using AdWords, you can place these ads not only on Google search results pages, but also thousands of other sites across the web. In this play, we’ll be concentrating on text ads for Google’s results page and its “search partner” network.

Part 1:Select your campaign type

To start, log into your AdWords account, then choose “Campaigns” from the menu items at the top of the page. This will display a list (currently empty) of your current campaigns. Click on the red button labeled “+ Campaign” to create your first campaign.

On the next screen, you’ll be presented with four campaign types:

  1. Search Network with Display Select – Run your ads on Google search results pages, as well as Google’s network of banner ads on thousands of sites across the web.
  2. Search Network Only – Place text ads on Google search results pages.
  3. Display Network Only – Place banner ads on participating sites.
  4. Shopping – Reserved for users looking advertise products.

We’re not interested in creating banner ads just yet, so running ads on Google’s display network probably wouldn’t offer any results. For now, we’ll limit our ads to “Search Network Only.”

To the right, you’ll see several choices for dialing your ads. “All features” offers access to AdWords’ full stable of advanced targeting settings. Since we’re just starting our first campaign, we’ll stick with the “Standard” set of features.

See Google’s support page for more on AdWords Campaign types.

Part 2:Select network

Next, decide where you want your ads to appear. While all Search Network ads appear on Google’s search results page, you also have the option to run your ads on partner sites that use Google’s technology to power their own search functions. This includes a number of popular destinations like AOL and Ask.com, as well as thousands of smaller sites.

For example, your favorite sports site may have a “Search” feature powered by Google. When you perform a search on the site, Google actually conducts the search, provides the results, and displays text ads all within that site.

Including search partners when deploying your ads will greatly increase the number of users you can reach, but may be less effective than your ads on Google’s primary site. A good strategy is to start with both Google’s site and partner sites. You can always exclude partner sites later if they’re not producing results.

See Google’s support page for more information on the AdWords Search Network.

Part 3:Select targeting options

Just as you can set the keyword planner to find keyword ideas by location, you can use the “Locations” section to target your ad campaigns to users from certain geographic areas. As a real estate agent looking for sellers and listings in your market, you’ll definitely want to target your ads to the towns or regions you serve. Select “Let me choose…”, then type in the zip codes, cities, counties, or other locations you’d like to target. You can also select “Advanced search” for additional options, including the ability to target a custom-drawn area on a map.

Next, you’ll see a section labeled “Languages.” By default, Google’s ads are aimed at English-speaking users. If you choose, you can also target a range of other languages.

Part 4:Set bids and budget

Finally, it’s time to set your bids and budget. Remember, Google works as a “bidding engine,” where advertisers define the maximum amount they’re willing to pay per click. In turn, their ads are entered into auctions for ad positions on Google’s search results page. The higher your maximum bid, the more likely your ad will be shown to interested users and appear where they’re likely to see and click on it.

You have two options for setting bids. The first is to set your bids manually. This allows you to set your “default bid,” the maximum cost you’re willing to pay per click for ads in an ad group. (We’ll be creating ad groups in the next section.) Remember, this isn’t necessarily what you’ll be paying per click — in fact, the amount is often lower. Instead, Google will only charge you what it takes to win the best placement. For instance, let’s say your maximum bid is set to $5, but all other bids are a dollar or less. In this case, you’ll be charged just over $1 for each click, instead of $5.

The second option is to allow Google to set your bids based on a daily budget. For example, if your daily budget is $10, Google will automatically adjust which of your ads is shown and when in order to get you the maximum number of clicks for around $10. That means that if one key phrase you’re targeting costs $5 per click, but another costs only $2, Google may opt to bypass the first option in favor of the cheaper one.

For first-time advertisers, it’s best to allow Google to determine your bids. This will teach you a lot about how much you can and should pay for clicks. Once you gain experience, you can go back and bid manually, setting higher or lower bids based on how certain key phrases perform. If you do choose to set a manual bid, this bid will simply be the default value for your campaign. You can always adjust your bid for specific key phrases and ads later.

Finally, set your daily budget. While Google may occasionally exceed your daily budget by 20% to help your campaign reach its potential, you’ll never be charged more than the average number of days in a month (about 30.4) times times your daily budget. For instance, if your daily budget is $10, you’ll never be charged more than $304 in a month.

See Google’s support page for more information on setting bids and budgets.

When you’re finished dialing in all of your campaign settings, click “Save and continue” to begin creating ads.

Task 3: Create Your Ads

Once you’ve saved your campaign, it’s finally time to compose the ads that users will see when they type your target keywords (or closely related terms) into Google. First, however, you’ll need to add the relevant keywords you discovered in Task 1 to your campaign and organize them into ad groups.

Part 1:Create ad groups

Remember, your ads aren’t one-size-fits-all: they’re highly targeted toward specific audiences. Each of those audiences is heading to Google in search of something a little different. To reach them, you’ll need to create multiple ads that address their different needs, all while steering them in your direction. This is where ad groups come in.

Simply put, an ad group is a collection of keywords around a common theme.

seller ad group examples

While both of the ad groups above are related to selling a home, the people searching keywords in Group A will likely respond to different ads than those in Group B. By segmenting your keywords into ad groups, you can ensure that your ads are shown to people who are more likely to click them.

To create an ad group, start by choosing an appropriate name. (In the above example, for instance, Ad Group A could be called “Home Values.”) Then, add a few closely related keywords from the list you created in Task 1. You can create ad groups around a variety of themes, including specific services, communities, demographics, or property types.

NOTE: Since you’ve already added geographic targeting to your campaign, you can use keywords and phrases that are less specific about location. For example, instead of “real estate agent springfield illinois,” you can use “real estate agent springfield” without worrying about wasting clicks on users searching in, say, Massachusetts.

When you’ve finished adding keywords to your ad group, click “Continue to ads.”

Part 2:Compose your ads

Finally, it’s time to write the text of the ad itself. All AdWords text ads follow the same format:

AdWords text ad sample

  1. A headline (25 characters max)
  2. A display URL (35 characters max)
  3. Two lines of copy (each 35 characters max)

To start, enter the web address of the destination page you want users to see when they click on your ad — the all-important “landing page.” We’ll cover landing pages in depth in the next chapter. For now, you can enter your homepage address.

Write a brief headline for your ad, then enter the URL you want searchers to see. While the domain of this URL must match the domain of your destination URL, the rest of the address can be different. This means you can give viewers a simple, clean idea of what they’ll find when they click your ad, instead of a long, ugly URL.

Finally, write a description for your ad in the two lines provided. These lines don’t wrap, so if you want to write a description longer than 35 characters, you’ll have to split it between the two boxes.

BonusAd copy tips

The best keywords won’t save you if your ads are dull, unclear, or unprofessional. Here are some tips for writing ads that will inspire searchers to click.

  • Tie in your target keywords. While your ads don’t have to contain the keywords from the ad group they’re attached to, it makes sense to incorporate them. After all, an ad that contains words a user has searched will resonate more than an ad that doesn’t have any words in common. If possible, try to include these keywords or phrases in every element of your ad copy: headline, display URL, and description.
  • Include a clear call to action. Be explicit about what you want searchers to do, and what people can expect to see on your website. Make sure this action is valuable to them: “download your free report,” “get the best offer on your home,” “sign up for a free consultation,” etc.
  • Highlight your unique selling point. Remember, you’re trying to distinguish yourself from all the other agents vying for searchers’ attention. To do that, you need to show them why you’re the best agent for the job. Maybe you’ve been in the business for decades, or your brokerage sold 100 homes last year. Whatever sets you apart, work it into your ad.

That’s it! You’ve create your first campaign, ad group, and ad, and you’re ready to to start advertising. Of course, getting the best results is a bit more complicated, so let’s dig into some strategies for setting up your ads to maximize success.

Task 4: Optimize for Clicks and Leads

Once you’ve created your first campaign, it’s time to start thinking about how you can optimize your AdWords ads to achieve the best results.

Part 1:Landing pages

Your ads are just the first step in attracting seller leads with Google AdWords. To maximize the return on your investment, you need to consider where your ads will take people, and what you want them to do when they get there. While your homepage is a great general introduction to your business, people who click on your ads are looking for something more specific. That is, these people want answers to the questions that made them click your ad in the first place. If they can’t find them right away, they’ll simply leave. Instead, you should be using targeted landing pages with content that’s tailored to each ad.

There are a variety of techniques for creating ad landing pages. Some tools allow you to build landing pages on the fly that automatically adapt based on the search phrases users entered and/or the ads they clicked. However, these are quite complex to implement. A simpler, but still powerful, option is to create custom landing pages for each ad group.

For instance, let’s say you’ve tailored one of your ad groups to people searching one of the towns you serve, and another to people searching for advice on preparing their home for sale. For the first ad group, you could create a landing page on your site that’s specifically devoted to describing your experience selling homes in that town. For the second, you could direct searchers to a blog post with tips for home improvements that maximize sale price.

Here are a few more tips for building great landing pages:

  • Invest in a great website. A real estate website that’s ugly, outdated, or not mobile friendly won’t win converts. Before you spend money on advertising, make sure you have a professional-quality real estate website with IDX search and a mobile-friendly design.
  • Don’t bait-and-switch. Don’t promise anything you and your business can’t deliver: make sure your landing pages contain content about services and results you can actually offer your leads.
  • Include a lead capture form. Converting website visitors into leads is about building relationships, and the first step to building a relationship is getting a visitor’s contact information via a lead capture form. Be sure to place your form “above the fold,” so that visitors don’t have to scroll down to see it. Don’t ask for too much: Stick with a simple form that asks for basic details like name, email, and phone number.
  • Provide a clear call to action. The goal of any landing page is to convince your visitors to perform a specific action: sign up, log in, fill out, download, call, etc. When building your landing pages, make sure that your call to action is simple, concrete, and prominently displayed. (For more on how to craft an effective call to action, check out our Academy post: Calls to Action That Generate Real Estate Leads.)
  • Create value for visitors. If you really want leads to create an account on your website or provide their contact details, try giving them something valuable in return: an email newsletter with your best real estate tips, a free downloadable guide, etc. Not only will leads leave your site with something tangible, they’ll have proof of the expertise that only you can offer.

For more insight on landing pages, check out our guide at the Academy: 12 Real Estate Website Lead Conversion Tips and Tricks.

Part 2:Quality Score

Your maximum bid isn’t the only factor that determines your ad position and performance: there’s also your Quality Score. Your AdWords Quality Score is a rating from 1-10 of each keyword, illustrating the quality of your ads and landing pages. An excellent Quality Score means that Google thinks your ads are relevant and useful to people searching that keyword, and will improve your chances of winning a great ad placement for a low cost-per-click, even if someone has outbid you. A poor Quality Score, on the other hand, will likely mean higher costs, fewer clicks, and less desirable outcomes.

To see Quality Scores for your keywords, head to your campaign and select the Keywords tab at the top, then click the small speech bubble next to each keyword. Google evaluates Quality Scores based on three factors: expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. Each factor has descriptive estimate such as “average” or “above average.” Use these descriptions to adjust your keywords, ad copy, and landing pages for optimal results.

See Google’s support page for more information on AdWords Quality Scores.

Part 3:Negative keywords

Occasionally, Google will match your ad to a keyword or phrase that isn’t as relevant to your business, or doesn’t produce results. These “negative keywords” can reduce click-through rates, lower quality scores, or result in clicks by unqualified or uninterested searchers. To maximize clicks and preserve your budget, you can tell AdWords to ignore these keywords, and concentrate on profitable keywords.

To find negative keywords, start by running an AdWords search terms report. This will show you every search that resulted in your ad being shown and clicked. Head to your campaign and click the Keywords tab. Above your keyword list, select Details, then click All to see your report. Look for keywords with low quality scores, or phrases that don’t necessarily line up with your business. To add these to your negative keyword list, check the boxes next to each term, and click “Add as negative keyword.”

See Google’s support page for more information on negative keywords.

Part 4:Google Analytics

Finally, once your AdWords campaign is underway, it’s important that you track the results of your advertising efforts — after all, you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

For starters, create a Google Analytics account and add your real estate website. (Check out Google’s Analytics Setup Checklist for full step-by-step instructions.) Next, head to your Google AdWords dashboard, click the Tools tab, and select Google Analytics. A setup wizard will guide you through the process of linking your accounts.

Once you’ve integrated AdWords with Analytics, you’ll be able to evaluate your ad performance. For starters, you’ll be able to see how many people have clicked on your ads; but more importantly, you’ll get insight on visitors’ behavior after they’ve arrived on your site. A few key metrics include:

  • Pages / Visit  This is the average number of pages viewed during a visit to your site. A high average could mean that visitors like what they see on your landing page, and have decided to explore more of your site.
  • Avg. Visit Duration – This is the length of time the average visitor spends on your site during a particular visit. As with pages per visit, a high average visit duration is generally a positive sign. Alternatively, it could mean visitors are struggling to find what they’re looking for.
  • Bounce Rate – This is the percentage of visitors who come to your site and leave without viewing any other pages. A high bounce rate is generally a bad thing, as it indicates that your landing page isn’t giving visitors the information they’re looking for.

For more advice on getting started with Google Analytics, check out our infographic: An Introduction to Google Analytics for Real Estate.

Part 5:Refining your ads

As you gather more data on the performance of your AdWords campaigns, you can begin to do testing to improve lead engagement and conversion. You may find, for instance, that some of your AdWords keywords generate more clicks or better leads than others. If that’s the case, you can edit your keyword list toward the keywords your customers search more often.

In addition to managing your AdWords keywords, you can also refine the ads themselves. With A/B testing, for example, you can serve up two versions of the same ad to an ad group, each with slightly different headlines, display URLs, or description copy. By tracking which version gets the most clicks, you’ll hone your messaging and gain a better understanding of what seller prospects want to hear.