The Google AdWords Glossary for Real Estate Advertising
By Matthew Bushery
Real estate advertising campaigns run on Google AdWords can yield big-time results for your lead generation efforts, and results can come to fruition in a matter of hours — unlike search engine optimization (SEO), which is the long-term real estate marketing play.
Ask agents and brokers who have run ads using the platform and who have fine-tuned their AdWords strategies over the course of at least a few months, and you will get a crystal clear understanding of why the ad service is so widely used among fellow industry professionals (and those in a number of other B2C and B2B fields).
One of the biggest blockers to success with creating real estate ads on AdWords for some agents is the fear that the ad system is too complicated to use, let alone master. While it certainly takes some time to discover all the bells and whistles the software offers (and there are many), gaining an understanding of the core terms and phrases associated with it can be accomplished with relative ease.
Learn more about AdWords advertising by viewing the definitions for both basic and advanced terms for the platform below, and you’ll soon have the confidence and know-how to set up targeted, click-worthy ads for your niche home buyer or seller audience.
Beginner Google AdWords Terms: The Basics to Know for Your Real Estate Advertising
The best way to become more familiar with AdWords — and get that much closer to getting real estate agent ads up and running via the network — is to learn the basics. Check out these must-know definitions below to get a full grasp on the ad service.
A campaign is comprised of the keywords and keyword groups you intend to use for ads, the budget you set for your ads and bids you make on certain keywords, and the ads themselves. You can have one or more campaigns running at once in your AdWords account, meaning each campaign can target a different set of keywords, include distinct budgets, and target specific lead segments you want to reach. Each campaign you set should be labeled based on the goal you want to achieve. For example, you could create one low-budget campaign (bid on only moderately searched, relatively popular long-tail keywords) and one high-budget campaign (bid on more competitive, very popular long-tail terms) aimed at home buyers in your market.
This term is arguably the most straightforward in this list. The copy is the written words that make up your ads: your headline, body copy, website URL and/or phone number, and — most importantly — business name. There is a limit to the number of characters you can include in your copy, primarily because AdWords ads are featured at the top, right side, or bottom of search results and, thus, there’s only a finite amount of room for them to fit without taking up too much of the page. That means you need to make the limited copy you implement in your real estate ads count, in terms of both promotional persuasion and branding.
- Further Reading: How to Write the Highest-Performing AdWords Ads, Ever — Unbounce
There are two primary ways to promote your real estate agent ads in Adwords:
- Standard way, which portions out the ads you’ve created throughout the entire day based on your budget for said ads.
- Accelerated way, which goes through your ad budget more quickly by publishing your ads in a shorter time period.
There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods, but since you’re new to AdWords, work in an industry in which you don’t sell products or services on sale, and want to stretch your budget as far as you can time-wise (well, at least the amount of time until the listing you promote in your ad sells or draws enough interest), your best bet is to start with standard delivery.
Within a single AdWords campaign, you can set multiple ads that target the same set of keywords. Together, these ads are known as an ad group. Let’s say you want to create different ads targeted toward sellers of both high-end and mid-tier homes. You can use the same keyword list for both of these demographics and call the ad group “Home Seller Ads.” The same can go for buyer and renter personas as well and can be created based on other sales criteria. The point is you can easily keep tabs on all of your ads as long as you segment them accordingly to the ad group that best describes the ads’ intent.
- Further Reading: How Do You Structure Your Ad Groups? — PPC Hero
Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool
On occasion, there will be an issue or two that arises with the ads you set for publication in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Oftentimes, these problems are minute, but nonetheless need to be resolved in order for your ads to become eligible for display in SERPs. Some of the most common errors revealed to advertisers using the platform include not having a daily budget set, a keyword bid that surpasses said budget, and little or no search volume for the keywords in your ads. Though you never want to include keywords that no one’s searching for, the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool prevents you from wasting ad spend (and time) on those errors and more, making it an invaluable resource to use.
Not all AdWords ads are created equal — in fact, most aren’t optimized well enough to make it atop page one of SERPs due to poor keywords, copy, extensions, and overall pertinence. That means the best real estate ads — ones that meet Ad Rank requirements — have a clear call to action (more on that below), appropriate links, fitting brand info, and clear and concise messaging. Google is relatively secretive about its subjective algorithm for “estimating the expected impact” of ads, but as long as you abide by the standards set out from the search engine conglomerate, the chances are very good your ads will make the cut each and every time.
- Further Reading: Google AdWords’ New Ad Rank Formula: What You Need to Know — HubSpot
Whereas Ad Rank is the algorithm you need to “win” to get your ads to appear in general, average position gives you a sense as to where your ads tend to appear in search results for those who search the keywords you compete for. Knowing the average position of your ads allows you to check their quality: A high average position (say, 1–3) indicates your ads are often being shown as some of the first few results in SERPs. Conversely, a low average position (9 or worse) indicates you’ll have to make some modifications to your ads to improve their performance. It takes time to build up your average position, but once you get there, the clicks will pour in.
- Further Reading: Average Position (Avg. Pos.) — Google AdWords
Call to Action
Your ad’s call to action (CTA) is important, as no one will “bite” on your ads if your promotion doesn’t get them to click on it. This will negatively affect your quality score and lower your impressions and chances of getting further clicks. So, make your copy as transparent as possible so prospective leads know exactly what you offer and what page they’ll end up on after clicking through to your site.
Speaking of clicking through, your ads’ click-through rate (CTR) is one of the best key performance indicators (KPIs) that can reveal your campaigns’ performance. The formula to determine your ads’ CTR is pretty uncomplicated: It’s the number of clicks an ad receives divided by the total number of times that ad is seen by searchers in SERPs. The ads that tend to receive the highest CTRs are often the ones in the top three positions atop SERPs. However, even if your ad is shown as the last one on page one, it still can earn a fair number of clicks, so don’t fret if you don’t rise to the top of search results during the first dozen or so campaigns you run.
- Further Reading: Four AdWords Mistakes That Drag Your CTR Down — MarketingProfs
Cost Per Click
One of the biggest reasons agents and brokers give up on AdWords as a real estate advertising medium is high cost per click (CPC). However, this high CPC usually only happens when you don’t set a maximum budget for each click. As long as you denote the maximum amount of money you want to spend per click (through manual bidding), or allow Google to tinker with your bids to try to secure you the biggest bang for your advertising buck (through automatic bidding), you’ll prevent spending more than you want to with your campaigns. As Google notes, the actual CPC is often less than the max budget set for advertisers, meaning these advertisers generally don’t spend all of their budgets on clicks.
Destination URL/Display URL
In each of your ads, you need to have a link — the destination URL — that leads back to your real estate website and relates directly to the copy that accompanies it. For instance, if your ad promotes a few listings in a new apartment complex in your market that you represent, the link should go directly to a listings page on your site that is dedicated to explaining the property and units in question.
Moreover, this link needs to have a display URL that is, essentially, shorter than the destination URL for your webpage and accurately details what the page entails. So for the same example page for the apartment complex, your display URL structure could be something to the effect of: yourdomainname.com/apartment-complex-name. This makes it even clearer to searchers what to expect on the linked page and helps you fit in relevant keywords.
- Further Reading: Goodbye, AdWords Destination URLs: Everything You Need To Know About Upgraded URLs in AdWords — WordStream
Every time your ad is displayed on a SERP is considered an impression. While it’s certainly no guarantee those searching the keywords who end up on a SERP featuring your ad are looking at it, the more targeted you get with your keyword inclusion and general ad quality, the higher your ad will appear and the more ad impressions you will yield. Some advertisers pay for AdWords ads just to get their ad seen and increase their brand awareness and, thus, bid based on cost-per-thousand viewable impressions. You don’t want to do this, however, since your goal is to ultimately get searchers onto your site, perusing your listings, filling out forms, and contacting you.
- Further Reading: Google AdWords Impression Share: What is it? Why is it Important? How do I Increase It? — Point It
You can set triggers to control (as much as possibly can) which keywords will lead to ad impressions:
- Broad Match: Gives you a higher chance of getting your ads shown, as they will appear in SERPs not just for the exact keyword term or phrase included in the ad, but also similar ones.
- Exact Match: Your ad will only appear when that exact keyword search is performed.
Broad match will certainly lead to more visibility for your ads in SERPs, but that may not always be best, since you could end up paying for clicks from searchers who aren’t exactly looking for an agent or home for sale. Exact match tends to secure more targeted, qualified clicks for advertisers, but typically at a less frequent impression rate than broad match. There are pros and cons to using both match types, so experiment with your ads to see which is more ideal for your campaigns.
- Further Reading: 6 Things You Always Wanted To Know About AdWords Match Types (But Were Afraid To Ask) — Search Engine Land
One of the best (if not the best) keyword research tool out there is Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. Simply enter in a general keyword you want to determine search popularity for and you’ll see how many exact searches are made for that term each month. Keywords with high search volumes (i.e. those in the thousands) are generally more costly to bid on than lesser-search keywords (like those with less than 100 monthly searches). What this all means is you want to find that sweet spot for your bids. Find keywords using the tool that are definitely searched by your audience (e.g. “[market name] homes for sale,” “[market name] real estate agents”), but also those that are a bit more niche and still generate numerous searches each month to ensure your ads appear to the bulk of your audience and you don’t overspend on ad impressions that don’t get prospective leads to your site.
- Further Reading: How to Use the Google Keyword Planner — Backlinko
When using the aforementioned Keyword Planner, you don’t want to enter in and bid on general keywords (e.g. “homes for sale,” “housing market”), as those are not only some of the priciest terms to bid on, but also not geared toward your specific market. Instead, you want to enter in an array of long-tail keywords pertaining to your market. Basically, add in your market name (your town, city, county, or general region, depending on the vastness of the physical market you serve) and any terms and phrases associated with the niche clients and housing types you tend to work with. For instance, if you work in a beach town, adding in phrases like “beach homes for sale,” “bungalows for sale,” and “beach real estate” along with your market name will generate far more of the right kind of ad clicks than more generic keywords.
Given some words have multiple meanings, it’s imperative to add in negative keywords to your AdWords account to prevent your ads from appearing in SERPs for the wrong intent. Consider this example: You live and work in a town called Madison. There are obviously many towns and cities in America with this name, so this could become problematic for your AdWords campaigns … unless, of course, you add in the keywords associated with all other Madisons nationwide in your negative keywords list. With this setting in place, your ad will only appear for those actually searching for residences and representation in your Madison, not any of the other ones around the country — something that will save you money (and headaches) with your real estate ads.
Advanced Google AdWords Terms: Next-Level Concepts to Know for Your Real Estate Ads
Now that you have the basics down, take a peek at some of the more advanced concepts that can kick your real estate AdWords strategy up a notch. These will be most useful once you’ve spent a couple of months getting to know the platform.
It’s vital to get clicks in general for your ads — otherwise, your ad dollars should be diverted to other real estate marketing activities. Having said that, it’s just as important to know what those clickers do on your site once they get there. What actions did they take? Did they fill out a form? What pages did they view after landing on your site? How long did they stick around your site? These are essential things to know, and you can determine all of them through attribution reports, which give you insights into the path flow your real estate ad audience takes from start to finish while on your site.
- Further Reading: AdWords’ Search Funnels (aka Attribution) Become More Accessible — Search Engine Watch
If getting your audience to your real estate agent website isn’t your top priority and you prefer to have them contact you directly over the phone to learn more about your business and local market, adding in a call extension in your ad or creating a dedicated click-to-call (a.k.a. call-only) ad is your best option. This is still a relatively new feature offered by AdWords, but research from Google shows mobile audiences tend to engage with this type of ad quite often — 70% of mobile users have clicked on a click-to-call ad before — which means it’s certainly an ad type you should explore further once you’ve nailed down the basics of traditional AdWords campaigns.
- Further Reading: Google AdWords Call Extensions – How, Why and When — LunaMetrics
Once you have ramped up your AdWords account and set multiple campaigns in motion, you can get a bit more savvy with how you experiment and test your campaigns. One way to do just that is to conduct campaign experiments, which afford you the chance to test single-variable alterations to your campaigns. If you want to use the exact same copy for three different home buyer-oriented ads, for instance, but want to incorporate a different long-tail, buyer-themed keyword in each of those ads, you can measure each ads’ performance via campaign experiments. With this tool, you can also test things like links, headlines, and even price.
Dynamic Keyword Insertion
To truly optimize your ad campaigns so that your ads include the exact keywords your audience searches for, you can add in special code in the back end of your campaigns through a feature called dynamic keyword insertion. Let’s say the primary long-tail keyword you use in your ads is “[your market name] homes for sale.” You’ll likely get a significant number of impressions for this term, assuming it’s proven to get plenty of monthly searches in Keyword Planner. But since there are likely dozens of other highly searched terms you know your audience searches for — and you may not have a substantial amount of money to pour into ads for each of those dozens of keywords — you can instead add in those similar terms and phrases using dynamic keyword insertion. That way, when those keywords are searched, your ads with “[your market name] homes for sale” will switch out that keyword in favor of the dynamic one you encoded for the campaign when they keyword is searched. It may sound a bit complicated, but in short, this is a great tool to use to get more traction from your ads and limit your ad spend.
- Further Reading: What Is AdWords Dynamic Keyword Insertion? — SEMrush
Another way to get clicks from those in your market is by using geographic targeting, also known as location targeting. It’s pretty simple: Set your location for certain campaigns and they will only appear to those in your area. It’s not the most sophisticated form of targeting, but can help increase brand awareness. You can try setting this up and using links in your ads that lead to “about me” pages on your site to explain who you are and how you serve the local market in more detail to garner more name recognition in your community along with increased site traffic — a win-win.
- Further Reading: A Complete Guide for AdWords Location Targeting: Setup, Use Cases, and Results — Search Engine Watch
In those geo-targeted ads, you would also be wise to include a location extension, which provides specific information about your business, including your name, phone number, office address, and a map denoting your physical location within the market. Again, while the primary goal of your ads is to generate more visitors for your site and convert them into leads, this offers another means to create a touchpoint opportunity for you and your audience: some may be willing to set up an in-person consultation with you and drive on over.
- Further Reading: AdWords Location Extension Infographic — Acquisio
The keywords you include in your ads are scored by Google with something called a Quality Score, one factor in AdWords’ Ad Rank system. This grade denotes the quality of the ad you’ve created. If Google feels you have added in a keyword to a particular ad with copy that it believes doesn’t necessarily align well together — for instance, using the keyword “[market name] condos for rent” with copy that advertises apartments for sale in your area — it will give your ad a low score. On the flip side, ads with keywords that are paired with more appropriate copy will receive a higher Quality Score.
- Further Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords Quality Score — PPC Hero
Whereas many advertisers tend to allocate money toward their AdWords campaigns with a daily budget, some prefer to spread the wealth across multiple campaigns with a shared budget. This is an optimal strategy to use if there isn’t one particular campaign you prioritize over another (this would typically be the case if you had an ad featuring a high-search-volume keyword you wanted to prioritize over another ad with a lower-search-volume keyword). A core benefit of setting up a shared budget is you don’t have to manually allocate your budget across your various campaigns. Rather, AdWords will do the work for you. Start off with a daily budget to figure out the logistics of setting ad budgets in general, then delve into shared budgets when you start to ramp up the total number of campaigns you run to save time. Just be sure to keep an eye on how well each campaign performs and adjust (or eliminate) those that don’t merit a portion of the shared budget.
- Further Reading: 5 Simple Techniques on How to Use the Shared Budget Tool in AdWords — White Shark Media
Knowing your ads are converting clickers into qualified real estate leads is an absolute must. Getting an understanding of who has clicked an ad and then completed a form on your site, or made a phone call from a click-to-call ad, will help you chart a typical client’s customer journey and implement the necessary lead nurturing efforts and follow-up tasks needed to turn them into new business.
That’s where tracking code comes into play. Here’s an abbreviated explanation regarding tracking code setup: Add in a special code for your real estate website in your AdWords account and the platform will be able to relay to you which keywords, ads, and campaigns generate the most clicks and other site actions. This information, in turn, can be used to better understand what changes need to be made to your ads and campaigns and which pages on your site lead to the most conversions.
- Further Reading: 5 Conversion Tracking Tips For AdWords — Search Engine Land
Need more AdWords help for your real estate advertising campaigns — or proof the ad platform is worth using? Read our Placester Academy post on how to create click-worthy copy for your real estate agent ads and this Academy article that details 10 big benefits from using AdWords for real estate.
Have any questions about how to set up your search engine advertising plan using PPC campaigns, or simply want to share how you expertly use AdWords to bolster your real estate lead generation strategy? Be sure to share your thoughts and insights with us in the comments section below.
Published on February 5, 2016
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.