Optimize Your Pay-Per-Click Ad Strategy

Real estate pros can see impressive results from PPC advertising such as Google's AdWords, but it's important to follow a set plan.

Finding the right pay-per-click strategy can dramatically increase the volume of leads for your real estate business. Even more promising is the useful data generated by PPC campaigns, which can be used to inform your digital marketing strategy overall.

However, you need to pay close attention to best practices to make sure your ad dollars are well spent. Here are a few tips to help you optimize your strategy and launch an effective PPC strategy for your real estate business.

Start With an Optimized Lead Funnel

Before you begin building a PPC ad campaign, you need to give your marketing funnel the attention it deserves. The most effective PPC ads in the world will still lead to a low volume of conversions without this step. And low conversion rates combined with a high click-through rate will spell disaster for any paid search budget.

To avoid blowing through your budget, think about the next steps someone may take after clicking on your ad. Keep in mind that most search users are at the very top of the real estate funnel. Otherwise, they would be looking at specific listings or already working with an agent.

Home buyers at the top of the funnel will want to see a landing page filled with curated home listings mirroring their search terms. Most people will expect results to be filtered by area. Some will want general regions, such as Des Plaines or Chicago, whereas others will want highly specific neighborhoods. Home sellers will need different sorts of content to convert. General information, like a step-by-step overview of the selling process, tends to work well.

Accompany all content with email capture forms to bring site visitors inside your actual marketing funnel. Then, follow up with drip campaigns that offer personalized messages (“I saw you were interested in selling your home. What specific questions can I answer for you?”) and personalized content (“Here are 20 gorgeous four-bedroom homes in Des Plaines for you”).

Creating a cohesive lead funnel in this way dramatically raises your chances of turning a PPC click engagement into an actual lead, while lowering your cost per lead.

Segment Keyword Groups by Buyer Intent

When considering your bidding strategy and the keywords you want to invest in, think about the intent of your potential leads. For instance, someone searching for “best neighborhoods in Austin, Texas” may not even be truly considering moving there. Yet, a slim portion of traffic could convert to a lead, so you may still want to bring those searchers into your funnel. On the other hand, someone searching for “houses for sale in Round Rock” is more clearly shopping for a home.

Considering personas can also help you find niche keyword groups and optimize your PPC ad copy for maximum effectiveness. For instance, someone searching for homes in Round Rock may be more apt to click on an ad that reads, “homes within 15 miles of Dell HQ” compared to a more generic “homes for sale in Round Rock, Texas.”

Align your bid strategy to your personal experience with lead generation and clients, too. Thanks to your understanding of the local market, you may already know that a large portion of home buyers come from areas outside of your city, for example. But you may also know that those who are relocating are also more likely to look for higher-end homes, which means you may want to spend more on advertising targeting them.

Pay Close Attention to Feedback on Ad Quality

Google’s commitment to a great advertising experience leads to moments of helpful transparency. The AdWords platform wants to display ads that search users will actually click on and get value from.

Google uses several criteria to help determine whether your ad can satisfy this high standard, and they reveal them through the Quality Score, which is made up of three specific areas:

  1. Ad content and relevance
  2. Historical click-through rate
  3. Landing page quality

Ads that do not align with a user’s search query or that fail to connect with useful content on the related landing page will likely be assigned a low score. Google will actually penalize advertisers who have a low score by inflating the cost for each click. Ads with a high Quality Score get displayed more often, even at a lower bid amount.

To improve your Quality Score, try implementing the following:

  • Increase ad relevance
    • Include the user’s actual search query in the ad copy
    • Use additional relevant keywords
    • Decipher the intent of the user and weave that context into your ads
    • Add negative keywords to prevent your ad from showing for irrelevant queries
    • Make sure your ad groups have related themes and symbiotic keywords
  • Boost your expected click-through rate
    • Refresh your ads regularly, and investigate new keywords using Google’s Search Query Report
    • A/B test ad variations and rotate ads evenly at launch
    • Look into implementing relevant site links and structured snippets
  • Improve landing page quality
    • Include the searcher’s intent and context (based on user search query) within your landing page content
    • Make sure pertinent information is above the fold (within user’s view when the page is first opened, without having to scroll)
    • Use SEO tools to identify and improve site speed and load time, fix broken links, and A/B test your landing pages

Also, it’s important to realize that your ad’s Quality Score is cumulative for your account, so one bad campaign can have a negative impact on all others. Don’t poison the well with poorly conceived ad campaigns.

Track Conversion Rates to Spend Ad Dollars Wisely

As you begin to construct ad campaigns, beware of running through your budget too quickly. You may even want to set a lower-than-expected budget as you start out. Depending on the average sales price for the homes you advertise, a budget of $500 per month could be sufficient to test the waters. Doing so helps you gather data so that you can optimize your spending and bidding strategy as you learn more through performance.

Every PPC campaign should be tied to key performance indicators to track their ultimate return on investment. What percentage of paid clicks lead to successful email captures? How many of those emails lead to closed deals? If your conversion rate is low, you may want to shift toward keywords with more obvious intent. Assigning negative keywords can help you filter out searches with low purchase intent. You may also want to run an A/B test on your landing page to understand if it’s effective in converting clicks.

Tracking your overall cost per lead gives you the most direct information on your campaign’s performance. But it can also help you alter your keyword strategy in a way that may reverberate through your marketing plan as a whole. You might discover niches that could transform your business, such as using searches for “multifamily properties for sale in Lewisburg, OR” to pitch to investors wanting to rent homes out to Oregon State college students.