Real Estate: How to Generate Leads with Google Ads

Google can be a goldmine for real estate lead generation if you succeed in landing a spot on the first page. However, as you might have realized, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) alone cannot guarantee you a position above the fold.  If you can’t wait forever to generate organic leads, you’ll need to use Google Ads paid search PPC advertising at some point.

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As a digital marketer, I’ve optimized AdWords accounts of many home and apartment builders and sellers. With experience comes learning, and with learning, wisdom. Today I’m sharing with you some of that wisdom so you may run highly successful Google Ads campaigns and avoid the pitfalls that lead to failure.

Issues in Real Estate PPC Advertising

Like every other industry, real estate PPC also has its unique challenges. Conquer them, and you’ll generate a steady flow of leads that you can nurture and convert into buyers. Fail, and you might lose faith in the effectiveness of AdWords, apart from losing lots of prospective customers.

General AdWords Challenges for All PPC Advertisers

Before we get to the challenges specific to real estate PPC, let me remind you that Google Ads is a keyword-driven medium. Your success depends on how precisely you target relevant keywords that your audience is searching.

Relevant Keywords

You can continuously reduce cost and increase leads if you show your ads to people who are really interested in buying, selling or renting property (depending on your business model and goals). You’ll keep losing money and leads if your ad is visible to an audience that is likely to click on your ad, but unlikely to buy or rent a property through your company.

High-Converting Landing Pages

The second most critical challenge for all PPC advertisers is to design high-converting landing pages. Advertising without optimizing the page that the customers will see once they click on the ad is like putting the cart before the horse.

AdWords Account Structure

After you select the keywords, arrange them under coherent AdGroups. Ideally, you should have a dedicated conversion optimized landing page for each advert or Ad Group.

AdWords Challenges for Real Estate PPC

real estate

The following issues are specific to real estate PPC and must be addressed before you can execute rewarding lead-generation campaigns.

You Have a Strictly Local Product (but not Audience)

You have an extremely local product, so your campaign must target people who either physically live in that city or want to relocate there.

Homeowners Don’t Rent Apartments

If you’re marketing apartment communities, your advertising should exclude homeowners because they’re highly unlikely to rent apartments.

Renters are Interested but Might be Ineligible

Renters are perfect leads for a home builder, but they might be ineligible to buy a house on any given day because they are usually tied up in 12-month contracts.

Many Candidates Might Have Poor Credit Scores

Finally, people must be able to afford the product. Even if you’ve done everything right, credit checks may disqualify many interested candidates for a new home or apartment.

Luckily, AdWords can target people at the granular level if you “know the ropes”. The following strategies deliver optimum returns on investment for real estate sellers and realtors looking to generate qualified leads using Google Ads PPC advertising.

Strategies for Real Estate PPC

1. Bid on Brand Keywords to Capture Hot Leads

“Why? My brand isn’t so famous that people would search for it,” you might be thinking. You can’t afford to ignore the name of your company or brand in your keyword strategy because of the following reasons:

Understand Real Estate Discovery Process

People searching for real estate can run across your brand in a variety of unpredictable ways. For example, they can remember you from Craigslist or an outdoor sign you placed outside your office or on a property you’re selling. They can learn your name from a friend or an apartment guide and search for you on Google to find out more about you.

Capture High Quality Leads at Rock-Bottom CPC

Prospects searching for your brand are likely to convert into high-quality leads if they see you right on top of the search results and click through to your landing page. The CPC (Cost per Click) bid for your brand keywords is likely to be minimal so that you can capture quality leads at a low cost.

Thwart Competitors from Stealing Your Leads

Just in case you’re not bidding on branded searches and your competitors are, they can steal your hottest leads by appearing above your organic listing. Moreover, real estate aggregators can also occupy the top slot and take searchers to a page where they can see all of your local competitors.

Pro Tip: Bid high on brand keywords, so your company appears on top of the page whenever someone searches for your brand.

2. Master Geo-targeting to Eliminate Irrelevant Locations

Google Ads’ geo-targeting feature effectively tackles the localization problem and eliminates ad appearances in irrelevant locations. Here’s how to get the most from AdWords Geotargeting for real estate PPC advertising:

1. Log into Google Ads, click on Location options and in the Target column select People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations. Your ad will now be visible to people who are present in the areas you’ve selected or have searched for properties in those areas.

2. Under the Exclude column, select People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations. Yup, these are also the recommended settings. They cater to people who might want to relocate within the same city as well as those in your targeted locations. However, I’d suggest revisiting geo-targeting once your campaigns go live and your account gains data.

3. The third most important thing to do is to set location bid adjustments. The idea is to increase the bid as searches move closer to your targeted location and decrease the bid as they move away. Through incremental bid adjustment, you can show your ad to more searchers closer to the property’s geo-location. As searches move away and the quality of the leads decreases (theoretically), you can reduce the bids to reduce the number of dud clicks.

real estate- Location bid

3. Use Negative Keywords to Prevent Unwanted Exposures

Negative keywords are search phrases for which you don’t want your ad to show up.

For example, if you’re dealing in residential properties and don’t want to target farmhouse buyers, you can list ‘farmhouse’ it as a negative keyword. It will prevent your ad from showing when someone searches for farmhouses in your targeted location.

The second type of keywords a real estate PPC advertiser must list as negative keywords relate to locations.

For example, if you’re selling a property in Dover, NJ and haven’t excluded unwanted locations by listing them as negative keywords, your ad might be eligible to appear for searches for at least 20 different Dovers in 20 different states.

The workaround the non-unique location issue is rather simple.

Make a list of state names and abbreviations and include them as broad-match type negative keywords. This will prevent your ad from triggering when someone searches for a Dover in another state.

Just make sure to exclude the target state from the negative keyword list!

4. Aim for Best Ad Positions for Real Estate PPC

According to Google, Ad Position is the order of your ad in the auction results as compared to other ads. An ad position of “1” means no other ads were ahead of your ad, but it doesn’t mean your ad will necessarily appear on top of the organic search results. It can also be the first ad shown below the search results if no ads are shown on top of the page.

Ad position depends on Ad Rank, a metric that Google uses five factors to determine. These include your bid amount, Quality Score, Ad Rank thresholds, the context of the person’s search, and the estimated impact of the ad extensions and ad formats you’re using.

Ad positions are reported in exact numbers from 1 to 7. However, average ad positions may be reported in decimals. Being on top of the page (Ad position 1) means your ad has a high CTR (Click-through Rate) as well as a high CPC (Cost per Click).

Real estate ppc

Being at the top position also means your ad will be clicked a lot more often. The difference in CTR between ad position 1.0–1.4 and 1.8–2.2 can be as high as 50%. Driving 50% more traffic at significantly high CPC might turn out to be so expensive you might not be able to make any profits at all.

So, what are the best ad positions for real estate PPC?

Research shows that the most profitable average ad positions are 2.1, 3.5, or 4.6. The exact position may vary for different industries, but in all probability, it’s never the top position. So, if you see your ad consistently appear on top of the page, you should lower your bid until you hit the sweet spot between CPC and CTR.

The only exception is for keywords with your brand name. They’re likely to have a low CPC, so you can afford to bid high and appear at position “1” to claim ownership of your brand.

5. Best Keyword Match Type for Real Estate PPC

Google Ads allows you to select one out of four different match types for each target keyword.

Broad Match is the default match type that, once associated with a particular keyword, can make your ad appear whenever a search phrase contains that keyword. Your ad will show up regardless of the other keywords that the search phrase contains or the order of those keywords.

For example, if your target phrase is “buy condo in NJ” and you select Broad Match, your ad may appear for search queries like “buy condo furniture in NJ”, “best NJ condo projects”, or “buy house in NJ”.

As you may see, Broad Match delivers maximum exposure, but low-quality traffic. It’s probably not the best match type for real estate lead generation.

real estate condos

In the above screenshot, see the adverts that the search term buy condo in NJ triggers.

Note that the first and the last ads don’t mention the keyword “condo”. They are about houses, but have probably selected broad match.

The second, third, and fourth ads correspond to the user intent behind the search. It’s probably an exact match or a phrase match that triggered these ads.

So, which type of keyword match should you select for real estate PPC?

The best keyword match types for quality real estate lead generation are Phrase Match and Exact Match.

Phrase Match triggers your ad when the search terms contain your target phrase in the same order. However, the search terms may include additional keywords before the beginning or after the end of the target phrase.

For example, if your target keyword is buy condo in NJ and you select broad match, your ad may also show up during searches like best project to buy condo in NJ and buy condo in NJ fsbo.

Exact Match requires the search terms to be an exact match for your target phrase before your ad can be triggered. However, Google has updated the exact match type to accommodate close variants of target keywords including misspellings, singular or plural forms, words, abbreviations, even same search intent. So, the exact match is not that exact anymore.

It’s important to stick to exact match and phrase match if you want to generate quality leads at the minimum cost of acquisition. Include the location, property type, and offer in your target key-phrase and lock them in using exact and phrase match.

The same four match types also apply to negative keywords. Use them intelligently to filter out low-quality clicks.

6. Google Ads Extensions for Real Estate PPC

Google Ads Extensions are snippets of information that make your ad more relatable and clickable for searchers. There are no less than 18 types of ad extensions. The following six work best for real estate PPC advertisers.

Location Extension

The Location Extension allows you to feature your street address in the adverts. Apart from encouraging people near you to contact you, the location extension helps them navigate their way to your office. Besides, revealing your address conveys an air of authenticity, transparency, and trustworthiness.

Sitelink Extension

This extension provides an opportunity (and space) to link your service offerings and additional information that customers may need.

People can click on the extension and go straight to the most relevant page that they want to visit. For example, you can link to floor plans, condos, studio apartments, or single-story homes.

The sitelink extension can have a phenomenal impact on CTR as people can find what they’re looking for and go to that page without wasting time.

Price Extension

Price is the first thing many customers would like to know. This extension allows real estate advertisers to provide pricing information right on the search engine results page (SERP) and answer customers’ key question before they even ask.

Using this extension can filter out low-quality leads while increasing the flow of qualified leads.

The price extension allows you to include up to eight price cards in your adverts. Users can click on the most appealing price and go directly to that property’s page.

Call Extension

Most of the people now use smartphones to search online. The call extension enables them to speak directly to your salespeople instead of going to your website and taking the longer route.


Real estate has a lengthy sales cycle. Success depends on a consistent and healthy flow of leads that you can work on and convert to buyers. PPC, of course, is one of the best ways to generate this flow. The only challenge is to prevent irrelevant clicks and attract only qualified leads.

AdWords is a data-driven medium. If you don’t know the science of Google Ads, you might lose more money than you make in the long run. On the other hand, paying attention to details such as those mentioned above can significantly reduce cost and increase the quality of leads.

I hope you found some value in the article and are better prepared to handle real estate PPC. Should you need assistance, I’m glad to help. How about we meet for a free consult about real estate PPC sometime next week?