Posted by on Dec 12, 2008 in Marketing | No Comments

I wrote this out for a class I am teaching this morning in my office and I’ve begun to get myself in the habit of posting things that might be of value to more people than just the class I’m teaching. This by no means is the holy grail, but, should serve a beginner rather well as they are starting out.

The internet has 2 basic methods that you can utilize to obtain leads; links placed strategically on relevant search results pages that are paid advertisements (Pay Per Click) and the other way is what is called “organic” search engine placement. Today we are going to talk specifically about the Pay Per Click model.

All of the major search engines MSN, Yahoo! and Google have Pay Per Click as well as organic search engine placement and all work with the same basic premise. You pay for your website to be listed in the paid section and you are charged a fee only when a consumer clicks on your link. The cost of this can range from as little as $.05 to over $3.00 per click depending on the competition for the term and frequency in which consumers click on the links. The more popular the search terms, the more opportunities you have to receive clicks through to your website. Typically, the more popular terms will also have more people competing to be listed on the first page which drives up the cost per click.

First, we’ll talk about a few definitions, then how to set up an account and then some strategies to get the highest results in terms of clicks through to your website for the lowest possible cost. The examples given will be for Google only, but, you can run ads on any of the search engines.


  • Adwords – This is the name of the advertising program offered by Google.
  • Campaigns – You can set up multiple campaigns to target specific markets. We will go through the set up of one campaign.
  • Clicks – the number of times someone clicked on your link.
  • Impressions – The number of times your ad was shown on a specific search result page.
  • Click Through Rate (CTR) – The percentage of times your site was clicked/impressions.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost per click :-)
  • Position or Average Position – The placement of your ad on the page. Typically there are 10 places per page. You need to be on the first page if you expect to receive any traffic. The higher you bid for your cost per click, the higher you can be placed on thepage.
  • Bid – The maximum amount you are willing to pay for an individual click.
  • Keywords – Search terms you might use for your ad campaign.
  • Negative Keywords – words and terms that you do not want your ad to be placed on.

Setting Up Your Account:

To set up your account, you will need to sign up with Google, many of you may already have a gmail account so you already have an account. Set up a new account here:
Once your account is set up, you will need to set up an Adwords account. Log in to your Google Account and click on the “Adwords” link. This is a simple set up process that requires credit card information to activate your account.

Set up a new campaign and give it a descriptive, but general name and select the parameters as needed to complete the form.


The goal of your campaign is to generate targeted visitors to your website based on your keyword selection for the lowest possible price while generating leads for you to try to convert into clients for life. These are ads. It is as simple as that. Do not turn this into a project of reinventing the wheel or sending the next person to the moon.

The first concept you will need to experiment with is the actual text of your ad. You are given a very limited space of 3 lines. The first line is 25 characters and is the “title” of your ad. The next 2 are 35 characters each for your description of the add and there is one additional line to display your website URL. Choose your words wisely. They should closely correspond to your targeted keywords. The better relation to your keywords, the better chance your add will be clicked. Be sure to include a call to action such as “Search”, “Find” or something else that will tell the consumer to do something. The better your ad, the better your click through rate to your website will be.

Since we know that some keyword phrases are searched more and cost more than others, you need to think and correct your campaign to improve your cost per click as you go. This is not perfect science, but, something that needs to be managed and can be quickly controlled in a matter of an hour or so per week depending on how much effort you want to put in. There is an extremely useful keyword research tool built directly into the adwords manager.

One very effective strategy is to target an area you know – use” keywords” that will optimize your ads  for specific  subdivisions. They aren’t searched frequently, but there are lots of them, there is little to no competition and the cost per click is extremely cheap. Some examples of keywords you will want to choose related to subdivisions will be like these. Everything is lowercase:

  • Subdivision homes for sale, subdivision homes, homes for sale in subdivision, subdivision real estate, real estate in subdivision and real estate for sale in subdivision.

The next set of keywords to use will be words called “Longtails”. Longtails are detailed words strung together to form a specific search phrase that consumers might use to search homes for sale. I believe that “longtail” keyword searches are the future of search engine marketing in real estate. The reason for this is because as more people become familiar with utilizing search engines to find what they are looking for, the more specific they search. This helps in a number of ways, byt, most importantly you are beginning the process of qualifying your leads (actually, they are doing this for you) and they in turn will have higher conversion rates. “Subdivision” type keywords would be an example of specific “longtail” keyword searches. Some additional  longtail terms might look something like this:

  • Homes listed for sale around windward, homes in the windward area, windward parkway and homes for sale, best map search to find alpharetta real estate, homes for sale off of haynes bridge road. Get creative here, because these are the cheapest and best converting terms. Often you will find that you might be the only pay per click search result on the page which will greatly increase your chances of having a consumer click through to your website.

The third in an initial set of keywords would be misspellings. This is why I prefer to use only exact matches for my pay per click campaign. It is more time consuming to set up the first time, but, you can always add little by little and this way, you control exactly what you are paying for.

Finally, if you choose to use only exact matches for your keywords, you won’t need this, but, you should know what they are nonetheless. The are called negative keywords and they are exactly what they sound like. Here are some examples:

  • -alpharetta doctors, -alpharetta dentists, -alpharetta restaurants, -alpharetta hotels, -alpharetta mortgages

So that is the basics of a pay per click campaign. There are a few last thoughts that I do want to add even though they are better left for another class. The ads themselves are carefully tracked and rated. They are given a quality score based on a number of factors. The higher your quality score, the lower your cost per click. Your quality score can be affected by a number of factors and the most important are your click through rate, the relationship between your keywords and the words in your ad. Basically, your ads performance.

Landing Pages

If you are looking for Alpharetta real estate and you click on a website that is about Roswell will you stick around and comb through a website until you find what you are looking for or will you click the back button and find something that is what you are looking for right away? So will consumers! Landing pages can be set specifically for each ad. If you are running 5 ads, you might want to use 5 different landing pages. Here are some examples:

  • Ad – “Search Alpharetta Homes” – Send them straight to a page that searches Alpharetta homes for sale.
  • Ad – “Alpharetta Foreclosure Search” – Send them to a page designed specifically to what Alpharetta foreclosures.

With time, patience, some analyzing and tweaking, you can run a campaign that will bring you internet leads every day. Like any other form of prospecting for business in real estate. It will require effort, thoughtfulness and attention on a regular basis if you are to be successful. There is no reason that you cannot generate opportunities with a pay per click internet campaign on a daily basis and then it is up to you to convert them into a client for life.

When I began marketing online and had my Atlanta real estatewebsite up for a short time, I utilized pay per click as the beginning of my online real estate marketing efforts. It helped me make improvements to my website by analyzing conversion rates so that I could improve upon them over time. I no longer use adwords to generate leads, but, I do occasionally use them for other items like marketing single listings as well as open houses. Used effectively, pay per click can be a tremendous benefit to both you and to your clients.

Additional Resource

The best place to start looking for more advanced tips on how to improve your pay per click campaign are of course, right on Google. Start from within Adwords itself, but, don’t necessarily read every word. Use the search engine itself to learn more by “googling” words like: how to use adwords for real estate and so forth. So much can be learned by just taking the time and doing it.

Resource link – tons of information can be found here with a community of people at various stages of the learning process as well as some experienced agents who run successful campaigns. Ask a question and someone will answer you.

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