• Get as local as possible; educate consumers; find and express your brand; understand where search starts.

CHICAGO — Small independent brokerages can struggle daily to compete with their larger franchise counterparts, which will often have more robust websites, more money to spend and a larger reach on the internet, where most real estate searches begin.

John Thornton, partner lead of real estate at Google, spoke about paid advertising with Google, why it’s important and how to stand out at Inman Connect on the Road Chicago last week.

Whether you belong to a large company with plenty of reach or are an independent real estate agent building your own website, here are four ways to utilize Google advertising to your benefit.

1. Get as local as possible when you’re deciding on your keywords. Get down to the neighborhood level — and even more specific if it makes sense for your market. Paid ads will be cheaper, and you’ll get more relevant clicks.

2. Google is still where it starts. Google advertising is the start of the path. Other advertising platforms help you connect with leads, but most people still begin their search on Google.

3. Find your true brand. Home in on what your brand is and connect your digital presence to your brand. Be genuine because people will be able to tell if you aren’t. Because leads start on Google, this is the place to capture qualified, relevant leads — so make sure the brand those leads are seeing is something you’ve crafted with care.

4. Consider how you can educate consumers. People will often decide to make a purchasing decision, big or small, from a particular source if they learn something of value from the source.

Give users valuable information that helps them make a decision or that makes them feel comfortable and confident, and that will give them a reason to hire you. By shaping your Google ads, you’ll be shaping your clients’ perception.

Email Kimberly Manning

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