AdWords leveled the playing field by making Google advertising affordable for businesses of all sizes. But like any form of marketing, it’s all too easy to quickly spend money without seeing the desired results.  

Google AdWords changed the advertising world forever. Back in 2000, Google launched AdWords, an advertising platform that allows businesses to get their marketing message seen on the world’s largest search engine.  

Unlike expensive traditional advertising mediums such as newspapers, radio, tv and billboards, AdWords leveled the playing field by making Google advertising affordable for businesses of all sizes.

With AdWords, advertisers have control over how much they spend, when and where their ads show along with detailed performance insights allowing for on-the-fly changes to maximize ROI.  

Despite the many great features AdWords offers, however, like any form of advertising, it’s all too easy to quickly spend money without seeing the desired results.  

As a former Google Certified Partner and internet marketing coach, here are five common — but costly — mistakes I’ve seen too many companies make:

Mistake 1: Combining search and display advertising

When you create a Google AdWords campaign, you’ve got two campaign types to choose from: “search network with display select” or “search network only” as shown below.  

real estate ads

Let me quickly explain the difference between the two. Here’s an example of how Google search advertising works:

  • Tom goes to Google and searches “hire a real estate agent”
  • Your ad appears
  • Tom clicks on your ad
  • Tom gets taken to your website

Here’s how display advertising works:

  • Tom is reading a post on a real estate forum and notices your ad
  • Tom clicks your ad
  • Tom gets taken to your website

Do you notice the main difference between search and display? In a Google search campaign, your ad will only show if someone enters a search on Google that matches a search you’ve told Google to trigger your ad for — hence “search” campaign.  

In a display campaign, Google is simply splashing your ad across a myriad of sites that it considers relevant to the topic of your ads. Think of display ads like billboard ads. A lot of people will see you even though they may not be searching for you.

While both search and display will drive traffic to your site, display advertising is usually not a good option for lead generation. Be sure to select “search network only.”

Mistake 2: Improper use of geo-targeting

AdWords permits advertisers to get very specific with where their ads show, geographically. With a few clicks, you can select various countries, states, cities and even set up radius targeting like only having your ads appear within a 20-mile radius of Springfield, Missouri.

However, there is one section called “Location options (advanced)” that usually gets overlooked. You’ll notice from the screenshot below that there are three advanced location options to choose from.  

The first option is selected by default. This first option basically overrides your geo-settings and allows Google to serve your ad to anyone it feels is interested in your location.  

google ads for realtors

So, unless you want Google to show your real estate ads to anyone on the planet, go with the middle option “people in my targeted location.”  

Mistake 3: Poor keyword targeting

In my opinion, one of the best AdWords features is keyword targeting. With keyword targeting, an advertiser can tell Google to only show their ads when someone types in certain words or phrases on Google.

For instance, if you just wanted to attract sellers, you might limit the showing of your ads to people who enter searches like “sell my house” or “sell house quickly.” 

Typically, newer advertisers target very broadly, generic phrases like “real estate” or “Realtor” and the like. Just like with geo-targeting, you want to get specific enough with your keyword targeting that you’re reaching the right audience.  

It’s important to also understand the different AdWords keyword match types, but that’s a topic for another post.

Mistake 4: Lack of relevance

Relevance is extremely important to Google, and your campaign can actually get penalized if Google deems it irrelevant. Relevance, in an AdWords sense, has to do with making sure the content of your ads and landing page are relevant to the keywords that trigger your ads.  

For example, let’s say someone typed “hire real estate agent” on Google, and your ad appeared, but the title of your ad read, “ABC Realty Group.”  

Is that relevant? Well, sort of, but a headline that read, “Looking to hire an agent? We can help” would be a lot more relevant.  

Furthermore, when you create an ad in AdWords, you can specify which page on your site visitors will go to when they click your ad. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen companies just send people to their home page.  

Take visitors to the page on your site that is most relevant to what they searched for. Don’t dump them on your home page, and force them to navigate through your site to find what they want.   

Mistake 5: No clear call-to-action (CTA)

What action do you want visitors to take when they land on your site? Do you want them to call, fill out a form or perhaps watch a video? Create a clear call-to-action (CTA), and make it evident the moment the visitor arrives on your site.  

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, visitors don’t usually stick around on a site longer than 20 seconds, so make every second count.

Launching a Google AdWords campaign can be a great way to drive real estate leads from the internet, and avoiding the common mistakes I’ve covered in this post will help ensure you get the most out of your campaign.  

The good news is you don’t need to be an AdWords expert to get started. Simply visit, and Google will help set up your campaign for free.  

Brandon Jones is a licensed Realtor, real estate investor, and the founder of He resides near Springfield, Missouri, with his wife and two sons.

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