Google Ads can be an incredibly powerful tool for any agent to draw in new business. It helps you reach people who are likely to convert to clients — and it costs very little to get started.

September is Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. That means we’re talking to the chief marketing officers at major brokerages about how the pandemic is changing their jobs and what it means for agents. We’re publishing a suite of tactical Inman Handbooks for marketing on digital portals. And we’re looking at what pages of the traditional marketing playbook still work. Join us all month long.

Google Ads can provide an incredible ROI and help you reach people highly likely to convert to clients. Formerly called AdWords, Google Ads ensures your business appears at the top of search results and top-of-mind among potential clients.

Creating an effective, straightforward Google Ads strategy can be a bit of an art. Here, we’ve laid out simple ways to get started, as well as ideas on how to expand your skills — and improve your ROI — once you’ve mastered the basics.

Why use Google Ads?

Increase leads

Real estate agents must constantly be attracting new clients — and this lead generation can be a huge expense for an agent. Traditionally, agents may find leads through their own network, print, radio or TV ads as well as referrals from real estate sites. All these tactics can be quite expensive and reach people outside of the agent’s target market.

Google Ads can be a game changer for increasing quality leads. Agents can target people likely to be future clients with accuracy — and avoid paying to advertise to those not in the market to buy or sell a home.

Build traffic

Hopefully, you’ve spent a good deal of time perfecting your online brand through an attractive and informative website. One of your major goals for ad spending may be to drive traffic there — and ultimately convert these leads into clients. 

The major benefit of driving traffic to your website is that you can build trust without borrowing any of your time. People who browse your website can learn about you, your process, the homes you have listed and your commission rate before even contacting you.

Be approachable and helpful online, and share the support you’ll provide along the way, all the way to closing. If you’ve crafted your website well — as an extension of your own personality — you should have good results.

Easier and quicker than SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) involves meticulously crafting your website, metatag descriptions and blog posts to appear higher in search engine results. Because SEO is increased when Google bots comb websites to determine their relevance to certain search terms, it can take months to start seeing results.

Unlike SEO, you can start seeing results from Google Ads almost immediately. Plus, they’re much easier to maintain — especially with a small team or one without SEO expertise. You should never completely neglect SEO, but focusing on streamlining your Google Ads will give the results you need now.

Reach people where they are — on Google

Google receives about 3.8 million searches per minute. With the real estate market mostly rebounding since initial COVID-related slowdowns, people are looking for agents, and they’re probably looking on Google. Along with increasing your knowledge on virtual tours and selling a home virtually, you’ll also need to up your digital marketing game.

Although SEO experts may battle for those first spots on search engine results pages (SERPs), Google Ads can make sure you can be found at the very top of SERPs — even above organic search results.

More than 67 percent of all clicks on SERPs go to the top five listings, and websites that appear on the first SERP receive an overwhelming 95 percent of web traffic. If your business doesn’t appear on that first page of search results, don’t count on getting much traffic.

Spend as little (or as much) as you’d like

Google Ads can drive massive amounts of traffic to your website, but keywords with high-search traffic tend to cost more. You can make the most of your spending through effective audience targeting and highly specific ads — ensuring searchers get relevant content and you get high-quality leads. 

With Google Ads, you have full control over budget, so there are no surprises with how much you spend.

How to use Google Ads effectively

Google Ads makes it easy to design ads with a step-by-step process:

1. Determine your goal

Three goal options are available — getting more calls to your business, increasing visits to your office or driving people to your website. As an agent, you’ll likely choose the third option, but you may occasionally opt for the first.

2. Define your target audience

Your target audience is likely similar to your ideal client. Aim for a very specific audience — those buying or selling in a certain price range or a certain style of home. Or maybe your target client for these Google Ads are real estate investors. Clearly defining your audience helps you effectively craft your messaging.

3. Decide where to advertise

Most agents only do business in specific areas — a particular city or certain neighborhood. Hone in on these areas because the more exact you can be, the further your budget will reach. For example, if you’re an agent in New Jersey, make sure ads only appear to people there.

4. Figure out your keywords

Determining keywords is one of the most important parts of results-driven Google Ads. Research the best keywords to target based on your ideal client and the action you want them to take and do some pay-per-click (PPC) keyword research.

Free keyword tools can show you how many are searching a particular term in a month, the cost per click (CPC) for that keyword and the amount of competition. The more competition, the higher your CPC will be.

5. Create your message

In three short sentences, highlight the top services or features you offer clients, and determine what sets you apart. This may include commission rates lower than the average of 3 percent or more than 20 years of expertise. Whatever makes you stand out as an agent should be your message on Google Ads.

Craft your ad based on the advertising goals and marketing objectives you laid out earlier. Include your keywords in both your ad and your landing page. This shows users they have come to the right place. A call to action (CTA) tells a potential client to take a specific action — whether giving you a call, visiting your website or attending an open house.

As you get more skilled at creating Google Ads, you can further optimize your ads by adding ad extensions such as sitelinks, functions to change your ad when viewed on a mobile device, or countdowns that change ad copy as a date approaches.

6. Set your budget

Set a monthly budget cap, and Google will show you the estimated results of clicks and calls based on this amount. You can adjust or pause anytime. 

You can spend as much or as little as your budget allows, and Google can also recommend a budget based on similar businesses.

7. Make updates as necessary

Because you don’t have to spend much to get your feet wet with Google Ads, you can easily experiment with the effectiveness of various ads, audiences and keywords. Consistently monitor your ad results, figure out what’s working and not working, and make changes to better meet your goals.

See results with Google Ads

Google Ads can be an incredibly powerful tool for any agent to draw in new business. Google gathers millions of data points and allows you to use them to convert many of its users into leads or clients — and it costs very little to get started. 

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see many conversions right away or your ads aren’t as effective as you want them to be. By consistently reviewing results and tweaking your ads, they’ll do the work for you while you focus on buying and selling. 

Ben Mizes is the CEO of Clever Real Estate in St. Louis. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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