Understanding Pay-Per-Click Advertising for Real Estate

Hey real estate friends!  Today we’re diving into the basics of paid search marketing. I believe this is one of the most under-valued and under-utilized channels in a real estate agent’s advertising budget.  When I was selling real estate it amazed me how many agents wouldn’t blink an eye to spend $600-800 a month on a full page ad in the local real estate book but wouldn’t consider pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

I often asked my colleagues what was it about PPC advertising they didn’t like.  90% of the responses I received were related to not understanding how PPC advertising works.  I can understand that, if you don’t understand it you won’t see the value in it, am I right?

So, while this is a ginormous topic to tackle and I simply can’t do it all in one post.  We’re gonna eat this PPC elephant bite-by-bite, starting with the core concepts of PPC advertising.  Let’s start with defining what pay-per-click advertising is.


Understanding the core concepts of paid search marketing | Team Jenni Blog

PPC stands for pay-per-click, a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked.

Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically. Have you ever noticed the top-three of a search engine results page (also known as SERP)?  Typically, those are advertisements.  The brand or company bids on ad space to have their landing page show up at the top of the search results, in the hopes of attracting visitors to the site they’re advertising.block_2

Understanding how search pages work is the first step to understanding PPC advertising.  You have the search box (query); sponsored (paid) ads; organic (non-paid ads); and local listings.

60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic search results.

What does this mean for you?  If you’re not using PPC advertising, you’d better hope you’re website is SEO optimized and in the top three (which is actually like the 5th or 6th link) or you’re likely not going to drive visitors to your landing page.  You want to make sure you’re “above the fold”, which essentially means you want to be seen on the SERP without the visitor having to scroll down.


From search to conversion, you need to understand what your target customers are searching for so you can write ad copy that will cause them to take action.

For example, think about your own search habits.  At the initial search stage you may be very generic in your terms during the research phase of the buying process, whereas when you’re in the purchase stage you may be more specific to generate exactly what you’re looking for.  Now, translate that into your real estate business and tailor your ad to your desired customer.


The narrowest part of the search funnel is represents the purchase.

As I mentioned above, a buyer starts out in the interest phase. In this phase they are using general search terms such as “homes for sale in High Point, NC”.  As they move through the process the funnel becomes more narrow.  They may begin searching for something more specific such as “homes for sale in the Emerywood neighborhood of High Point, NC”.  The searches will become more detailed until they are ready to take action.

You want to make sure your ad will be seen in the purchase phase AND will cause them to take action!


Understanding Click-Thru and Conversion will help you understand the effectiveness in your ad copy and your landing page.

The Click-Thru Rate (CTR) is how many clicks your ad gets per 100 views (also known as impressions).  The higher your CTR the better your ad is.  If your CTR rate is low, you might need to tweak your ad copy for better click-thru.  As a point of reference, the average CTR on Google AdWords is 2%, anything above 2% would be considered above average (Source: Google AdWords).

The Conversion Rate is the number of conversions you get per 100 clicks.  The higher conversion rate the better your landing page is.  If your conversion rate is low you may need to tweak your landing page for better results.  As a point of reference, the top ten advertisers on Google AdWords have a conversion rate of 11.45% (Source: Wordstream).


Calculating your break-even cost per click will tell you how much you can afford to pay per-click and still make money.

This is the point where I lose most real estate professionals.  If you’ve made it this far in this article, a) thank you and b) this is the MOST important thing to understand about PPC advertising.  If you don’t know what it’s going to cost you can’t set a budget and you won’t be able to measure your results!

I’m not going to go into great detail here because at this point we’re just trying to learn the concepts of PPC.  I will dive deeper into this in a separate post.


The key building blocks of PPC Ads: 1) Knowing what your customers are searching for AND 2) Writing ad copy that tells your customers why they should buy with you and not a competitor.

This is no different than any other type of advertising.  The challenge here (which we’ll get into later) is that there are some specific restrictions when it comes to writing an effective search engine ad, such as having a limited character amount.

We’re going to dive into how to write a good search engine ad in a separate post, but for now remember these two takeaways.


This isn’t the best diagram that represents the anatomy of an ad but for now, understand the main components of a search ad are:

  • Headline – Just like print ads — the headline is the attention grabber!
  • Body Lines – The meat of the ad
  • Value proposition – The value prop is why they should chose you, what sets you apart from others
  • Call-to-Action (CTA) – The CTA is the action you want them to take — SIGN UP! or CLICK HERE! are examples.
  • URL – This is the link to your landing page



Identifying the purpose of your ad and executing the right tactics will help you generate a message that will convert.


Putting it all together, keep the above key points in mind.  I’m going to take a deeper dive into PPC advertising in the coming weeks and I hope you’ll check back for more tips.

If you have specific questions or if I can help you write better PPC ads, I would love to connect with you! Drop me a note HERE.  Let’s talk PPC!

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About Jennifer

Jennifer is a licensed real estate agent and a digital marketing strategist with over 15 years of consumer marketing experience. She has a passion for people, conversations, and relationships. A native Chicagoan, Jennifer has called the Triad of North Carolina home since 2008. Jennifer helps busy real estate professionals leverage the power of social media for business growth.