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Tips For Optimizing Google Ads Campaigns

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Tips For Optimizing Google Ads Campaigns

If you haven’t noticed, organic SEO listings have taken a back seat on the first page of Google.

While Google is constantly testing the SERP layout and personalizing results based on the individual user, if your real estate business isn’t showing up, it can affect your volume of leads.

Even though we’re emphasizing Google search, this aims true for other search engines.

The real estate industry vertical must constantly evolve its SEO strategy to compete.

If you’re noticing an impact on your real estate business, it’s probably time to invest and add PPC to your strategy.

Here are some PPC strategies, tips, and ad formats specifically aimed at the real estate vertical to enhance your visibility.

This will also consider the challenges and nuances specific to real estate.

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First, Let’s Talk Challenges

So, what makes paid search for real estate so different?

Real Estate Is An Extremely Local Product

For the most part, the end-user must physically live or plan to live in the location they’re searching for. Investors can certainly be an exception, but they’re still searching for a specific location.

So, for starters, a Google Ads campaign for real estate should target users in a specific location – the location of your property.

Google Ads’ location settings have changed within the last year where you can’t hyper-target to just “People in” your location. They have changed it to “People in, or regularly in.”

That’s fine. You don’t want to exclude people who want to relocate, and people who regularly visit a location (maybe they commute in for work) are also likely to want to live there.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive shift of individuals and companies picking up their roots in other parts of the country.

There could be a play to target these users in different regions, but this can cause problems on a limited budget.

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Homeowners Will Not Rent

This challenge is specific to investors running rental properties. If a consumer owns their home, it is highly unlikely they will want to rent.

How do you prevent current homeowners from seeing your advertising?

Renters Are Locked Into Long-Term Leases

While a renter is an ideal candidate for a home builder or seller, the reality is they are tied to six-month and, more often, 12-month leases. This makes their eligibility hit or miss on any given day.

You need to build a longer-term relationship with them, so they think of you when they’re ready.

Not Everyone Is A Candidate For Either A Home Or Apartment

On top of all of this, customers need to be able to afford (and qualify) for the products.

Credit checks disqualify many hopeful candidates for both a new apartment and their dream home.

The good news is that Google Ads is one of the few platforms that can specifically hone in on a qualified real estate shopper, provided the campaigns are set up correctly.

So, let’s start with a plan to optimize a PPC campaign for your real estate business.

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Bidding On Your Brand Terms Is Super Important

It’s one of the industry’s favorite debates (or maybe it’s just the client’s favorite debate): whether to bid on brand terms.

The reality is, for real estate, the discovery process is unique and requires a critical investment in branded terms.

Real estate searchers learn about the locations and communities in a wide variety of ways:

  • Physical signs.
  • Craigslist.
  • A co-worker or friend.
  • Apartment guide.
  • Listing aggregate websites.

These sources, however, do not always provide adequate information.

The result is a branded search on Google for more information.

This also means shoppers searching for your specific brand name are likely your hottest leads.

Make sure you capitalize on these lower funnel searchers!

If you elect to not bid on your owned brand keyword terms, it is likely one of the two (if not both) things will happen:

  • If competitors are buying your brand name, they will likely appear above your branded organic listing.
  • Real estate aggregators (both apartments and new homes) who bid broadly on brand terms by name and brand + city/state keywords, will gladly take that top spot. Once a consumer clicks through, they are now only one click away from viewing all of your local competitors.

You aren’t doing real estate SEM correctly if competitors steal your warm leads.

At the very minimum, you should invest in brand terms to protect that coveted top spot on the page.

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Geotargeting For The Win

Under Location Options, I like to leverage the recommended setting Presence or interest: People in, regularly in, or who’ve shown interest in your targeted locations and Presence or interest: People in, regularly in, or who’ve shown interest in your excluded locations initially.

Google Ads different location setting options.Screenshot from Google Ads, June 2022

Based on the campaign performance, I may adjust these.

However, these recommended settings help compensate for someone who may be looking for your brand or real estate in your target locations but not physically located in that area.

Next, for city targeting, typically, I start by choosing the largest metro area around the targeted location.

Most often, people will move within the same city or suburb.

You want to avoid missing someone who is moving or relocating from one Florida suburb to the other, for example.

Pro Tip: Use city targeting with nested bid adjustments for a bigger win!

Nested Location BidsScreenshot from Google Ads, June 2022

The idea is simple. Incrementally bid down the further out from your target location and, theoretically, as the quality of the lead decreases.

I found that Google defaults to the closest identifiable location to determine the bid adjustment.

This provides an added layer of control when using a more advanced geotargeting strategy.

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Local Service Ads Are A Game-Changer

Google rolled out this campaign type nationally in 2019, with additional services added in 2020.

This campaign type is one you must test, especially if you’re bidding on terms like “real estate agents near me.”

In this example, I searched specifically for real estate agents in Cape Coral. The first half of my mobile screen was Local Service ads.

Local Services Ads example in Google search.Screenshot from search for [cape coral real estate agents], Google, June 2022

You’ll have to go through a setup process to get started and be eligible for Local Service Ads. You will also have to go through a background and license check in order to be Google Screened.

Negative Keywords Will Be Your Best Friend

Negative keywords are search criteria preventing your ad from showing up.

For instance, let’s say you have no interest in dealing with certain properties or home types.

You would list those as your negative keywords, and every time someone initiated a search using those terms, it would prevent your ad from showing.

Prevent Other City Keyword Matches

Not many city names are unique.

Unfortunately, not many community brand names are unique either.

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The challenge is removing clicks generated by these different city searches.

A simple strategy here?

Set up a separate negative keyword list specifically for State and State abbreviations.

This will weed out many of these duplicate (and untargeted) searches.

State NegativesScreenshot from Google Ads, June 2022

Important: Don’t forget to remove the state and state abbreviation of your target location before applying the list.

Removing Low-Intent Searchers

As Google has become more and more liberal with its keyword matching (even for “Exact Match”), preventing a wide variety of keyword matching has become even more challenging.

Over the years, I’ve developed a default list of negatives (which you can download here).

For each new campaign, applying this list to campaigns along with the state negatives is part of the process.

These negatives include everything from “craigslist,” “home depot,” and “tiny” (as in ‘tiny homes’) to “zillow,” “resume,” and  “section 8.”

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Should you elect to download the list, be sure to scrub the list to make sure you won’t be removing anything you actually want to serve.

Don’t Forget The Demographics

Detailed demographic targeting is a powerful tool – not just for Search Ads!

Over the past few years, Google has rolled out additional ways to reach your target users in the real estate space by adding categories around:

  • Detailed demographics: Homeowners or renters.
  • In-Market: Residential properties.
  • Life events: Purchasing a home or recently purchased a home.

It’s important to note that with these audience segments, you can either target, observe, or exclude them.

Let’s also not forget the power of combination.

For example, if your goal is to target renters who are looking to purchase a home, you could create a combined audience that includes “Detailed demographics: Renters” and also must include “Life events: Purchasing a home” or “In-Market: Residential properties.” That example would look something like this:

Custom real estate audience to target first time home buyers in Google.Screenshot from Google Ads, June 2022

It’s also important to understand the nuances of these targeting options.

Some are only available in Display or YouTube campaigns, while other targeting options above can be used in Search campaigns.

Specifically for real estate, you can use the following for Search, Display, and YouTube:

  • Detailed demographics: Homeowners or renters.
  • In-Market: Residential Properties, Moving, and Relocation.

For Display and YouTube only, you can target by:

  • Detailed demographics: Homeowners or renters.
  • In-Market: Residential Properties, Moving, and Relocation.
  • Life events: Purchasing a Home Soon, Moving Soon.

These targeting options are invaluable to your real estate strategy, especially if you are on a budget.

Try layering on the targeting criteria above for your Search campaigns to ensure you’re reaching the most relevant users.

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ALL The Ad Extensions

Google released an Ad Rank formula update that now factors in ad extensions.

So, aside from their value for real estate, it’s a good practice to leverage a minimum of three ad extensions per ad.

Location Extensions

A no-brainer in general for a local business, for nearby searchers, location extensions help provide the user:

  • The distance to your location, and its city (mobile).
  • The location’s street address (computer).
  • A clickable “Call” button.
  • Tappable or clickable access to a details page for the location – with information such as hours, phone number, photos, customer ratings, and directions.

Sitelink Extensions

An example of a Google Ads search with sitelink extensions.Screenshot from search for [cape coral homes for sale], Google, June 2022

There are many, many ways to leverage sitelinks in the ad copy. For real estate specifically, floor plan pages are an ideal application.

Not every consumer is the same. Some may be looking for a studio vs. a one-bedroom apartment or a one-story home vs. one with four bedrooms.

Getting a consumer directly to the page they are interested in is half the battle and can drive very high CTRs – which, in turn, can lead to improved quality scores.

Price Extensions

Real Estate PPC: Tips For Optimizing Google Ads CampaignsScreenshot from search for [apartments in new york], Google, June 2022

First launched in 2017, the price extension is available for both mobile and desktop devices.

If you prefer to reserve your sitelinks for the standard “Contact Us,” “About Us,” etc. this is a viable alternative and, arguably, a more visually appealing application of floor plans.

Up to eight price “cards” can be added and, once clicked, will direct users to the floor plan or model that they are most interested in on your site.

These cards also expand your ads’ real estate (especially on mobile), which helps block out your competition.

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Call Extensions

Mobile call extension example on Google search.Screenshot from search for [seattle real estate listings phone number], Google, June 2022

With the explosion of mobile combined with the influx of advertiser investment in the Google Ads platform, being able to speak to the potential lead directly is a gold mine.

A call extension or a call-only Google Ads campaign is the ideal implementation for this effort.

Tip: Make sure you align your call extension with your business hours. There’s nothing worse than sending a potential lead to a phone number that keeps ringing or gets picked up by voicemail.

The Bottom Line

The real estate market is unpredictable. Whether you’re a single agent team or working for a large-scale broker, every qualified lead counts.

Narrow your Google Ads real estate campaigns to exclude as much unqualified traffic as possible to generate more qualified leads. You can do this by following the tips and strategies above.

If you’re new to PPC, it may take some time to find the right mix of campaigns, audiences, and extensions that work best for you. When in doubt, test. And then test again.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

In-post Image #1: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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SEO For Ecommerce Product Pages: 20 Do’s & Don’ts

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SEO For Ecommerce Product Pages: 20 Do's & Don’ts

Ecommerce is expected to grab even more of the retail pie, with a projected growth of nearly $11 trillion between 2021 and 2025.

An increasing number of ecommerce sites want a piece of this pie, making it critical that your search strategy delivers.

Add to this the fact that advertising costs are reaching the realm of prohibitive, only to often see sinking results, and smart SEO practices become more urgent than ever.

10 Do’s Of Ecommerce Product Page SEO

Here are 10 steps to take and 10 to avoid for a successful SEO strategy.

1. Fine-Tune Your Keyword Strategy

Keyword research is the foundation for product page optimization.

When conducting keyword research, always use product-focused topics that users are searching for. Don’t fixate on volume. Instead, think about relevancy and what will actually convert.

If you have data from other channels like paid search, use it in your keyword and topic research and incorporate ad copy with high click-through rates (CTR) into meta descriptions.

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Product pages have transactional intent, so make sure your landing pages are optimized for searchers ready to buy.

Someone looking for a specific product like “Series S60l & Expression E52 paintbrush” strongly indicates they are ready to purchase it due to the detailed nature of their search.

Make it easy for them to take that next important step.

2. Optimize Titles And Meta Descriptions

Title tags and meta descriptions are very important in product page optimization.

Make sure you include details such as:

  • The brand of the product, including your proprietary brand.
  • The name of the product.
  • The model number.
  • Other important information (e.g., dimensions).

3. Mark Up Product Pages With Structured Data

Having the correct structured data type can help your brand appear in rich snippets.

All product pages should have product schema and review schema, which can:

  • Drive more impressions and clicks.
  • Improve your CTR and drive more sales.

4. Add Clear And Helpful FAQs

High-quality content that meets the users’ needs is key to ranking high in SERPs.

If users do not find your content useful, your bounce rates will be high, and customers may decide not to buy from you.

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Most category and product pages are light on optimized content and do not have an FAQ section that is marked up with FAQ structured data.

Instead, they tend to rely on user-generated content (UGC), which is a mistake.

Suppose I have a question about a product and do not want to talk to a chatbot or call customer service.

If the brand in question has built an FAQ section with answers to questions that users commonly ask, I can easily find the information I’m looking for, and so can other customers.

That, in turn, helps the brand sell more products.

5. Always Write Unique Product And Meta Descriptions

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen an ecommerce site use the same product description for all products. This is a huge opportunity lost.

Each item can rank for branded and non-branded keywords and should therefore include a unique description to take full advantage of SEO.

Give consumers helpful, meaningful information to encourage them to click on your listing, thereby driving more traffic and sales.

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SEO For Ecommerce Product Pages: 20 Do’s & Don’tsScreenshot from search, Google, August 2022

6. Share Real Testimonials And Customer Reviews

Product pages with customer reviews see conversion lifts of 52.2% more than their review-free counterparts, so this should be a no-brainer.

Genuine testimonials from customers, who have tried your product, speak volumes to in-market consumers trying to figure out whether or not to buy from you.

That’s why it’s so important to let customers share their experiences with your products and how they’ve helped solve problems.

But there are other advantages, too.

Reviews help build trust – especially if you have an endorsement from a carefully vetted celebrity or famous influencer.

They also provide the fresh, unique content Google craves. Just be sure to mark them up with the review schema.

Share Real Testimonials And Customer ReviewsScreenshot from zoya.com, August 2022

7. Test Landing Pages To Find The Best

Tools like Optimizely and Google Optimize provide an intuitive way to test even the slightest variations within product pages, which you should absolutely do to figure out the ideal configuration.

Changing the location of your call to action, for example, could drive more conversions.

Test your page layout options to see how they can best support sales.

8. Use High-Quality Video And Imagery

One of the drawbacks of shopping online is you cannot physically touch or test the product you are considering.

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High-quality images and videos can fill that gap by providing end users with the information they need to feel confident in their purchases.

Recently, my search for a cordless drill led me to the Home Depot site. The company’s site ranks very high for this term, and its landing page is filled with powerful content that includes:

  • Videos that answer common questions.
  • Q&A with other customers.
  • The imagery of what a particular kit includes.

This was a great user experience because I wanted to know how many batteries came with the drill and if it came with a bag.

Use High-Quality Video And ImageryScreenshot from homedepot.com, August 2022

9. Minimize Page Load Times

Your product pages must be optimized for mobile. More and more consumers are conducting their online searches this way.

Fast-loading webpages will get your content in front of your target audience more quickly and provide a better user experience.

That, in turn, helps increase sales, revenue, and pages per session. Plus, it gives you a leg up on the competition.

It also decreases your bounce rates.

Aim for three seconds or less.

10. Audit Your Product Pages For Technical Issues

Product pages can often be duplicated because of faceted URLs, which can cause a lot of headaches for SEO, such as:

  • Duplicate content.
  • Wasted crawl budget.
  • Split link equity.

To avoid these issues, audit your pages to see which technical and content elements need to be optimized, if any.

Problems to watch for include:

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10 Don’ts Of Ecommerce Product Page SEO

1. Don’t Use Product Descriptions From The Manufacturer’s Website

This is one of the most common mistakes I see in optimizing product pages.

Many manufacturer descriptions are not compelling, lack all the information a customer needs – and are not optimized for search.

It’s worth taking the time to write more informative and engaging descriptions. The more detailed information, the better. This may very well be the difference between being found and being invisible.

Also, remember that you do not want duplicate content, which will hurt your SEO efforts.

2. Don’t Kill Your Seasonal Pages Once Peak Is Past

This is a common mistake I see brands make.

While removing seasonal pages after the peak period may seem sensible, doing this will leave you with the same uphill battle every year, once again, trying to regain the authority your site needs to rank for seasonal terms.

And by the time you do this each year, it will likely be too late.

If you have a seasonal product page that has built up rankings, traffic, and sales over time, do not eliminate it.

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Amazon is a great example of how to do this well. They have a dedicated Black Friday URL that only gains authority over time.

Amazon can then update the page as the peak Black Friday season approaches.

3. Don’t Use Automated Optimization

Dynamically populated product pages with the product’s name as the title tag, followed by brand and nothing else, is not a best practice.

Also, using automated descriptions and changing just a few variables could negatively impact your CTR.

Instead, include important information in the titles that you cannot automate. This can help your site rank for targeted keywords.

All titles and meta descriptions should be unique.

4. Don’t Pull Out-of-Stock Pages

Sometimes products go out of stock, especially when supply chains are stressed.

But if the product is temporarily unavailable, you should keep the URL live, especially if the page has rankings and traffic.

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As with seasonal pages, this can seem counterintuitive.

In fact, a more profitable strategy is to keep these pages live and provide links to other relevant products until the item is back in stock.

SEO For Ecommerce Product Pages: 20 Do’s & Don’tsScreenshot from karmaloop.com, August 2022

5. Don’t Use The Wrong Type Of Structured Data – Or None At All

Structured data (i.e., reviews and product data) can help your site rank in the rich results and drive more traffic and sales. Having product data can help your site rank for rich snippets.

Many brands use the wrong type of structured data or do not implement any structured data. Both hurt your site rank.

SEO For Ecommerce Product Pages: 20 Do’s & Don’tsScreenshot from Google Search Console, August 2022

6. Don’t Use Weak Calls To Action – Or Omit Them Entirely

Oftentimes, many brands do not have strong calls to action (CTA), but clean and easy CTAs are a must-have for any site.

Remember that the main job of your product page is to drive revenue and sales.

If it takes users too long to find how to purchase your products, they will instead visit your competitors’ sites. Make it easy and convincing for them to buy from you.

7. Don’t Optimize For CEO Keywords And Keywords With No Volume

Often, when a CEO asks an SEO specialist, “Why are we not ranking for XYZ keyword?” The answer is that XYZ has no search volume.

Think like a customer, do your research, and use data to inform your decisions about which keywords to use.

For example, if I’m optimizing for “lego spice girls back in stock,” it won’t be worth it because users are not really searching for this term.

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Once I rank for it, I won’t get many sales because of the low volume.

8. Don’t Miss Opportunities For Internal Linking And Backlinks

Links still matter for ecommerce.

Often, brands build links to their homepages and category pages but forget about product pages.

But these pages can rank, especially for long-tail keywords that have high purchase intent and can dramatically increase revenue and sales.

That’s why you should always support product pages with internal links and even paid social to improve visibility and performance.

SEO For Ecommerce Product Pages: 20 Do’s & Don’ts

9. Don’t Charge The Wrong Price

Not having the right pricing strategy can cause consumers not to buy your products and possibly not to trust your brand.

This is especially true when prices spike on products high in demand, as we experienced during the baby food shortage.

We all know the laws of supply and demand, but paying 20% more for baby formula is crazy. Luckily, states are cracking down on price gouging.

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10. Don’t Forget Mobile Optimization

To appreciate just how important it is to optimize for mobile shopping, consider that more than 60% of online shoppers in the U.S. shop via mobile devices. And more than one-third are mobile-only shoppers.

Not having a mobile-friendly product page can cause users to not even consider buying products from your site.

Wrapping Up

By sharpening your SEO strategy, you’re also burnishing your brand.

Giving consumers the best information there is on a product (and quickly), a compelling reason to buy, answers to their anticipated FAQs, and genuine third-party thumbs-up, you’re giving them reasons to return to your site.

Brand building is a long-term commitment. Even when it doesn’t immediately lead to a buy, it’s an assurance to customers that they can trust you.

And being vigilant about your SEO is an important way to build that trust.

More Resources:


Featured Image: ImYanis/Shutterstock

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