The secret to outranking Zillow on Google is...
105,000,000 unique visits.
That’s about 42% of Zillow’s total monthly visits. All coming from Google. And almost exclusively from organic search. (source: SimilarWeb)
The opportunity is HUGE. People are obviously searching on Google for real estate. What could you do with a tiny fraction of the traffic that Zillow gets?
But here’s the hard truth: You will never beat Zillow at their own game.
Because it makes up such a huge percentage of their traffic, you can be certain that they have giant teams of professionals whose only focus is to improve Zillow’s SEO (search engine optimization).
It will be impossible to compete head-to-head. But there’s another way. A secret door. A hack that can put you and your company ABOVE Zillow on the Google result.
Introduction to Google Ads
Google Ads (previously known as Adwords) is Google’s pay-per-click advertising platform. Ads appear when someone searches for something relevant to your business on Google. It’s a demand fulfillment advertising channel, which means you get to serve your ads to a high intent audience when they are actively searching for things that are relevant to your business.
So how do you effectively take advantage of this powerful tool?
It’s a complicated ecosystem, but here are my top tips for outranking Zillow, getting an ROI and growing your business with Google Ads.
Target long-tail keywords
“Long-tail keywords” are multi-word, very specific terms. Everyone will build the keyword “houses for sale”, which means competition will be high and clicks will be expensive.
Far fewer people will build the keyword “new construction homes for sale near Bates Elementary”. That’s a long-tail keyword. Less competition means lower cost.
And - added bonus! Long-tail keywords often correlate to high intent searches. People who search for a hyper-specific keyword are usually further along in their decision making journey.
As a local real estate agent, you have a unique advantage over Zillow. You know your market inside and out. You know the streets and neighborhoods. The schools and attractions.
Use that knowledge to build out keywords that are hyper-specific to your market.
Build Relevant Ads & Landing Pages
If you’re going to build hyper-specific keywords, you need to pair them with very relevant ad copy.
To capture the attention of the people doing those hyper-specific searches, your ad copy needs to feel like it’s speaking directly to them.
The ad copy for my previous example should include “Bates Elementary” and “new construction” since we are able to capture that information from what the person is typing into Google.
Similarly, the landing page should be very relevant. You’d want to include only new construction homes that are in the vicinity of the Bates Elementary school district.
If you deliver them to a landing page that shows homes across an entire town - or worse, an entire market - you are likely to have a much higher bounce rate because the landing page experience doesn’t match the person’s expectations.
Use Effective Lead Capture
So, you have found high intent people, you have served them a relevant ad, and have delivered them to a relevant landing page. Now, you need a way to capture their information so you can get in direct contact with them.
That’s where lead capture comes into play.
Whatever landing page solution you use, you need to have some sort of prompt that requires someone to put in their name, email and phone number. This ensures that you have the opportunity to move the needle in your business by establishing a relationship with that person and helping them to close a deal.
Full Disclosure: This Isn’t Easy to Do
Curaytor has invested in a custom technology stack that allows us to build tens of thousands of keywords for clients. We pair those keywords with thousands of custom, highly-relevant ads and landing pages. And we’re constantly monitoring performance to ensure that we’re spending our client's budget in the most efficient way possible.
But, when done right, Google is an amazingly powerful tool that allows you to compete (and win) against giants like Zillow.
Super Secret Pro Tips
I’m about to reveal the secret sauce that allows Curaytor to drive high quality leads for our clients at a very low Cost Per Lead.
Fair warning - it goes against everything you’ve ever been told about Google.
The truth is Google Ads can be very expensive.
If your only goal is to outrank Zillow, you are going to find yourself spending LOTS of money. Multiple dollars for every click to your website, which can quickly turn into $50-$100 per lead, depending on how well your landing page converts.
The real secret is that you don’t need to rank #1 to see success from Google.
In fact, you don’t even need to be on the first page (gasp!).
Here are my final 2 pro tips to managing Google Ads like a pro:
Know Your Numbers
The 3 numbers that matter are:
Cost Per Click (CPC)
Conversion Rate (Leads/Clicks)
CPC / Conversion Rate = Cost Per Lead
The goal is to decrease the CPC as much as possible, while (simultaneously) increasing the Conversion Rate as much as possible.
Decreasing CPC will lower your position on the Google results page. But since every Realtor will be working with a limited budget, you should be able to continue to lower CPC until Google stops spending your daily budget.
There are many factors that will impact CPC and Conversion Rate, including your market, your keyword strategy, your targeting decisions, your landing page, etc..
But when you’re evaluating performance, consider how much you’re paying for leads from other sources and compare that to the performance from Google.
Finally, I want to quickly touch on remarketing.
This is arguably the most powerful digital marketing tool that we have at our disposal.
Remarketing allows you to add a “cookie” to everyone who visits your website. That cookie then gives you the ability to follow them around the internet and continue to serve them ads.
You know that these people have already been to your website, so you can cater messaging more appropriately, you can confidently spend more money on them, and the odds of closing a deal go up dramatically as they visit your site more often.
Remarketing could (and probably will) be an entire blog post series on its own. But the summary is that we see dramatic increases in ROI when remarketing is leveraged in a strategic way.
If you’re interested in Google Ads, but don’t want to tackle it yourself, please check the availability of our Advanced Google PPC service from Curaytor. We’d love to help take your business to the next level.