Where Should I Advertise Online?

Recently, several agents in The Tank have been asking questions about the advantages and disadvantages of Google, Yahoo, and BuyerLink web traffic.  (For those unfamiliar with BuyerLink traffic, I am is referring to bulk web traffic purchased from HomeGain in bundles.)

Since our company has extensive experience in working with HomeGain as a source for Internet traffic for our licensees, as well as working with Google and Yahoo pay-per-click advertising networks, I thought it might be helpful to share some of what we have learned.

I don’t know what the number is now, but at one time our agents amounted to roughly 25% of all BuyerLink traffic purchases, second only to Zip Realty.  I say that so that everyone understands that I’m throwing out opinion here, but actual experience based on a very wide client base of agents using BuyerLink as well as Google and Yahoo pay-per-click sources.

At the end of the day it comes down to cost-per-lead.  Lower quality traffic may click an ad, arrive at your website, and fail to register because they were not really that interested in shopping for homes.

Thomas is exactly right when he says that sometimes PPC traffic coming from either Google or Yahoo ad networks can be lower quality.  The key word is CAN be.  Here is what I mean.  If you don’t specifically opt out, your pay-per-click ads will automatically be served up all over the Internet.

Look in the right column of this blog… your ad might be there.  We are Google Adsense partners and we serve up Google PPC ads on our website for money.  What is important to know, and what most people don’t know, is that you can limit the placement of your PPC ads to the search engines themselves.

Why is that important?  Think of it this way.  Imagine you are online trying to check the weather, and you see an ad for local Internet home search.  When you see the ad, you remember that your aunt Nellie is thinking about moving to your town and you have a fleeting idea to look at houses for a couple of minutes.  You click the ad and realize you have to register and you think… no, I’m really not that interested.

Some agent just paid $2 for your click.  Bummer for him.  On the other hand, had that agent told Google to only show his ads on the search engines when people did a search for certain key words, the quality of the traffic generated would be much higher.  Why?

Because you would only attract clicks from those people who affirmatively went to a search engine and typed in a search.  With content network ads, your ad is displayed to people who are doing other things and NOT thinking about home searches.  You interrupt them.  Low interest.  Low intent.  It is the nosey neighbor in your open house.  Not really a buyer.  Content network is great for impulse purchases but homes are not an impulse buy.

I hope that makes sense.  The same thing goes for click fraud.  By click fraud, I mean when a competitor clicks on your ads with no intention of buying, but simply to deplete your ad budget.  If you haven’t experienced that yet, well, you’re just letting the best things in life pass you by!

Here is why I mentioned both opting out of the content network and click fraud.  HomeGain traffic is generated by people who have already initiated a home search, and then opted NOT to be connected to an agent, but rather to search homes without one.  HomeGain takes those who DO want to be connected to an agent (about 10%) and sells them for a 30% referral fee.

BuyerLink is those 90% who raised their hand and said they wanted to search homes, but not with an agent.  For that reason, the amount of click fraud is lower, and the interest level is higher, making them somewhat higher quality.  But, they are also almost universally Phase 1 customers as well.  You better be very passive in your prospecting.

That was the advantage.  Here are some disadvantages.  HomeGain sells “bundles” of clicks delivered randomly over a month.  You have no control over when they will come, and you have no way of putting a campaign on pause, so you will likely waste a lot more leads, because they come when you are busy with other activity.

You will also be forced to buy larger bundles than with either Google or Yahoo where you can spend as little as you want.  In most markets, minimum bundle size is $250 per month, although $50 bundles are available in some selected markets.  Another disadvantage is that BuyerLink traffic might not be available for your market.

A final disadvantage of BuyerLink is that we have tracked about a 10% under-fulfillment as measured by site analytics.  In other words, you were charged for X visitors and your website logged visits of X-10%. That is not the end of the world, but it needs to be factored in when making your decisions.

Conversely, Google and Yahoo pay-per-click both have the ability to be scalable (you can make as many or as few leads as you want) and you have infinite control.  If I don’t want to see any local Lookie-Lou’s then I can opt to have my ads served only in other markets.

That will also automatically solve click fraud by competitors, since your competitors won’t ever see your ads.  Limiting clicks to customers outside my market also gives me relocation buyers who have a specific move date in mind, as opposed to a local move-up buyer who has no urgency.

Google and Yahoo are both very good sources of Internet traffic when set up and managed properly.  At the end of the day, the advantages to using them are their scalability, and their keeping you in control.  Both require a little more setup but once set up and optimized, can be run for years without touching them.

Having said all that, don’t be intimidated by online advertising.  It seems difficult because there is a little jargon to learn.  Anyone can be pretty proficient in a matter of a few hours, and it is a skill that you really need to have to survive in this new age of real estate.

Share this :

I give away about 99% of all my technology and digital training content, completely free of charge, because I want to see other agents have the same kind of success that I've had. But one thing I charge for is my Ultimate Website technology. This is the web technology I created for myself that turned my real estate practice around overnight, and now I license it agents everywhere. But right now it's too popular and is currently waitlisted. Click here to get on the website as soon as possible and I'll notify you as soon as new invitations become available.

Comments 11

  1. author Jack McCarty posted December 13th 2010. 4:14 pm

    Great information for the beginning techie or even the master practioners…..

  2. author Matt Jones posted December 13th 2010. 5:10 pm

    Thanks Jack. I appreciate your reading and taking the time to comment.

  3. author John Mc Kenna posted December 13th 2010. 6:11 pm

    Good Stuff, Matt! What is your opinion in Google versus Yahoo? If you had to pick one to invest your money in for PPC which would it be and why? Have you done any comparative analysis on this?

  4. author Peter W. Just posted December 13th 2010. 6:49 pm

    I have tried a lot of companies that promise top placement on all the above. They have delivered, but I never got any leads. Pretty frustrating to throw money in the waste basket month after month.

  5. author Matt Jones posted December 13th 2010. 7:39 pm

    Hi John. If I had to choose one over the other it would be tough. They are different. My lead conversion rate has been slightly higher with Yahoo, although so has the cost-per-click. On the other hand, my CR has been lower with Google although my cost is lower as well.

    At the end of the day it is pretty much even. I might go with Google because their network reaches more people, but I would probably split my budget between them and then track their performance and decide based on tracking in my own market.

    Good to see you John (John is one of the top real estate coaches in the US and it is an honor to see him here.)

    Peter, I am with you totally. Search engine optimization is an expensive proposition and without having great lead capture on your website, will likely be a total waste of time. I know from experience. I have spent thousands on SEO.

    Thank you guys for reading and for your comments.

  6. author Mary Braatz posted December 14th 2010. 12:15 pm

    What about leads from Zillow and Trulia? I would be interested to hear agents experience with this. I have been using Zillow for a few months and I am getting quite a few leads.

  7. author Matt Jones posted December 14th 2010. 12:42 pm

    Thanks for reading and for you comments. Mary, I have no clue about Zillow or Trulia leads. I am not an advocate of buying leads. That is because it puts you and your business at the mercy of someone else. Believe me, I know. I used to spend $1300 per month with a company called House Values (now Market Leader).

    What I have heard (not experienced personally) regarding those leads is that they are fairly expensive. You should be able to generate leads for $3-5 per lead in about any market, and make more than you can work.

  8. author Mark Oden posted December 14th 2010. 12:15 pm

    Thank you Matt. I am a new agent (former sub-prime loan officer)and like your site here. Good “little fluff, more stuff” info. I’ll stick with Google & Yahoo PPC in 2011.

  9. author Barbascumpa Galina posted October 31st 2011. 9:56 am

    Zillow is pretty slow for me also. I would say this is an outdated website. Trulia is much better.

  10. author Joshua Sloan posted January 9th 2012. 9:50 pm

    Great post, thank you for sharing your experiences, Matt! From your comments below, it looks like you would rather spend money on ppc than seo services, is that correct?

    Would you recommend hiring someone to create ppc campaigns or do it yourself? Lastly, what is your call to action in your ppc ads? Is it to search homes, for free information or something else?

  11. author Matt Jones posted January 9th 2012. 10:35 pm

    Thanks for reading Joshua. You are correct. For the most part, I am not in favor of SEO services, although I am working with a SEO company currently that might be an exception. I am in favor of doing your own PPC campaigns and our coaching staff helps our agents in placing and managing their PPC campaigns. I always believe in advertising for what people want, and 94% of them want to do home searches. Thanks again for reading and for your comment.