Most of us don’t even think about choosing a search engine to use. We simply just “Google it.”
With over 85% market share, Google is the most popular search engine by far and for good reason. They have spent a fortune trying to create a popular search engine that supplies the best search results, quickly.
As a business operating in the digital age, it is important for you to have a presence on Google but not necessarily all parts of it.
As digital marketing advisors to real estate businesses all over Australia, we’re not fans of Google search ads for the reasons we’re about to explain but before we get into that, here’s a brief reminder of exactly what Google search ads are.
At a basic level, Google Ads are Google’s paid advertising product. Have you ever seen those ads that appear at the top or side of your screen while you are ‘googling’ something? Those are Google search ads that a company paid for so that people will notice their business whenever they’re searching on Google. And, they only have to pay whenever someone clicks on the ad. This is known as cost-per-click advertising (CPC).
In theory, this sounds like a great opportunity to expand your business. After all, your prospects are on Google all the time, right?
While Google search ads are easy to launch and you can set a budget so you don’t break the bank, it doesn’t mean you should rush out to start setting up Google search ads or engage a third party to set them up for you.
Here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t buy Google search ads:
Note: Although they are the most commonly known method of advertising on Google, search ads are only one of the many ways you can advertise with Google. This article is referencing Google search ads only.
Reason #1: They’re expensive
With Google search ads, you’re paying for clicks. This wasn’t a problem a long time ago when rates were more reasonable and there were limited options available with other forms of digital advertising.
The problem nowadays is that you are competing against the budgets of the major portals and other third party real estate platforms or a well-funded startup is dropping $5, or much more, per click to get people to visit their site. Sure, that may increase their visibility at the top of a Google search, but it’s not guaranteeing leads. Some clicks can be as high as around $50 per click.
What this boils down to is that whenever someone clicks on your ad, you still have to pay Google, regardless if you receive a lead or not. And, that becomes an issue whenever you have visitors who are just browsing the web with no intention of ever engaging an agent or property manager.
In other words, Google search ads may not be worth the investment and if your advertising budget is tight, you may want to explore other options that aren’t as expensive, such as Facebook & Instagram advertising.
Reason #2: Nobody clicks on them (Well, almost nobody.)
Consider your own googling habits for a moment… have you ever clicked on the ads at the top? For most Australians, the answer is no.
This phenomena is known in the advertising business as ‘banner blindness’ – the idea that people have tuned out to some online advertising and they scroll straight past.
Take a look at this search for ‘real estate agents double bay’ below for example. Only 14% of people who searched for this phrase last year clicked on a Google search ad. The other 86% scrolled past the Google search ads and clicked on a result below the ads (Organic CTR stands for ‘Organic click-through-rate’).
Reason #3: Your website is suboptimal
Real estate agents tell us the reason they prefer to send visitors to the major property portals and ratings and reviews websites when running online advertising is because they’re embarrassed by their company website and they would rather a potential buyer or seller engages with their listings, profile and reviews on those third party platforms because “they offer a better experience”.
The problem (and it’s a big one) with sending traffic to websites that you don’t own is that you are competing for attention against every other agent, as well as the business objectives of that particular platform. Remember, the major property portals don’t just sell advertising services to you so you can reach more buyers. They have many other revenue streams in which their website traffic, the traffic you’re sending to their site, is supporting.
Some real estate agents and agencies buy Google search ads via a third party platform whereby they will manage your ads for you in return for sending the traffic from your ads to your profile on their website:
Sales reps at some third party platforms often pitch this service as an exclusive ‘first in, first served’ offer and no other agent in that particular suburb or postcode can opt-in while you are paying for the service.
If you ever try to cancel the service due to a lack of results, the sales reps will often use the old line “But, if you stop paying for your ads, one of your competitors will be able to claim your spot!”
It’s all spin – designed to scare you into keeping your advertising dollars flowing and allows them to keep inflating prices to sell this service to the highest bidder – even if their ads achieve minimal, or no, result. Some companies that offer this kind of advertising service to agents also don’t always provide clear analytics to track your results, oftentimes using unimportant or confusing metrics. So you may not be able to accurately measure what you are paying for.
If you do want to trial Google search ads, this is not the way to do it. It’s expensive, it’s sending traffic to someone else’s website, you’re paying a commission on top of your ad spend and you’re limited to a specific suburb. You are much better off running these ads yourself or asking your marketing team or a Google Ads expert to help you.
Many real estate agency websites underperform when it comes to generating more leads, sales and ideal clients because they lack all of the important tools a real estate website needs nowadays. If you are not sending traffic to your own website because it’s not up to scratch, it’s time to get a new website.
It’s important to remember that Google is a search engine… you are waiting for people to come looking for the exact thing that you’re promoting in your ad and hope they take the bait.
Other forms of digital advertising allow you to insert more visual ads in front of people before they have a need (or a perceived need) for your services and then all the way through their decision making process, via retargeting and good database management.
Quite simply, compared to other forms of digital advertising available today, Google search ads are a much more expensive way to achieve a result.
For example, the average cost per lead when targeting potential home sellers who are considering selling their property, using other forms of digital advertising, can range from $20 – $100 per lead. This cost can explode out to $500-$2,000+ per lead with Google search ads.
In the example of targeting potential home sellers, a ‘lead’ would be determined by the collection of someone’s personal information i.e. a verified full name, phone, email and physical address – not by how many clicks or how much reach you received.
If you are not currently running Google search ads but want to give it a go, don’t fall for the sales tactics of the major portals and other third party platforms selling this as a service. Do it yourself using any number of free tutorials online (like this one), ask for help from your marketing team who may have experience with creating Google search ads or engage a Google Ads specialist to help drive traffic to your website.
On the other hand, if you decide to put your hard-earned advertising dollars into other platforms, such as targeted Facebook and Instagram ads, and leave Google search ads out of your marketing mix altogether, that’s totally fine too.
Have you embarked on a Google Ads campaign? If so, did it deliver results? Or, was it just a waste of time and money? Leave a comment below.