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When it comes to Search Engine Marketing (‘SEM’), there are two primary options – SEO and PPC. These are two very distinct routes that real estate investors can go down when it comes to making sales. But real estate investors must make a decision between these two major models – the vast majority of real estate traffic comes from online channels.
Understanding which model is best takes some work – there are pros and cons to each method. Another factor to keep in mind is that the number of resources you have at your disposal will determine whether SEO or PPC is better for you. To make it a little clearer, we have compared the two online marketing models side by side for analysis. First, let’s look at SEO.
How Does SEO Work?
How can SEO help you as a real estate investor? SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. It is the most common and the first online marketing model. The premise is simple. Single web pages are created with a focus keyword. So when a customer puts the focus keyword (or similar) into a search engine, the web page shows up on the first page and the business makes a sale.
Of course, it is not this easy in practice. The industry is a little saturated and it can take a long time to rank. Google takes the age of a site into account for the purposes of ranking a webpage, among many other factors. The Google algorithm is very sophisticated and much more advanced than when it first started.
There is no way to ‘game’ Google with black hat techniques anymore, at least not for a long period of time before a penalty occurs. The only way forward is to create high-quality content that is unique, interesting, and well-formatted as per Google guidelines.
With SEO, you are aiming to appear on the first page of Google for a particular search term. Studies have shown that the first three links get over 70% of customers, while results further down the page hardly get any attention. So it is important to select your keywords and stick with your guns until you reach the first 3 or 4 results.
But while the industry might be saturated, you can filter your keywords to fit your area of expertise – ‘Cash Home Buyers Southern California’ might be rankable, while ‘Cash Home Buyers’ would take some heavy-duty work to feature on the first page.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is the most effective form of digital marketing. But this content is more than simply text. You can upload videos to YouTube and other sites, as well as syndicate good content on social media, which is a form of SEO in itself.
Benefits of SEO
#1 – Cost
SEO is more cost-effective over the long term in comparison to PPC. With PPC, money is paid for every customer. With SEO, it’s a little different. You pay a writer to create the content initially with high-quality links to your site. You might not see significant traffic for a couple of months, until the income becomes substantial. But after this, you could start to see serious results.
If you make the posts yourself, SEO can actually be free. All you need is a couple of posts every month. Remember that consistency is very important for making SEO work. Once you have a solid plan in place, then there is no reason you won’t do very well within your niche.
#2 – ROI
When an SEO campaign gets going, you will get repeat traffic and can make an extremely large profit. People are more attracted to organic SEO results in comparison to paid ads. Once you put in the work and get recognized in the field, then you can reap the benefits with SEO, the most profitable form of online marketing as your return can be unlimited.
#3 – Consistency
While it’s certainly not easy, SEO tends to be more stable and consistent in the long-run. You put in most of the work early on and then reap continual rewards as your online presence builds up a solid reputation. When you get recognized as an authority in a particular area, then customers will tend to return.
#4 – Creative Options
You can use YouTube as another form of marketing to get your brand out there. You can also use social media as a tool for viral marketing, which can be enormously profitable. Real estate investors can even use virtualization tools to showcase impressive properties to customers. Customers are far more engaged with videos in comparison to text.
#5 – Reputation
Content marketing can also increase your brand reputation and establish you as a thought leader in a particular field. By putting out more and more posts, you are effectively building online real estate that will be read and (hopefully) appreciated by customers.
Summary of SEO Benefits for Real Estate Investors
- It’s affordable.
- It’s reliable.
- It has the biggest ROI.
- Creative potential.
Disadvantages of SEO
#1 – Cost
While cost is also listed as an advantage, writing articles can be very expensive if you are not inclined to do it yourself. You have to find a dependable freelancer – there are many low-quality writers who will simply flake on a project. On the other hand, there are better freelancers that are far more expensive. Keep your content needs small but high-quality, and consistent.
#2 – Time
Unlike PPC, you don’t get to see the results of SEO for quite a while. SEO takes time to build up steam and a proper foundation may take months to put in place. Some real estate investors see short term wins with pieces of content targeting long-tail keywords, but for competitive keywords it may take 6 months or more to see a significant increase in leads.
SEO is also a large subject to tackle on your own. While you can definitely learn to do SEO by yourself, it is very time consuming to write long-form content, reach out to blogs and coordinate the link outreach process, plan your strategy and manage the content schedule, all while running your real estate business.
Summary of SEO Disadvantages for Real Estate Investors
- Can be costly on a long term basis.
- Takes a lot of time to work.
- Upfront learning curve
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How Does PPC Work?
There are many ways how PPC can help you as a real estate investor. PPC stands for ‘Pay Per Click’. As the name suggests, you pay for every click on your sponsored ad. There are many, many variants and categories of PPC. But search engine advertising on Google is by far the most heavily used, as this is where most of the search volume comes from.
A PPC ad will show up on the first page of Google when the user types in a search query. These ads will be listed as sponsored, to let users know they are not organic results. So a user types in a search term, a sponsored PPC ad shows up, and they click on this ad to your website and (hopefully) converts to a sale.
To work out if this is profitable, you can compare the cost per click against the conversion ratio of your site. The most well-known PPC network is known as Google Ads. There are many ways how PPC can help you as a real estate investor.
PPC is a large field and needs to be constantly managed. Your keyword lists, ad groups, bidding price, negative keywords, and landing page need to be constantly refined. Many PPC campaigns can get customers to their site using sponsored ads, but have a terrible landing page and a poor conversion ratio.
Benefits of PPC
#1 – Targeted
While SEO can be a little generic, PPC can be very direct. You can utilize long-term keywords tailored towards a specific audience that are very likely to convert. While you do bid on keywords, Google also performs its own independent analysis to see how relevant your bid is to a particular user. This ensures your ad is relevant.
#2 – Instant Results
While SEO takes a while to get up and running, PPC works instantaneously. Once you have a campaign set up, you can reap the benefits straight away. This is a huge advantage, especially for real estate investors who are just starting out.
#3 – Large Profit Potential
There are many ways to make PPC very profitable, if you get good at it. There are niche keywords to find that convert extremely well – but your landing page has to be top-notch to ensure this is the case. One of the most important elements of a good PPC campaign is a high converting landing page – it’s worth the money.
#4 – Protected from Algorithm Updates
Unlike SEO, PPC is protected from irritating algorithm updates. A finely tuned SEO campaign can suffer terribly if Google decides to make an update. This has happened many times in the past, with the Panda and Penguin updates. PPC does not suffer from these changes.
Summary of PPC Advantages for Real Estate Investors
- Targeted ads
- Instant ROI
- Can be very lucrative
- Protected from updates
Disadvantages of PPC
#1 – Keyword Research
Keyword research for PPC is very intense, a lot heavier in comparison to SEO. Your keyword needs to be very specific so that it excludes irrelevant terms. You may want to have a list of negative keywords to omit.
#2 – Cost
PPC is expensive. You will only appear on the first page of Google if you pay for it. And another factor is that you can lose money on PPC. This is something many people fail to take into account. It takes a lot of time and research to tailor. And even if a campaign is profitable at one time, it has to be monitored and managed, so it remains profitable.
Another thing to factor in is that competitors can bid up your keywords – so the keyword that was initially profitable could quickly turn unprofitable to bid on. As more real estate competitors enter the marketplace it can soon become saturated, and your ROI may no longer be the same with the higher cost of bids.
#3 – A lot Of Work
PPC is ongoing. People search for different things, keywords get more or less competitive, negative keyword lists need to be worked on, profitable campaigns can become unprofitable. Ad groups must be created, landing pages tweaked, and old campaigns need to be deleted. There is a ton of research and monitoring that needs to take place with a PPC campaign.
Summary of PPC Disadvantages for Real Estate Investors
- Extensive keyword research
- Cost prohibitive – you can lose money.
- Word is ongoing.
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Which One to Use?
It’s worth mentioning that you can make money using either PPC or SEO. There are niche areas within both and creative ways to attract customers.
But for best results, there is no real reason to select either PPC or SEO. You can leverage both to maximize profit potential. PPC can bring you instant results while you work on building a longer-term strategy with an SEO campaign.
The benefits of combining both are that you will have double the data to use in terms of keyword analysis. Words that convert well in your PPC campaign can be targeted in an SEO campaign.
Benefits of SEO v Benefits of PPC Summary
PPC will give you initial results while SEO is a long-term strategy. It is best to excel at both strategies as much as possible. Both of them are complementary techniques that can be used in tandem for the greatest possible results.
But if you have a limited budget, then it might be a better bet to focus on a long-term SEO campaign and submit a post or two every week. You will get there eventually, while there are some additional risks with PPC. SEO is also more organic and can lead to increased customer satisfaction and retention, as demonstrated by many of the largest analytical studies.
How to Move Forward Quickly
If you want an edge in the field, consider working with an established digital marketing agency that operates exclusively to assist real estate investors in finding their target audience. Real estate is its own niche, and there is little point in using a generic digital marketing campaign when you could get a strategy tailored for your unique industry and business by a team of experts.
Whatever technique you choose to use, it is better to get the advice and assistance of an experienced search engine marketing team before embarking. Otherwise, it could result in costly mistakes and having to start from scratch down the line. Real estate is a long-term business, and its best to begin with a solid foundation and build from there.