Greater demand for PPC ads as agents compete for new instructions

The sharp decline in property instructions over the past 18 months has left most agents feeling the challenges of winning local listings. Just last week RICS reported in its latest survey market appraisals were 8% down. With less stock available and sales opportunities, estate Agents are increasingly likely to use paid marketing channels, according to Homeflow.

As many of you will already know, Google advertising allows estate agents to appear in the top positions on the search engine, above the usual organic positions and Google my business listings. However, these adverts cost on a pay per click basis which is managed via a bidding auction in Google.

The lead generation specialist says that competitive keywords such as ‘local estate agent’ or ‘estate agent near me’ have seen bidding prices increase by 16% in little over six months. The cost for a click on Google for these terms can now cost an average of £1.54, up from £1.30 in June 2021.

Currently in London, Google suggests for the search term “estate agent near me” the top advert can cost as high as £8 for a click! People searching for this keyword has seen a decline of 18% compared to February 2021, according to the director of Homeflow, Ross McGowan.

He commented: “Page one on Google has never been such a fierce battleground. Organic Google rankings, a high listing in google maps and now space at the top of the paid via Google Ads all have their own challenges. Homeflow powers hundreds of agent websites and we have seen a huge increase in enquiries from our existing website customers, as well as new customers wanting to launch google advertising campaigns. All of them want to ensure they have the maximum local exposure for core keywords.

“Historically, agents have been relatively tentative in their adoption of paid digital marketing tactics, but in this market that is definitely changing. Google adverts are widely used by online estate agents as they can easily bid for local search traffic. But with Purplebricks, Yopa [plus many others] pulling back on marketing spend, there has never been a better time to shoot to the top of Google to win local instructions.”

Homesearch EOS

Email the story to a friend


  1. kinganzu

    I have been preaching PPPC  and SEO to agents for years, Rightmove debacle made it more attractive but now more than ever agents need to ensure their online presence is more than listing a property on Rightmove and Zoopla. More than happy to help anyone interested in getting started Mukai co uk.

    1. Robert_May

      why?   I measure engagement so can see  and compare what an agent spends with the hours minutes and seconds of user engagement across all digital media.

      I would love to see any  numbers that make a case for any spend on PPC or  SEO.


      The disruptors have spent HUGE wads of cash on both over the past 13 years yet their market share is only fractionally above that  traditionally usingFSBO  and where they were  when they started. If PPC and paid SEO spend worked, the millions spent ought to be showing a result by now

      1. kinganzu

        I would love to see any numbers that make a case for any spend on PPC or  SEO.
        Even though I run an SEO and PPC agency, I have also launched a property management company and just this week from SEO we have had a lead for a block management, maintenance support and landlord about to complete looking to get into serviced accommodation. SEO and PPC work it just depends on whether you are doing them correctly.  With this new venture, it’s almost laughable how easy it is to gain traction in search rankings in my area because most agents are not good at online marketing which is crazy as that’s part of being an estate agent is marketing properties and your services.

        If PPC and paid SEO spend worked, the millions spent ought to be showing a result by now

        These avenues bought the less but they arent the be all end all, the reason the disruptors have failed is because their proposition doesn’t work. PCC and SEO can get you leads but if you don’t use the leads properly then its useless

  2. AndSotheStoryBegan

    “The advertising market is dangerous, unregulated and crawling with bots, scammers and other questionable traffic. There’s a serious risk a quarter of your ads will never be seen by a real person.” – Association of National Advertisers.

    Here’s a typical ad for digital marketing:

    1,000 clicks for 1dollar. No way for advertisers to distinguish our traffic from regular traffic.

    PPC might well be the worst way to lead generate ever invented.

  3. Ross

    Hi AndSotheStoryBegan
    I’m sorry, but I completely disagree – that’s a viewpoint that is typically (perhaps not in your case of course) associated with fear of the unknown.  Here’s why…
    (1)  Economic forces at scale
    Google Ads (Pay-per-Click / PPC) or the performance marketing charging model generally is a very established and stable model.  As a form of advertising, it’s enormous; over 95% of Google’s revenue comes from PPC.  Your arguments may have had some merit in 2005, but this isn’t the wild west anymore, paid search is right up there with TV / Print and Radio.  And that doesn’t happen by accident.  There’s no way that whole markets move, and sustain their marketing spend if it doesn’t work.  That’s the wisdom of markets or crowds.  You can’t tell me that businesses like Amazon, British Airways, Ebay, etc. don’t measure their return on investment.  Of course they do.
    (2)   Ineffective clicks are priced in
    Obviously click fraud would present an enormous risk to the biggest media company in the world, so you can bet your bottom dollar, that they have an army of staff devoted to building better anti click fraud software than the spammer could ever develop.  And anyway, even if there are a proportion of clicks that are from spammers, it’s priced in.  Sure, if you build a poor quality ad campaign, then you are likely attract lower grade of traffic, and pay higher cost of clicks for it too.  But if you have half a brain, you’ll be measuring the outcome you get from it in terms of tracking the leads.  And if you are tracking the leads, and can track the conversion rate on them into instructions, then you can tie your investment directly back to the instructions you win.  So it becomes a simple sum:  Am I making more than I am spending, if so, pour more in the top, and take market share of my (slower, less progressive, sleepy, or just fearful and lazy) competitors.
    We wouldn’t propose doing anything without measuring the outcome, whereupon any fear of poor quality traffic or ad spend evaporates.
    Ironically it’s the most auditable, trackable form of advertising ever.  Which is why it has ballooned and become such a massive part of marketing.  Our sector is just relatively slow to adapt, however, all our tracking tools show that in any given county in the UK, agents are now starting to wake up, and the progressive ones are stealing market share, from the weaker / slower ones.
    You’ve got to be in it to win it.

    1. AndSotheStoryBegan


      economic forces at scale isn’t a logical response. Stating that Google’s income is 95% made up of PPC and that the model is stable doesn’t address the issue of fraudulent traffic. Neither does your comment that the fraudulent traffic is factored into the pricing.

      I accept that Google will try all they can to prevent fraud, but they are not entirely successful. It still occurs.

      Your argument is for those estate agencies that have been slow to adopt PPC to jump right in – the water is still warm. With scant regard for the comparison of their ad spend compared to the Unilvever’s and VW that spend billions and can afford to gamble with their money. If an agency spends £10,000 and it doesn’t work, that’s chicken feed to Google, but it can mean the world to a small agency. Tracking their results won’t matter if the campaign isn’t successful. Google haven’t lost out, the digital agency that hypes this platform hasn’t lost out. The only one that loses is the agency. I’d be more impressed if Google and the digital agency offered the service on a pay-by-results basis, the same as the No Sale, No Fee to which agencies commit.

      Another point is that the internet isn’t a mass medium. It seems like one, but it’s a micro medium. Most agencies have a local community of 15-20,000 chimney pots. How many of those can a PPC reach/? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that unless it is every single one, it will be ineffective as lead generation. Producing leads outside of an agent’s community isn’t valuable. They need the right people, not the most people.

      The article states that Purplebricks and Yopa are pulling back on digital spend. Perhaps for good reason in that is has not been the panacea they imagined it would be for them.

      That an agency is deemed “progressive” because it embraces PPC might be a stretch of the imagination. Agencies have ignored plenty of other media platforms in the past such as blogs, video and podcasts without lasting damage and I’m confident they will continue to ignore PPC advertising if they have any sense.

      1. Ross


        Thanks for your response, some reasoned points there, to explore them a bit….

        I’m not suggesting that the fact that PPC is an established scale media means there is no click fraud (in our experience running campaigns for a few dozen agencies, and thus seeing good numbers on the efficacy of this, there is very little, but that’s by the by).  My point was that people REPEAT PURCHASE.  People don’t continue doing something that doesn’t work, at scale.  Whether you are Unilever with millions to invest (not gamble), or a single branch agent (with a lot less than £10k) even.  They wouldn’t continue doing it, if it didn’t work, as they measure it.  Or at least the good ones do.

        I’m also not suggesting that it isn’t possible to bid badly.  If you bid out of area, if you bid on “head terms” (where competition has priced it right up), if you bid without setting up adequate tracking, or if you bid with low quality scores and care in the choice of your keywords and advert copy, then it’s entirely possible to burn money for a negative ROI.But if you bid sensibly, mine in the longer tail, track everything, and put care into your ad copy, and keyword selection, then it is very high ROI indeed.  As with everything in life, you can do it well, and you can do it badly.

        I also would ONLY suggest bidding locally – geo bidding (both with Google’s tools, and also through keyword choice).  You are completely correct that buying out of area leads is a road to nowhere.  But equally they won’t convert, and will give you a low quality score (so they cost more), all of which means if you are measuring the campaign properly, there’s no incentive to bid outside of your patch.

        I say progressive, as, in the vast majority of UK areas, there are still very few good quality local agents who have got around to this.

        The onliners, and the national chains (with bigger digital marketing teams) are all over this these days (and they measure carefully).  The more progressive and smarter / savvy independents are starting to take advantage of it.  But for the most part it’s a pretty open goal.

        Finally, none of this is a substitute for good, local agency.  I think we can all agree on that.  If you buy adverts to a poor proposition (be that a national, with low local knowledge, care and service) it will never be as cost effective as buying traffic and leads, against a high quality, high service, local brand name.  It will be cheaper for the better quality, local agents to buy the advert (Google’s quality score mechanism is there to ensure it is cheaper for them to bid, as they want to encourage the right answer for their site visitors, as much as you want your advert to be relevant for the audience too).

        We could go on, but I’m sure you get the broad idea.


  4. LVW4

    When Google is the de-facto platform, agents can’t afford to be left out, and when your business is SEO and PPC, then of course you will push its benefits.

    However, most agents are to be found in the same place in most towns and cities. As such, they can all call themselves ‘local’ or ‘nearest’, which means IMHO that boat has sailed. So, what else can agents do to improve their RoI, when they have all used the same words to end up on the same page?

    Doesn’t it come down to a buyer using the aggregators to build their short list [very short these days!], and then how they feel about service and price from the raft of ‘local’ agents?


You must be logged in to report this comment!

Comments are closed.

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.