The Advanced Guide To Consistently Converting More Profitable Motivated House Sellers With PPC Marketing

This is advanced stuff. Not for the faint of heart. This report analyzed over 3 million real estate investing specific PPC keywords and over 5,500 converted PPC leads… and distilled it down into the most profitable keywords and “match types” across dozens of markets in the US. Improve your PPC ROI and reduce costs with this advanced guide.

View Over 600+ Real Estate Investor PPC Keywords

Who This Guide Is For:

We teamed up with Dan Barrett with AdwordsNerds, who analyzed over 3 million keywords and 5,500 leads to create this report to get a more advanced guide for real estate investors and marketing vendors already investing consistently in PPC marketing. Those who already have some months under their belt running ads have invested into the thousands in click costs and are looking to eliminate the waste in your account and hone in on the keywords and ad groups that will return the most profits in your pocket over the long term.

If you’re a newer real estate investor or just exploring PPC marketing, save this post for later. You may start at some of our other blog posts on PPC marketing for real estate investors to get your start.

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How Much Of This Guide Should You Read?:

This guide was meant to be read cover to cover. I know it’s tempting, but don’t go straight to the keyword list and think you’re going just to download a list and upload it to your PPC account. Great PPC performance doesn’t work that way. We’ll start with the method for our analysis, dive into how the keyword “match types” work, the scientific way to calculate the ROI of a particular keyword, then the keywords themselves based on Dan’s analysis.

Let’s dive in!

Introduction | Match Types | Data & Results | Map Number | The Keyword

Real estate investors have one of the world’s toughest (and weirdest) Google Ads markets. I mean it: I came into investing after running Google Ads campaigns in a dozen different industries. I worked with plumbers and coaches, plastic surgeons, and ambulance companies.

Not one of them had the level of competition I found when I started digging into online marketing for real estate investors.

So why is online marketing for REI so nuts? Well, there are a few reasons:

High potential reward with real estate.

Most businesses are trying to sell moderately-priced products. Plumbers, for example, are considered an expensive, competitive market –, and they’re charging about $100 an hour.

That puts a cap on what they can profitably spend to bring in a new customer.

But real estate investors? Last week, I talked to a guy who takes home an average of $40-50,000 in net profit per deal. Even novice wholesalers can make over $10,000 per deal if they’re in a good market.

All that profit means people are willing to spend a lot to get motivated seller leads – and competition can be fierce.

It can also be, well…weird. And that’s because…

There’s a lack of good data on what works.

Over the last year, we’ve looked at dozens of different Investor Google Ads accounts.

We’ve looked at hundreds of thousands of different keywords, ads, and landing pages.

We’ve seen bids as high as $150 a click…and as low as ten cents a click.

Why you shouldn’t just grab the PPC keywords.

Dive into how we arrived at these keywords (our process) first… 

One of the biggest reasons so many investors’ PPC campaigns are bleeding money is that many tend to take the “easy” way out.

You just wanna grab the high ROI keywords in this report and paste them into your campaign, right?


That’s exactly what you don’t want to do. We’ll dive into the “why” below first, then dive into the actual keyword report near the bottom and implement it in your own PPC campaigns.

This is one of the most comprehensive reports of its kind for what’s working (and not working) at scale over dozens of markets and thousands of seller lead conversions for motivated house seller PPC marketing.

Without good data to fall back on, people share their personal experiences. For example, an investor might share his or her account that’s been crushing it in their market.

So what happens if you take that account and set it up in your neck of the woods?

About 50% of the time, you’ll do great. And the other 50% of the time?

Your account turns into a giant, smoking hole in the ground.

That’s because so much of what determines a keyword’s profitability is unique to your market, your business, and your situation.

And what CRUSHES it in one market may flop in another.

Another reason there’s a lot of confusion out there is that…

PPC is not SEO. Here’s Why…

SEO keywords are pretty well-understood in the REI space – companies like Carrot have put out amazing SEO guides on the topic, and SEO is easier for most investors to understand…after all, we all use Google to search for stuff.

When you move those keywords to Pay Per Click, you start to run into problems.

In SEO, when we say “Keyword,” we just mean “what someone typed into Google.”

For example, if I’m looking for information on For-Sale-By-Owner properties near me, I might type in:

FSBO Hartford Connecticut

That’s my keyword. Pretty simple.

If you wanted to target searches like mine on your website, you might create a blog post titled “Looking For FSBO Properties in Hartford, Connecticut?” and use that phrase a few times in your copy.

Easy enough. We have an extra complication with PPC – the difference between Keywords and Search Queries.

In Google Ads, Keywords are what you tell Google you want to target. It’s like saying to Google, “Hey man! I want these kinds of searchers to see my ad.”

A Search Query is a phrase the searcher types in. And that’s a subtle difference that can have a BIG effect on whether you make money with Google Ads or not.

Let’s take some keywords a client of ours was targeting. Here, he’s going after keywords related to selling your house:

“Obvious” Keywords Don’t Always Translate To Good PPC Keywords.
keywords related to selling your house:

These are all pretty straightforward keywords about home sales, right?

We’re hoping searchers who want to sell their house will type these keywords into Google and see our ads.

Now, let’s take a look at the search queries generated by these keywords:

(Remember, these are what people searched for right before they saw our ads)

Those “Obvious” PPC Keywords Are Attracting The Wrong Searchers
(and costing you money)
(Remember, these are what people actually searched for right before they saw our ads)

Can you spot the problem?

Every single one of these searches – every single one – is from a person who is looking to buy a home, not sell one.

Want to know how many of these searches got us a lead?

Zero. Not a single lead.

In Pay-Per-Click, we have to worry about what keyword we’re using and how that keyword will be matched up with the search queries we want. And it’s not always obvious.

So how do we STOP wasting money on people not looking to sell? 

Enter “Match Types” – How To Use Them Correctly

Each keyword has four different variations. These variations are called “match types.”

Let’s use the example keyword sell my home. That single keyword has four different match types:

  • sell my home – Broad Match
  • “sell my home” – Phrase Match
  • [sell my home] – Exact Match

Each of these variations controls how Google matches up your ads with different search queries.

Broad Match keywords give Google as much freedom as possible, letting it match you up with whatever searches it thinks are relevant.

Example Of Broad Match Keywords

So, the keyword sell my house might get matched up with the following searches:

  • houses for sale near me
  • Zillow com
  • real estate
  • how to sell my house

Phrase Match keywords reign in Google a bit more


…requiring that our words not only be included but that they show up in the right order.

So, the keyword “sell my house” might match us up with these search queries:

  • sell my house fast
  • how to sell my house
  • I can’t sell my house
  • sell my houseboat

Finally, Exact Match Keywords are the most limiting match type


…forcing Google to show your ad only to the exact search query you want – nothing more, nothing less.

So, if our keyword is [sell my house], our ads will only trigger when someone searches for:

  • sell my house
  • sell my home

…That’s it.

Keywords perform very differently depending on which match type you’re using.

Each match type has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Pros and Cons Of Each PPC Match Type
Match TypeStrengthsWeaknesses
BroadGets a lot of views.
Can pull in searches you would never have thought of on your own.
15% of all searches are unique – they’ve never been searched for before.
Lower average CPC (cost-per-click).
Many of the people searching aren’t right for you.
Low level of control over what you’re spending money on.
Often pulls in searches that are way outside of the real estate industry.
PhraseGreat level of control over who sees your ad
Still lets you grab some random searches you may have forgotten
Great for targeting local searches (“Sell My House.. On Boylston Street”)
Not as cost-efficient as Exact Match
Can often be high-competition
Still need to be monitored to make sure they’re not pulling in weird stuff (“Sell My House…In Grand Theft Auto 5”)
ExactPerfect control – know exactly what is triggering your ads
Highest conversion rates and Click-through rates
You can often bid less and get a higher position due to level of focus
Higher average Quality Score
Can be very high competition
Can sometimes lose out on potentially rewarding searches you didn’t know to target
Gets fewer impressions than other match types

Think of these match types as existing on a spectrum.

Broad = More Volume + Less Targeted while Exact Match = Less Volume + More Targeted
google ads keyword match types

On one end, you’ve got broad match keywords – which get many views but typically have a lower conversion rate.

On the other, you’ve got exact match keywords – which have very few searches but great conversion rates.

Picking the right keywords for your real estate ads campaigns is what makes the difference between making money and losing money. – Dan Barrett

However, there’s never been a comprehensive study of what keywords work for most investors….only anecdotal data that doesn’t apply to most people.

Until now!

How We Gathered The Data

So – how can we start to see the big picture? How can we find the data that everyone can use?

We looked at over 3 million individual search queries generated by over 35,000 different keywords (that’s right – 35,000). All told, those searches generated more than 5500 conversions.

That’s the biggest collection of Real Estate Investor Google Ads data ever assembled in one place – across big and small markets, huge and tiny budgets, professional investor firms, and one-person shops.

Once we assembled this massive database, we needed to focus on whether these keywords were worth targeting.

Why? Because we wanted to avoid an issue that trips up many investors when they get started in Google Ads: Keyword volume.

Most investors start in Google Ads by targeting a huge list of keywords. We often find accounts with thousands of keywords all running at once.

The idea is…

 The more keywords I have, the more leads I’ll get.

But this is a big problem for a few reasons:

  1. Running keywords carries risk. Any keyword you run can overspend, cause you to hit your budget cap, and prevent you from getting leads from your other keywords.
  2. Keywords that get low Quality Scores can weigh down your account and cause you to pay more…and it’s very hard to monitor the quality scores of thousands of keywords at once.
  3. Huge numbers of keywords are really hard to manage, so very large campaigns tend to overspend and underperform.
  4. Simply slapping together a big list of keywords and running them all is a recipe for disaster.

Even if you got a huge keyword list, take that list and distill it down.

Instead, we wanted to select the best keywords…the ones most likely to get profitable motivated seller leads.

To do this, we focused on a few key metrics:

Click Through Rate (CTR) – The percentage of folks that clicked on the ad after seeing it.

The number of conversions (Conv) – The number of leads a keyword generates.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC) – Gives us a sense of how competitive a keyword is. More competitors mean higher bids, which means we pay more for leads.

Cost-Per-Conversion (CPA) – This gives us a sense of how easy it is to turn these clicks into leads and what those leads cost.

Why didn’t they look at the conversion rate?

The conversion rate can be slightly misleading. If a keyword only gets a single click, and that click turns into a lead, that keyword’s conversion rate is 100%.

While that’s awesome, it means that keywords with smaller audiences tend to get skewed conversion rates, both good and bad, and don’t tell us a whole lot about the real value of the keyword.

The numbers above are all powerful ways to tell whether a keyword is valuable or not.

However, we still had trouble picking out the winners from the losers.

Let’s say you’re trying to decide between:

– a keyword that has a low overall volume, but great cost-per-conversion

… and

– a keyword that has great volume but an uncomfortably high cost-per-conversion.

Which should you go with?

We wanted a convenient way of condensing a keyword’s many characteristics into a single number that could tell us:

How likely is this keyword to benefit my bottom line?

To do that, we had to create a new way of analyzing keyword performance.

We call it the MAP Number.


Ultimately, all anyone cares about is whether a keyword increases their profits.

To figure that out, we used a concept first suggested by Mike Rhodes, a well-known Australian Google Ads educator: the Savvy Number.

Savvy Number tries to score the overall profitability of a keyword through this formula:


“BE,” in this case, is the Breakeven Point, or how much you could afford to pay for a deal without losing money. If you net $10,000 on a deal, your breakeven point to acquire that deal is $10,000.

“CPA" is “cost per conversion” or the amount we paid to get the lead.

“CONV" is the number of conversions the keyword generated.

For example, if we have the following keyword and stats:

  • “Sell My House”
  • CPA: $100
  • Conversions: 16

We’d get the following:

($10,000 breakeven point – $100 cost per conversion) * 16 conversion = 158,400

So, our “Savvy Number” for this keyword is 158,400, and we can use that number to compare this keyword to others we come across.

However, Savvy number was designed for traditional online businesses like e-commerce stores, and it had some serious problems we needed to address.

The Savvy number assumes that each “conversion” (in our case, a lead) is worth a specific, unchanging amount. This makes sense if we’re tracking online purchases where we can easily calculate an average product value.

For REI, however, this hopelessly skews the data because it doesn’t consider differences in motivation level.

As we mentioned above, different match types have different strengths and weaknesses.

Broad match keywords put us in front of many people, but many of those people won’t be quite right for us.

On the other hand, exact match keywords can put us in front of just the right people – but there don’t tend to be many people each month.

Let’s put some examples through the Savvy Number process to show you how that works out, still using that $10,000 break-even number from earlier.

  • [sell my house fast]
  • CPA: $75
  • Conversions: 10
  • Savvy Number: 99,250
  • sell my house fast
  • CPA: $100
  • Conversions: 25
  • Savvy Number: 247,500

Comparing the Savvy Numbers, we can see that the broad match version of this keyword will far outperform the exact match version….right?

When we test this in the real world, we find that the opposite is true; exact match versions of almost every keyword far outperform their broad match brethren.

Why the mismatch?

The problem is that the conversions we’re tracking – the leads – are not the result we want.

After all, we don’t actually want leads – we want Deals!

Exact match keywords generate leads that are more likely to become deals because they’re more targeted than broad match keywords.

A Savvy number fails in this scenario because it has no way of incorporating lead quality.

Enter MAP Number!

MAP Number solves the lead quality problem by incorporating a weighting factor determined by a keyword’s match type.

It uses our real-world experience to factor in the likelihood that keywords of certain types are more likely to generate leads that become deals.

It also considers the high average transaction values in Real Estate Investing and returns a number that’s a bit easier to use (a rounded 3-digit score rather than 7 digits).

Let’s see how it works with our previous example:

  • [sell my house fast]
  • CPA: $75
  • Conversions: 10
  • Savvy Number: 99,250
  • MAP Number: 993

  • sell my house fast
  • CPA: $100
  • Conversions: 25
  • Savvy Number: 247,500
  • MAP Number: 816

Now we can see the differences between these keywords a bit more clearly:

1. The Broad Match keyword will generate more leads but at a lower profit margin.

2. The Exact Match keyword will generate fewer leads but with a higher profit margin.

So, after all this work, what did we find?

Here are a few of the major takeaways from our research:

1.) Less than 5% of all keywords generate a single lead.

This was the big shocker. Only a tiny percentage of all the keywords investors are targeting generate a single lead.

More than half of those that got leads generated only one lead apiece.


Don’t focus on volume – focus on quality!

Instead of targeting thousands of keywords, focus on what’s proven to drive results over time.

Be very wary of keywords in your account, spending your money without generating a lead or deal. It’s OK to cut these out and focus on the proven winners.

2.) Different match types perform very differently.

The same keyword will perform very differently depending on your target match type.

Let’s check some of the averages for each of the different match types:


Broad Match keywords get the most conversions but cost the most per lead.

Exact Match keywords ultimately offer the best compromise between lead quality and price.

Phrase falls somewhere in the middle, getting you decent lead costs but also helping to boost your overall lead volume.

It’s important to understand what percentage of your account you should be dedicating to each match type.

There’s no perfect balance – it depends on your business. Let’s look at different Google Ads strategies and how we might tailor our account to meet those goals.

(Note – below are approximations to give you a sense of some different approaches, and they shouldn’t be taken as specific recommendations.)

Strategy 1: Maximize Leads, Don’t Worry About Lead Costs

Want as many leads as possible, never mind the cost? Run a campaign weighted towards broader match types.

  •  60% Broad
  •  20% Exact

Strategy 2: Lower Lead Costs

Need to cut your cost per lead? Run a campaign weighted towards more efficient match types.

  •  80% Exact Match
  •  20% Phrase Match

Strategy 2: Balanced Approach

Want to balance lead volume and costs? Try to maximize cost per acquisition while also growing the account over time.

  •  50% Exact Match
  •  25% Phrase
  •  10% Broad

3.) Localized keywords can be extremely valuable (but not always).

Localized keywords (keywords containing some geographically-specific word, like “sell my house in Houston”) ranked among some of the best keywords we looked at.

They also ranked among some of the worst. How could this be?

It almost entirely depends on the market you’re in.

Let’s take a specific example: “We Buy Houses.”

We can localize this keyword by adding the name of the city you’re targeting. For example, “We Buy Houses Houston.”

Let’s examine the data for 6 different localized versions of this keyword, each targeting a specific market (we’ve removed the city names to protect our client’s privacy).

“We buy houses CITY”863
“We buy houses CITY”432
“We buy houses CITY”324
“We buy houses CITY”216
“We buy houses CITY”18
“We buy houses CITY”17

You can see that the MAP score for the top-performing keyword is almost 10x that of the lowest-performer – and this is for the SAME keyword, just in a different market.


If your housing market is active and well-educated about what investors do, you can see a large number of highly-motivated leads searching for this type of keyword.

These keywords won’t do as well if you’re in a smaller market. Smaller markets with lower search volumes will get a bigger boost by targeting more generalized keywords.

Finally: The Keywords

We’ve included our complete PPC keyword list with this article, so you’ll be able to see the specific rankings we uncovered and compare them to your own account.

But despite all of the incredible data we gathered, there was one huge lesson we learned:

Test your assumptions.

Many people will tell you to target thousands of keywords, or that a specific keyword will absolutely crush it in your market.

But remember – just because it worked for them, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Test those assumptions! Google Ads greatest strength is its ability to test hypotheses and give you fast, accurate data.

Test everything, and watch your account grow.

To higher ROI!

– The Carrot Team

View Over 600+ Real Estate Investor PPC Keywords

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