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.

Why We Partnered Up With AdwordsNerds & Made This Guide: 

PPC marketing for real estate investors is a crazy competitive and cutthroat way to attract motivated house seller leads. But, it’s also one of the most profitable online marketing strategies a real estate wholesaler or flipper can use to get high ROI off-market property leads on a consistent and predictable basis. With that much potential for reward, we’ve found some critical things that make a PPC campaign effective when it comes to the keywords you target (and how you do it).

There are plenty of blog posts out there on PPC marketing and plenty of courses that give you a massive “PPC keyword dump” to plug into your campaigns… but we felt there was something missing. Real world facts based on actual data from not just one persons experience, but from dozens of investors campaigns combined and thousands of leads over a long period of time.

So that’s what this report is. Actual hard data to help guide you to a great return on your PPC investment with less guesswork and more facts.

Want to start an AdWords account but don’t want the monthly management fees? Ramp up online leads this week with a “self-managed” AdWords paid traffic campaign.

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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 out there for those real estate investors and marketing vendors who are already investing consistently into PPC marketing. Those who already have some months under your belt running ads, already have invested into the thousands in click costs, and who 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.

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 to just download a list and upload it to your PPC account. Great PPC performance doesn’t work that way. We’ll start off with the method for our analysis, dive into how keyword “match types” work, the scientific way to calculate the ROI of a particular keyword, then the keywords themselves based off Dan’s analysis.

So let’s dive in!

  • Introduction |

  • Match Types |

  • Data & Results |

  • Map Number |

  • The Keywords

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


Not a single 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’s 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? I talked to a guy last week that 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 actually works.

Over the last year we’ve had the opportunity to look at dozens of different Investor AdWords 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 because 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.

To our knowledge, this is the first and most comprehensive report of it’s kind for what’s actually working (and not working) at scale over dozens of markets and thousands of seller lead conversions for motivated house seller ppc marketing.

Other than this report, there is almost no hard data out there on what actually works.

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 really 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 absolutely 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 Investor 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, however, 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. With PPC, we have an extra complication – the difference between Keywords and Search Queries.

In AdWords, 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 the phrase the searcher actually types in. And that’s a subtle difference that can have a BIG effect on whether you make money with AdWords 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 straight-forward 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 actually 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 not just about what keyword we’re using, but 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 – Modified 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

Modified Broad Match keywords are a lot like broad match


…but they require that Google makes sure certain words are in the searches it matches you up with. They still give Google some freedom, but with limits.

With +sell +my +house, for example, we are requiring that Google only match us up with people using the terms sell, my, and house – though not necessarily in that order.

So, we might get matched up with queries like:

  • my house is for sale
  • how to sell my house
  • sell my home cooked meals
  • sell my soul house dance remix

(Quick note – Google will automatically include slight variations, like “house” and “home”, in all your keywords.)

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 house boat

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 Type Strengths Weaknesses
Broad Gets lots 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.
Broad match helps you target theseLower 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 just plain wrong
Modified Broad Good balance between control and the advantages of broad match
Many competitors don’t use this match type, making it cheaper for you
You’re still giving up control to Google
Less cost-efficient than targeting someone with Phrase or Exact Match keywords
Phrase Great 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”)
Exact Perfect 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 less 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


On one end, you’ve got Broad Match keywords – which get a ton of 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 AdWords 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 AdWords data ever assembled in one place – across big markets and small markets, huge budgets 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 AdWords: Keyword volume.

Most investors start in AdWords 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 just 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.

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 means higher bids, which means we pay more for leads.

Cost-Per-Conversion (CPA) – 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 conversion rate?

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 real trouble picking out the winners from the losers.

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

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

… and

– a keyword that has really great volume, but a cost-per-conversion that’s uncomfortably high.

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.


In the end, 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 AdWords 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.

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 take into account differences in motivation level.

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

Broad match keywords put us in front of a lot of people – but a lot of those people won’t be quite right for us.

Exact match keywords, on the other hand, can put us in front of just the right people – but there doesn’t tend to be many of those 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 single keyword far outperform their broad match brethren.

Why the mismatch?

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

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

Enter MAP Number!

MAP Number solves the problem of lead quality 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 takes into account 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.


This is only the tip of the iceberg. To see the full list of our keywords Click here.

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 ever generate a single lead.

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

Of those that did get leads, more than half 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 that sit in your account, spending your money without ever generating a lead or a 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 the match type you’re targeting.

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

Match Type Conv CTR CPA CPC MAP
Broad 2.8 3.83% $97.70 $8.29 91
Modified Broad 1.88 11.70% $44.08 $10.22 94
Phrase 2.07 15.19% $39.14 $9.30 165
Exact 2.06 55.17% $30.17 $14.02 205

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 and MBM fall 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 some different AdWords 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 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
  • 20% MBM

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
  • 15% MBM
  • 10% Broad

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

Localized keywords (keywords that contain some geographically-specific word, like “sell my house in houston”) ranked among some of the absolute 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 of these targeting a specific market (we’ve removed the city names to protect our client’s privacy).

Keyword Conv MAP
“We buy houses CITY” 8 63
“We buy houses CITY” 4 32
“We buy houses CITY” 3 24
“We buy houses CITY” 2 16
“We buy houses CITY” 1 8
“We buy houses CITY” 1 7

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.

If you’re in a smaller market, these keywords won’t do as well. 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! AdWords’ 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 InvestorCarrot Team

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