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  • Writer's pictureJosh McRay

SEO vs Google Ads for Real Estate Investors: An Overview

On the surface, Google Ads and SEO can seem like very similar things. Both get you to the top of Google search results. The goal is the same, but Google Ads and SEO provide different ways to make that happen. In this post I’ll cover some similarities, some differences, and why you would go with one over the other.

Google Ads is a platform, and SEO is a process

Google Ads is a pay-per-click platform, and functions a lot like an auction. You bid on specific keywords that have meaning to you (for us these are keywords that show seller motivation). Using these bids, along with tons of other factors inside of the Google Ads platform, your ads become eligible to show when a potential client performs a search using your targeted keywords. If an ad is clicked, then an amount is subtracted from your daily budget. If you don’t get any clicks, then you don’t spend any money.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process used to get a website to rank at the top of page 1 search result. The process of SEO takes several different steps that may include:

  • Generating content to share with other sites in order to get backlinks

  • Completing local citations

  • Creating social media accounts and linking them to your website

  • Generating content to post as blogs on your website

There are tons of other things that go into getting a website to rank, but you get the idea. SEO isn’t any one thing, it is a lot of things that form a process that is worked over time. With enough time and resources, a website can rank as the top organic result in any industry for any keyword term.

Both are meant for exposure

Both Google Ads and SEO are strategies that are meant to drive traffic through exposure at the top of page 1. With Google Ads, you are paying to be at the top of Google’s search results above organic results and map results. This puts you at the very top of the page where you get the highest amount of visibility.

SEO will also get you to the top of page 1, just not the very top. You can rank as high as the #1 organic search result for any keyword, but that may mean placement below the fold, or just above the map results. The image below shows how there is no sign of an organic result at the top of page 1:

Short term and long term solutions to lead generation

Google Ads and SEO are often looked at as short term and long term solutions to the same problem. While this is true initially, over time both strategies are actually sustainable long-term, and work well together.

Google Ads requires a website that works well and is setup to convert, a budget, and a solid plan for managing and maintaining a campaign. With these things you can start running Google Ads and showing up at the top of Google search results in days. This means that even somebody brand new to real estate investing can start generating leads inside of 30 days. This is the short term solution to lead generation.

SEO takes months, and sometimes years to start generating leads. It is an investment of time and money that doesn’t yield a return until you are in one of the top 3 spots in Google’s search results. Once you get the exposure of being a top search result organically you’ll start to see leads coming in that will give you the opportunity to start making a return on your investment.

They work well together

The truth is that you don’t have to use one of these strategies or the other. Google Ads can be an extremely inexpensive lead generation method over time, and as long as it is generating deals for you then there isn’t a need to shut it down because you are ranking organically. You can do both!

Over the last year I’ve managed campaigns for newbies and for experienced investors ranking #1 in their markets. The investors that were ranking #1 and had an ad running consistently at the top of the page saw 60% more conversions than individual just running Google Ads, or just ranking #1 organically.

In conclusion

Google Ads is a great solution for lead generation right now. SEO is a solid solution for long term lead generation. Google Ads can run along a website that ranks organically to increase overall lead generation indefinitely. SEO and Google Ads have little to no overlap, but strive towards accomplishing similar goals.

Have questions about Google Ads, or about SEO? Send me an email at and I’ll see how I can help!

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