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'OK Google, What Do Buyers Want?'

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New-Home Marketing

'OK Google, What Do Buyers Want?'

How to identify buyer trends and apply them to your marketing

By Bill Doughty May 26, 2020
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One of the best ways home builders can leverage Google’s wealth of data to their advantage is using Google Trends. | Photo: Thaspol

We use Google for just about everything. In the 21st century, one of our greatest confidants and teachers is Google Search, amounting to 3.2 billion searches a day. Whether it’s answering random questions like, “Who is Timothee Chalamet?” or seeking guidance on major life decisions such as buying a home, we turn to Google.

As advertisers, one of the best ways we can leverage Google’s wealth of data to our advantage is Google Trends. Google Trends is an invaluable tool that allows anyone to look up the relative search volume of just about any phrase over a certain time period. For example, after hearing stand-up comedian John Mulaney mention him in a recent standup set, and his name mentioned on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, I Googled “Who is Timothee Chalamet?” According to Google Trends, this search reached a high on April 19-25; apparently other Americans with a little too much time on their hands had the same question. 

Random celebrity searches aside, Google Searches are a great indicator of what the public is interested in, how they are feeling, and their future intentions.  

One of the most significant market trends evident in Google Search data in April and May has been increased interest from first-time buyers and renters. Check out the chart below that combines 20 different search queries related to buying a home such as “how to buy a home” and “home buying process.” Because these searchers are asking basic questions, we can infer that they have not gone through the buying process before, and a large portion likely rent.

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While general home purchase queries recently returned to Q4 '19 and early Q1 '20 levels, what stands out in the above data set is that volume for the search queries analyzed is significantly higher than they have been at any point over the last five years. This is not a return to “normal"; it illustrates a paradigm shift in how a segment of the population is thinking about their living situation, especially in densely populated urban areas where the majority of these searches are originating from.

How You Can Reach Renters Looking to Become Homeowners

Google Search and Display

Paid Search and Intent-Based Google Display Advertising are two of the most effective ways to generate quality leads. Customize your targeting and ad messaging by taking advantage one of Google’s latest targeting option, Detailed Demographics.

Detailed Demographics is one of Google Ads’ latest targeting capabilities that allows advertisers to target audiences by marital status, homeownership, education, and parental status. When applied correctly, this targeting strategy allows builders to target current renters on both Google Search and Display networks.  

Not sure if this applies to you?  Add Detailed Demographics to your Google Search campaigns in observation mode; this will allow you to see what percentage of your Google Ads traffic currently rents and owns, and how each is engaging on your site and converting. 


Outside of Paid Search and Display, geofencing apartment complexes is a great way to reach renters. With geofencing you can draw a virtual perimeter around any location and serve banner ads to desktops and phones located inside.


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You know your audience and how to target them; the final piece of the puzzle is ad messaging. Google Trends can also help inform ad messaging by making sure your ads are in line with what buyers want

Here are a few search trends that stood out in recent weeks.  

“Homes for sale with in-law suite”
“Homes for sale with land”
“Homes for sale with acreage”
“Homes for sale with pool”

It’s no surprise people want to take care of their loved ones, space to breathe, and recreation. Here are a few examples of ads that speak to these buyers:


Search Trends don’t have to be specific to real estate to be valuable to your advertising. Take a few of these search trends that saw huge spikes during COVID (March 15 - May 22, 2020).  

Home Office

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Home Gym

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While stay-at-home orders are temporary, their effect on a buyer’s thinking and priorities will be permanent. Leverage people’s new appreciation for the outdoors and changing daily needs by highlighting amenities such as biking and hiking trails, outdoor space, patios, home offices, flex rooms, and community gardens ... and explore Google Trends to identify additional ones. In uncertain times, buyers crave certainty. Give them the certainty and reassurance they seek by matching your ad messaging with exactly what they want.


Bonus Tip

Google Trends can give you valuable insights in aggregate, but don't forget about your own Google Ads’ Search Query report. This report shows you the exact phrases people typed into Google that triggered your ads to show and might give you ideas on new keywords to target or ad messaging ideas. Buyers usually don’t just search “new homes for sale.” Check out a few examples below from builders Group Two works with:

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Bill Doughty is a digital strategist at Group Two, a leading new-home marketing agency that focuses on connecting builders with buyers. Bill and his team manage millions of ad dollars for home builders, and understand what motivates home buyers to take action online. He creates and manages data-driven digital marketing campaigns focused on driving qualified leads for home builders of all sizes from coast to coast.


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