2021 Q1 Digital Trends for Home Builders

Social Media

iOS 14 Update: The big update from Facebook in this quarter was that Apple created an opt-in or opt-out prompt for app users to control tracking information across different apps. While this is a large update for the digital marketing world as a whole, and there are some tasks we need to accomplish to make sure our ads are not affected, this does not seem to hinder the housing industry as much as others, like eCommerce. You can read more in-depth about the update in this article

Organic Social Media: One trend that we saw from builders this quarter was a decrease in paid digital marketing spend, across both social media and SEM. Pulling back on spend was intentional due to capped communities that no longer needed as much website traffic, but what was really significant was an increase in organic social media. Compared to Q1 of 2020, our builders saw a 20% increase in new sessions from organic social media. Having a strong, organic social media presence right now is vital to ensure that current homebuyers who are waiting for their homes to be built see regular updates about your process, your design center, or even your team! Take this time to invest in enhancing your organic social media presence to drive traffic through new video content, Instagram highlights, or cover photos. 

TikTok: You’ve heard of it, you may not understand it, but we’re recommending you dance on into it! With the #homebuilding hashtag seeing an average of 20.2M views on TikTok, it’s clear that this topic is of interest to users. First-time homebuyers are looking for new home content on this platform, so be sure to share tips on the building process and financing, or use trending topics to tell a new home story. Most of the videos we are seeing are from REALTORS® and people recording the process of building their own home, so there definitely is an opportunity to be an emerging resource! Read Vicky’s TikTok article to learn more. 

Paid Search

Google Ads | Pay-Per-Click & Display: From Q4 to Q1, the biggest trend we’ve seen is a lowered cost of advertising. In Q4, search volume was significantly lower, driving up  cost-per-click (CPC) because there was ultimately less opportunity. This can be attributed to two main factors: the election and holiday season. Things have shifted in Q1 as all metrics provide evidence that volume has increased. Our builder impression share for Q4 was roughly 21% and lowered to below 10% in Q1. This means we were showing up for fewer searches, because more volume became available. 

With greater volume comes more opportunity and lowered advertising costs. A reflection of this was the cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM). Cost-per-click, a metric more pertinent to pay-per-click advertising, went from $1.35 in Q4 to $1.07 in Q1. A lower CPC ultimately means more traffic! For example, let’s say you have $10 to spend a day. If a click costs $2 then you get 5 clicks, but if it costs $1 you get 10 clicks. The same occurred with display advertising and the cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM). Our CPM went from $2.36 in Q4 to $1.74 in Q1.

Google Ads | Policy Changes: Google is making adjustments to the Google Ads platform and removing broad modified match types. Instead, they intend to make phrase match types the more inclusive version of broad match. This is a significant change and will be monitored closely over the next year. Changes began in February 2021 and will become final in July 2021.

You might be saying, “What in the world are match types?” Group Two primarily uses modified-broad match keywords. On our reports, you will see keywords that look like the following: +new +homes +philadelphia +pa. If someone searches ‘new homes philadelphia,’ they will see our ads. In addition, if people search ‘new homes in philadelphia’ or ‘luxury new homes in philadelphia,’ they will also see our ads. This is because the modified keywords allow for variations to be used. All of this will now fall under the phrase match keywords which look more like  ‘new homes in philadelphia.’ Essentially, keywords will no longer include + symbols. 

Group Two will take care of this for our builders. However, it is imperative that builders and intake professionals monitor leads closely. With the change in match types, we will be relying on phrase match keywords more than ever. Though these changes should not heavily affect results, we won’t know without quality assurance after the lead is submitted. Should a lower quality of lead start to occur more often, then let us know and we will take a closer look. Using the search terms report, our extensive negative keywords list, and general best practices, results should improve or remain steady. 


Google Page Experience Update: This algorithm change has been on the radar of SEOs for a while now. Set to launch in May 2021, this update will use metrics from Google’s Web Vitals report as organic ranking factors, including things like website load speed, interactivity, and visual stability. While these elements typically fall under the umbrella of standard SEO, it will be important to keep a close on website performance in the coming months to be sure your website isn’t lagging behind and at risk of dropping in organic ranking positions.

Business Listing Messaging: Direct messaging capabilities have continued to roll out across Google My Business accounts over the past few months. Similar to Facebook Messages, messaging on Google My Business will allow users to reach out to you to connect directly from your business listing in search results! If you have an OSC that handles live chat on your website or Facebook messaging, then GMB messages would be a great tool to opt into. If you don’t have someone dedicated to your chat, and your response time is longer than 24 hours, Google can revoke access to the messaging tool for your listing. Before you opt-in, remember, with great power comes great responsibility!

Passage Ranking: This ranking update from Google plays a role in how the content on your website ranks for specific keywords. With the Passage Ranking updates, individual sections of a piece of content on your website have the opportunity to rank for search results. This provides an excellent opportunity to target secondary keywords that you might not otherwise focus on for an entire piece of content in order to cast a wider net in targeting your site’s organic audience.

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