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Mortgage-Related Trends on Google

googleAlmost one-third of Canadians do all of their mortgage research online, according to CMHC. That indicates how important Google has become to consumers, lenders and mortgage brokers.

To get a better sense of mortgage trends on the world’s biggest search engine, we spoke recently with David Resnick. Resnick is Head of Industry – Financial Services at Google and he offered up some intriguing insights into Google’s mortgage-related searches.

It turns out that mortgages are a red hot topic on Google. “Mortgages are the fastest growing (search) sector in financial services by far,” says Resnick. “The number of Canadian queries related to mortgage products and services is up 60% year-to-date.”

We asked Resnick for his thoughts on a range of topics, including:

Are High-Ranking Brokers Better?

  • Does a high ranking in Google mean a broker is reputable and well qualified?  Resnick says, “Those who have got to the top of Google probably take their line of business quite seriously. But that’s not to say they’re the best mortgage broker out there.”
  • He added: “They’re probably very dedicated to online marketing. I wouldn’t necessarily place more weight on them as a consumer.”

Frequently Searched Terms

  • These are mortgage terms that were heavily-searched in 2012:
    • “Mortgage calculator” (This one overtook the search term “Lady Gaga” earlier this year.)
    • “Mortgage rates”
    • “First-time home buyer”
    • “New mortgage rules” (one of the fastest growing terms this year)
  • The term “BMO 2.99%” saw a major volume spike in January 2012. That coincided with BMO’s headline-making 2.99% mortgage special. Its heavy search volume persisted until March/April, when the promo ended.

Google AdWords

  • Google AdWords is an auction-based pay-per-click advertising service. It “levels the playing field between large and small advertisers,” says Resnick, because advertisers can spend as much or as little as they want, on targeted search terms, with no commitment.
  • Mortgage ads are highly competitive, though not as much as auto insurance advertising, which is the most competitive category of all.
  • The number of consumers searching Google for mortgage information is growing faster than the number of advertisers paying for mortgage ads. Given that AdWords is governed by supply and demand, this has ensured a “very good return on investment” for those buying mortgage keyword ads.

The ranking of an AdWord ad depends on the:

  1. Relevancy of your ad to a user’s search term(s)
    • Click-thru rate is “the most important factor,” says Resnick
  2. “Bid” size (i.e., the amount you’re willing to pay)
  3. Quality of your landing page
  4. Relevancy of the landing page
    • i.e., did visitors stay on the page or leave and come back to Google immediately? Google gives a better relevancy score when visitors hang out on your site for a bit.
  • “Ads that typically do well incorporate mortgage rates or a call to action (like ‘Contact us now’),” says Resnick.
  • 10-20% of all mortgage-related queries are now occurring on mobile devices.

Choosing Keywords

  • Google’s Traffic Estimator predicts how your Google Adwords ad will rank based on what you spend and the keywords you choose
  • Keywords like “best mortgage rates” have many bidders, which isn’t surprising since 86% of those who research mortgages online search for rates. (Source: CMHC)
  • If you’re a broker or lender who has never tried Google AdWords before, here’s a $75 free trial.

#1 Tip for Brokers Wanting to Rank Higher

  • “Make sure you’re doing everything the Webmaster site tells you to do,” says Resnick. Specifically, see these guidelines.

Rob McLister, CMT