Google Adwords vs. ILS – What Do I Choose?


Communities looking to drive traffic and leads are using 1, 2 or as many as 3 Internet listing services (ILS) like

These services are costly producing average to mediocre results. It’s rare we hear a community raving about the number of quality leads they’re getting from an ILS.

How are they working for you?

Google Adwords for Apartment vs. ILS

As a place to invest your marketing dollars, you have to ask the question:

Is there a better use of my money?

The big thing ILS’s have going for them is they have massive amounts of traffic. Apartment hunters are using their sites to start their search and also to compare properties.

If you step back and look at how an ILS is getting traffic, it’s coming in 3 ways:

#1 Paid – They use Google Adwords to drive paid ads to their website.

ILS using Google Adwords


#2 Organic – Google tends to favor these big brands with first page rankings. Check out these organic first page results below for the keyword “Apartments in Tucson.”

Organic ILS Results


#3 Direct – For sites like they benefit from brand recognition and people are searching their particular brand name or typing their url directly in their browser.

Google Direct Traffic

If the ILS’s are spending tons of money using Google Adwords to send paid traffic to their websites, then it must be working.

Unfortunately, that paid traffic that hits their websites, dilutes your results.


Because you’re lumped in there, right next to your competitor.

Just like the yellow pages.

This is what’s giving you that mediocre lead quality. You have really no clear way to stand out on an ILS besides having incredible photos, good text and or giving them more money.

My argument to you is why wouldn’t you just run Google Adwords to your own communities?

Google Adwords for Apartments1-1

#1 – This allows you to put your website at the top of Google search results for apartment hunters looking for exactly what you have to offer.

#2 – Your awesome apartment website then does the trick of converting them into a lead vs. you having to rely on the ILS.

#3 – On your website the prospect is exposed to a lot more information surrounding your community. This will deeper qualify your leads, therefore improving your results.

Targeting Options Google Adwords

The last thing we’re forgetting is our targeting options available within Google Adwords. This allows us to:

  1. Geo-target based on your location
  2. Retarget previous website visitors
  3. Deep target by audience interests (ie. People interested in apartments) with our search and display ads

Wrapping Up & What You Should Do Next:

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of doing what everyone else is doing. Handing your marketing dollars over to an ILS. I’m sure they’ll be happy you did.

Instead consider becoming a better digital marketer. Test Google Adwords for at least 90 days and compare the results against any ILS you’re investing in. Then keep the better performing source. Or if budget allows, keep both if they’re moving your occupancy in the right direction.

Remember, with Adwords you get to control the budget. Invest more when you need more traffic, spend less when you need little.


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Written by Josh Grillo

Josh Grillo is a #1 Best Selling Author, Speaker and Co-Founder of Resident360.

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