Tradesmen and other local service businesses that target a local customer base are turning to Google AdWords to reach their prospects and increase leads, enquiries and calls.
Unfortunately for many this is turning out to be an expensive strategy that brings few enquiries and sales because of a number of factors. Average CPC rates have shot through the roof and only a handful of businesses in each sector are truly making a success of it.
With more and more people using Google as a first port of call for Local Services, it is a must to be visible, albeit the challenges it poses can be immense.
The reality is that too few local service businesses get it right and it’s not because competition levels are high. It’s mainly because of a number of avoidable issues that I’ve highlighted below:
If you offer an emergency service like a locksmith for example, it is a must that your ads appear in the top 3 results. You are unlikely to get any meaningful clicks if you rank below that, especially if you are below the Organic results. That means you will have significantly less clicks and conversions and that puts more power in the hands of your competitors.
If your budget is significantly lower than competitors’, you will struggle to make AdWords work for you. In fact, even an average account with a good budget but ads that are not as best optimised as possible will often perform better than an account with a very low budget. It will get more clicks and conversions and that’s because of a wider reach for a range of searches.
Your bid strategy is important too and if you have a specific competitor that is outranking you and therefore getting more clicks and conversions, you should consider using a target outranking share bid strategy
This strategy has proven very effective in many cases and will help you reach 1.0 average positions consistently.
Avoid a Manual bidding strategy
Manual bidding is time consuming and often an ineffective way to reach and maintain top positions on Google. If for example, you have over 100 keywords that you are bidding on and competition levels are high, you will spend a considerable amount of time changing and updating bids just to maintain your positions and that will cost you a lot of money too.
In fact, bidding manually means you are more than likely to miss some opportunities like a keyword that could perform better if it is in a top position. So for many advertisers this is not a good strategy to use especially at the beginning.
It’s best to start with an automated bid strategy like ‘Maximise Clicks’ to get as many clicks as possible for the available budget and then change to a manual bid strategy when the campaign is fully optimised and you know which are your best ads and keywords. You can then adjust accordingly.
However, it may be better to turn to another automated strategy like ‘Maximise Conversions’ to try and get as many conversions as possible for your well optimised ads and keywords.
If on the other hand you do decide to use a manual bidding strategy because you want to be able to change bids yourself, you should consider applying ‘enhanced’ bidding to get more exposure for better performing keywords with an automatic 30% bid increase for good keywords and an automatic 100% bid reduction for keywords that are unlikely to do well for you.
So, if the Adwords system determines that a keyword with a £1 bid would be good for you, it will increase it to £1.30. And if it’s unlikely to perform well, then your ad will not be clicked because the bid will be reduced by 100%.
Use all Ad Extensions
Adding ad extensions has many benefits for your campaigns including:
⁃ you generally rank higher if you add more extensions than competitors and you gain more prominence in the search results. Advertisers that add all variations of extensions, with as much info as possible for each of them are rewarded with higher Ad Rank. You will see this in any search result, with the top listing showing more ad extensions
⁃ It helps to improve Click Through Rate (CTR) as buyers are more likely to click an Ad with a lot more information
So, make sure you include all extensions that make sense for your business. As a local service business the minimum extensions you should have are:
⁃ Call outs
⁃ Location extensions
Usually, sitelinks and call extensions are the first and only ones to be added and the rest are neglected. That is a mistake. You should ad location extensions to provide prospects with map directions, location info and so on.
Callouts are usually left out because users do not understand what part they play. They are not clickable like sitelinks but they help you to highlight or ‘call out’ some important info about your business. For example, a plumbing specialist could callout information like:
⁃ 10 Year Manufacturer Guarantee
⁃ An Accreditation
⁃ Awards (can also be added in review extensions)
Implement a device strategy
Mobile searches are important for local service businesses especially for a customer base that is “On the Go”. For example, a fuel drain service will get the majority of clicks and enquiries from people who are likely at a fuel forecourt and are in need of an emergency service.
However, for many service businesses, conversion rates on PC and desktop will be higher than Mobile and Tablet and this is expected and is often in line with other sectors. ‘Mobile First’ design and marketing is crucial and should be a key part of any business regardless of the sector. Many searchers begin their searches on mobile devices, but complete that journey with a purchase or conversion on a different device at a different time.
How you approach device targeting will depend on a number of factors including historic data which you can find in device reports
So you will then assign bid modifiers to increase or decrease bids based on the performance on those devices. If, desktop traffic has a low conversion rate, you could reduce the bids by 25% to reduce exposure on those devices and increase for mobile if that makes sense.
Allocate sufficient budget
Many advertisers search for their ads on Google and can never seem to understand why they hardly see them. It’s not surprising considering that most advertisers of local services don’t allocate sufficient budgets for their campaigns.
So, the default ‘delivery’ system will spread the budget throughout the day and Ads will only be visible at certain times during the day. That means your ad could be offline most of the time, if for example you are only getting about 20% of all available impressions.
The impression share report will show you how many impressions your campaign is getting and how many it is losing because of a low Ad Rank and a low budget.
Of course I wouldn’t recommend searching for your own ads on google for the following reason:
⁃ you should use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool in AdWords because it shows you what your ad looks like in different locations and lets you know if your ad is not appearing and the reason behind it
⁃ The AdWords system will not show your ads to you because it knows you are the advertiser and are therefore unlikely to click on your own ad.
⁃ You will accrue higher impressions and less clicks which means your CTR will be lower than what it actually could be.
It’s not enough to have a well optimised campaign. You need to also have a sufficient budget to be able to reach a significant number of prospects to make your advertising truly successful.
It’s important to be consistent with your AdWords advertising and be there when your target audience is searching. The temptation is always there to turn off ads when you are busy and that of course is one of the benefits of Adwords advertising and other online marketing channels.
However, what this often does is lead to a future drop in enquiries and sales. Reason being, many people will Search weeks in advance and some of the leads and enquiries you are getting now, would have been from people that have initially searched some weeks before (usually in non-emergency services).
So, be consistent with your advertising and ensure that you are available when your local target market is searching.