Article Focus: Google Adwords PPC for Local Business (Pay Per Click)
Hey guys, it blows me away that many small business owners we talk to still think that high-quality leads and projects “don’t come from internet marketing”. If you are one of these folks, you need to focus on your online presence, because it’s not delivering as many leads for your business as it should. I can make this very bold statement without flinching because we see high quality leads come in day after day for the businesses we work with.
In fact, we saw a lead come through yesterday that’s the perfect example. The husband of a Google executive was looking for an architect to design a custom home on a waterfront property. Would that be considered a “high-quality lead” to you?
In addition to missing out on hot leads, we also see so many businesses wasting money on poor online advertising campaigns that we thought we’d try to help.
Keep reading, and you’ll get a solid understanding of the basic targets you should be hitting with your local online advertising campaigns as you generate high-quality leads for your business. Of course, as always, the devil is in the details. But this should put some serious wind in your sails when evaluating and strategizing your Google online advertising efforts.
Let’s take it from the top!
We suggest using the Google Keyword Planner (link below) since it’s free with a Google account. Log in and enter a few keywords related to your business. Something like “architect+city name” or “kitchen remodeling+city name” or “custom home builder+city name”. Instantly, you’ll get a screen full of keywords and groups that relate to your search.
This will give you an overall idea of search volume and the cost per click to compete for the ad spots on the first page of Google for those keywords. Refine your results by entering your city and others nearby (you might delete the city name from your initial keywords if you do this). Also, add in “negative keywords” in order to remove results you don’t want to see.
You don’t do bathroom remodeling? Add “bathroom” and “bath” into the negative keyword target field. Play with keywords and targets until you have a good sense of the search terms your most relevant prospects are using.
• Google Keyword Planner
Do a little sleuthing. Use these same keywords in actual searches on Google and see what your competitors are doing online. What are they saying in their ads? What do your top competitors have for landing pages? How can your business can differentiate itself from these competitors? Based on what you find out, you might want to reconsider your keyword strategy so you can compete more effectively.
A tool you can use to get even more insight into your competitors is SpyFu.com, a leader in Google PPC competitive analysis. Just plug in your competitors’ domain names to get an idea of which keywords they’re going after and how much they’re spending to get them.
• Google Search Results Pages (SERPs)
Now that you have some keyword ideas and competitive research under your belt, it’s time to see where and how you can compete. If you have a smaller budget, focus on a narrower geographical or specialty area, or a shorter list of keywords. Where can you dominate just by narrowing your focus? Your goal is to convert as many folks as possible, so you need to come in strong with a solid and unique approach that sets you apart from the crowd.
Also, run some calculations to get a rough idea of what your budget should be. This calculation is simple. Just add up the monthly keyword volume in the area you are focusing on, find the average click cost across the keywords, then plug in your conversion rate. Try starting with 2% and go from there. You should do better than 2%, but it’s a starting point. Now you have an idea of what it might cost to go after your desired keywords all month to yield a 2% conversion rate.
• What’s it going to cost? Calculating a rough PPC budget.
• Choosing keywords and geo-targeting
Differentiation and USP
Now let’s focus in on how to differentiate your business. In order to make Google advertising really work, or really any marketing for that matter, you need to stand out from the crowd. What makes you different should be instantly and clearly obvious to your ideal prospects! You need to do everything you possibly can to make a powerfully positive impression in as few seconds as possible. Online, you only have a moment to make a lasting impression. If you present who you are and why you’re different quickly and clearly, you get the click or the call and you stick in their mind. Especially for local businesses, buyers are already sold on making a purchase – the only question remaining is who they’ll buy from. If they are searching for the products and services you sell, they already know they want to buy – whether it’s a remodel, a new sink, a great tax guy, or whatever you sell. Your job is making the buying decision easy for them – they’d be crazy to go anywhere but to you.
This is why making your differentiation shine is so important. If there isn’t a clear difference in the shopper’s mind, price becomes the deciding factor. When what makes your business the superior option is crystal clear, “perceived value” becomes the deciding factor. This is why it’s critical to know your core difference and make sure prospects understand it.
This might not be as hard as you think. If you’ve got glowing client testimonials and beautiful photos of completed projects, you can wow your prospects just by showing the quality difference they can expect when they hire you. You want to give your prospects the sort of credible information about what they can expect from working with you that they sell themselves on hiring you. Do this well, and you’ll cement a lasting impression in your prospect’s imagination, which increases their perception of your value along with their desire to work with you. Your competitors won’t stand a chance.
• Article at the Duct Tape Marketing blog titled: “Nobody Talks About Boring Businesses”
• Standing out in your ads and the SERPs
• Thinking about landing pages
Google Adwords is nothing if not complex. There’s no way to really simplify it, but here are some you need to know about Google Adwords.
Campaigns: You can control your budget on a campaign level, so you may want to organize a few campaigns instead of just one. Think about geo-targeting as well. You can only have one geo-targeted footprint per campaign, so if you want to control the budget over different areas separately, then make individual campaigns. Also, different services of yours may require different campaigns in order to control budget including seasonal services. Inside your campaigns, you will have ad groups based around specific keywords or closely related groups of keywords where you will write at least two ad copy options to test. You might have an ad group for “kitchen remodeling” and another for “kitchen and bath remodeling”. The details depend on your priorities, services, and how the keyword research pans out in your area.
Keep in mind that Google makes its money through Adwords and advertising. So, many of the default settings Google suggests may drain your account faster than if you customize your settings. It’s a complex subject, but keep this pitfall in mind if you are going it alone.
In each campaign and in each ad group you need to use negative keywords. Negative keywords will prevent folks from seeing your ads who also include one of your negative keywords in their search. So if someone searches on “bathroom remodeling jobs” and you don’t do bathrooms, you don’t want to pay for them to click on your ad. Managing your negatives is a key aspect of successful campaigns and will sharpen the focus of your efforts. Looking at your keyword reports over time will help you add negatives that you may not have thought of originally. This is one aspect of “optimizing your account” that never ends.
Writing Ads and Testing: We find that writing the ads is the most critical element behind the success of a campaign. You need to write some really compelling copy in a very limited number of characters. Make sure the promise you are making to that user in your ad is the best one you can make and is written in a compelling way to get them to click and not be disappointed when they arrive on your landing page. Also, consider adding extensions to your local ads. This is where you need to really stand out from your competitors. You can add your address, phone number, more links to your site and other elements to your ad to take up more room on the page and provide a better option to your prospects. Keep in mind that you can cycle the ads you create through Google so you can see real numbers on how your ads are performing in relation to each other. You will choose the best and discard the losers and keep optimizing over time. It’s not “set it and forget it”, it’s “continually optimizing”.
• Campaign architecture
• Keyword targeting
• Negative keywords
• Writing ad variations
• The testing mindset
Landing Pages and Websites
What is a landing page? A landing page is typically where you drive paid advertising clicks. You want to send them to a page that is perfectly relevant to the search they just did. This is better for the user and better for you when it comes to converting searchers into customers. Highly relevant pages also cut your price per click with Google because it’s how you increase your Quality Score. Google actually looks at your landing pages, ads, and the interactions people have with them to determine your Quality Score. With a high score, you may pay less to show up higher in the results than someone who is paying more per click. The potential savings are worth making some serious efforts on your landing pages.
As a rough guideline, each ad group should point to the most relevant page you have. If someone has searched on “kitchen remodel company in Timbuktu” your best bet would be to send that person to a page all about kitchen remodeling in Timbuktu. If you don’t have a pages that address such specific searches, you should consider building them before running your ads.
Yes, this means more content development for your site, but it’s exactly what you should do. Each page you create also doubles as a page you can optimize for organic rankings on those same keywords. To be cost efficient, create landing pages that are optimized to work for organic search and as landing pages for your PPC campaigns. We find this works especially well in the construction and building niches.
Each page should include specific geographical areas served, and including a map can help a lot as well. Your phone number should show up in a prominent spot, and you’ll do even better if prospects can just click to call on their mobile. Include customer reviews, pictures of your business location, and most importantly, content that positions your business as the obvious choice for your prospect. Don’t be pushy or salesy, though. You want to strike a balance between great content and compelling your prospects to take the next step. People are sharp, especially high-end prospects, so don’t be too focused on sales or they will click away (and to your competitors) in the blink of an eye. Give them great information about how you actually operate and how your approach is unique in your industry; that’s what makes the difference between success and watching your competitors take all your prospects. Creating effective landing pages is a complex subject, but these are the pillars you will need to start as you turn your site into a business-generating asset.
• Using landing pages
• Optimizing for local conversions
Remarketing for Local Businesses
If you are going to spend money driving traffic to your site, you need to consider remarketing. It is simply an extra tool to be able to run graphic display ads to folks who have visited your site or even a specific page on your site. So when they leave your site they will occasionally see a reminder ad graphic from you on other sites they visit. You have probably experienced this before from Amazon and other online retailers. It’s a great way to remind folks of their visit to your site and to encourage them to re-engage with your business.
Remarketing is a relatively simple and affordable tactic that helps close the loop on conversions in your online advertising and marketing campaigns. Make sure remarketing has a place in your Google budget or you are leaving money on the table.
• Make sure you are using remarketing
Tracking & Analytics
Finally, you need to know what’s working and what’s not. Anything that isn’t working needs to be fixed or or killed. It’s that simple. Online marketing works when you follow the above guidelines, but getting the formula right takes time and effort and knowing how to track and assess the information.
First, make sure you have a Google Analytics account you can access and that the code is installed and working on your site. Now you can log into Google Analytics and see what’s going on with your site traffic.
Since we’re running Google Adwords it’s critical to enable conversion tracking. It’s best to include a value on your conversions so you can determine which ads are profitable and which are not. Knowing the dollar of your business leads is critical for determining how well your Adwords ads convert.
Does your business field a lot of calls from your ads? You need to be able to track those calls! Be sure to use a tracking number service that provides Dynamic Number Insertion so you can track your calls effectively. What DNI does is change the number on your site depending on the source of the traffic. Prospects who come from Adwords will see one number; prospects who come from Google organic or local will see another. You can even use tracking numbers for offline promotions as well. The reason DNI is critical is that you still need your true local number to be seen by Google in order to maintain a credible online presence.
Without DNI, you are hurting your ability to rank in Google organically and in local, so make sure this is a part of any call tracking you are doing on your website.
When looking at your Google analytics, here’s what you need to check. Notice your overall visitors, bounce rate, time on site, and pages visited. Then go into Acquisition, All Traffic, and Channels for an overall view of traffic sources. You should also tie your Adwords and Analytics accounts together in order to see Adwords traffic under the Adwords menu. If you are doing SEO, which you should, you will tie in your Google Search Console account to see more valuable data under the Search Engine Optimization tab. Make sure to set up your conversions in Adwords and you will see them directly in the Adwords interface. This information is invaluable as you make tweaks to your campaign.
This is just a quick overview of some of the analytics you should be setting up to track things effectively. One other tool we like in Google Analytics is under Behavior (in-Page Analytics). This tool will let you see your actual site with a graphic overlay of percentages of the folks who have clicked on the different buttons and links you are providing on your site. This will give you some great information on behaviors and what people are engaging with and how you might test changes to get people to do what you are striving for.
It’s certainly not casual reading, but the more you know about analytics and tracking, the more you will be able to drive your business to better profitability!
• Using Google Analytics
• Set up conversion tracking in Adwords
• Using a tracking number with Dynamic Insertion
Hope you find this post useful. We’ve tried to give a high level walk-through while at the same time adding in the key tactics you will need to have in place for lasting success. The most important thing to remember in your online advertising strategy is to understand that “yes” you can make Adwords work for your business. The question is if you will follow through and test enough to prove your ROI.
If you’re going for high-end clients you need to be targeting the right keywords with a great hook then follow through on your website with a better experience and content than your competitors offer. If you stick to it and follow the guidelines above, you will be on the right track to building a consistent and predictable stream of profitable leads into your business.
Happy hunting and good luck!