Paid Search Engine Marketing for Local Service Companies
An in-depth explanation of “Pay-Per-Click” and “Google Local Services” ads aka “Google Guarantee”
Online search has evolved a great deal in recent years, which of course includes the available options for paid search advertising. Google is not the only search engine in town, but given that they have an almost 90 percent market share in search, we are going to focus on the current Google offerings that will drive traffic, leads, and direct sales to local service businesses, including plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) companies.
What is the difference between Google Ads (Pay-Per-Click or PPC) and Google Local Services (GLS)ads?
Just so we are clear and everyone is on the same page, traditional Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads (or traditional Google ads) are displayed within a search engine to drive traffic to your site.
These are called “Pay-Per-Click” because that is literally what you are doing—a person clicks on an ad that takes them to your website, and you pay for that click.
There is no set price for ads, instead it is similar to an auction where you are bidding on the keywords you want to show up for and determining the price you are willing to pay. This bid is then factored into a formula (which includes things called “ad quality score”) that then determines the actual price you pay. Managing this is no small task, and we frequently see many companies wasting money because of poorly managed Google Ad campaigns.
Google Local Services ads (GLSA), also referred to as the “Google Guarantee,” is the new kid on the block. The concept behind these ads is similar to traditional Pay-Per-Click but with several key differences in functionality and cost.
These Google Local Services ads follow a “Pay-Per-Lead” model, meaning you don’t pay every time someone clicks on the ad or visits your website. You only pay when you receive a phone call directly from the ad to your company. Furthermore, you only pay if this is a person potentially in need of your services.
Another major difference is that Google Local Services ads have a set cost versus traditional Google Ads (Pay-Per-Click) where the complicated bidding process can make the price vary greatly. The price you pay varies from market to market, but the most common price per lead is between $11 and $45 in the home services industry.
What industries can use Google Local Services ads?
As the name suggests, Google Local Services ads are for companies providing local services such plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, HVAC companies, and so on. We are pretty sure Google will evolve these types of ads, but here is a link to the full list of the industries that can currently participate in Google Local Service ads, as organized by US city.
Do I need someone to manage my Google Local Service ads for me?
Google Local Services ads are more tightly controlled than traditional Google Ads and other forms of Pay-Per-Click ads. With a Google Local Services ad, you simply set a budget and let it roll.
Google decides what keywords the ads show up for, when they show up, and in what order the companies will rank. There is really no management other than setting a budget. You absolutely do not need an outside company to manage Google Local Services ads, and you should never pay an annual or monthly fee for Google Local Services ads by itself.
A digital agency can help you set them up, but unlike traditional Google Ads, there is no management needed. We have seen a few agencies that are offering a stand-alone service to manage Google Local Services ads for hundreds of dollars per year.
The BxB view is that this is taking advantage of a company’s lack of knowledge. Unless they are bundling this as part of other services, we recommend avoiding an agency who uses this practice.
What do I need to do to be listed as Google Guaranteed and be eligible to participate in Google Local Services ads?
Google has a specific process to approve a company for Google Local Services ads. This involves background checks for all techs who may answer Google Local Services ads calls, confirmation and approval of licensing and insurance, and the ability to provide a brief company history.
After this is complete, you will then have “Google Guaranteed” status and can run Google Local Services ads. The setup is often where a company will get assistance from an agency like BxB Media, which can be quite helpful if you are unsure about the process.
Are Google Local Services ads effective?
We have clients in the HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and locksmith industries who have had great success with Google Local Services ads. However, when we take into account BxB Media’s experience with hundreds of local service companies across the United States and Canada, we have also seen mixed results. Your location, number of competitors in Google Local Services ads, and time of year (especially in the heating and cooling industry) have a big impact on how effective these ads will be for your company.
Should I sign up for Google Local Services ads and be Google Guaranteed?
One thing we have not mentioned yet is that these ads are visible at the top of the page above traditional Pay-Per-Click ads! This means they hold a premium position. Our opinion is that yes, you should absolutely go through the process to be Google Guaranteed.
You do not need to run ads every month, and you can turn them off and on and set your budget as desired. At BxB Media, we help clients who are in our marketing programs navigate when and how much they should spend on Google Local Services ads.
If you are not utilizing this platform you are missing out—that is not to say it is a magic bullet that will provide all the leads you need. But as a local service company, it is important to have them in your marketing mix.
Let’s circle back to traditional Pay-Per-Click because there are a few different types of ads to be aware of within Google’s standard ad environment.
What are traditional Pay-Per-Click ads?
These types of ads are the kind you are used to seeing within a standard set of desktop search results pages. You see this ad on your computer when you search on Google. These ads can have links to multiple pages within your website and show up on desktop, mobile, and tablet results pages.
Pay-Per-Click ads are good for generating traffic to your website, but for local service companies, they can be challenging to track conversion rates and success metrics. Local service companies tend to have higher cost per click than retail or other industries, and consumer behavior is a more complicated funnel.
This makes it harder and more expensive to trace a click all the way through to a specific phone call or sale. Because of this, we have developed our own process and methodologies to make PPC ads as effective as possible. Both call only and remarketing ads can be very successful when implemented properly.
What are call-only ads?
Mobile call-only ads are ads that are only visible on a mobile device (or device than can make a phone call), and the only clickable action on the ad is to call your business directly. Because these ads don’t send a user to a website, there is no danger of losing them inside the site before they make the call.
These ads provide direct results in the form of phone calls. We can track day and time of calls, as well as the length of call and other factors. Additionally, if you have call tracking and recording, you can then also determine how much revenue each call brought in.
What are remarketing ads?
Have you ever searched for something and then later saw an ad for that same thing or for similar products on another website? Or have you ever visited a site only to then see ads for that company later on at another website? That is an example of remarketing, or “display ads.”
These ads can be even more challenging than traditional Pay-Per-Click when evaluating return on investment, but they are a highly effective way to increase brand awareness. Typically, the cost is VERY low ($0.20) for in comparison to the average traditional Pay-Per-Click that can easily be $10-$50 per click, depending on your industry and market. For a very small budget, you can get a lot of brand exposure across many places of the internet with remarketing ads.
So what is the bottom line of what I need to know about Google PPC?
In summary, paid ads online can be a critical part of your lead generation through search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO). They are simple in concept but can be complicated to execute. Managing ads PROPERLY is a fairly complex process and mishandled can cause you to waste a lot of money fairly quickly.
There are a lot of variables, including time of day, bid amount, location, and industry, in the process, and there can be risks involved. Assistance from a company like BxB Media can help make the process clearer and easier to navigate. Many business owners or an employee can get in and learn the basics but more often than not you will be missing the nuances and experience that it takes to really make PPC campaigns work effectively. If you need more information and are interested in setting up some ads, please reach out to us, and we would be happy to set up a phone call with our Pay-Per-Click team.