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How Service Contractors are Impacted by Coronavirus and What Contractors Should Do to Stay in Business

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The Novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is crushing small businesses in the US and around the world. Schools, universities, government facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, businesses, large and small, all struggling to come out ahead of the virus while making every effort to keep people’s safety the number one priority. However, with every problem, there is an opportunity. 

With extreme measures being implemented such as social distancing and public facilities remaining closed, construction companies or contractors are among the small businesses being impacted the most. 

 

Supply Shortages

Many of US’s construction companies rely on Chinese or Italian made goods and materials, but the Coronavirus has tremendously impacted these countries. Because of government containment efforts, manufacturing in China and Italy has drastically declined due to a reduced labor force, which could mean a slowdown of supply to the market, and even higher material costs. For example, US contractors rely on China for steel, plumbing fixtures, and even cabinets, and on Italy for stone and tiles.

Another challenge is with restrictive travel, construction companies struggle to obtain supplies normally manufactured or shipped from China or Italy, causing them to delay or cancel in their projects.

As the spread of the virus in these countries slows down, production and labor force in factories will pick up, but it will take time.

 

Social Distancing

Contractors also struggle to find work with social distancing measures being implemented. Customers are canceling scheduled jobs with greater frequency. Home or commercial construction and remodeling projects are either being canceled or being placed on hold for these reasons, as well as concerns over a failing economy on the horizon. 

Times are tough for everyone, but there are marketing strategies that can be adopted to best foster growth in the weeks and months to come.

Social Distancing

Strategies to Succeed

In the meantime, what should service contractors do to overcome these tough times? Around this time last year, we had also written an article about surviving the next recession, which is exactly what we are currently facing. The answer, work on a long-term solution that will get your business on the fast track when the crisis subsides, and consider services you can offer in the short-term that will keep your business afloat.

Whether you’re a plumber, handyman, house cleaner, damage restoration expert, or any other contractor, organic SEO is a fantastic marketing option, however, it takes time to see results via a steady stream of leads. It’s a more “long-term” strategy which many don’t have the patience for. However, during tough times like the present, the key to succeeding is having a long term strategy in place, and focus on services you can offer now and promote with a PPC campaign. 

 

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Strategies with Organic SEO: 

Organic SEO is an online marketing strategy used to help your website rank at the top of the search engine results. Some of these strategies include:

  • Mobile First – With over 75% of user searches being performed from their mobile device, it is essential to have a website which is first mobile-friendly. Because of higher percentage of mobile traffic, Google is making sure the search results are more catered to this group of users.

 

  • Keyword Search – When it comes to marketing or lead generation, you don’t want just any traffic to your website. You want traffic which will potentially turn into a real client. In order to optimize the quality of traffic to your website, it is best generated when using long-tailed keywords, since that group of people knows exactly what they want and are looking for. 

 

  • User Experience – User experience refers to how every site visitor interacts with the website which includes the ease of navigating the website, the appearance, the loading speed, the engaging content, and the organization of pertinent information. 

 

  • Link Building – One of the key ranking factors is backlinks, not the quantity, but rather having quality backlinks. Having your business listed on relevant directories, third party sites, and social media channels will always help your website’s visibility. Of these channels, the most effective being an optimized Google My Business listing

 

  • Multimedia – Adding relevant photos, videos, blogs, or other infographics allows visitors to engage more with your site and spend more time on it. With photos and other images, it’s important to include image alt tags so Google understands what the images are trying to display.

 

With the domestic and global economy headed for a major downturn, contractors will be hit the hardest. Job markets and buying power will decline. Substantial layoffs are inevitable. However, it’s only temporary. Once the current situation with the Coronavirus is under control, the economy and job markets will pick up, and when they do, you want to be ready. Start planning now and beginning (or enhancing current) organic SEO efforts. You will be in much better shape in the months ahead when we are back on the rise, and you’ll be more prepared for those leads to start rolling in.

 

Strategies with PPC:

There are some industries that will remain busy in spite of this pandemic, such as damage restoration companies and cleaning contractors. For those in these industries, you may offer unique services which are more prevalent now than ever, in which case, Google Ads or PPC may be right for you. 

For example, although the number of regular carpet and hard surface cleaning jobs have declined, we’re seeing a rise in the number of sanitizing and disinfecting calls that customers are receiving lately. Consider services you are offering that can be done outdoors, away from crowds, that will be least likely hit by a recession and consider a Google Ads campaign to highlight those services. 

Combining short-and long-term strategies will give small businesses the biggest opportunity to weather the difficulties we are facing and position them to surge once the economy and the nation’s health is back on target.

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Data Aggregators and How the Four Major Data Aggregators Are Changing in 2020

What are data aggregators and how will they help me? 

Data aggregators compile information and propagate this data to other directories, citations, and search engines. 

Data aggregation is a fantastic way for businesses to spread their name through the web, accurately and consistently. With NAPW (name, address, phone number, website) consistency being a huge part of SEO rankings, data aggregation is a sure way to assure your listings and citations are being displayed accurately and consistently across the internet.

Who are the four major local data aggregators?

There are four major data aggregators, known as “The Big Four”:

Each of these data aggregators has its own unique function and directories it feeds information to. 

Infogroup:

Infogroup calls each business personally to ensure accuracy of the information provided then feeds information to several directories including these fews displayed below:

Localeze:

Localeze collects and distributes data to other directories with a focus on local searches and location based services such as the few shown below. 

Factual:

Factual is an open data platform that facilitates personalized and contextually relevant mobile experiences. Factual’s real-time data stack builds and maintains data on a global scale, for 65M local businesses and points of interest — in 50 countries.

Link:http://www.localvisibilitysystem.com/2013/09/24/how-to-add-your-business-to-factual/

Acxiom:

Acxiom collects information about a business and sells this information for advertising campaigns such as the handful shown here.

How is The Big Four changing?

Acxiom announced they will be shutting down their local search / directory operations at the end of 2019. So what does this mean for The Big Four? 

Well, what’s great is another key player is being added, Foursquare. Though Foursquare hasn’t been known to be a data aggregator, its recent partnership with AWS Data Exchange will allow it to become a powerful data aggregator, replacing Acxiom beginning January 2020. Foursquare will provide consumers accurate location data which can be purchased through AWS Data Exchange.

In addition, Foursquare’s acquisition of Placed in May of 2019 means that it has so many more media partners such as Twitter and Snapchat. These big brands, along with others, gather data directly from Foursquare. 

Foursquare also has an easy to use mobile app, allowing more businesses to be discovered and more accurate information to be distributed much faster. Because of Foursquare’s location intelligence technology their reach has extended to over a hundred million locations of interest, across 190 countries, making them a key distributor of data through their Places API, and in turn, making them a crucial advertising platform for businesses.

Foursquare’s introduced yet another innovating project, Hypertrending, giving consumers a real time top-down view of how people are spread throughout a city with while showing their location.  https://enterprise.foursquare.com/intersections/article/introducing-hypertrending/

The new Big Four Aggregators of 2020

What does this mean for SEO?

With Foursquare becoming the up and coming social media tool, allowing “check-ins” and shares to their favorite places, while using their latest location intelligence technology and hypertrending, it is expected to be a social media tool consumers will use, share and love. Best of all, because Foursquare has become a trusted, loyal directory, businesses listed on Foursquare get indexed and crawled by Google, improving your SEO.

Listing your business on Foursquare is free, but claiming it and verifying it is a fee of $20. If your business has been around for some time, chances are it may already be listed on Foursquare, but claiming it and verifying it for the $20 will be a worthwhile investment since you will be able to manage your Foursquare listing, ensuring your NAPW is consistent. This is even more worthwhile if you are a brick and mortar business to help generate more foot traffic through its location intelligence technology. 

Best of all, submission to Foursquare through citation services such as BrightLocal and Moz is more cost-effective than submissions to Acxiom. For instance, via BrightLocal, Acxiom submissions cost customers $25 per location, where as Foursquare submissions will cost a mere $15.

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Top Marketing Trends For Local Service Businesses in 2020

Consumer expectations are changing rapidly and marketing technologies are evolving at a fast pace to help businesses meet their customers’ needs and stay ahead of the competition.

It’s not always easy for local service businesses (e.g., painter, plumber, landscaper, house cleaning service) to keep up with all the new marketing trends. What should you focus on in 2020 to get the most from your marketing budget?

In this article, we’ll show you how to expand your reach, build relationships, generate more leads, and increase sales in 2020.

Top Marketing Trends For Local Service Businesses

For local businesses, search engine marketing (SEM) will become more important than ever. Meanwhile, consumers expect a highly relevant customer experience, regardless of how they interact with your business. Here are the key trends you can’t afford to ignore:

 1. Mobile Ads

88% of searchers that look up local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. It’s therefore important that your website shows up on the first page of relevant search engine results.

Mobile PPC ads could be the key to driving significantly more traffic to your website in 2020. You should keep an eye on the new ad formats and features that Google rolls out regularly to help advertisers generate better results. For example, you can create text ads, image ads, and call-only ads to optimize your ROI.

In addition, use Google’s Smart Bidding feature to automate your bids. This machine learning technology leverages various data and signals to help you optimize conversion by adjusting every bid. You can also set up your bids to focus on searches from mobile devices so you can effectively target searchers that are most likely to convert.

2. Voice Search

More than 66 million Americans now own a smart speaker (e.g., Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant,) presenting more opportunities for voice search in the home. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2020, 30% of web browsing — including searches for local services — will become screenless. Not to mention, 75% of smart speaker owners search for local businesses on a weekly basis!

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 Since voice search only presents the top search results, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your website is search engine optimized so it can rank high in relevant searches.

You can increase the chances of getting found on voice searches by writing conversationally, creating content based on commonly asked questions, formatting articles to signal relevance to search engines (e.g., use header tags and bullet points,) using long-tail keywords to minimize competition, and including local keywords in your copy.

3. Social Media Marketing

While social media marketing has been around for a while, user behaviors have changed significantly. Today, you need to create useful content and interact with your audience in a way that will drive engagement, traffic, and conversion.

Post informative and high-value content to build trust and credibility with your audience. Write your posts in conversational tones, focus on establishing a dialogue, and use the platforms to build relationships instead of drive sales.

Visual content, particularly videos, is most effective for engaging an audience. Many platforms now offer a new format — Stories — which allows you to share images or short videos and add hashtags or polls to increase interactivity while fostering relationships with your audience.

Did you know that 82% of consumers read online reviews on local businesses? In addition, among those who do, 97% also read the businesses’ responses to the reviews. The number of people who use reviews to aid their decision-making is only going to increase as more consumers turn to online searches to look for local service providers.

Having great online reviews on third-party sites (e.g., Yelp) is key to building instant credibility that’ll help you attract more leads. To leverage the power of online reviews, take control of your online reputation by:

  • Setting up and completing your online profiles on major review sites.
  • Responding to comments promptly, whether they’re positive or negative.
  • Asking happy clients to leave a review and make it easy for them to do so.
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  • Encouraging reviewers to use their real names and be descriptive in their comments.
  • Share positive reviews on your website and social media.

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5. Marketing Personalization

Consumers expect a customized experience when they interact with brands and service providers. For example, 80% of people are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand that provides personalized experiences.

Thankfully, there are many marketing technologies that will allow you to implement a personalization strategy at scale so you can build relationships, drive conversions, and retain customers at a reasonable cost. For example, you can segment prospects and customers based on their locations or inquiries so you can send the most relevant content and offer via email or targeted ads.

In addition, a centralized customer database (e.g., a CRM system) can help make sure that all information is updated in real-time so you can deliver a cohesive and personalized experience through every channel (e.g., phone, live chat, email.)

6. Live Chat and Chatbots

Consumers want to get the information they need when they need it and many expect live chat as part of the user experience on a website. Live chat, combined with rule-based or AI-driven chatbot technologies, allows you to offer immediate assistance to customers who have simple questions or route the queries to the appropriate team member.

Using chatbots strategically will not only help you lower operating costs but also streamline the customer experience to increase conversion and improve customer satisfaction. To deliver the best experience, make sure you’re setting up the chatbots with your target audience in mind and consider the context of the interaction while keeping the tone on-brand and personal.

It’s also important to identify which processes should be automated and what queries should be directed to a human agent right away to minimize delays and frustrations that could impact the customer experience.

Final Thoughts: It’s All About the Customer Experience

The top marketing trends in 2020 will focus on delivering a seamless and cohesive experience during the entire customer journey — starting from search and social media content through customers’ interaction with your company through various channels.

Getting found by high-quality prospects via search and making sure they’re directed to a high-converting website that offers clear navigation, valuable content, and engaging experience is the key to generating more leads.

In addition, with an outstanding website experience that’s coherent with your PPC strategy, you can increases engagement, signal relevance to search engines, improve your SEO ranking, and drive more high-quality traffic — creating a virtuous cycle that will keep on giving!

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How To Grow Your Roofing Business Fast With Google Ads

Google Ads is one of the best ways to generate a lot of leads for your local roofing business quickly. In fact, 63.7% of local businesses say that paid search is either “very important” or “somewhat important” to their marketing.

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You may wonder, “How much does it cost to generate roofing leads with Google Ads? Is it worth the investment?”

Google Ads is priced like an auction. The going rate depends on your competition. In 2019, we generated roofing leads in volume via Google Ads at $40 to $120 per lead.

Although Google Ads can get competitive, don’t be intimidated by the cost!

When you drive your conversion rate higher and higher, the lead cost goes lower and lower. For example, you can maximize your ROI by using superior targeting, compelling ad copy, and highly relevant landing pages optimized for conversion.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of using Google Ads for roofing contractors and how to leverage the advertising platform to attract high-quality traffic that will turn into customers.

Why Use Google Ads To Promote Your Roofing Business

Over the years, Google has taken steps to maximize the performance of Google Ads, which can generate far more leads per day than organic search results (SEO). Combined with a high-converting website that turns visitors into customers, you can increase the ROI and make Google Ads quite affordable.

It’s also easy to get started with Google Ads since you can adjust the ad spend based on your budget. This allows you to adapt your bidding strategy to optimize the resources you have available.

In addition, the leads you get are exclusive – meaning that prospects will call you directly. Unlike a lead generation platform from which you’d purchase “shared leads” (e.g., HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, CraftJack), the competition is lower and you’re more likely to win the business.

Without the middleman, you keep most of the profits. You can also track your close rate and the effectiveness of your advertising strategy much more easily and gather meaningful metrics to improve results.

The Bonus SEO Benefit Of Using Google Ads

Boosting your website’s SEO is the best long-term strategy for driving low-cost high-quality traffic to your site. However, it often takes 6-12 months to build up your domain’s “SEO juice” if you depend on organic search results alone.

Google Ads can help drive traffic to your website right away while indirectly increasingly your free organic leads. How?

Google’s database keeps track of hundreds of factors on billions of things, including your business. It knows how often people search for your business. It can even gauge how relevant and helpful your website is based on the way users interact with your content and how long they stay on your site.

Google’s algorithm “likes” businesses that people search for, links that they click on, and websites on which they spend time because these are all signals that indicate the relevance and usefulness of a site.

When you use Google Ads to propel your site to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs,) you’ll be attracting more attention. People will see your ad and Google your business directly.

When Google sees that your business is being actively search for, you get “bonus points” that will move your business higher in organic search results. In turn, you’ll get more clicks that signal relevance to Google, so your site will move even higher in rankings. The virtuous cycle continues, helping you dominate the first page of Google.

Showing up multiple times and consistently on search results can also help you build brand awareness. After consumers see your business name a few times, your brand becomes familiar. This helps you build trust and makes people more likely to click on your free organic links that may be lower on the page.

How To Use Google Ads Effectively To Grow Your Roofing Business

Google Ads can get competitive and the cost per lead can be expensive for roofing contractors. In order to maximize profits, you need to generate the highest-quality leads and maximize the conversion rate. Here’s how:

Expand Your Service Area

One reason why Google Ads can be so effective for local service businesses is that it gives you the ability to target a highly-specific local audience that uses high-intent search terms. As a result, you only pay for clicks from searchers located in your area and are most likely to engage the service of a roofing contractor right away.

To increase the number of qualified prospects, expand your service area to cover a larger geographic location. The bigger your market, the more people will see your ad and the more opportunities you can get.

Build a High-Converting Website

What searchers see after they click on your ad can determine if they’d further interact with your business, e.g., by requesting a quote. Your landing page(s) should be optimized so they’re coherent with the ad copy to deliver a consistent user experience that will build trust and increase engagement.

In addition, optimize your entire website for conversion. For example, by making it easy for visitors to get in touch or request a quote. This can help you maximize the ROI for every click and improve your profitability.

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There are many moving parts when it comes to building a high-converting website but the good news is that you don’t have to do it all on your own. Many reputable Google Ads services include a conversion-optimized website as part of their packages to help you get the most out of your ad dollars.

Optimize Your Site For Inbound Leads

Consumers don’t want to get calls from pushy salespeople. Instead, they prefer companies that are helpful, listen to their needs, and solve their problems. They also want to have control over how they interact with a business – some of them prefer to call while others want to fill out a web form or send an email.

As such, your website should provide visitors with multiple ways to interact with your business. For instance, by making it easy for visitors to find your contact information, fill out a web form to request a quote, or get in touch using the tap-to-call features on mobile devices.

Work With a PPC Agency

Working with a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) agency can help you get results fast because it has the expertise to quickly optimize your ad campaigns while helping you shorten the learning curve. Not to mention, Google updates its algorithm often and an agency has the resources to continuously adjust your campaigns to achieve the best results.

Look for a PPC agency that understands the roofing industry and has a track record working with roofing contractors. It should also be transparent about your ad spend and how the agency fee structure works – if an agency that doesn’t tell you what its “cut” is, you’d very likely be overpaying.

Achieve Fast Results With Google Ads

To quickly achieve substantial results with Google Ads, you should be ready to spend at least $1,000 every month. You can start lower, but the resulting lead flow will be slower and less consistent.

Also, you need to be willing and ready to maximize the channel by increasing your ad spend as the lead volume increases and the lead costs decrease.

How many new roofing leads do you want in a day? Whether your answer is one, two, five, ten, or twenty, the right Google Ads strategy can make it happen.

Do keep in mind that it may take a few months to gain traction, fine-tune your tactics, and hit your target level – but with a large enough target market, Google Ads can get you as many leads as you can handle and in a fairly short amount of time.

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Should I Manage Google Ads Myself Or Hire a PPC Agency?

With 86% of consumers using the internet to find a local business, there’s no question that you need to appear on relevant search engine results. It’s the key to getting your local service business found by more potential clients.

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To dominate the first page of Google search results, you need to implement a combination of SEO and PPC tactics so you can increase visibility and capture prospects’ attention.

If you’re like most local business owners, you have probably considered running Google Ads. However, what’s the best way to go about it?

Should you go the DIY route or hire a PPC agency?

This article will look at the pros and cons of each option, show you the tools for managing Google Ads yourself, discuss a few pointers for hiring a PPC agency, and share our unique, from-the-trenches perspective on how you should decide if the DIY route is right for you.

Should You Manage Google Ads Yourself?

Many local service professionals wear many hats but should you take on managing Google Ads yourself?

Pros of Managing Google Ads In-House

  • Without ad management overhead costs, you can dedicate 100% of your advertising budget to ads.
  • You have complete control over your campaigns, including copy, keywords, and bidding strategy.
  • You can learn about the platform as you run the campaigns and gain more insights into your audience.

Cons of Managing Google Ads In-House

  • Running Google Ads successfully takes a lot of time, diverting your attention from servicing your customers.
  • You or your team may get spread too thin, which can cause issues in other areas of the business.
  • There’s a steep learning curve so if you haven’t used Google Ads before, you’d likely be spending a good amount of your budget on trial-and-error.
  • Technical ability required for maximum results

Tools You Need To Manage Google Ads Yourself

Using the right tools can help you manage Google Ads cost-effectively and here are a few essentials:

  • Google Ads’ built-in “Ad Rotation” feature and “Responsive Ads” to help you understand what ad copy and combinations of ad copy components works and what doesn’t.
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  • A/B testing tools (e.g. Optimizely, Unbounce, etc.) to help you fine-tune landing pages and increase conversion.
  • Google Keyword Planner to help you identify the best keywords for your bidding strategy.
  • Competitive research tools (e.g., iSpionage) that allow you to “spy” on your competitors to see what keywords are working for them.
  • Google Analytics to help you track traffic and landing pages performance after searchers come to your website. You can use the information to improve conversion and increase ROI.


Should You Hire a PPC Agency?

Hiring an agency can relieve your workload but what are the downsides?

Pros of Hiring an Agency To Manage Google Ads

  • Google Ads is a complex platform that requires in-depth knowledge to achieve a good ROI. Hiring an agency gives you access to experts who are up-to-date with the latest algorithms and strategies.
  • You don’t have to spend hours managing your ads so you can focus on servicing your customers and generating revenue.
  • Agencies have access to a variety of tools for tracking the effectiveness of your ads and optimizing their ROI.
  • Many agencies get “agency perks,” such as early access to beta programs and faster support from Google, to help you get the most out of the platform.

Cons of Hiring an Agency To Manage Google Ads

  • The process may lack the transparency you desire to keep track of your marketing effort and understand what works for your market.
  • You may not have instant control of your ad campaigns.
  • You have to pay the agency’s fee on top of the costs of running the ads.

What To Look For When Hiring a PPC Agency

If you decide to work with an agency, here’s how to find one that’s right for your business:

  • Seek out an agency with experience working with local service professionals in your industry.
  • Ask about the KPIs they use for tracking the campaigns’ effectiveness. These metrics should focus on driving conversion and increasing profitability.
  • Get the “A-team” by asking about the specific experience of your account manager and interviewing those who will be managing your ads.
  • Inquire about the pricing structure to see if the cost makes sense for your budget and avoid unpleasant surprises.
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  • Do some research about the agency, look for third-party reviews from clients similar to you, and talk to a few clients to ensure its service is a good fit for your needs.


Are You Cut Out To Manage Your Own Google Ads Campaigns?

Even after weighing all the pros and cons, you may still be on the fence. Here’s our honest opinion after years in the trenches on whether you should go the DIY route:

Running successful Google Ads campaigns requires a balanced combination of knowledge, experience, effort, and marketing savvy.

You need to know what to do and how to do it. You need to invest the time, patience, and resources to implement the strategy while having the ability to create, analyze, and experiment so you can optimize results.

Also, managing Google Ads is an on-going effort. You need to be constantly monitoring and tweaking your campaigns to respond to market conditions. As such, you should only run Google Ads yourself if you truly enjoy the process and have what it takes to succeed: time, effort, money, creativity, and luck.

Time and Effort

It can easily take a year to get the hang of running Google Ads. Even though it’s easy to pass the Google Ads certification exam, studying for it doesn’t teach you the ins and outs of marketing effectively to your target audience.

For example, while it’s relatively easy to find out what keywords to target, you won’t know which negative keywords to include in your campaigns – so you don’t have to pay for clicks that don’t convert – until you have run the ads and analyzed the results from the campaigns.

The only way to learn what works and what doesn’t for your market is trial-and-error, which requires substantial investment in time and effort.

Money

Trial-and-error also means that you will make mistakes, which costs money. Every click that doesn’t yield new business is wasted ad spend and it takes time to dial in your strategy so you can get the most from your ad budget.

For example, to maximize your ROI, you need to figure out what keywords get you the highest quality leads and what keywords are attracting clicks that don’t turn into customers. This information often comes from analyzing your results over time before you can refine the campaigns with a list of effective negative keywords.

Creativity

For any ad campaigns to yield the best results, you need to write good copy that gets the right people to click the ad. But that’s just the beginning!

When prospects click on your ad, they go to your website. You’ll need a landing page with relevant copy and design optimized to drive conversion (e.g., filling out a form to request a quote or making a phone call). You also need a high-quality website that projects a professional image to foster trust and build credibility.

Getting all these set up requires experience and knowledge in web design and copywriting, not to mention the right mix of creativity to create an on-brand experience that’ll attract the right leads to your business.

Luck

When you’re getting started with Google Ads, it can be expensive (i.e. high cost per lead). Trying to figure out what works can feel like rolling the dice and the cost of bad clicks can add up fast.

If you’re lucky, you may hit the right target audience and keywords on your first try… clicks convert into business. Otherwise, you may not see much other than a click charge.

You have to be ready to roll with the punches. You also need to be patient because success is measured over a month or more so you can collect enough data to fine-tune your tactics.

Getting Started With Running Your Own Google Ads

If you have what it takes to run your own campaigns but you’re just getting started, you may not have a conversion-optimized website ready. However, don’t wait! The sooner you start running campaigns, the sooner you can learn about the platform and your market.

You can use Google’s Call-Only ads. They only work on smartphones but clickers usually become callers. This often results in a high conversion rate, which is key to maximizing your ROI.

While the amount of traffic produced by Call-Only ads is small, it’s one of the best ways to get started with Google Ads. It keeps your burn rate low and ROI high.

Once you are successful with Call-Only ads and want to generate more business, you’ll need to create a website. Start with a single page that’s highly relevant to and consistent with your ad content, to which you can send the ad traffic.

When you start collecting data, you can make improvements based on the analytics. Keep in mind that optimizing your landing page will take some time and effort so don’t give up too soon. A/B testing is the best way to find out what really works for your business – some tweaks you think would work may not while others may surprise you!


And the Verdict is…

There are pros and cons associated with running your own Google Ads vs. hiring a PPC agency. You should evaluate your budget and requirements to find a solution that works best for your local service business.

While going the DIY route may be tempting thanks to the initial savings, you should only do so if you have a creative and marketing knack. Otherwise, you could be spending a lot of time and money on trial-and-error and still find yourself at the bottom of the learning curve!

For many business owners, working with a PPC agency can often lead to higher ROI over time since you can yield better results at a lower cost. Not to mention, it can free up your time so you can focus on delivering outstanding service to all the clients you have generated with your ads!

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How To Use Google Ads For Your Local Service Business

Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are on local information while 88% of people who search for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours?

As a local service business (e.g., painter, plumber, electrician, house cleaning service, landscaper, etc) you can’t afford to ignore the power of local SEO.

While using high-quality content to boost your SEO is the most cost-effective way to improve search engine ranking and drive website traffic in the long-term, it takes time for any content marketing strategy to yield results.

What can you do if you want traffic (and clients!) right now?

Thankfully, you don’t have to look further than Google Ads.

It essentially allows you to cut the line and jump to the top positions on Google search results quickly if you do it right.

Ready to use Google Ads to attract more leads to your local service business? Here’s what you need to know.

Why Use Google Ads For Your Local Service Business

First thing first… why Google Ads? Here are the benefits of using Google Ads to promote your local service business:

Most people search for a local business when the need arises – that means they’re ready to hire a service provider immediately. Google Ads allows you to get found by these prospects at the right time by targeting keywords with high purchase intent.

The last thing you want is to pay for traffic from people who don’t live in your service area! Google Ads allow you to set a target audience based on location so you only pay for clicks from searchers that are living in your area.

In addition, you can leverage ad extensions to show searchers more information about your business (e.g., address, phone number, ratings) while increasing the “real estate” your ads take up at no extra cost to capture the attention of more prospects.

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Google Ads also allows you to retarget visitors and drive them back to your website if they didn’t convert on their first visits. Besides boosting conversion, this can help you increase brand awareness and stay top of mind.

As a local service provider, the next step for prospects to engage with your business is likely to give you a call and make an appointment. With Google Ads, you can target searchers using mobile devices – making it that much more convenient for prospects to take action so you can increase conversion rates.

Devices view in Google Ads web interface

Furthermore, Google Ads gives you different ways to control your ad budget and how it’s being spent so you can continuously test and refine your tactics without unpleasant surprises.

You can use detailed analytics from Google Ads to measure results and make adjustments. For example, you can track metrics such as traffic to your website, conversion rate, revenue, etc. to make sure that you’re yielding the desired ROI.

Also, Google Ads allow you to import data to see how leads generated online convert offline (e.g., after a phone call) so you can better integrate your digital and brick-and-mortar channels.

Last but not least, paid ads level the playing field by allowing you to become more competitive, especially if you’re relatively new to business and there are more established companies in the area providing similar services.

How Google Ads Works

Google Ads works by “auctioning” keywords – the more demand for a keyword, the higher it costs. When you create an ad, you set a budget and a bid, which indicates how much you’re willing to pay for each click. The higher your bid is, the more likely your ad will get shown to searchers.

Don’t worry, Google won’t run away with your money! If other advertisers are bidding less for the same keywords, Google won’t spend your maximum bid. The algorithm optimizes impressions and bids so you’d likely pay less than the maximum amount, generally only 1¢ more than the next highest bidder, and only when your ad is clicked.

However, it’s not all about the bid. Google also takes the user experience into account and is willing to show ads that are more relevant and of higher quality even if the bid may be lower.

Your bid and whether your ad gets shown is also affected by your account’s quality score, which is a metric that combines several factors to determine how well your offer matches a particular search. Google uses relevancy, click-through-rate, and account history to determine the quality score of your campaigns.

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Besides the budget, you can define a conversion event (e.g., signing up to your email list, requesting a quote) to accurately track your results, adjust the targeting, and fine-tune your bid so you can optimize the ROI.

How To Set Up an Effective Google Ads Campaign

There are many moving parts you need to consider when setting up a Google Ads campaign. Here are some key steps and how you can improve the effectiveness of your ads:

  • Set your goal: tailor your ad based on the results you want to achieve. You should first identify an objective for your campaign, such as getting more calls or taking action on your website (e.g., signing up for your mailing list or filling out a form to request a quote.)
  • Define your audience: for local service businesses, it’s important to target searchers located in your service area (e.g., within a certain radius of your business address). Using location targeting will ensure that your ads are shown to the right people.
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  • Choose an ad format: ad extensions allow you to include additional information in your ads. You can use Google’s automated formatting systems to display information from your website or other relevant third-party content alongside the ads based on your objectives.
  • Select your keywords: to target searchers that are most likely to convert, bid for keywords that are specific to your services and include local terms. Research your competitors and use Google’s Keyword Planner to find the best keywords that balance cost with search volume and competitiveness.
  • Craft compelling copy: create relevant copy that aligns with the keywords you’re bidding for to deliver a cohesive user experience that’ll increase click-through-rate. Make references to local places or events if appropriate to increase relevancy.
  • Set a budget cap: this allows you to maintain control of your ad spend. Google Ads will recommend a budget based on businesses similar to yours and provide estimated results to help you make an informed decision.
  • Create an effective landing page: the quality and relevance of the landing page (i.e., the page to which your ad is linked to) not only affect the quality score but also help deliver a cohesive user experience that will improve conversion. If you’re running multiple ads, you may want to set up a dedicated landing page for each so the content matches the ad copy. Follow these landing page conversion optimization best practices to turn more clicks into customers.
  • Set up conversion tracking: “what gets measured gets done” so make sure you’re tracking the appropriate conversion action based on the objective for each campaign (e.g., website actions, phone calls, offline conversion, local actions.)

Final Thoughts – Maximize Your Results Without the Stress

Google Ads can be intimidating for many small business owners but don’t fret! Here’s how to keep everything in perspective while handling all the moving parts:

  • Start small and set a fixed budget. Test the water and find out what works for you. Even a monthly budget as little as $250 or $500 is sufficient to get the ball rolling. Once you discover what’s effective for your market, you can increase the budget and optimize your results.
  • Keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate things. Google Ads’ interface is complex – it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole and get lost in tinkering with the different features. Instead, start with the basics – for a local service business, that means including local keywords, using ad extensions, setting up location targeting, and creating an effective landing page.
  • Be patient! While Google Ads can be highly cost-effective, it’s not a magic bullet. The majority of advertisers lose money on Google Ads just because they quit too soon. Give your campaigns at least a month to gain traction and yield results. Then review your metrics to optimize the ROI.

Some trial-and-error is par for the course but if you want to shorten the learning curve and get quick results, work with experts who have a track record of running PPC ads for local service businesses and understand the unique requirements. This will allow you to make the most of your ad budget while freeing up your time to do what you do best – servicing your clients and generating more revenue!

Of course, 99 Calls provides expert Google Ads service for local service businesses. Having worked with thousands of service businesses we know the keywords that work and those that don’t. We also provide high converting landing pages (our pages convert at an extremely high 20%-40% depending on the industry…meaning maximum bang for your buck) at no extra charge.

When you are ready to really grow your local service business, consider Google Ads and 99 Calls for high volume lead generation.

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Boost Local SEO With Content Marketing

For most local service businesses (e.g., painters, plumbers, electricians, cleaners, etc.), getting found by high-quality prospects is the key to generating more leads and making more sales cost-effectively.

If you have been tracking your traffic sources or asking your customers how they found you, you’d probably notice that many leads came from online searches.

As such, dialing in your local SEO strategy is instrumental to getting found by more potential customers and generating more business:

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One of the most effective ways of leveraging the power of local SEO is content marketing, which allows you to get found on local searches by prospects that are looking for the exact services you’re offering in your local area – in the right place and at the right time.

Here’s how to boost your local SEO with content marketing:

Optimize For Local Keywords

Start by researching relevant local keywords for which to optimize all of your online content, such as website copy, blog post, online profiles, etc.

You can use a variety of keyword research tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, to identify search terms that are relevant to your business and have high search volume in your target location(s).

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Also, look for locally-relevant phrases, events, news, or trending topics that are most likely used by your prospects in their searches. This will signal to Google that your website is relevant to users in your area and improve your SEO ranking.

Create Relevant and Helpful Content

High-quality content that’s useful to your target audience helps drive traffic and generate engagement, which can improve your SEO ranking. You should also publish fresh content regularly because it signals to search engines that your site is current and relevance.

Having to generate new content week after week may seem intimidating at first. However, if you keep your eyes peeled, there are great topic ideas everywhere you look:

  • Trending or seasonal topics in your area that are related to your services.
  • Your business’s participation in local events and activities.
  • Commonly asked questions about your area of expertise, appropriated into content pieces.
  • Write-up of customer case studies and interviews.
  • Topics that are tangentially related to your business but frequently searched for by your ideal customers.

Structure Your Content For On-Site SEO

Great content won’t achieve the intended results if people aren’t reading it or search engines can’t index it. Here’s how to structure your content for both visitors and search engines:

  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly as more consumers are searching for local businesses on their smartphones and tablets.
  • Incorporate local phrases and locations in your content to signal relevance to both readers and search engines.
  • Format your content pieces so they’re easy to read on all devices. Also, ensure that all images and layouts are displayed correctly.
  • Use schema markup, which is a global standard vocabulary used by search engines to understand website content.

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Implement a Local Link Building Strategy

Publishing a variety of content and sharing it on high-authority websites can build backlinks that will boost your SEO. This will also help you drive more traffic and gain exposure to new audiences. Here are a few ways to build backlinks:

  • Implement a guest posting strategy to generate backlinks from local websites with audiences that overlap with your ideal customers.
  • Identify local businesses that share your target market but aren’t direct competitors. You can guest post on each other’s site and/or cross-promote your content.
  • Claim online local listings, such as Yelp and Google My Business, which allows you to post your links, share updates, boost your credibility, and reach more people.
  • Participate in local online communities, such as Nextdoor, to share relevant content when appropriate.

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Promote Your Content

The most successful content marketers spend 20% of their time producing content and 80% of their time promoting it. Having a content promotion strategy is the key driving traffic and boosting your website’s SEO. Here’s how to effectively distribute your content to a local audience:

  • Share links to your content on your social media updates and use it as a starting point to engage your followers in a conversation.
  • Add social sharing buttons on your website and ask your readers to share the content with their friends and neighbors.
  • Join local groups on social media (e.g., Facebook and LinkedIn) and share links to useful content on your website when appropriate.
  • Seek out media opportunities on local news outlets. For example, by getting featured on local papers’ resident or business spotlights and include a link back to a relevant piece of content on your website.

Final Thoughts

Content marketing is one of the top strategies for improving your search engine ranking so more high-quality prospects can discover your business.

However, it’s not enough just to write something and hit publish. Since 95% of consumers only look at the first page of search results, it’s important that you also invest in the effort to optimize and promote your content so it gets a high ranking.

Although driving traffic is a key benefit of content marketing, don’t overlook the many other benefits of this strategy. A well-crafted piece of content can help you build trust and cultivate relationships with your audience while positioning your business as a relevant and helpful resource so you can stay top-of-mind.

In fact, the best content marketers focus on using content to drive engagement. When search engines see that your visitors are spending time on your website and returning for more information, your SEO ranking will improve automatically.

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How To Be A GREAT Team Player

Every company or organization, small or large, 1rely on solid teams for a positive outcome. For great results, not only does it take good team players, but rather GREAT team players. This is ever more important for smaller companies or organizations. Being a great team player in a small office setting is crucial for the company’s success.

Here are qualities which make a great team player:

  1. Commitment – Good team players will make sure they are where they need to be when expected, but great team players will do this and take it one step further by contributing to the team as much as possible, whether it’s through helping out or making suggestions. Great team players give 110% commitment to the job, not just 100%.
  2. Reliable & Responsible – A good team player will complete their tasks and prioritize accordingly. A great team player will complete their tasks, but with remaining time will assist the rest of the team in completing their tasks as well.
  3. Listen – Listening to others’ questions and concerns, without interruptions, makes you a great team player. Respecting others’ ideas, and considering their views makes a good team a great team.
  4. Inform – Keeping your team informed of opinions, ideas, changes, etc, makes a great team player. Yes, making yourself success is important, but you can’t achieve this without being a great team player.
  5. Respect – You may not agree with other teammates’ ideas, or may not even like another teammate, but it is important to treat your colleagues, or teammates with respect. You receive respect when it is given.
  6. Helpful – Yes, there are times when you have completed your tasks, or when you know how to do something but another teammate doesn’t. Whether in your job description or not, it is important to be willing to help your teammate. After all, you are working as a team, not yourself.
  7. Optimism – Sometimes when you see struggles in the workforce or even your own personal struggles, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Try to take a more optimistic approach to keep your teams’ spirits high as well. Just because of your struggles, don’t boggle the whole team down.
  8. Participates​ – Great team players not only come to meetings on time, but they are active participants. They listen and speak up in discussions. They bring other issues or other feedback to the table.
  9. Flexible​ – Teams deal with constant changes, whether its work-related or staff related. Great team players adapt to these ever-changing scenarios. They don’t complain about a new avenue being pursued, or about a new staff member. Great team players know how to compromise and adapt.
  10. Error​ – Everyone makes mistakes. It’s human nature. But what makes a person stand out is when they own up to their mistakes. For example, if your approach in solving a problem was wrong, but another teammate’s was the better solution, own up to it and admit you were wrong and give your teammate credit for coming up with the better solution.Every person is of course human. Many times insecurity, jealousy, or old habits can 1interfere with teamwork, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide what kind of teammate you would like to be, a good team player, a great team player, or maybe not a team player at all.
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Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

One of the most important keys in SEO is to be sure your NAPW, name, address, phone number and website, are consistent across all online directories. Discrepancies in these would be reason for lower rankings.

Once you’ve verified consistency in NAPW across all channels, you should make sure your Google My Business listing is verified and fully optimized. 

To fully optimize your Google My Business listing:

  1. Get your listing verified – Once your listing is created, be sure to request a postcard from Google, which will be sent out to you with a PIN code. Entering this code on your listing will verify it. 
  1. Complete all pertinent fields – Be sure all the key fields are completed, accurately – Name, address, phone number, website, relevant category, and business hours. 

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  1. Service Area Business – For service area businesses where you serve customers at their location, be sure to set the address field appropriately and complete the areas served by listing all the towns or counties you serve. The address on the public listing will remain hidden and should display a service area served on the map.

14. Phone Number – Use a local phone number on the listing and not a toll-free number. 

5. Photos and Videos – Add high-quality photos of your work to highlight your business and make you stand out from your competition.

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6. Posts – Add a post to make yourself more visible. A post may be a special you’re offering or a highlight of your business. A post will stay active for 7 days unless you specify an expiration date. Within the post, try to use a couple of keywords, and add a relevant, high-quality photo to it.

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7. Short Name – Short names selected are useful so you can add your short name to your business card, making it easier for your customers to find you.

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8. Holiday Hours – When possible, add special holiday business hours to your listing to keep it more accurate.

9. Description – Add a description of your business using keywords and telling you customers a little bit about yourself. You’re allowed 750 characters but only 250 show up in the knowledge panel, so make the first 250 count. 

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10. Services – Specify the services you offer.

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11. Reviews – Try to have your customer leave a review, and respond to the reviews you receive. If negative, respond professionally, trying to resolve your customer’s dissatisfaction. If positive, a simple thank you would suffice.

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12. Q&A – Sometimes someone may ask you a question via your Google My Business listing. Be sure to answer these questions in a timely fashion, showing your customers you care.

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All of these are great ways to fully optimize your Google My Business listing, but one of the most important things to remember once you’ve optimized it is to be sure not to violate any of Google’s policies, which would result in having your listing flagged or suspended, resulting in your listing being removed entirely. Refer to this link to ensure all of Google’s policies have been followed, https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en.

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How To Optimize Conversion For Your Local Service Business’s Landing Page

Are you investing in SEO and PPC ads to promote your local service business and drive traffic to your website? Are website visitors contacting you for a quote or engaging your services?

To make the most of your marketing dollars, you need to turn as many visitors into leads or customers by optimizing the webpage on which they land when they click through your online ads.

Otherwise, you’d be paying for the clicks with little to show for. Here’s where conversion rate optimization (CRO) can help you get the biggest bang for your bucks:

What’s Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

CRO are tactics that encourage website visitors to take an action (e.g., request a quote, sign up for your email list) by designing and modifying certain elements of a webpage. Often, the goal is to turn visitors into leads or customers before they leave the website.

While CRO can be applied to every page on your website, dialing in the landing pages you use for PPC ads has the highest impact in converting online traffic into prospects and customers.

CRO helps you make the most of your existing website traffic sources so you can turn more visitors into customers without increasing your marketing budget.

How To Optimize Conversion On Your Landing Pages

By definition, landing pages are designed to elicit a specific action from visitors. They’re set up to minimize distraction by removing the standard navigation, simplifying footer information, and removing all hyperlinks except the call-to-action (CTA.)

Creating dedicated landing pages that match the messaging and offers on your PPC ads can help maximize results. Optimizing the conversion rate on these landing pages allows you to get the most out of your online ads.

Here’s how to make a landing page work harder for your local service business:

Hone In the Copy and Messaging

Most local business websites are rather generic – they have the essential information and are optimized for relevant keywords but fall short when it comes to making visitors feel that the content is speaking to their needs.

Here’s how to fine-tune your landing pages’ copy and messaging to increase conversion:

  • Ensure that the messaging matches the copy on your ad. For example, if you’re promoting “20% off” in the ad, include the discount in the landing page copy.
  • Mention specific information that’s relevant to the local market or conditions to highlight the relevance of your services.
  • Write a distinctive title that’ll capture the attention of your visitors. Again, include local references if appropriate.
  • Tell the visitors why they should respond to your CTA by highlighting the benefits of doing so.
  • Be succinct – focus on the pain points and desired outcomes of the audience segment you’re targeting on your ads.
  • Incorporate local and long-tail keywords in your copy to signal relevance to both search engines and the visitors.

Direct Attention To the CTA

The purpose of a landing page is to get as many visitors to take the desired action as possible and you can do so by directing attention to the CTA on the page.

Here’s how to make your CTA more appealing to visitors and entice them to respond:

Arrange the landing page’s content to follow the F- or Z-pattern, which is how most people’s eyes travel when reading a webpage. This will guide the readers from the title through the copy and to the CTA.

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  • Use a heat map application to track how visitors interact with your landing page and place your CTA where their eyes naturally go.
  • Use visual elements and images to direct visitors’ gaze to the CTA (e.g., a model looking at the direction of the CTA, a graphic that points toward the CTA.)
  • Use CTA copy that’s relevant to the landing page message and make it action-oriented. For example, if your landing page is aimed at getting visitors to sign up for a video series on DYI house-painting, your CTA text could say, “Learn How To Paint Like a Pro Now.”
  • Experiment with the size and color of the CTA button, which can have a significant impact on the conversion rate.
    • Place the CTA close to the top of the page to minimize scrolling. If you have a long landing page, put another CTA at the bottom so visitors don’t have to scroll back up.

    Optimize For Mobile Experience

    Did you know that 78% of mobile searches for local business information result in a purchase? In fact, mobile-friendliness is now the top priority for local businesses to convert online traffic into leads.

    Here’s how to optimize your landing page for mobile users:

    • Improve page load speed – a 1-second improvement can lead to a 27% increase in conversions! You can do so by using a mobile-first template, optimizing images, and making sure that the code is clean.
    • Include your phone number at the top of the page and add a tap-to-call feature to make it easy for prospects to get in touch.
    • Leverage geo-fencing technology to deliver the most appropriate content and auto-fill function to streamline form submission.
    • Ensure that the page is displayed properly on all browsers and devices. The fonts should be legible and the key information should be shown at the top of the page.
    • Reduce complexity in your CTA to make it easy to take action on the small screen. For example, request only the information you need immediately (e.g., an email address to download a lead magnet) – you can ask for more information later.
    • Remove intrusive pop-ups and interstitials that will not only cause visitors to leave the site but also impact your SEO ranking.

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Consider the Entire Customer Lifecycle

Your landing page is just one component in the buyer’s journey. You also need to consider what happens after visitors have taken the action on your landing page so they’d turn into customers:

  • Set up a lead nurturing email sequence if you use the landing page to capture visitors’ email addresses.
  • Contact prospects immediately if the CTA is to request a quote.
  • Use a tracking phone number for each campaign to deliver a consistent experience (e.g., offering the same promotional package) when visitors call your business.
  • Set up retargeting ads that match the messaging on the landing page to drive visitors that haven’t converted back to your website.

Get the Most Out of Your Online Marketing Budget

Conversion rate optimization strategies can help you increase ROI by making the most of your current market and existing traffic sources.

After you have implemented these CRO tactics for your landing pages, conduct A/B testing to find out what works and what doesn’t for your specific audience so you can fine-tune the copy, page design, and CTA.

Don’t forget to dial in other components of your online marketing strategy – from PPC ads and social media to online review and monthly analytics – so they work together synergistically to optimize results and maximize your marketing ROI.