Lead Generation for Rural Businesses

Google Guaranteed produces quality leads at low prices in less competitive and rural locations

by Dipa Gandhi

Over the last few years, Local Service Ads (LSA), otherwise known as Google Guaranteed, has gained popularity among service area businesses such as plumbers, house cleaners, carpet cleaners, and others. The service was launched on a trial basis for select industries in select cities in 2015. Since then, the team at 99 Calls has learned the ins and outs of LSA creation and optimization and provides it as a low cost lead service option.

In 2019, we published a blog about how businesses can gain more clients through LSA. This blog describes how the Google Guaranteed Ads are shown at the very top of the search results, which helps local businesses stand out, attract more customers, and build trust and credibility.

After creating and managing LSAs for many of our clients through the years, the team has mastered Google LSA. We recently published a case study on 3 of our clients, in 3 different industries showing how LSAs helped their business.

Though LSA’s popularity has grown nationwide, it is not yet available to all regions of the US and has not gained popularity in certain regions.

How LSAs Can Help Rural Businesses

So now let’s see how LSAs can help those service area businesses in rural areas or in areas where LSAs haven’t quite yet gained popularity. Let’s take a look at an example. When you Google search “house cleaning in Tampa FL”, the search results are:

The results display 33 active LSAs, meaning the competition is quite steep and will require a well-optimized LSA with a healthy budget and plenty of reviews, and many months to potentially climb to one of the top 3 positions.

On the other hand, when you Google search “house cleaning in Prattville, AL”, the results are:

Then when you click on “more house cleaners in Prattville” you see there’s only 1 active LSA with the Google Guaranteed badge currently running in the Prattville, AL area, meaning competition for the top 3 positions is extremely low. A cleaning business with a small marketing budget stands an excellent chance here of generating low-cost leads.

If a new house cleaning company were to start an LSA campaign and get it completely verified with the Google Guaranteed badge, that business is guaranteed to show up in the top 3 spots on the 1st page of the search results.

If you own a service area business in a rural area, building a Google Guaranteed campaign now would be a smart way to invest marketing dollars. Your chances of attaining a position in one of the top 3 spots in the search results are excellent. Google Guaranteed can help your service area business stand out, attract more customers, and build trust and credibility. And even more importantly, can provide an excellent ROI on your marketing budget, as leads generated through LSA are often far less expensive than through Google Ads Pay Per Click campaigns.


Do Domain Names and Business Names Affect Rankings?

In what ways do the names of your URL and your business impact website rankings for local search results?

by Dipa Gandhi

There are a lot of factors that can affect how well your website ranks in search engine results pages (SERPs). One debated topic in the SEO world is whether or not the domain name is a ranking factor. While many people believe that having a domain name that contains relevant keywords can help improve your SEO, there is no concrete evidence to support this claim. In fact, it’s more likely that your company name is a stronger ranking factor than your domain name.

Top Reasons Why Domain Names Don’t Matter

One reason why domain names may not be a significant ranking factor is that Google’s algorithms have become much more sophisticated over the years. In the early days of SEO, it was common practice to stuff keywords into domain names in order to improve rankings. However, this tactic is likely to result in penalties rather than improved rankings.

Another reason why domain names may not be a major ranking factor is that Google is more interested in providing users with high-quality, content-rich websites rather than keyword-rich domain names. While having a domain name that accurately reflects your business can certainly help establish your brand identity and make it easier for users to find you online, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on your rankings. 

How to Choose a Domain Name

When choosing a domain name, you do want to keep these items in mind:

  1. Keep it short and simple and easy to spell so it’s easy for your customers to remember.
  2. Keep it relevant to your business or your business name.
  3. Choose the right extension, i.e. “.org” is normally used by nonprofit organizations, “.edu” by educational institutions, and “.com” by businesses.

Why Carefully Choosing Your Company Name Matters

On the other hand, using keywords within your business name is a much stronger ranking factor in a couple of different ways.

First, it can help establish relevance to specific search queries. If your business name includes keywords that are commonly searched for in your industry, it tells Google that your website is a relevant result for those search queries. For example, if you run a local plumbing business and your business name is “Sarasota Plumbing Pros,” having the word “plumbing” in your name can help establish relevance to search queries related to plumbing services in Sarasota. This can lead to increased traffic to your website and ultimately, more business.

In addition, having keywords in your business name can help with local SEO and brand identity. Local search results often prioritize businesses that are located near the user, so having your location included in your business name can signal to Google that your business is relevant to local search queries. For example, if your business is located in a specific neighborhood, including that neighborhood in your business name can help you rank better for local search queries that include that neighborhood name. Also, your company name is an important part of your brand identity, and establishing a strong brand is crucial to long-term SEO success. A strong brand can help you earn links from other websites, increase your social media following, and attract more traffic to your site.

So, while having a keyword-rich domain name may seem like a good idea for SEO, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on your rankings. Instead, focus on building a strong brand identity, creating high-quality content that provides value to your users, and optimizing your website for user experience. By doing these things, you can improve your rankings and establish a strong online presence that will help you succeed in the long run.


The 5 Developmental Stages of a Google Ads Account 

by Diane Lovine

The account managers at 99 Calls understand the importance of taking the time to work through each stage on their Google Ads accounts. The team has identified five unique stages that we guide accounts through as we strive to optimize results. Understanding customer goals and targets sets the course. Continually working to improve Ad performance yields high lead volumes and lower cost per lead.

All accounts start at ground zero and progress through these five developmental stages:   

Data Stage

Once you decide to work with 99 Calls for your PPC lead generation, we will work together to define and understand your business goals and budget. We want to understand what types of leads you want most. You will be asked to provide information about your business and what makes it unique. We’ll ask for photos of your work and utilize some of your positive online reviews. We will then take that information and build your Ads campaigns and the associated landing pages.

Learning Stage

When you create or change a campaign, Google needs time to learn how to serve the bidding strategy. During the first two to four weeks after your ads go live, your specialist will work tirelessly on your campaign to monitor results. We do not expect conversions overnight, but it can happen! It generally takes time to gain traction. We make daily adjustments to the keywords and your Ads to boost the performance.

Knowledge Assimilation Stage

At this point the campaign will have started to collect a more meaningful pool of data for us to evaluate. Our goal here is to weed out poor-quality clicks and keywords and teach Google’s algorithm what a good lead looks like for you. Remember Google Ads is a tool that targets people searching for specific services. We want to target popular services in your area, while also providing the leads that matter most for your industry.

Growth Stage

Together we will work to optimize your campaign and boost performance. When we see that certain keywords work better than others, we will consolidate more resources and efforts into them. We may suggest adding new keywords and/or changing your targeted locations. In order for our team to reach our mutually shared goals, you may need to be flexible in the areas targeted and variations of the services you offer. Our goal is always to get the best result possible for your budget! We’ll refine your ad text, and bidding strategies to help you capture more high-quality conversions.

Mature Stage

The campaign is now performing near maximum efficiency, based on the added enhancements and landing page quality. That doesn’t mean we stop working on your account. Your leads and keywords will be monitored daily. We will also start to look into different marketing campaigns and opportunities that may benefit your business and generate more revenue. We’ll communicate with you as we work to achieve your business goals. 

The Takeaway

When beginning a new PPC campaign, whether you have hired an online marketing or lead generation company or you’re going it alone, patience is important. Lots of business owners assume that because PPC results occur much more quickly than with SEO or LSA/Google Guaranteed, that they should be instantaneous. Rushed campaigns lead to wasted budgets, and lower ROI. The conversion rates are much lower when people don’t take the time to feed the data back regularly to train Google to cut through the noise and show your business for only the most relevant searches. Working through each stage diligently leads to the most robust results. 99 Calls’ talented team yields an average conversion rate of 20% for our Ads businesses (more than 3x the national average). Want to find out how we can help your business? Schedule a free consultation.

Carpet Cleaning Lead Generation
Appliance Repair Leads, Business Website, digital marketing, Google Ads, How much is online marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Generation for Contractors, Lead Management, Nurturing, Online Appointment Booking, online marketing, online marketing costs, Pay Per Click Advertising, PPC, SEM, SEO, service contractor leads

2023 Digital Marketing Trends

Newest Practices that Accelerate Business Growth

by Devon Osborne

Adopting digital marketing trends has become increasingly critical as consumers utilize the internet more and more. Digital marketing encompasses many different strategies for lead generation from SEO and PPC to content marketing and email marketing campaigns. Utilizing different aspects of digital marketing together allows you to connect and communicate with your potential clients throughout all stages of the sales funnel. In 2023, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing (SMM), video content, lead nurturing, pay-per-click (PPC) and pay-per-lead (PPL) are all fundamental pieces of digital marketing.

SEO Is Still At the Core

The aspects of digital marketing intertwine and work with each other. Take SEO as an example. Gone are the days when you could create a website and listings with minimal content and start seeing results in a matter of weeks. Now, in order to see your website ranking organically, creating quality content is crucial. 

Social Media Marketing Builds Brands

Social media marketing is often used to build brands and does generate leads for businesses with a strong visual aspect or a longer sales cycle. Over 80% of adults use social media in one capacity or another which makes social selling another excellent way to connect with prospective customers. Social media is prime real estate for building brand awareness. You can connect with more potential leads just by keeping your business’s social media updated.

If Pictures Say 1000 Words, Videos Speak Volumes!

One of the most effective and popular methods of digital marketing is videos. Why say everything you want to in text form when there are so many more effective options? Videos are an excellent way to connect with your potential customers and inform them about your business and the services you provide. Some of the most popular video types include explainer videos, video testimonials, and “behind-the-scenes” videos. Each of these videos has its way of engaging potential customers and showing off more of your company for a more personalized feel.

Start Nurturing From The Moment of Contact

Missed calls will hurt you. If you’re not answering your phone when it rings, your potential customers will move on to the next business on the page. With advances in digital marketing, you can engage those customers instantly. Some businesses are sending instant texts when they miss a call. Some send an audio message to their callers. From here, businesses can craft a nurturing campaign to keep potentials engaged and stay on their minds. You’ll want to be careful to find a “just right” frequency of contact. If you’re annoying, customers will opt out.

Nurturing Builds Relationships

Email nurturing is one of the biggest trends in marketing. Meeting potential customers where they are in the buying stage and keeping up with them along their journey is an economical and productive way to grow a business. You want to keep your business at the forefront of potential buyers’ minds. This is accomplished through short-term nurturing. The prospect may already know what they need or they may still be weighing their options. Either way, sending them informative, targeted emails will help guide them further in the process. Sometimes it takes longer than a few weeks for they’re ready to take action and commit which is why having a long-term nurture sequence is also essential. Long-term nurturing allows you to keep in contact with potential customers and to continue building relationships with them. 

PPC/PPL Has Become Essential

With SEO competition higher than ever, securing a spot on the first page of search results is difficult for even the most experienced marketers. You know the saying “Don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket”? This applies to online marketing as well. SEO alone is no longer the most substantial option for generating a steady flow of leads each month. The organic real estate on the first page of Google has shrunk over the last several years making pay-per-click and/or pay-per-lead marketing a much-needed, additional method for lead generation. 

How Will You Utilize Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing has become an essential part of any business’s marketing strategy in 2023. By utilizing SEO, SMM, video content, lead nurturing, PPC, and PPL, businesses can effectively reach their target audience and build relationships with potential customers. The future of digital marketing is bright and businesses should strive to stay ahead of the curve by utilizing the latest trends. Not sure where to begin? Call the lead gen pros at 99Calls!

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Optimizing Websites for Voice Search

by Diane Lovine

How to Rank on “Alexa” and “Hey, Google” Searches

We’re all looking for an advantage, a way to stand out, get noticed and get more leads. You may be surprised to know that the best practices for ranking on a desktop search are the very same that will get you ranked for voice search. This is the newest angle that telemarketers are using to convince businesses that if they don’t suddenly hire them to optimize their website for voice search, they will be left behind. 

Here’s the thing. We have been writing about voice search since 2019 and the strategies have not changed, but have become more understood. What’s more, if you are using best practices for ranking a website on the first page of Google, you are already optimized for voice search. Why? Because typing a query on your phone, iPad or computer is almost the SAME THING as speaking your query to Alexa, Google, or Siri. 

Example: You are having a dinner party this weekend and you just spilled red wine on your dining room carpet. What is your first action? Try to clean it up yourself. If that fails, you’ll go to your device and type or speak “Carpet cleaner near me” or “Carpet cleaning company in (your town)” or “spot removal contractor”. A well-positioned carpet cleaning company is going to come up in a search, regardless of whether you typed or spoke the keywords. And your query is the keywords. 

Companies try to make this concept sound complicated, but it really isn’t. I’ll do this experiment now, live and share my results: 

First, I’ll engage Siri. Speaking, “Carpet cleaner near me”, prompts Siri to produce the following suggestions on Apple Maps:

I personally prefer to use Chrome, even on my mobile phone. When I open the Chrome browser on my iPhone speak, “Carpet cleaner near me”. Here are Siri’s suggestions: 

From the suggestions offered on my iPhone above, I will click the top entry, “carpet cleaner near me”. Here is what comes up. I have placed the long thread side by side below: 

With the long screenshot placed side by side, you can see the way the page rolls. Above the images, I was first shown images of carpet cleaning machines. But Google recognized my intent (finding a contractor to remove the wine stain from my carpet) and made suggestions.

Looking at the results, you will first notice the two Google Guaranteed paid search results. Also known as LSA (Local Search Ads), Google Guaranteed services are offered by 99 Calls and are probably the most cost-effective paid ads available, as long as a business can pass the rigorous verification process.

Next, you’ll see the maps section, including a sponsored map placement in the top spot. Next on the page are the organic results (this is the section that requires great SEO practices to be found).  There are a couple of local carpet cleaning businesses found in this section as well as some directory entries like Angie’s and Yelp.

Now what if my search was done on my phone without asking Siri? What if I simply type the same keywords into my Chrome browser? Here are the results that come up:

Look familiar? It should! Yes, try this at home. You will find that voice search and typing your search into a browser will yield the same results. Paid ads will be found the same, whether the business is using Google Guaranteed or Google Ads.

Now I’ll conduct the same search on my desktop computer. 

Of course, the larger desktop monitor provides greater depth because of the larger screen. Still, the same companies are coming up on the first page of the search. 

Here’s the Question Businesses Should be Asking:

“So if the same practices for producing great SEO will yield results for voice search as they do with typing in questions and keywords, what are these practices and how can I rank my business when customers are searching for my services?”

The same advice that was given back in 2019 in this blog is still relevant today. I’ll add a couple more that are also important. Below are the best practices for getting found in any type of online search:

  • Format your content to be featured in snippets (use headers, lists, and short paragraphs)
  • Create content based on commonly asked questions in a conversational tone
  • Get more 5-star reviews! If you don’t have many dozens, make this your top priority
  • Make sure your site is designed for mobile-first indexing (they all should be by now)
  • Include relevant local information to show your viewers (and Google) that you’re local
  • Keep content simple and clean
  • Get built for speed. Landing pages should load within two seconds.

I’d like to add, “It’s that simple”, but the reality is, ranking in any form on searches is tough stuff. As you can see from the examples above, there are many more paid positions on the first page of search results. Google Guaranteed and Google Ads PPC are taking the most coveted positions. This is true no matter how you search. The truth is, trying SEO practices, even mastering them all, will not yield the same results (and by results, if you’re a contractor, I mean leads) as they did in recent years. In order to get found and get called with enough frequency to stay afloat, businesses need to utilize other strategies and a lot more of their marketing budget to paid ads. For more information on how the first page of Google has (evolved or devolved – you decide) over time, see this article, entitled The Incredible Shrinking First Page of Google

For more information on SEO, ranking with keywords and voice searches, and pay-per-click or pay-per-lead marketing, call the experts at 99 Calls!


Why Are You Called 99 Calls?

As we reach the one-year anniversary of producing a monthly newsletter, our team thought it would be fun to reflect on a question that is commonly asked. 

“Why did you name your business 99 Calls? Is that how many calls you’ll generate?” Our lead specialists are asked this a lot! 

When the idea for launching an affordable lead generation company for small businesses was launched back in 2009, Fred and Diane struggled to come up with a name that resonated. In fact, the ideas for building the platform, developing service offerings were solidified and processes were in place and we were still stuck on the name!

We wanted something simple, catchy, and all-encompassing. “99 Calls” was tossed around as an idea, and nothing came along that we liked better. So, like naming a puppy, that’s the one that stuck.

Now 14 years later, 99 Calls has grown from a vision to a full-service business solutions hub with offerings like website building, SEO, Google Ads PPC, and LSA pay-per-lead services. Clients can also benefit from associated services such as GBP management, reputation management, building listings, appointment setting, database reactivation, and even lead nurturing. 

99 Calls has become a name people associate with quality, affordability, and results. People remember it. When searching Google recently for the significance of the number 99, here’s what came up:

“The number 99 is said to be a powerful symbol of destiny, completion, and perfection. It is often associated with the achievement of goals. If you keep seeing 99, it may be a sign that you are about to reach a significant milestone in your life.”

No, we aren’t big into the parasciences, but this sounds pretty good to us, and it does represent what we strive to do for our customers. Our mission is to produce as many high-quality exclusive leads for our customers at the lowest price possible. You may have 99 problems, but if you’re using 99 Calls for lead generation, we hope leads ain’t one!


Jumpstart Your Lead Generation This Spring

If you’re looking for new ways to generate more high-quality leads for your business, you’ve come to the right place! Don’t limit your marketing to organic lead generation alone. Businesses that are also taking advantage of Google Guaranteed (Google Local Service Ads), Google Ads PPC, or database reactivation to promote Spring services are seeing remarkable results.

Google Guaranteed (LSA)

It’s that time of year again when people are looking to thoroughly clean their home and freshen it up after being closed up during the winter months. Local Services Ads can be very beneficial for house cleaners during this “Spring Cleaning” time of year by appearing at the top of the search results and showcasing their business during this busy season. For instance, take a look at the leads generated via LSA for one of our clients for their house cleaning business, Dynamic Duo Cleaning.

Google Pay Per Click Ads

Superhero Pools Corp in Woodland Hills, CA hired 99 Calls to beef up their lead generation efforts in November of last year. Naturally, the new site isn’t yielding many calls via SEO just yet. However, they are utilizing the change in seasons to generate lots of pool opening and pool cleaning leads by having us manage their Google Ads PPC campaigns. They have generated over 30 pool service leads in the past month.

Another pool cleaning company that is benefitting from seasonal lead generation services is Tacti-Clean Pools in Phoenix, AZ. They signed up with 99 Calls to generate pool service leads last December. Although they have just received three organic leads thus far, which is typical of SEO sites, they also signed on for Google Ads PPC. Over their first three months of running Ads, they have received 57 qualified and exclusive leads via PPC

Database Reactivation

Grasshopper Irrigation, Inc in Tewksbury, MA has been utilizing 99 Calls’ lead generation services since 2017. Their website has always generated a steady stream of organic leads. To jump-start their leads this Spring, they decided to give database reactivation a try. 

An email campaign was created and sent to 1250 previous contacts to see if they were interested in getting on Grasshopper’s irrigation turn-on list. In a matter of only 15 days, they received 124 positive responses. Thanks to a recent promotion, Grasshopper Irrigation, Inc only paid $300 for their reactivation campaign. This comes out to only $2.02 per lead!


Pawgo Mobile Pet Grooming

Customer Success Spotlight

by Devon Osborne

Pawgo is a mobile pet grooming company that is dedicated to making the grooming process as stress-free and comfortable as possible for your pet. They understand that it can be a hassle to take your pet to the salon, so they bring the salon to you. Their vans are custom-built and designed with the specific purpose of providing mobile dog grooming. Each van is equipped with hot and cold water, a grooming table, a full-size tub, separate fresh and waste water tanks, air conditioning, force dryers, towels, and a vacuum system. In addition, there are no cage dryers, so your pet won’t feel trapped or uncomfortable. Pawgo is fully insured and offers a 7-day per week service, so you can get your pet groomed whenever it’s convenient for you. With Pawgo, you can trust that your pet will be in good hands and receive the best care possible.

Pawgo Seattle came to 99 Calls for mobile pet grooming lead generation services in December of 2022. They signed up for two lead generation services with the goal of generating lots of leads quickly and having a longer-term source of additional leads. The team at 99 Calls set up a website and began an organic campaign as well as a Google Ads PPC campaign. Within the first hour of their Google Ads being live, they began generating leads. Pawgo generated 7 exclusive, qualified organic leads in their first three months with 99 Calls. With online competition growing and the organic section of Google search pages shrinking, generating results so quickly with SEO services is rare to see these days. In addition to their fantastic organic results, Pawgo received 47 leads via pay-per-click advertising. 

When it comes to pay-per-click Google ads, the industry standard conversion rate sits around only 5%, but the certified ads professionals at 99 Calls were able to attain a 34% conversion rate in Pawgo Seattle’s account. This high conversion rate allowed us to generate a high volume of low-cost pet grooming leads at only $23.22 each.

After seeing the success of their Seattle location, Pawgo decided to start a second site and PPC ads campaign with 99 Calls for their Las Vegas location at the end of January 2023. After just  5 weeks, they received  16 qualified mobile pet grooming leads generated organically. 

Just like their Seattle location, Pawgo’s Las Vegas location began generating pay-per-click leads right out of the gate. As of March 14th, 99 Calls has been able to produce over 300 leads at only $4 each. In this account, the hardworking Google Ads team has attained a 40% conversion rate for this location, eight times the national average!

If you have a mobile pet grooming business and are looking for a high volume of low-cost, qualified, exclusive leads, Google Ads are a great way to do so. If you’re not 100% confident in your Google Ads ability, consider partnering with a team of certified Google Ad professionals like 99 Calls.

Google Ads, How much is online marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Generation for Contractors, online marketing, online marketing costs, Pay Per Click Advertising, PPC, SEM, SEO, service contractor leads, Uncategorized

The Incredible Shrinking First Page of Google

Why is it So Hard to Rank Organically?

If you are a small business owner with an online presence for at least 5 years, you have seen the first page of Google searches change dramatically. The amount of space for SEO or organic search results is rapidly shrinking. What is causing this shift and how can small businesses generate leads on small budgets?


When we opened our doors in 2010, it seemed as though there was plenty of room for anyone who wanted to establish a presence online. 99 Calls began as a team of 4 professionals. We built websites for service area businesses, and within days, our clients would start to receive leads. We earned our first 50 customers by offering a free 30-day trial. Once contractors saw the number of leads they were receiving from their organic presence, most were more than happy to sign on for ongoing services. 

It didn’t take much to get pages ranking back then. The main components were well-written content, stating the contractors’ service offerings and the areas served and building listings for online directories such as Google, Bing, Manta and Yelp. Almost all sites ranked highly within a month or two and often much more quickly. 

The First Page Begins to Shrink

Although Google claims that they never accept payment from customers to rank well organically, they have shrunk the available playing field, especially for small businesses. The natural, or organic section became less achievable for owner-operated businesses as they made way for large national chains and huge marketing firms.

Beginning in 2013, we began to see major national businesses claiming the first positions on searches. Companies like Yelp, Yellowpages.com, Home Advisor and Service Pro mysteriously showed up at the top of local organic searches all over the country, knocking small owner-operated local businesses down on the list. This marked the beginning of a trend where smaller businesses were struggling to achieve prominent placement on Google search. 

Google Ads – A Game Changer

Although Google introduced Adwords in October of 2000, there were very few early adopters. Adwords was their self-serve paid advertising platform, and their first solid step toward monetizing the first page of search. Between its inception and the end of 2012, the playing field on the first page of searche made a significant change.

The playing field was reduced by 30%. Instead of showcasing 10 companies in the organic section, the number shrunk to 7 to make room for 3 prominently placed paid Google Adwords results at the top of each page. An article from wordstream.com explains the changes seen during that time. 

Free Organic Placement is Threatened Again by the Emergence of LSA

In 2015, Google introduced its newest venture; Google Guaranteed, also called Google Local Service Ads (LSAs). LSAs were first tested in small markets for a select group of industries. By the end of 2019, many cities across the United States had access to paid Google Guaranteed campaigns in industries such as carpet cleaning, house cleaning, and handyman services.

The image below shows that Google Guaranteed/LSA paid ads are shown at the very top of local searches:

Google’s verification process is more stringent for those who run LSA campaigns than for those running Google Ads. It requires providing documents such as drivers licenses, business licenses (where applicable) and proof of insurance insurance. Background checks are also often run on the company owners and their employees. 

Those companies that are able to successfully complete the verification process often reap great rewards. LSA is a pay-per-lead service, as opposed to the pay-per-click platform of Ads. LSA has a bit of a ranking process that makes it more similar to organic than paid Ads as well.

Those companies that are well-established and have lots of 5-star reviews on their Google Business Profiles and/or their LSA Profiles benefit from being shown much more often than other companies. Although LSA has its benefits, it has also contributed to the shrinking space available for organic results.

The image below shows how one business trended downward in placement on the first page of a Google search through the years.

As The Giant Grows, What Happens to the Little Guys?

In 2020, more than 80% of Google’s worldwide revenue came from their Google Ads platform, and that number is still climbing, according to an article posted by CNBC.

The page layout is as follows. When you search for a service in your area, you’ll see three or more Google LSA advertisements, followed by three or more google Ads advertisements, followed by Google Maps with three entries (which they are also beginning to monetize), and finally, a small organic section with three or more results. This is followed by more paid ads.

Where there were 10 opportunities for a small business to be shown on the first page of a local search, there are now just three, and often the first one or two is a large national company. 

Although there are usually only up to three organic results showing on the first page of a search, there are also three Google Maps listings, and for now, these are still free. In order to claim a prominent spot with Google Maps, your Google Business Profile must be complete, follow Google’s best practices and have lots of 5-star reviews.

That and a little luck might make your business visible here (outlined in red):

Google has made it all but impossible to be found without investing in one of its paid services. That said, small businesses will no longer be able to build a site or pay for SEO services and expect to receive a sustainable number of inbound leads. You’ve got to pay to play. That isn’t in question.

The key now is to find a way to play with ROI in mind. Online marketing, when done right, isn’t an expense. It’s an investment in your business. Every dollar you invest will ideally result in at least $5 in return. The good news is that there is plenty of return to be had when you use Google’s services. However, if you are unfamiliar with bidding strategies and optimizing campaigns, you’ll want to invest in a business that can deliver profitable results. 

What to Look for In a Digital Marketing Company

Given that organic lead generation takes much, much longer to produce and delivers fewer results, and Facebook ADs are a good option for some businesses but not as effective for service contractors, the two best bets for lead generation are the paid lead platforms on search; Google Ads and Google LSA.

If the name of the game is getting found online and getting leads coming in at a cost that will generate revenue for your business, you’ll want to do your research.

Questions to ask potential lead companies so that you can do your due diligence include: 

  • What are your monthly service fees?
  • Do you charge a monthly fee plus each Google Ads or LSA lead I receive or are they included?
  • If the company is charging a flat fee for leads plus a management fee, ask, “What is your markup?”.
  • What is your conversion rate for my service offerings/industry? 
  • How many other companies do you work with like mine?
  • What kind of reporting do you provide so that I can measure my ROI?

Once you get your answers and compare them, a clear winner will hopefully emerge. Remember, sales reps get a commission when they sell you. If you feel you’ve made a good connection, that’s great, but the sales rep probably isn’t going to be the person who sets up your account or continues to support your business in the future. Try to stick to the facts. 

For questions or more information on how to win with Google’s LSA or PPC campaigns, call 800-717-4669.

Google Ads

New “Profile Strength” Feature Rolled Out for Google Business Profiles

by Dipa Gandhi

Well, Google’s always keeping us on our toes. Just a couple of days ago, Google fully rolled out its new “Profile Strength” widget on the Google Business Profile (GBP) dashboard.

So What’s This All About?

Notice the green circle in the image above. This full green circle represents a complete profile. When you see a complete green circle, you have nothing to worry about. There is also a visual to indicate that more information is needed on a GBP.

Take a look at the GBP below, it looks like the profile is nearly complete, but after clicking on “Complete Info”, it takes you to another screen which implies the profile is not 100%. What was missing? The Ads credit hasn’t been claimed. Tricky, right?

It appears this may be Google’s way of trying to monetize the Google Business Profiles. Those who are Google Business Profile savvy would know whether or not their profile is as complete as possible without having to advertise with Google Ads.

Let’s take a look at another GBP that is less complete. If your profile strength is red in color and it appears to be 75% complete, this is an indication that there is room for improvement.

The red makes it look like your GBP is lacking, but there are times when the “Complete Info” is clicked and the user is taken to a screen like the one below. Options are given to you can choose to keep the messaging off. It’s not necessary to leave the “accept messages” option on in order to have a more complete profile.

However, if you see any of the images below on your profile, there are opportunities to make it more complete. Just specifying which services your business actually provides, or adding a description, will make your profile more complete and optimized.

Key Takeaways

Once you’ve created your Google Business Profile, you’ll want to make sure you optimize and monitor it on a regular basis. With Google always implementing changes, there may be new features you can include to strengthen your profile, and you’ll also want to be sure your profile isn’t negatively impacted by any of Google’s changes.

If your profile strength is yellow and nearly a complete circle:
then the only hindrance from it being fully complete with the green circle might be that you have not claimed your Google Ads credit, which is perfectly fine. As long as you know you’ve fully optimized your GBP, you are safe to ignore what “Profile Strength” shows.