Using Google Ads to Dominate Your Local Area

Greg BrailsfordMarketing

Google PPC Local Business

Quick, do a Google search for your type of business (eg. hair dresser, landscaper, accountant). Now look at the ads you see (at the top and side). Are you there? Chances are, your competitors are. Google Ads are an outstanding way to reach customers looking for the service you offer. While expensive, time-consuming SEO can eventually push you to the first page of Google, a Google ad campaign (also know as Adwords or Pay Per Click) can accomplish the task much faster.

With Google Ads, you bid on the dollar amount you are willing to pay for a visitor to come to your website and check you out. You only pay when this happens. If a customer sees your ad on Google but never clicks on it, you pay nothing. If you are a local business offering a service of value, advertising on Google is a no-brainer. When done right, it is far more effective than nearly any other form of advertising. It is the only form of advertising where you pay only for qualified leads – TV, radio, and print cannot offer that. With those mediums, you pay even if not a single person responds.

But Leave the Google Ads to the Pros.

Where many small businesses make a mistake is in trying to run their Google Ad campaign themselves. This is a catastrophic mistake, right up there with trying to design your own logo or being your own web designer. Simply put, the professionals have been doing it for years and know the secrets and tricks that result in a successful ad campaign. Google is guilty of trying to make Adwords look easy. Sure, setting up an account is easy, but setting up a successful account requires skill and experience. The are countless ways to screw up the execution of an Adwords campaign, and here they are:

Top 5 Ways Small Business Owners Get Google Ads Wrong

1) Bad Ad Copy

The very first thing the visitor sees is your ad. If it’s poorly written or doesn’t sell them on your service – why they should click on your ad – you’ve just missed a lead. Ad copy is incredibly important on convincing the user to check you out. But there’s more to it than that. Google ranks ads not based on your bid amount alone, but by ad relevance (they call this “Quality Score”). The more relevant your ad, based on how it is written, the less you have to bid to rank higher. A professional marketer knows how to write good ad copy. Here’s a few examples of good and bad ad copy:

Google Ads RI

Let’s look at the first ad. There are a few fundamental mistakes here:

a) The title of the ad is the name of the company. Honest truth: On Google, nobody cares what the name of your company is. They want a good landscaper and unless the name of your company is “Expert Landscaping, Fair Rates”, leave it out. In fact, that should be your headline. That draw interest and communicates key points about your service.

b) The remaining ad copy was not written specifically for Adwords so it’s missing the period in between the two sentences.

c) The ad copy itself fails to provide any selling points. The area you serve should be dictated by your ad geography settings (more on that in a moment), you shouldn’t need to specify it in the ad. And the fact that you are accepting new accounts – DUH! You’re advertising, aren’t you? Would you advertise if you weren’t accepting new accounts? So we’ve just wasted the entire line of ad copy when we could have put something such as “Personal service. Let us make your yard looking amazing today!”

d) Obviously this ad is not geo-targeted correctly. Google allows you to specifically choose where your ad shows – if someone is in Northern RI and you only serve Southern RI, you can choose to have your ad only show there. But I’m in the northern-most part of RI and I’m seeing this ad, which means it’s likely targeting the entire state. This leads to worthless clicks, lower quality scores, and more money out of your pocket.

e) No call-outs. Google recently allowed advertisers to include up to 4 short phrases called “call-outs” that appear under ads when they are in the 1-3rd position on the page, as these are. Neither of the top 2 ads are using them. And they’re free! This is where these advertisers might put “Free Estimates”, “Full Service”, “Lawn Maintenance”, etc. rather than wasting space in the ad copy.

I won’t go into too much detail on the 2nd ad, but notice they only include the first half of their allotted space. They left the second half blank, as if Full Service and Free Estimates, which I’m guessing most landscapers offer, is enough. This is the equivalent to buying 30 seconds of TV time but creating a commercial that is only 15 seconds long.

The third ad, which you can tell was created by a professional, gets it all right. Great ad copy, linked to their Google+ page (your business has one, right?), linked to a 3rd party rating website, and includes the 4 free site links (which are substituted in place of call-outs at Google’s discretion). I guarantee you this ad outperforms the other two every day.

2) Poor Keyword Selection

If you are a beauty salon, for example, and you advertise under the keyword “skin care”, you’re going to get a load of clicks from people not interested in a beauty salon. Even if your ad copy explains what you do, many folks will assume your ad is relevant to their needs because it showed up on Google, and they’ll click it – and cost you money. Carefully choosing specific keywords that only cater to those looking for your specific service is the key to drastically reducing “worthless clicks” and improving the success of your campaign. Instead of “skin care”, we would use “skin care professional” or “skin care specialist”.

 3) Failure to use Negative Keywords

Another major mistake nearly all do-it-yourselfers make with Google Ads is not taking advantage of negative keywords. These are keywords you specify, that if included in a person’s search, will stop your ad from showing. For example, if you’re a landscaper, you might specify negative keywords like “jobs”, “techniques”, “becoming”. So if someone searched for landscaper job ri, your ad won’t show. You are advertising your services, not open positons, so you avoid worthless clicks from job seekers. Again, the pros have substantial pre-researched lists they can provide for most business types that filters out searches like that, so your ads only show for truly relevant searches. Failing to use negative keywords accounts for most of a small businesses wasted Adwords budget.

4) Failure to Create Landing Pages

Landing pages are specific pages not part of your website designed for your pay per click Google Ads campaign. When someone clicks your ad, they go to this specific page, designed to compliment the ad and convert them to a customer. This should absolutely positively not be your homepage. But guess what? Those first two ads above? Based on the other factors, I was fearful that I would get exactly that. And I did. Your homepage is too general to serve as a landing page. A good landing page like the one we use for web design is designed specifically to capture that lead’s attention and turn them into a client. We don’t talk about any other products or services on the landing page other than what we advertised. Most small businesses doing it themselves with Google Ads fail to create landing pages, and their conversion rates suffer significantly as a result. A Google Ad pro will create landing pages specific to your ads, which will provide you a far better ROI for your budget.

 5) Not Optimizing for Mobile Users

Did you know Google lets you include your phone number in your Google Ads? There is no extra cost for this and you benefit in two ways: One mobile devices, a “Call” button appears next to your ads (see below), allowing any mobile user to dial you up with one-click. No needing to copy/paste or try to remember your number from the ad. This is one of the major reasons mobile users to tend to provide better conversions than desktop users.

Advertise on Google

Additionally, on desktops your phone number displays in plain text, and when someone dials it manually, you get a lead without paying anything! Why not take advantage of this free perk? Because this involves back-end setup, those small business owners doing Adwords themselves typically miss it. A pro will not only set up your phone numbers but also all the other special extensions that increase click rates and your end results.

Pay per click advertising was created by a non-defunct search engine called in the late 90s. One of the reasons we’ve been so successful with not only our own PPC campaigns but with our client’s ads, is because we’ve been involved in since its inception. With 15+ years of working in PPC under our belt, we know exactly what works and what does not. And, we practice what we preach – 95% of our non-referred clients find us through our Google Ads campaign! Before you go it alone, talk to us. It won’t cost you a dime and we’ll give you an honest assessment of what we can do for you.

About the Author

Greg Brailsford


Greg is the owner and lead designer at Company 50, a Cumberland, RI-based web design and digital marketing studio.