Pay-per-click advertising can change the game for small businesses when a campaign is set up and optimized correctly. This is especially true for residential contractors specializing in any trade. That’s why I’m always surprised when I hear any business owner claim that PPC just doesn’t fit their business model.
The truth is, PPC can work for almost any contracting business, as long as you dedicate the right amount of time it takes to diagnose weaknesses and continuously optimize your account. If you’re new to the PPC game and want to get off on the right foot, it’s important to avoid a few of the most common and money-wasting mistakes.
At the agency I work for, we deal primarily with Google Adwords, but many of these pointers will make sense for Bing search advertising users as well.
1st Mistake: You’re Running Ads to Your Home Page (or Other Existing Pages)
If you aren’t creating dedicated landing pages for your PPC campaigns, you’re missing out on some serious conversions. Even if the pages you are using rank organically and have a decent organic click-through rate – that doesn’t by any means indicate that those pages will convert paid traffic.
You need to create dedicated landing pages at the campaign level and if you have the time or resources, at the ad group level as well. This will ensure every one of your ads directs traffic to a highly relevant landing page.
That means if you own a home remodeling company, you create separate pages for kitchen remodeling, bathrooms and exterior remodeling. When it comes to driving paid traffic, you want to deliver the information people are searching for on the FIRST click.
I’ve seen the addition of dedicated PPC landing pages double conversions in a matter of weeks, but you need to get those pages right – which leads into the second mistake.
2nd Mistake: Your Landing Pages Aren’t Optimized for Conversions
Creating the dedicated landers is only the first step. The key to driving in more leads is making sure the pages are streamlined and optimized for conversions. If you don’t have an in-house developer and designer, I highly recommend shopping around for one. The investment will surely yield dividends.
Ok, so let’s get into a few key aspects that make up an optimized landing page.
Content: Use your main headline to let visitors know exactly what you want them to do. It can be as simple as “Call Now to Schedule a Free Kitchen Remodeling Consultation.” Unlike your main website pages, you want to keep the content short. Just a couple paragraphs with bullet points.
Highlight specials, guarantees and make it easy for visitors to take action and contact your business.
Contact Form: I’m personally a big fan of the top right contact form. I recommend putting a contact form in the header, on the right side. Don’t include too many fields, especially required ones. Keep it to name, email, phone number and a comment section – that way the user can provide helpful details about the service they are looking for.
Design: When it comes to designing a paid landing page, make sure your phone number and the contact form are prominent. Other important design elements include trust icons, such as you’re A+ rating with the BBB, or any other awards and affiliations.
Designing specials to look like coupons is also effective. Our minds are trained to think “discount” when we see those cutout lines, even when they appear on a computer screen.
3rd Mistake: Your Keywords Are Too Broad
Google uses several keyword match types to determine which ads will appear when users search for certain keyword phrases. The most common match type is called broad match. Essentially, if you have all your keywords set to broad match, your ads will end up showing for irrelevant searches. If those irrelevant ads garner clicks that are highly unlikely to convert, you’ll end up wasting your precious ad budget.
Here’s an example of how a broad match keyword could hurt a local plumber. Let’s say drain cleaning is a major part of a plumbing business. If you set “drain cleaner” as a broad match keyword, your ads will start showing to people looking for drain cleaning products such as Liquid Plumber (you’ll also want to add these products as negative keywords, which we will get into a little later on).
To avoid this, but still bring in relevant traffic, I like using broad match modify. By putting a plus sign (+) in front of certain words in your keyword phrase, you are making that word required, while still allowing other aspects of your phrase to show for synonyms or related terms. Here’s an example.
+plumber drain cleaning contractor
By making plumber a required keyword, you are telling Google that you want to attract visitors who are looking for a professional plumber, not a drain cleaning product you can buy at the store. Of course, this method alone isn’t going to keep all the irrelevant traffic at bay. You need to use negative keywords to reach that end.
4th Mistake: You Aren’t Using Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are exactly what they sound like. In the same way you add keywords that you want your ads to show for, you can input negative keywords. By doing this, you are telling Google that you do not want your ads served when certain phrases are searched.
Not using negative keywords can cost contractors thousands of dollars in irrelevant clicks. Let’s take a look at how not adding one negative keyword can jack up your entire account.
I’ll use the remodeling example again. Imagine you chose the keyword phrase: +Kitchen +remodeling in Phoenix, AZ” and even added a few required keywords by making it broad match modified.
Now, when someone searches “DIY kitchen remodeling” your ad shows up in the top spot. The problem is that the person doing the searching has no intention of hiring a contractor and is looking for information on how to do the job themselves. If this person clicks your ad, you just spent money on a low-quality click.
This could have been avoided simply by adding “DIY” as a negative keyword.
5th Mistake: You Aren’t Monitoring Your Search Terms
It’s important to note that minimizing irrelevant clicks is an ongoing process. It’s something you need to pay close attention to during the first few months your ads are running. Over time, you’ll see irrelevant traffic coming far less frequently. The most effective way to determine how much irrelevant traffic your ads are driving is to regularly monitor the “Search Terms” report.
This will show you which terms people are searching when they click on one of your ads. It will help you determine two crucial factors:
1: Whether your keywords are too broad
2: What phrases you need to add as negative search terms.
Using the search terms report is one of the easiest and most effective ways to phase out the bad traffic. You’ll determine what phrases you need to add as negative keywords, which keywords you should pause and which ones are driving the most conversions.
6th Mistake: You Are Not Tracking Conversions
We’ve talked quite a bit about conversions in this article, and now it’s time to talk about what they are and why you should be tracking them. Otherwise, you are pretty much guessing when it comes to determining your ROI.
Conversions are basically leads. Your entire PPC campaign is set up drive phone calls or contact form submissions from your website. Once the call or form comes in, it’s up to you to seal the deal. There are two major conversions every residential contractor should track.
Website Conversions: Let’s say someone fills out the contact form on your website and is directed to a thank you page. That’s a conversion because your PPC campaign just brought in a lead. To track this type of conversion, you need to create thank you pages and add Google’s tracking pixel to that page.
Every time someone fills out the form and triggers the thank you page, Adwords will track this as a conversion. Now you can monitor the number of conversions, your conversion rate and the cost per conversion, so you know how much you are paying for each lead.
Phone Conversions:At the agency I work for, we use third-party software to record phone conversions. This will show you how many leads you are getting from paid traffic, organic traffic and direct phone calls. You can also add a rule in Analytics allowing Adwords to track phone conversions in your account.
7th Mistake: Not Knowing Your Limitations
If this all sounds like a lot of work: it is. In fact, it’s a full time job for people like me. While this is an introduction to a few of the most common and damaging mistakes, learning your way around the Adwords platform requires a constant ongoing education.
If you don’t have the time or resources to hire designers and developers to build out your landing pages or the personnel to actively monitor and optimize campaigns, it is probably a good idea to outsource your PPC needs. A certified Google Partner agency will have the know-how to keep your campaigns running strong.
About the Author
Ben Norris is a copywriter and Google Certified PPC manager for My Biz Niche, a Phoenix, Arizona internet marketing company and Google Partner agency. He enjoys helping local businesses drive leads through compelling copy and optimized pay-per-click campaigns.