Search engine marketing for service businesses

6 min read
Jasmin Orfanidis

For small business service providers such as plumbers, cafes, electricians, hairdressers, gardeners, domestic cleaners, pet sitters, etc. keeping up with all things small-biz can be hard enough, let alone thinking about search engine marketing (SEM).

Search engine ... what?

SEM centres on digital ads placed where prospective clients are sure to see them. But these ads are only shown to people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer. Think more leads, increased website traffic, greater brand awareness and … a fast turnaround.

Did you know that two-thirds of us book home service providers via our smartphones?

Well we do, according to a Google report.

And this is where SEM comes in. Imagine a potential customer is searching for your services online, there they are scrolling away when your ad appears. They check it out and voila, it’s exactly what they’re looking for, so they tap CALL. Now, that’s a nice warm lead, isn’t it?

Get started with Google Ads in 4 steps

Search engine marketing entails buying ads that appear on search engine results pages. Here are the steps to getting started with Google Ads.

  1. Decide on a goal.

  2. Choose your keywords.

  3. Set up your ads.

  4. Monitor the results.

Ready for more leads? Let’s dive in.

There are a variety of providers who will gladly sell you online ad space — Facebook and Instagram to name two. But we’re going to focus on Google Ads here. These are the ads you see at the top of search results whenever you search for anything.

Search Engine Marketing Google Ads

For those who have the funds (and patience) to invest in at least six months of advertising, Google Ads will send more business leads your way. (Google doesn’t require you to sign on for six months; this is simply the minimum term experts recommend.)

Here’s how to set up an advertising campaign with Google Ads.

1. Decide on a goal

The first step is to decide what you want to accomplish. The goal for your ad campaign must be specific and measurable. For example, do you want to:

  • Generate leads?
  • Make sales?

Once you’ve made this decision, it’ll be easier to create an ad and the associated landing page that supports your objective.

2. Choose your keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases your customers Google when looking for services like yours. You’ll need keywords for your Google ad.

Google will display your ad to people who type in your keywords.

Of course, you’re not the only cafe/housecleaner/plumber to advertise through Google Ads. And the more of you who choose the same keyword, the more expensive that keyword becomes.

So to make your ads stand out, aim for long tail keywords — these are longer, very specific phrases such as “affordable gardener melbourne” or “residential electrician hallett cove.” Be sure to include your service area in your keyword since most people looking for local services type this in.

3. Set up your ads

Search Engine Marketing Google Search

Google Ads are text-only ads, so you’ll need to be creative to make them enticing enough to get searchers to click.

After a viewer clicks on your ad, they should be directed to a landing page. This might be the home page of your website — or it could be a separate web page you’ve created just for this purpose.

Be sure your landing page includes a call to action — “Book your session now,” “Call for details,” etc. Don’t let them leave without taking the next step.

In case you’re wondering how you pay for this, Google enables you to set a daily budget, including a maximum you’re willing to pay for each click. You have complete control over if/when your ad airs and can turn it off at any time.

4. Monitor the results

Google provides high-level tools to measure the results of your ads. You’ll be able to track the following numbers:

  • Click-through rate (CTR): This is the percentage of ad views that turn into clicks. You want this number to be as high as possible. The average across all industries is 1.91 percent (0.35 percent for a display ad).
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of clicks that turn into the desired action (call, schedule, sale etc). You also want this to be high.
  • Cost-per-click (CPC): CPC is the amount of money you’re charged every time someone clicks on your ad. You want this to be as low as possible.
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): The amount of money you’re spending to get one client. You want this to be as low as possible.

By monitoring all these factors, you can see what works and what doesn’t. Use this insight to adjust your ad for even better results.

Before you launch your ad

Before you schedule your first ad, have a think about your website. When was the last time you looked at it?

If the answer to any of the above is no, resolve these issues before you invest in search engine marketing.

Editor’s note: Don’t have a website yet? Build your site in under an hour with GoDaddy. Includes online scheduling, text and email notifications, web payments and client management tools.

Search engine marketing simplified

SEM is another very effective method of bringing leads to your business. Make sure you understand what your customers are looking for and be there where they’re searching.

Don’t forget, you’re often competing against bigger businesses that have easy-to-use quoting systems and a larger staff. With SEM, you can level the playing field.

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