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A specialised field

Trades such as plumbing and electrical services can be among the hardest campaigns to run profitably.

There are countless competitors all vying for space at the top of Google, everyone is shouting out free quotes and lowest prices and the cost per clicks are seemingly always rising.

Even experienced Google Ads managers have trouble making a high-converting and highly profitable campaign at the best of times, if they haven’t had a wealth of experienced dealing with your industry.

That’s where knowing a few extra tips and tricks can really come in handy.

Negative keywords

Negative keywords are an essential part of running a good Google Ads account as Google are pretty keen to match your keywords with anything closely related.

Believe it or not, Google will happily match your contracting/service keywords with terms related to DIY advice, tools, stores or supplies. That’s obviously not the type of search intent that we want to be paying for.

If you’re a tiler, for example, you will want to think about all the different pieces of equipment that you use on the job (and that other tilers/DIYers may be searching for) and make sure you’re not wasting money on those searches.

So, you’d add words into your negative keyword list such as:

  • Clips
  • Seats
  • Wedges
  • Cement
  • Scraper
  • Blade
  • Knife
  • Tools

Eliminating these terms from triggering your ads will greatly reduce the amount of wasted spend from the get-go and increase the likelihood of paying for traffic that is actually searching for trade services.

Every Bob, Dick and Harry

It’s another negative keyword tip, but one that is a very specific problem to tradies and one that may not be obvious when first setting up an account.

Often, when I’m looking through the search terms of plumbers, electricians, painters, carpet cleaners, antenna installers or any other trade-based client – a large amount of search terms that are being broadly matched with our keywords are “first name + surname plumbing”

That’s why it’s a good idea to get a negative keyword list together of all the most common names in the English language to get a head start on culling as many of these searches as possible.

Block Competitors’ Names

Whilst we’re blocking searches for other random tradesman, the next logical step would be to add other companies as negative keywords too.

The easiest way to get a list together, other than putting down the well-known players in the industry, is to just do a Google search. So, if you’re an electrician in the Perth metropolitan area you would search for “electricians Perth” to check out who is around.

Go ahead and add all those companies into your negative keywords (or compile a “Competitors” Negative Keyword List).

If we’re going tobid on competitors’ brand names , it’s best to do it in a more organised, targeted and measurable approach rather than just have them broadly matching with keywords like “plumber near me”.

Local Appeal

When people have problems around the home, they’re typically looking up the service plus their specific suburb with the hope that the service will be both quicker and cheaper using someone local.

Having separate AdGroups for each specific suburb that you wish to target along with matching ads that mention that targeted suburb will go a long way to set you apart from other ads that are using the same generic ads that they’d use for their non-geo or city area keywords.

Be Aggressive With Ads

You really want to make you competitive advantage known in your ads to increase the likelihood of getting relevant clicks to your website.

You’ll notice for this ad for Shutter Co WA that they’re the only roller shutter repair business who can claim to be there within one hour.

So, for a business owner who is trying to open up shop for the day and found that their roller shutters have been vandalised – it is clear who the most appealing option is at a glance.

(You will also notice in this screenshot that some advertisers have not set their accounts up very well and are showing sales or parts ads for a repairs keyword).

It’s always about being relevant to the customer. Being qualified and with 20+ years of experience isn’t a strong competitive advantage when trying to immediately grab someone’s attention. They’re looking for tangible value such as price and convenience.

After Hours Campaigns + Call Only Ads

Instead of having one campaign that is going to serve all day long, why not separate them into regular hours and after-hours?

There’s a few good reasons to do this.

One is that you can write your ads differently depending on what time of day you’re targeting. If you’re advertising in regular hours, saying that you’re available 24/7 becomes irrelevant.

However, after-hours, saying that you’re available 24/7 and can be available within the hour is a great call to action.

You can also try utilising call-only ads during after-hours so that when the search user clicks the ad, it goes straight to a phone call instead of visiting your website. Normally, people like to see the website of the business that they’re contacting first but in a plumbing or electrical emergency, for example, people tend to be okay with such a direct approach.

With the increased profit margins of after-hours work, having a separate campaign allows you to bid at a higher cost per click than what you would during regular hours.

Having a website that converts

Running Google Ads can be unforgiving if you aren’t leading your traffic to a website that tells visitors what they need to know, and you make it easy for them to get in touch.

Take a look at the old Aaron’s Tree Lopping website below:

This website converted basically zero Google Ads traffic. We had to address this with a far more functional website, otherwise we were just going to throw money down the toilet.

Once we launched this new website, they started converting 30% of traffic.

It’s easy to see why. Nicer imagery, easy to spot call and contact forms as well as clearly laid out prices. What more do customers need?

Tracking Is Vital

As with any good Google Ads campaign, making sure that you’re tracking every meaningful action is vital to knowing what is working in your account and how to further improve things.

This means:

  • Tracking phone calls to your business
  • Tracking contact forms filled
  • Tracking online bookings made (if applicable)

Google provides a free tracking number which will redirect any calls made to your normal phone number. When that tracking number is called, Google will credit that call to the keyword, ad, location, device and so much more.

If you really want to get deep into the call data, there are companies such as Avanser who offer call-recording which not only helps you to hear the quality of customers that your ads are generating, but if you’ve got someone else answering the phones it often offers great insights to where things may be dropping off in the sales process.

When I was working with a pest control company, through call tracking we found that the girls in the office who were answering the phones were just giving out prices on demand without explaining the many benefits of selecting them over their cheaper competitors.

This information resulted in additional training for the office staff which then ended up more than doubling the amount of calls that they were converting into booked jobs.

Prioritise Google Reviews

People are not only price conscious, but they also don’t want to waste money on a bad service.

So, more often than not, search users are doing their due-diligence and Googling your brand name (after finding you through a generic search) to see what others are saying about you.

Make sure that you increase the likelihood of people calling you by having a strong presence with your Google My Business listing.

Follow up text messages and emails are just a couple of ways you can encourage people to leave you more reviews on Google.

Finally; realistic expectations

First off, let’s talk about our expectations and how much things should cost.

Google Ads for tradies is expensive, yes. There are plenty of businesses that simply can’t make it work. Not because their web presence is poor, but because their customer retention is poor.

Tradies are paying anywhere between $40 to $100 per lead, depending on the industry and location that you’re in.

Now – if you don’t have a good strategy for customer retention and you typically only see a new customer once, then Google Ads will be unprofitable.

However, if you can turn a new job into a loyal customer, one who continually calls you back and also refers you onto family and friends; then Google Ads can be extremely profitable even at a high cost per lead.