To the inexperienced, learning how to advertise on Google can seem terrifying. What are Google AdWords campaigns? Are they the same as Google My Business pages or paid ads? And what about that new term being thrown around, Local Services?
It’s easy for anyone not used to creating an online presence to feel confused. But Google’s ad services don’t have to be intimidating.
And if you take a closer look at the differences and options each advertising median provides, you may find one that will really benefit your business. And whether or not you find a paid campaign that you like, Google provides free options that will put your business on the digital map – literally.
If you’ve been overwhelmed by the Google and how to get your company advertised online, fear no more. This breakdown of Google advertisements will give you the answers not only to what is what, but also how to push your business’s online presence to its peak performance.
What exactly is Google AdWords?
Google offers a variety of AdWords campaigns, and the first tier of paid for ads simply AdWords. These are the paid ads typically seen at the top of most Google search results pages. They are the first listings customers see when they start their searches, and often get the most attention.
But how do you get your company on that top list? Google determines who gets the limelight based on Ad Ranks. Ad Ranks are based on the quality of your ads, the quality of your website, and your bid amount for positions.
To pay for Google AdWords, businesses are charged through a pay per click model, or PPC. This is a common method in the digital space that charges the company every time a customer clicks on the company website or phone number on your listing. That means that your business is charged regardless of whether or not you did business with that customer..
Google Adwords offers more control to the business by allowing them to set a daily and monthly budget. This budget determines how much you want to spend on online leads and can be turned on a off, or make budget changes at a moment’s notice.
AdWords also allows business owners complete freedom on their entire online advertising campaign. This is the best option for a business who wants complete control over their online presence and are willing to dive deeply into their own campaign to make sure it is running properly. That means that it is up to the business owners or digital marketing team to decide on the keywords they would prefer to use and what other sites their ads could pop up on.
This service also provides different ad formats, including video ads, graphic display ads, text-based search ads, and in-app ads. If your company has a specific strategy in mind that you feel like your team is best equipped to handle, then this AdWords campaign might be the right fit for you.
Paid Ads for Beginners: Google AdWords Express
Not every business has the knowledge or time to run their own online strategy in detail. They might need an easier AdWords campaign. That’s where AdWords Express steps in.
AdWords Express is similar to AdWords, but is targeted to business owners who prefer a hands-off, less in-depth experience. It’s perfect for those unfamiliar with online presence management or don’t want to crawl down the rabbit hole and monitor/control every facet of their campaign.
With a “15 minute set up,” Google promises todo all the heavy lifting for your business by:
- setting what they believe are the best keywords for your company
- updating your campaign as they see fit
- placing your ads on sites they believe are relevant to your business
In Google AdWords Express owners who are unsure of how to promote their business online don’t have to worry about constantly updating and monitoring.
Just like AdWords, AdWords Express is charged in a PPC fashion. Without the extra features of ad formats and customizability, rates may be a little lower than AdWords. But if you’re lost in the sea of options and need that light in the storm, AdWords Express may be the right fit for you.
Google AdWords Express
Above your Competitors: Google Local Services
Local Services is the latest newcomer to the paid ads on Google. Originally called Home Services, this new AdWords campaign is only available for companies in 30 cities, including:
- Arizona: Phoenix
- California: Los Angeles, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose
- Florida: Miami
- Georgia: Atlanta
- Illinois: Chicago
- Massachusetts: Boston
- Michigan: Detroit
- New York: New York
- Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
- Texas: Dallas
- Washington: Seattle
- Washington, D.C
Local Services was started as a test program of Google’s only used in select West Coast cities, but has expanded earlier this year to include cities across the US (and expanding). This means that cities not listed currently have a strong chance of seeing the list extended in months to come.
If Google Services has not yet launched in your area (or you live in a smaller rural area), AdWords or AdWords Express may still be your business’s best bet at staying at the top of the search results page.
Local Services are shown at the very top of the page (above AdWords) for users based in these listed regions, stealing the position from the top AdWords post. Three businesses are listed at a time, even on mobile devices.
A major difference that sets Local services apart from the other AdWords campaigns is the ranking system Google Services uses, and is what makes this as system more appealing to customers. Instead of listing the business who paid the most for their position, Local Service ranking is based mainly on customer reviews rather than a bidding system. This is meant to promote only the top businesses to the front based on customer satisfaction, not who paid the most.
Unlike AdWords, business owners are only charged per valid lead. A valid lead includes any communication from a customer to your business “related to your business or the services you offer.” These communication types can include:
- Text messages
- Phone calls
- Missed calls (without a voicemail) that you return
Valid lead is billed at a set price based on Google’s understanding of “what we know about job cost and overall demand.”
Google Local Services
The Difference Between Adwords and Local Services
Unlike other AdWords campaigns, Local Services attempts to provide customers with an extra layer of authenticity to make this service preferable. To sign up with Local Services, businesses undergo a much more scrupulous sign up process, follow a more detailed policy, and the Google Guarantee.
To sign your business up with Local Services, owners must go through a three step sign-up process.
Step 1: Apply online. Apply to find out if your business is eligible.
Applying for Local Services is simple. Fill out the first three eligibility questions to see if your Local Services is right for your business. The questions ask what category your business is in, your business’s zip code, and whether your business has the required licenses for your field in your state.
For the time being, the only job categories available are:
- Garage Door Pro
- And Other
The second step asks about your estimated lead goals.
Once you set your estimated goal, you’re next step is to fill out the basics of your company: Name, phone number, and website.
After you’ve filled out the basics, business owners move onto the next step. It is here that you will fill out a more detailed profile that will include licenses and customizable appearances.
Step 2: Licenses.
Google requires all businesses using Local Services to comply with local laws, regulations, and licensing for the industry they are in. Every state has their own requirements for industry licensing, so the requirements of the licensing vary depending on your business’s city. Here’s some examples of license requirements needed for your city.
- Additionally, all locksmith, garage door, towing, and auto glass repair businesses are subjected to Google’s advance screening process. This process takes a step further by looking at:
- the validity of the business’s professional licenses
- validity of registrations
- evidence of fraudulent or misleading behavior.
Google also assess a business’s online reputation, and use that information in their ranking decisions. More negative reviews may result in a lower ranking on Local Services.
Step 3: Background Check. ALL employees are subjected to a background check.
The final process for signing up with Local Services is the background check. This is often the make or break for most companies applying. All employees and sub-contractors that interact with customers are required to undergo a detailed background check. Passing the background check is the main requirement for one of the most important aspects of Local Services, the Google Guarantee.
Background checks are free for businesses when they sign up for Google Services, and are conducted with Pinkerton Consulting and Investigation, Inc. There are two types of background checks performed on every employee:
- professional license
- insurance verifications
- civil litigation history (from state and federal courts)
Worker Background Check
- Social Security number validity
- Criminal history (including sex offender and terrorist registries)
If your business fails the background check, a business is not eligible to use Local Services. Business owners may contact Pinkerton to respond to the check or fix any inaccuracies. Businesses must then wait (30) days before reapplying. If this results in a second failure, a period of (1) year must pass before reapplying.
Requirements for Staying with Local Services
Once a business is approved, it is their responsibility to maintain the Local Services Policy to continue to use the service. This means that business must
- Follow all local laws and regulations, including being up to date with licensing and certifications (Check out what licenses and certifications your business needs here.)
- Complete regular background checks for both the company and its employees
- Notify Google is any changes have been made to employment or company registrations and certifications
- Maintain customer satisfaction by handling complaints and providing high quality service (based on online reviews)
- Follow all AdWords Terms and Conditions (listed here.)
As mentioned above, one of the biggest benefits of using Local Services is the Google Guarantee. This guarantee appears on the Local Service ad as a small green badge. The badge is awarded to every Local Services profile that appears on the search results and can be a major differentiator from your competitors:
This guarantee represents 3 valuable amenities for customers:
- An indication of successfully passed background checks
- A guarantee that the reviews listed are authentic and made by real people
- An agreement for Google to assist with dissatisfied customers to a certain extent
The Importance of Customer Reviews in Local Services
Customer reviews play an important role in Local Service Ranking. Businesses can ask for reviews in 3 different ways:
- Ask for reviews from profile with “Ask for Reviews” feature on dashboard
- Share your custom review link with customers
- Mark all accepted jobs as “Booked” in order to send an automatic email requesting a review.
There are also 4 types of reviews that affect your stars:
- Verified reviews: These reviews are provided by customers that have booked the service through Local Services platform.
- Non-verified reviews: These are reviews that were made for jobs not booked or conducted through Local Services. For example, if you heard about the company through word of mouth.
- Google My Business review: Reviews posted on your Google My Business will also affect your Local Services star rating.
- Anonymous review: Google also provides the option to leave an anonymous review, containing only the date of the job and the city the service was performed in.
This might seem like the reviews and ranking are holding your business hostage, but Google does offer a few ways to adjust your reviews. If a review that is posted qualifies as a verified review but is not labeled as one, business owners can contact Google to change the review status. There are also options available for business owners to reach out to negative reviewers that they believe are results of tampering or misunderstandings. Owners are then able to settle the dispute offline, and keep their rating up.
In additional to offering a review platform for customers, Google also agrees to assist business owners with dissatisfied customers. Google helps businesses that are given the Google Guarantee by covering invoice or portions of invoices of customers that cannot be satisfied. They offer a lifetime cap of $2,000 for every business, and claims must be filed within (30) days.
Why the Switch?
Since Local Services appear to be almost identical to other AdWords campaigns, you might be wondering why Google has bothered to add a new advertising method instead of revamping the old ones. There are two easy answers: user experience and market control.
With companies like Yelp and Angie’s List playing a huge role in the online advertisement market for local business, Google was forced to find a way to adapt. Customers look to Yelp, HomeAdvisor, Dex Angie’s list and others for easy business directories based on customers reviews. Customers trust peer reviews more than paid advertisements.
Local Services also allows Google to keep an even closer eye on the success rates of their paid leads. With Local Services, businesses are required to set up an additional Business profile with a Google assigned forwarding phone number. Although the company’s website can be accessed, Google has eliminated the need by providing a platform for businesses and customers to do all of their communication directly through Google. This way, Google can charge for even more click, and make even more money.
In addition to gaining more clicks to charge for, Local Services also provides Google even more accurate analytics on conversions for businesses. By requiring businesses to use their own platform, they are able to see just how many leads lead to sales, and can change the pricing accordingly.
Get on Google for Free: Google My Business
Of course, not all Google services require payment. Google My Business is a free service that allows business owners to connect their business with customers online a digital “brochure” for your business.
. To sign up, owners must:
- Claim the business:
- Login with your company’s Google account, or create one
- Search for your business on the map page by entering the basic information of your business, including name, address, and website.
- If you find your business, select it. And it not, select “Keep the information I entered” to create a new business page.
- Confirm that you are authorized to manage the business page by selecting the checkbox.
- Always double check your information to make sure that it is correct. Then, move on to verification.
- Verify your business
- Select the red verification banner on the dashboard
- This will request a postcard to be sent to the business’s address.
- When the postcard arrives, it will contain a verification code that you can enter the Verification text box.
- Optimize profile: While you wait for the verification postcard, you can start setting up a successful business page. Be sure to include:
- Updated contact information for your business
- Hours of operation
- Photos of the business and its logos
- Respond to reviews
What if someone has already claimed your business?
- Make sure you are using the correct login information
- If you are, navigate to My Google Business and search for your business by clicking “continue”
- If another person has claimed the business, a window will appear with an option to request ownership
- Fill out the form to contact the current owner about taking over ownership
- If you do not receive a response in (7) days, fill out the form formally requesting ownership
Setting up a Perfect Profile
Whether you’re using the free option of Google My Business, or any other AdWords campaigns, managing your profile and online presence is a must. There are two ways of doing this. Local Services profiles can be accessed through a desktop or a mobile app. AdWords and AdWords Express can be accessed as add-ons through the Google My Business page or app.
Regardless of what service or profile you are using, there are some basic actions you should take to keep your online presence strong. This can be done through both desktop and mobile versions:
- Keep all contact and business information up to date (phone number, hours, ect)
- Pick appropriate business categories and keywords
- Write a rich keyword description
- List your company website in the information
- Add high-definition photos, such as logos, store images, employee photos, ect
- Keep on top of customer communication (Answer reviews and questions)
Local Service Extra Steps
Because Local Service is a new, separate paid advertisement campaign than the traditional AdWords, there are a couple of aspects to keep in mind:
- Local Services is reputation based, not bid based, so customer reviews count!
- Better reviewed companies will rank first and be seen first
- The Local Services Profile is customizable, so you can ask for reviews right on the page!
These extra features are just part of the reason Local Services is growing in popularity. When this service eventually takes over the entire country, there are sure to be even more advantageous features to be added.
But until this service spreads, AdWords and basic use of Google My Business are a company’s best bet at getting their company seen online. AdWords campaigns are here to help everyone, and you have nothing to fear about them. By following these easy steps and tips, any business owner can make the most out of their company’s online presence.