Introducing Google AdWords’ search marketing to your business is like adopting a puppy.
You have to thoroughly prepare.
You have to train it to respond to your needs.
In the first few months, it’s going to give you headaches and possibly cost you money.
But, once your AdWords campaign/puppy is trained, it will be (relatively) smooth sailing and, most importantly, your best friend.
This is especially true for client-based businesses, which can make Google AdWords their primary engine for revenue. These businesses can turn Google searchers’ immediate problems into free consultations in a predictable, scalable way that regularly results in new business.
When you sell high-ticket services, the toughest part is usually getting an interested prospect on the phone in order to make the sale. A solid Adwords funnel creates a straight path from a search result to a conversation.
Let me explain what I mean by “client-based businesses”. They include:
- Medical and Healthcare Professionals (doctors, dentists, chiropractors…). (Elective specialists, like cosmetic or plastic surgeons whose business is largely driven by patient initiative rather than referrals from other doctors, are in a particularly great position to benefit.)
- Attorneys (personal injury, criminal, small business, immigration…).
- B2B Contractors (commercial cleaners, business IT consultants, commercial HVAC, commercial plumbing…).
- Agencies (software development, web design, product development, branding, marketing…).
These are businesses that solve common problems for which millions of Google users are regularly searching for a solution. Paid search marketing can direct traffic from those searches to their business.
Before I go on, let’s correct some common myths about paid search marketing.
Myth #1: Paid search is for suckers! Great search results can be free.
This is a common objection I hear all the time. Don’t get me wrong – search engine optimization is great. (It might be how you got to this blog post.)
However, the fact is that you need a consistent inflow of highly-interested leads and organic search just isn’t reliable enough to form the backbone of your business.
Hundreds of businesses compete for each search and most people click on one of the top results. If you are not in one of the top 2-3 spots, then forget about getting any traffic from search.
With Google AdWords, you pay to be a top search result and you decide exactly what searchers will see and what landing page they go to. You decide the maximum price for clicks and, therefore, how many leads you receive. You are in control.
Organic search rankings (i.e. appearing in “regular” search results by having a well-optimized website and quality content, without having to pay for placement) can offer an important, but unpredictable, boost. You can’t determine for sure where you’ll show up in the search results or even control which landing page visitors will be taken to. You can only put out some content and hope for the best.
Google AdWords lets you create a system in which you are able to accurately predict how many leads (and therefore customers) you will get. With enough data, you can know exactly how many people will see your paid search ads every month, how many will click on those ads, how many will become leads, and how many will become clients/patients/customers…
Once you have that system set up and running profitably, you can increase ad spend – creating a growth-optimized company that can expand at your will.
Myth #2 My friend tried Google AdWords once and he said it was like pouring money down the toilet.
Chances are you or someone you know soured on AdWords after a bad experience.
Sadly, many AdWords accounts are managed poorly and unprofessionally. On average, small businesses waste 25% of their ad spend on inefficiency.
Most marketers do far too little research before launching their campaign. And once they’ve launched, they don’t put in the time optimizing it. As a result, they quickly lose money, get frustrated, and give up on search marketing altogether.
Client-based businesses have the benefit and drawback of working in a space where Google Adwords is especially effective – meaning that there’s real competition that you need to outperform with a savvy strategy.
The strategy I outline below will turn your AdWords account into a reliable system for generating revenue, regardless of the competition.
Step 1: Determining Your Offer
As with every Growth-Optimized campaign, the first step is to determine the core offer for your business. Your core offer is your flagship product or service, the one you sell most often… your bread and butter.
Once you have the core offer identified, determine an initial lead generating offer for Google searchers that will seamlessly lead them to it.
Client-based businesses that serve common or urgent needs (e.g. dentists or criminal attorneys) can offer a free consultation, quote, or conversation to people searching directly for their services. Less urgent and elective services (i.e., cosmetic surgery) may need to attract leads with an irresistible content offer, and then nurture them into a more serious conversation.
Once you’ve determined your offer, you can start your keyword research – possibly the most important part of the whole process.
Step 2: Keyword Research (aka Mining For Raw Material)
Now it’s time to start researching keywords to launch your campaign.
This can take several hours, but you can do most of the work while listening to a podcast or music. It’s time-intensive, not brain-intensive – and it’s worth spending the time getting it right.
As a first step, write down 15-30 keywords or phrases that your customers might search to find your offer. Then, use the research tools below to expand that list to at least 150 keywords (there’s really no limit). Here are a few methods and tools to find the right keywords:
- Moz.com’s Keyword Explorer can help you expand your list of keywords by finding similar search terms and how often they are searched every month.
- Google Keyword Planner helps you see the average bid and competition for each of these keywords.
- SEMRush can be used to see what your competitors are bidding on, where they rank for organic search results, and what their ads look like.
- iSpionage allows you to view competitors’ keywords, ads and landing pages at the same time – an excellent tool throughout the process.
- Look at suggestions in the Google search bar for additional keyword ideas.
- Ask friends, clients, and employees to send you a list of how they would search for your services.
Include everything that seems relevant. Your keywords should include high-intent keywords like “hire dentist for toothache now” and lower-intent keywords like “how often do i need to see a dentist”. Your list should include low, medium and high competition keywords, high and low cost keywords, different aspects of your services, and every relevant modifier (“hire”, “find”, “interview”, etc.).
You are creating abundant raw materials that you can work with later in your AdWords campaign. Failing to create these materials now will cost you big time later.
Step 3: Structuring Your Campaign with Ad Groups
Now that you have the essential resource of a long list of relevant keywords, it’s time to process them into something usable by grouping keywords into ad groups.
Ad groups are groups of related keywords that will be shown the same ad or set of ads. If your keywords flow seamlessly into ads and landing pages with similar language and a highly relevant offer, your cost per click will be lower and users will be more likely to convert. That’s why it’s critical that keywords are grouped together with the correct ads and landing pages.
Keywords should be grouped together based on common intent as well as common terms.
For example, a defense attorney might have one ad group for keywords regarding drunk driving cases, one ad group for keywords regarding drug distribution cases, one ad group for keywords regarding theft, etc. Those searchers have different intents entirely and need an attorney who specializes in their specific types of cases.
Again, you want your potential clients’ searches to flow seamlessly to your ad. Just as someone searching for blue jeans should see an ad specifically for blue jeans (even if the store sells lots of other types of pants), a person searching for ‘drunk driving defense attorneys’ should see an ad specifically for people who need that service.
That same defense attorney may also want to split up their ‘drunk driving’ category even further into two separate ad groups: ‘DUI’ & ‘DWI’.
That’s because the terms are different, even if intent is the same, and you want the ads to match the search term as closely as possible.
Finally, they also might want to split up drunk driving ad groups by how close the searcher is to buying. A person searching “Should I hire a lawyer for my DUI?” may be persuaded by a different ad than a person searching for “DUI need lawyer now”. I recommend concentrating on the keyword ad groups for people closer to buying at first as these are the lower-hanging fruit.
Create as many ad groups as necessary. There’s no minimum or maximum size to an ad group, but it’s better to more narrowly categorize keywords so that ads are maximally targeted.
Later, when you’ve figured out what your most important keywords are, you’ll even add Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) that maximize profit for your best searches. These are ad groups with only one keyword and an ad especially designed to convert people who search for that keyword.
Step 4: Creating Your Campaign
Up to this point, you’ve created the scaffolding for your campaign. Now, it’s time to actually implement it into AdWords.
Start a campaign and place ad groups that have the same campaign type and geo-targeting into it.
By geo-targeting, I mean the area you’re targeting. If you have one office in Miami targeting Floridians and one office in LA targeting Southern Californians, you’ll need to set up separate campaigns for each.
Campaign type is a longer conversation – involving a myriad of other Adwords possibilities. For the campaign I’m teaching how to build in this post, you would create a ‘Search Network Only’ and use the ‘All Features’ option. This just means that your ads will appear in Google results rather than, for example, Youtube.
Here’s what a standard campaign setup looks like:
Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to implement your keywords into ad groups. But, first, let’s talk about…
When adding keywords to each ad group, you need to decide how keywords ‘match’ to search queries. That is, which Google search queries they’ll show up for and why. Here’s a quick primer on match types:
Example: personal injury attorney
May show for: personal injury attorney, lawyer for car accident, personal lawyer
You’re entering a term and letting Google decide what similar relevant terms are. If you have a big budget and no time for keyword research, you can use broad match as a way to see what keywords will lead to clicks on your ads. Otherwise, we don’t recommend using broad match (alone) since it attracts lots of irrelevant impressions and clicks.
Broad Match Modified
Example: +personal +injury +attorney
May show for: personal injury attorney, attorney for personal car accident injury in Nevada, personal injury attorney reviews
The + means that that word (or a close variant) must show up in the search. Otherwise, Google treats the terms like a broad match. Broad match modified is great for ensuring that your key terms are in the search while still allowing Google the freedom to find additional keywords that didn’t come up in your research.
Example: “personal injury attorney”
May show for: personal injury attorney, personal injury attorney reviews, need a personal injury attorney in nevada
Quotations make the keyword a phrase match – which means the phrase must show up in the exact same order in the search query. People who search that exact phrase – no matter what surrounds it – will see the ads. Phrase matches are great for phrases that normally appear in a specific order e.g. personal injury attorney or digital marketer.
Example: [personal injury attorney] May show for: personal injury attorney
Exact matches show up when someone searches for an exact term and only that exact term. It’s useful during the optimization phase since you can take control of a keyword and it’s bid that you know works well for you. However, while setting up the campaign, you should have few, if any, exact matches as they limit your ability to optimize later on.
Example: – personal injury attorney, – “personal injury attorney”, – [personal injury attorney]
Negative matches prevent your ads from showing up for certain queries that you know are useless or not profitable for your campaign. They’re the inverse of other match types and can be created in broad, phrase match and exact match forms (but not broad modified) using a hyphen So, if you’re a defense attorney who won’t take on personal injury cases, adding “personal injury” might be a good idea so that you don’t waste money on clicks from the wrong types of potential clients.
Adding Your Keywords
Input the keywords that you’ve previously grouped together into separate ad groups. You don’t need to implement every ad group you’ve created – instead, concentrate on the ones with high-volume, high buyer intent, and at the middle or bottom of funnel.
Buyer intent (sometimes called ‘commercial intent’) means the degree to which the user is searching in order to buy right away. Someone searching ‘dentist appointment tooth pain need appointment now’ probably has high buyer intent – they want to schedule an appointment right away.
Funnel location is related but not the same. By middle or bottom of funnel, I mean that the user already is evaluating the kind of product or service you offer, or making a decision on a provider. They don’t need to be told what it is. A person who searches ‘dentist appointment cost’ is probably at the bottom of the funnel – they’re ready to decide on a dentist and just need to know the cost of a visit. However, they don’t necessarily have high buyer intent – they might want to wait to schedule an appointment.
For the most part, you should use broad match modified at this stage as well as some phrase match keywords when appropriate.
Google will suggest additional keywords. Be cautious when adding them. Google wants you to spend more money and often their ideas aren’t great, particularly at the early stages of a campaign when there’s little data to drive Google’s suggestions. Instead, use these suggestions to help you brainstorm new keywords (and by all means add them if you think they’ll be effective).
At this stage, you should also include some negative keywords that would pertain to irrelevant searches like ‘- free’ (since you don’t want to be included in searches from people looking for free services!)
Once you have a clear sense of what keywords you’re crafting your campaign around, it’s time to actually create your ads.
Creating Your Ads
Your ads should serve two purposes in the very limited space – 110 characters total – that Google provides.
First, they should entice people to click by articulating the value of what you offer. The best way to do this is to clearly demonstrate that you offer what they searched for.
If they search for a ‘facebook ads agency’, your headline should say ‘Facebook Ads Agency’. That’s because if the headline is ‘Digital Marketing Agency’, the searcher won’t know if you do Facebook ads and is more likely to click on a search result for a company that specifies they do.
The ad text should expand on your offer and benefits. Selling is secondary – and techniques like demonstrating authority, experience, and excellence are less important at this stage. Searchers simply need to know if your offer solves their problem.
Your ad should also screen out the people who are the wrong fit for your company. After all, you’re paying for clicks and a searcher who clicks for the wrong reason will cost you money.
Again, the best way to do this is by being clear about what you offer as well as calling out to your ideal customer.
Here’s an example of an excellent ad that does just that:
I searched “personal injury attorney new york” and received a headline that almost exactly matched my search. (Even the display link says “new-york/personal-injury”. Great attention to detail!)
The ad text calls out to the ideal customer by saying “Have You Been Injured?” Then, it articulates the benefits I’m looking for, “Call To Recover The Compensation You Need And Deserve”.
Finally, note that the first letter of each word is capitalized. That’s good practice and will improve your quality score – helping your ads get shown more for a lower cost per click.
One more piece of advice: test at least 2-3 different ads for each ad group and include different messages and benefits.
Ad extensions are the easiest way to get you more clicks at a lower cost.
They’re a way to take up more real estate on the page and offer searchers more information about what you offer. They’ll improve your clickthrough rate which, in turn, will make your ads cheaper and rank higher on the page.
Extensions are simply extra information that Google allows you to put in your ad and can include your phone number, a list of services, and links to specific parts of your landing page. They can be added on the group and campaign level and you should include as many as are appropriate.
Check out this search for “IT Consultant NYC”:
The first ad for Ingenuit takes up nearly as much real estate on the page as the bottom two ads combined and includes way more information and options for the searcher. That’s because of ad extensions – which I highlighted in red.
Of course, all the clicks from qualified and interested searchers in the world will only be a waste of money if you can’t capture their contact information. That’s the job of your landing page.
Step 5: Creating Landing Page(s)
This is critical.
Your Google ads should lead to a dedicated landing page with no navigation and a single conversion goal – not your “main” website. (Usually.)
Scheduling a consultation is a BIG deal for most people. It takes time and most people only interview a few consultants over the course of a week or two, especially for high-ticket services. Why should you be in the final round?
Here are some Growth Strategies for getting them in the door:
- Offer a complimentary consultation – if you’re a medical professional who concentrates on elective treatment e.g. plastic surgeons, you can use these sessions to offer potential patients a vision of a happier future.
- Offer a special deal e.g. 50% off the first month of services can be a powerful tool to start a long-term relationship.
- Offer a free quote. It will give you an ‘in’ to inspect and discuss the leads’ needs. Moreover, that conversation is a commitment on the part of the lead, which will make them more likely to buy since they already have skin in the game.
Research your competitors who use Google AdWords search marketing and take detailed notes on the best dedicated landing pages you see. You want to understand what information they offer visitors and how they package it to maximize conversions.
Not that you should only be a copycat, but it’s always a good idea to model success. Think about what information your visitors will need to convert.
You need to offer a strong sense of the benefits of your service and the ease of working with you as well as testimonials and further proof that you’re a legitimate business.
Make sure the language in your landing page matches the language in your Google ads. This will improve your quality score – making your ads cheaper and rank higher – and confirm to your site visitors that they clicked on the right link. If need be, create more than one landing page for different ad groups.
Finally, your landing page should screen out poor fits by including specific information about what type of service you offer (e.g. high end). There’s no point in spending time on a free consultation call with people who can’t afford or don’t want your services.
Landing page design is an art and a science and an essential thing to master for a growth-optimized AdWords campaign. Check out our post on the 14 Critical Reasons Why Your Landing Page Isn’t Converting to learn more.
Once your campaign has been created and ad groups lead to dedicated landing pages, you’ll be ready to launch!
Step 6: Optimizing Your Campaign
You’ve launched your campaign but – like that new puppy dog – it’s still going to need a lot of love.
The next several weeks are a process of sculpting your campaign to really respond to the searches that you need it to. You’re learning the patterns of your potential clients and visitors and screening out the wrong traffic while optimizing for the right traffic. Check your AdWords campaign every day and take the following actions:
- Look at your search terms (what people are actually searching) and add any search terms that seem irrelevant as negative keywords. Do this liberally – by the time your campaign is firing on all cylinders, there should probably be more negative keywords than positive keywords.
- You’ll also find relevant searches not in your original keywords list that lead to conversions. Add these as phrase match and exact match keywords so you can control them directly.
- Pause keywords that lead to a lot of clicks and few conversions.
- Ninja Tip: Turn your highest performing keywords into Single Keyword Ad Groups and create ads directly designed to appeal to people who make those searches.
As your campaign takes shape, it should have more and more exact match and negative keywords. Gradually pause low-performing broad match modified keywords that are attracting the wrong kinds of traffic and have low conversion rates, letting the exact and phrase match keywords take the rein for the ad group.
Finally, regularly discuss lead quality and conversions with your team. As you learn more about who’s searching for your services and why, you’ll understand who needs to be screened out through your keywords, ads and landing pages and what benefits you should optimize for.
We’re not going to lie. Google AdWords is a real commitment. That’s why so few businesses do AdWords well – with minimal wasted ad spend and high ROI.
That said, client-based businesses often have a huge opportunity to reliably generate high-quality leads that consistently turn into clients. Frankly, running a business on referrals and organic search is exhausting and stressful. This is a better way.
AdWords done right is absolutely worth the investment. It can literally be the backbone of a client-based business. People are searching for these services anyway and, with a little work, AdWords marketing can make the experience of searching lead seamlessly into a consultation and hire.
Do you need help acquiring clients on AdWords? Schedule a free consultation with us today!