EDITOR’S NOTE: SMACNews will be covering digital marketing efforts from time to time as part of the residential sector column due to the heavy utilization of these marketing channels to promote businesses locally. Here is an article written for SMACNA by a Google employee who works with businesses on their AdWords Strategies.
For many contractors, Google Ads is a complex landscape, but with a couple of tips and tricks to simplify the process, Google Ads can be a very effective tool to gain new customers in new ways.
While books could be filled with Google Ads strategies and best practices, a quick overview of search campaigns, local campaigns, and budget optimization are all that are needed to reap the benefits of Google Ads.
Search sits at the core of a Google Ads Campaign. It can effectively capture residential audiences while they are
actively interested in and pursuing HVAC solutions. There are several key elements to leverage within a Google Ads account to make it as effective as possible. These include keywords, “ad extensions,” and budget allocation.
Keywords are the most important element of a search campaign because they match your interests with the search terms used by consumers. If there is a match, your ad will show up.
If keywords are too broad, such as the name of the city (let’s say Indianapolis), then ads will show for all sorts of irrelevant searches, such as “hairdressers in Indianapolis.” However, if keywords are too narrow, such as the exact name of a company, say “Jones Brothers, Ltd.,” then the ad risks missing out on prospective customers searching for contractors more broadly in a category like “air conditioning.”
Best practice is to include 20 to 30 keywords that represent a wide array of search possibilities a potential customer might use to find an HVAC Contractor in your area. For example, keywords could cover local searches with “HVAC contractors near me,” or individuals just learning about the industry with “how to fix AC units.” Keywords should also consider services offered, such as “indoor air quality,” “air conditioning installation,” or “heat repair,” in addition to the name of the company for word-of-mouth referrals. Other key words to use include parts of an HVAC system that consumers may likely know like “compressors,” “fans,” “duct” and “refrigerant.”
Ad extensions are all the features included in an ad that give more insight into the company or its offerings. For HVAC contractors, having a “call extension,” where searchers can click on the ad to contact the company, can boost inquiries. Also, “sitelink extensions,” the clickable one-word links directing users to different website landing pages, can be an effective tool to highlight different service offerings, or to direct a searcher right to the contact page (see example).
Budget allocation is the final crucial element of a search campaign. There is no “right answer” as to how much to spend on the campaign, but the “keyword planner” tool (built into Google Ads accounts) can be useful to investigate expected costs per click, and a budget can then be built off the desired number of clicks each day. The most efficient bid strategy to use for a search campaign is “maximize conversions,” which means an account will use data to target searchers most likely to spend money with the company, ignoring less relevant traffic. In order to set an account to maximize conversions, “conversion actions” must be set up first.
A great Google Ads option for HVAC contractors who serve a particular location is what’s called a “local campaign.” When a user searches “air conditioning repair near me,” Google will return a map with several local options highlighted. Local campaigns allow HVAC contractors to appear as one of the top results on this map feature, and show up in several other locations where Google displays advertisements. These ads show contractors as a physically close option, and also alert searchers that the contractor is a “hometown option,” which sparks positive sentiment.
In order to create a local campaign, advertisers must have what’s called a “Google My Business” account, which is a free feature all HVAC contractors should utilize regardless of Google Ads intentions. This tool displays a window with company information, hours, reviews, and a website link to individuals searching a company by name.
Tips to maximize budget
The Ad Auction, which determines where your ad will be shown and at what price, is an equal balance between the quality of the ad (how informative and useful the ad is to searchers), the relevance of the ad to the user, and how much an advertiser is willing to pay. The higher the quality score of an ad, the lower the cost per click of the ad in question, so having a high ad quality score is of the utmost importance. This can be achieved through three key methods. Accounts will periodically recommend ways to improve ads’ quality scores, under a tab entitled “recommendations.” Additionally, adding extensions to ads, mentioned above, gives searchers more information about the advertised company, and Google rewards informative ads with a higher quality score. Lastly, when setting up and editing the text displayed in ads, accounts will display a score from poor to excellent. Adding more headlines and descriptions, particularly with relevant keywords in the text, is a common way to boost an ad’s quality score.
With a small block of time, and a little bit of patience navigating the interface, Google Ads can earn any HVAC contractor new customers and business growth. These recommendations barely scratch the surface of all the ways Google Ads can benefit HVAC contractors, but as account mastery progresses, so will your return on investment.