The Catch to Pay-per-Click and How Contractors Can Get Around It

Google calls it “Adwords.” Yahoo calls it “Search Marketing.” Pay-per-Click is paid advertising on search engines. On Google, Pay-per-Click ads show up in the top three ranks on a Google page (with a light pink background) and in the right-hand column. Click here for more of the specifics of how Pay-per-Click works.

For contractors who have tried Pay-per-Click, you might already know the catch. Pay-per-Click can be expensive, too expensive to be profitable IF it’s not correctly managed. The source of the hemorrhaging of dollars is that many times people click on your ad who are never going to hire you, no way. Yet, they’ve clicked, Google counts the click, and you need to pay Google at the end of the month.

I learned the hard way with the Pay-per-Click account for my electrical contracting company in Los Angeles. For years, I paid Google for clicks that never had a snowball’s chance in you-know-what of turning into electrical work. Tearing out my hair over how much Google was making off me, I started trying this and trying that to lower the bill while still keeping the customer calls coming.

After a lot of experimentation, I turned my Pay-per-Click campaign into a lean, mean call-generating machine that gave me a good Return on Investment. Here are a couple of things that worked:

  • Forget about the top-most position on the page for your ads. Position #2 works just as well for contractors and costs less. Save your money and bid only high enough to get your ads at an average of Position #2, the second from the top of Google.
  • Schedule your ads to show only when a live person will answer your office phone, People who click on your ad most often want to hire a contractor immediately. They click, they call, the voice mail comes on — they hang up. Do you leave messages on the phone of a contractor that you’ve never tried before and, then, stop looking for another contractor? Neither do most people.

This was another important step I took to improve my Return on Investment. When I stopped my ads after 5 pm and on weekends, my monthly Google bill went down by 35% — with only a slight decrease in customer calls from Pay-per-Click.

There’s another important lesson in this one. Whether you run a Pay-per-Click campaign or not, be sure a LIVE PERSON ANSWERS YOUR PHONE during business hours. I put it in caps because it belongs in caps. If a live person who can schedule a job is not answering your office phone during business hours and you don’t have enough work, that’s the most important single step you can take.

I’ll cover more cost-saving tips for Pay-Per-Click in later blog posts. But, here’s a big one that I want to leave you with.

  • Pay-per-Click gets your website to the top of Google right away, but even with cost-cutting, you’re still paying for every click. Free clicks are always going to be better. That’s what you get with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO won’t take your website to the top of Google anywhere as fast as Pay-per-Click. It may take months with SEO. But in the long run, it will give you a higher Return on Investment as every click is free. Launch an SEO campaign at the same time as you start your Pay-per-Click campaign, and, down-the-road, you may be able to save money by discontinuing your Pay-per-Click campaign altogether.

If you would like help with management of either your Pay-per-Click campaign or SEO, give me a call (800) 990-5811. I look forward to talking with you.

Kim Hopkins

Owner, HappyContractor