Hello, I’m Kim Hopkins. In addition to HappyContractor, I own a 25-person electrical contracting company inLos Angeles, The Electric Connection. In 1995, I built my own electrical contractor website. Right away the website paid off because I was getting referrals from a home inspector. He placed a link on his website to mine so that his customers also visited my website and then gave me a call. But calls from new customers who were using a search engine like Google to find an electrician in Los Angeles– those calls didn’t come.
Here’s why. If a customer typed into Google “electricianLos Angeles,” Google showed various websites, page after page of competitors’ websites. My website was buried deep in the back pages of Google. Customers weren’t seeing it.
At that time, the mid-90’s, I knew nothing about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the tool I needed to push my website to the top of Page 1. Without SEO techniques, a website competing in an urban area might languish in the back pages of Google forever. Even if I had known about SEO, it takes time, at least three months in an urban area to get onto Page 1 of the search engines, and more time to climb to the top of Page 1, where a lot of customers would see it.
The solution for showing up overnight on Page 1 is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. In Google, it’s called “Adwords,” and in Yahoo, it’s “Search Marketing.” Pay-Per-Click worked for my electrical contracting company for almost a decade and still works well today in getting the ball rolling on Internet marketing for contractors.
Is Pay-Per-Click Too Expensive for Contractors?
Some contractors have tried Pay-Per-Click ads and given up on them as too expensive. They’re right, Pay-Per-Click can be too expensive. But there’s a way to get an excellent Return on Investment with Pay-Per-Click. Bottom line — maximize the clicks by QUALIFIED customers and minimize the clicks by people who will never become your customers. By “qualified customers,” I mean people who are ready and able to hire you. Click here for specifics of how to save money on Pay-Per-Click.
How Pay-Per-Click Works
To use Pay-Per-Click, you or your Internet marketing company write a brief ad. An ad for Joe’s Plumbing inDenvermight read:
Denver Plumber, Licensed and Recommended, Call (800) 555-1234 wwvv.JoesPlumbing.com.
When a homeowner types “Denverplumber” into Google, the first page of Google can show the ad along with the ads of several competitors.
Google will also provide a listing of websites that it considers most relevant to the homeowner’s search — thousands of websites, page after page. These are the “free,” “natural,” or “organic” website listings. They’re the ones that take time and expertise to push to the top of the search engine using SEO. The Denver Plumbing Pay-Per-Click ad can beat out thousands of free website listings by showing up at the top of Google overnight.
Homeowners who click on the plumber’s Pay-Per-Click ad will land on his website. Then, they may give him a call. Google tallies the clicks on the ad and charges a fee for each click at the end of the month. Thus the name, “Pay-Per-Click.”
How Much Do Ads Cost?
Google auctions off the positions for ads. When you set up your ad, Google will ballpark what you must bid to show up as the #1 or #2 ad on the top of the page. Bid high enough that your ad will show up as #2 on Page 1 of Google. Depending on how stiff the competition is among contractors for position #2, Google’s charge can run from $1-$10 per click, or even higher.
With another setting, you limit the total charges you will pay each month. This sets the budget so that the charges don’t surprise you at the end of the month.
Expertise is needed to maximize the number of clicks by customers who are ready and able to hire a contractor while minimizing clicks by, for example, hopefuls who are looking for a school where they can learn your trade. As another example, an HVAC contractor doesn’t want clicks by people looking to buy window A/C units. The contractor will pay for these sorts of unwanted clicks unless his campaign is well-designed. Click here for more on maximizing Return on Investment in Pay-Per-Click.
The Upsides of Pay-Per-Click
A contractor who does Pay-Per-Click can get customer calls from his website within 24 hours. If he designs his Pay-Per-Click ad well, he can also get work from customers who see it and just go ahead and call him without ever clicking on the ad and triggering the Google charge.
There’s another important benefit with Pay-Per-Click. It can give you a lot of information about your customers. Google lists every word and phrase that customers typed in to trigger your ad. Customers might type in “Denverplumber” or instead, the name of their suburb — “Highlands Ranch plumber.” If customers are typing in “Highlands Ranch” frequently, the plumber could slant part of his website towards these potential customers. If a lot of customers find the ad by typing in “licensed plumber inDenver,” he might emphasize on his website that he’s licensed.
Transitioning Over to Free Clicks with SEO
We recommend to our Internet marketing clients that they run Pay-Per-Click ads for at least a few months. In addition to jumpstarting their website traffic, it provides good information for improving the customer-appeal of the contractor’s website and its Search Engine-friendliness.
Let’s say a general contractor has a Pay-Per-Click campaign and wants to transition over to free clicks by boosting his website to the top of Page 1 of Google. At the top of Page 1, he’ll receive many more customer visits from his free website listing than he will from Pay-Per-Click. While the Pay-Per-Click campaign runs, we can start a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program for his website to boost it up the Google rankings.
Once the contractor’s website is at the top of Page 1, it may look likely that he can drop the expense of Pay-Per-Click and still stay busy. If so, the Pay-Per-Click account can be paused by a single click of a button. His ads immediately stop showing. Later, if he wishes, his Pay-Per-Click campaign can immediately be revived.
Our own Electric Connection website is at that happy point where we have been able to pause our Pay-Per-Click campaign, as are others of our contractor clients. Now electrical customers call off our free website listings at the top of Google. We no longer pay for clicks. But Pay-Per-Click has been helpful in getting us to this point.
If you would like a free evaluation of your existing Pay-Per-Click campaign or would like to discuss whether Pay-Per-Click will get more customer calls for your business, please give us a call at 800-990-5811 between 8-5 Pacific Time. We look forward to talking with you.