PPC For Contractors - How to run profitable Pay-per-click campaigns

Getting a solid ROI from your Pay-Per-Click Marketing campaign on Google AdWords can be tough. As a matter of fact, most the contractors we talk with that have attempted PPC Campaigns tell us that they have LOST money when trying.

After watching this video you will know why most PPC campaigns fail and how you can by properly setting up your AdGroups and Landing Pages significantly improve your probability for success and maximize your Return on Investment.

On this post, we're going to talk about Pay?Per?Click Marketing to help you understand how it works, why it should be integrated into your overall strategy, and how you can run a really effective program that can drive nice, profitable business for you and your company.

Why PPC should be part of your overall online marketing strategy

  • Start showing up quickly
  • Show up as often as possible where your customers are looking
  • Show up for non geo-modified terms, such as “plumber”, “plumbing”, “water heater repair,” etc.

First of all, PPC gets things happening quickly, unlike an SEO program, setting up your website, building links and having the right on?page optimization. That process takes a little bit of time to materialize. What you do today and tomorrow, will start to pay dividends in three to four months.

With PPC advertising, you set up your campaign and will start to see your ads serve in just a few days. It can drive good traffic, especially during the times when you need to make sure you're visible.

For example, during the winter season when customers turn their heat on and off on a regular basis, it’s a great time to be a heating company because people will likely research that service. We looked at the differences between the paid listings, the organic listings and the map listings.

You want to show up as often as possible when someone's looking for your services. Having a pay?per?click ad that shows up somewhere in the top, on the map, and in the organic section is important. Now you've got the opportunity to show up multiple places and significantly improve the chances of getting your ad clicked on, as opposed to your competition. A pay?per?click campaign gives you that additional placeholder on the search engines on page one.

It also gives you the opportunity to show up for words that you're not going to show up for in your organic SEO efforts. This is what I like to call non?geo?modified keywords. SEO and our whole organic strategy gives us the ability to show up I search engines when someone types in your city service, your city AC repair, your city roofer, your city pool builder, etc. All of those include some kind of geo?modifier (your city). They're going to put their city or their sub-city in that search for you to rank.

With a pay?per?click campaign, you can show up for the non?geo?modified terms (Ex. roofer, roofing, kitchen remodeler, plumbing service, pool contractor, fence builder, etc.), and put in the settings that you only want to show up for people within a 25?mile radius of your office. If you're in Miami and somebody searches within that area for “plumber” or “plumbing,” you can set it so that it only shows your ad for the people that are searching within that area. And Google can manage that through IP addresses by isolating where the search took place.

Google can also isolate who ran that search, where they ran that search from, and then place the ads based on the advertisers that are set up for that area. You only pay on a per?click basis, but you're able to show up for those keywords in those major markets. Another reason that you want to consider running a pay?per?click campaign is because you can run mobile PPC campaigns. With mobile PPC campaigns, when somebody is searching for your services from a mobile device, it's typically because they need immediate service. They're not as apt to browse multiple pages or listings. Now, if somebody runs a search on their mobile device, and you have a pay?per?click campaign set up, that search will be PPC enabled. They can simply hit your ad and, rather than browsing to your website and researching, automatically be calling your company.

On a pay?per?click campaign through mobile, you're actually paying per call as opposed to paying per lead. It’s very powerful, and these are the reasons you want to have pay?per?click as part of your overall Internet marketing plan.

The Pay-Per-Click Networks

PPC Networks

So what are the pay?per?click networks? There are two major networks that manage pay?per?click advertising across almost all of the major search engines There's Google AdWords, which is Google's pay?per?click program, and then there is Bing, which is through Microsoft Search.

PPC Networks and reach


These both have their own network behind them, so when you pay for an ad or pay?per?click campaign on Google's search network, you're gaining access to AOL, AT&T, USA Today, and Ask.com. When you get on the Microsoft Bing search network, you're getting access to Yahoo!, Facebook, Dogpile, and Excite. There are a variety of reasons to consider a Bing Microsoft pay?per?click strategy.

Google's Reach

You can review the chart above to see where most people search and what's going to give you the most attention. It clearly shows that Google is the dominant player with no serious competition. More than 80 percent of all searches happen on Google.com. So, if you had to choose, you would obviously you want to use Google. However, you do get an additional 20 percent by tapping into Bing and Yahoo!. There are different networks but those two make up the majority of the search market. Running a pay?per?click campaign on both Google AdWords and Microsoft Bing search will allow you to show up in the majority of the search engines that somebody might be using.

Understanding the Google AdWords Auction Process

How PPC Works

Let's review how Google AdWords works. In the simplest sense, you're paying on a per?click basis and you can choose your keywords (Ex. plumber, plumbing, your city plumber, your city emergency plumbing, drain cleaning). As you pick those words, you bid and you pay on a per?click basis.

So, let's just say you're bidding on the keywords "San Antonio Plumber," and there are a lot of other plumbing companies in that city that want to rank for that keyword. If you say that you'll pay $2.00/click and your competitor says that they'll pay $5.00/click, they're going to be at the top. Assuming nobody else has placed a higher bid, $2.00 is going to be ranked second and $1.20 is going to follow. I am about to explain why that isn't 100% of the reality. The fact is that you pay on per?click basis and you are bidding against the competitors to determine how you're going to rank on your keyword.

It's an auction, just like eBay. People are bidding and whoever can offer the most money is going to have the strong position. With that foundational understanding, we can now explain why most pay?per?click campaigns fail. What tends to happen is a lot of pay?per?click campaigns are built on the notion that the highest bid wins. So, advertisers pick their keywords, throw up the highest bid per click and hope that everything turns out the way they want it.

Why Most Pay-Per-Click Campaigns Fail

Why most Pay-Per-Click Campaigns Fail

  • Setup only ONE ad group for all services (plumbing, emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, water heaters, etc.)
  • Don’t use specific text ads and landing pages for groups of keywords
  • No strong call to action or OFFER on the landing page

Typically, you setup only one ad group for all services, whether it's plumbing, drain cleaning, emergency plumbing, water jetting, emergencies, etc. You should have one ad group instead of different ad groups for each type of service. Also, there's no specific text ads and no landing pages for those ad groups and groups of keywords.

What you wind up with is the same landing page and the same text ad, whether your customer typed in "plumbing," "emergency plumbing," "water heaters,"  or "hydrogenic leak detection” in the search engine. Whatever was typed into the search engine was likely very specific, and should match up to a very specific page, but that doesn't happen. It all goes to the home page. With this strategy, not only is your campaign going to convert poorly, but your cost?per?click is going to be higher. I will explain why later in this chapter.

The other reason why most pay?per?click campaigns fail is because there isn’t a strong call?to?action on the landing page. So, you were just charged $5.00 or $9.00 to get a potential customer to your website and the page isn’t even compelling because it does not have a strong call?to?action. It doesn't tell the consumer what to do next. If you factor these common reasons that pay?per?click campaigns tend to fail, you can better prepare yourself and set yourself up for success in the way that you execute your pay?per?click marketing.

Understanding the AdWords Auction Process

How AdWords Auction Process Works

Let's talk about how the AdWords Auction process actually works. It's not as simple as the highest bidder winning. It's more complicated than that. The reality is, Google needs to feature the most relevant results because their endgame is to get people to keep using their search engine over the competition. This is how they can keep their traffic up.

They can keep their usage up and maintain that 80% market share, but can also run AdWords and make billions of dollars per year. Ultimately it all comes down to relevancy. The second they sacrifice relevancy for dollars, is the second they start to become less of a player in their market. So, they had to figure out a way to make their pay?per?click program grow around relevancy. And so that's why they established the quality score. They need to make sure that the person or company who has more relevancy gets a higher quality score and as result, can have a lower cost?per?click.

The way I like to explain it is, if I go to Google and I type in "BMW," obviously I am looking for a BMW dealer or for information about BMW. Mercedes could say, "That’s our demographic also. If someone types in BMW, they're looking for a high?end vehicle. They are probably in the market to buy. Why don’t I bid on the word BMW?" Of course they can. However, the person that searched BMW isn't looking for Mercedes. So Mercedes could say, "I"ll pay $25.00 for everybody that clicks on me when they search 'BMW'."

But, BMW might say, "That’s my brand and I am going to compete for it, but I am not going to spend $25.00 for every click on my own brand. I'll pay a dollar for every click." Based on quality score, Google may decide to serve BMW because it's in the best interest of the person researching the brand, the consumer. It's also in the best interest of overall relevancy. That's how quality score works. Quality score is really driven by three core components

Elements of Quality Score for AdWords PPC

  • Click Through Rate
  • Relevance
  • Quality of landing page.

As somebody conducts a search and your website shows up on the page in the pay?per?click section, Google is tracking what percentage of those people saw your ad and wound up clicking through. That's one of the primary metrics that they analyze. So, if your ad is relevant, if it speaks to the person’s needs, and if it's compelling enough to them that they click through, Google just made more per?click. This will make them willing to give you a higher quality score because you've got better click?through rate.

Also, relevancy is a major factor. How relevant is your text ad to the keyword that was typed?

Ex. If they type in "tankless water heaters," and your text ad reads

"We're an emergency plumbing service in the Dallas area,"


"We specialize in tankless water heaters here in the Dallas area. Click here for immediate water heater repair."

Which do you think is more relevant to the customer? Google wants their search results to be as applicable as possible. They're looking at your click?thru rate, they are looking at the relevancy of your text ad to your keywords, and they are looking at the quality of your landing page.

If your landing page (the page that you drive people to) doesn't match up with what the person just clicked based on your text ad, or if that landing page doesn't have a strong call?to?action and the person quickly returns to the search engine, that signals to Google that you were not very relevant. This will result in a quality score reduction.

Elements of Quality Score for AdWords PPC

By having a higher quality score you can bid lower and still achieve the top position. This is where you can actually win in the pay?per?click marketing game because a better quality score results in a lower cost-per-click for those who hold the top positions.

Again, if we just look at the reason most pay?per?click campaigns fail, it's because:

  • You only set up one ad group
  • You had the opportunity to create a separate ad group for each one of your core services, but you don't use a specific text ad that's going to compel someone to click and improve your click?through rate
  • You don't have a strong call?to?action that matches up with what the consumer was looking for
  • You're not going to have high click?through rate, relevancy, or an applicable landing page.


All of these issues result in a lower quality score.

You're going to wind up paying more per-click. PPC marketing is very competitive. If you're paying more per-click you're not going to be able to spend that much because you won't be getting enough calls to generate return on investment. The visual representation of this would be like setting up one AdWords campaign for each one of these services  (plumbing, emergency, water heater repair, drain cleaning, garbage disposal repair, etc.) and landing people on your home page. That is a recipe for disaster.

Why most Pay-Per-Click Campaigns Fail

That's exactly what you don't want to do.

How to setup your PPC Campaign for Success

Let's talk about how to position your pay?per?click campaign for success. What can you do to ensure the highest probability of success in your pay?per?click campaign? For starters, set up ad groups based on the specific groups of services that you offer (we're going to map this out using a plumbing business as an example). Write compelling text ads that are relevant to your specific keywords or services. Then, link your ads to the specific pages on your site rather than the home page. But, the specific pages on your site that talk about that service should have a strong call?to?action combined with an offer.

What ad groups should you use? What ad groups do you need to set up for your business? Using a plumbing company as an example:

AdGroups to setup

If you are in the plumbing business, you need to have standard plumbing for the general, "I need a plumber,” or “I'm in need of plumbing services" search. They didn't get very specific. You should have something for that. Have emergency plumbing services available, for the person who types in “emergency plumbing,” “emergency plumber,” “emergency plumbing services,” “24?hour emergency plumber,” etc. You want to group those keywords together and have information available for that.

You also want to have one for your water heater repair, water replacement keywords, drain cleaning, garbage disposal repair, re?piping, septic plumbing and cleaning, bathroom remodeling, leak detection, and trenchless sewer replacement. We could go a lot deeper than this, but you should have an idea of what specific types of ad groups you need to set up. From there, you want to write a specific text ad that speaks to that group of keywords.

Then, you will want to drive them to a landing page on your website that has got a compelling call?to?action, that provides what they were looking for and mirrors what your text ad said. I've got a template below to review:

AdWords Ad Group Setup Template

  • Pick your list of keywords.
  • Write a specific text ad that matches up with what those people are looking for.
  • Drive them to a landing page on your website.

Make sure that you've got compelling content on that landing page that emphasizes what they were looking for and prompts them into action, ideally with some type of coupon or special offer, so that they don't keep looking around.

Plumbing AdWords Example

Plumbing AdGoup Example

Let's look at the plumbing example. Within general plumbing repair, you're going to have the following keywords

  • Plumbing
  • Plumber
  • Plumbing service
  • Plumbing contractor
  • Your city plumber
  • Your city plumbing
  • Plumbing company
  • Best plumbers
  • Affordable plumbers

These are the keywords that go into this general plumbing ad group. Your text ad should speak to that search.

"Affordable Dallas plumber, get $50 off, save, same day service, call now."

You want to pull on the psychological triggers. Are they looking for affordability? Are they looking for quick service? Typically they are.

Then, drive them to the URL on your site that is specifically targeted at plumbing, Yourcompany.com/Dallas_plumbing_services. Get them to the page that talks about that specific service.

There are a lot of things you can do on the landing page, but you want to make sure that you tap into that psychological trigger.

  • Are you looking for quality plumbing services in the Dallas area? Contact the experts at YourCompany for immediate quality and affordable services at this 555-5555. Then, restate your valuable proposition. There's got to be things that you do that make you different than your competition. Talk about those. Do you have a guarantee? Do you promise to be on time? Do all your guys come in in professional logoed shirts? Do they put booties on their feet?


Talk about why they should choose you and not the competition, and have a link to a page where they can see some external resources. What does the BBB say about you? What reviews do you have on Angie's list? Give them some information so that they can feel confident that you're a credible organization that's going to follow through on your promise. Then, have a strong offer with a call?to?action. Get $50 off your service by referencing the coupon below. Call now! If you have the capabilities built into your website, consider linking them to a form where they can choose to type in their name and phone number and schedule the service right on the spot.

This is a well?crafted ad group specifically for the plumbing keywords.

Emergency Plumbing

Emergency Plumbing AdGroup Example

Let's look at emergency situations. The consumer typed in plumbing emergency, emergency plumber, 24?hour plumber, 24?hour plumbing service, same day plumbing, after hours plumbing, etc. These are people that are in an immediate need of plumbing services. You want to group those keywords together, save it as an ad group, and create a text ad that is specific to that.

  • "Do you have a plumbing emergency in Dallas? Get immediate response and save $50. Call now."

You're say just what they want to hear. They've got an emergency and you're entering the conversation that's already going on in their head. You're offering them some type of incentive to do business with you.

Again, you drive them to the emergency plumbing page on your website (ex. www.yourcompany.com/emergenyc-plumbing. Then have some content that speaks to that specific situation.

  • "Do you have a plumbing emergency in the Dallas area? When you've got a plumbing emergency, you need somebody that can get out to your home immediately. You can't wait a day. You can't even wait six hours. You want to know that you can get somebody into your home within the hour. Well, at XYZ Plumbing, we specialize in emergency service. We've got a crew standing by. We can have somebody to your house within an hour, guaranteed."Then, restate that valuable proposition. Show them reviews. Give them an offer, "Get $50 off your next service by referencing the coupon below. Call now."


When you set up your ad groups this way you're going to have high relevancy, you're going to have a higher click?through ratio, and your conversions are going to be better because you're speaking directly to the consumers’ needs. You are also giving them some type of call to action and maybe even a special incentive to choose you right at that moment.

If you are a remodeler and the person typed in any type of remodeling term, then you need to have a specific AdGroup for that and a slightly different approach.


You can pick bathroom remodeling, bathroom renovation, bathroom contractor, bathroom remodeling contractor, remodel bathroom, etc.

  • "Thinking of remodeling your bath in Dallas? Get a free estimate by calling today."


Drive them to the bathroom remodeling page on your website.

On that page, speak to the specific search.

  • "Are you thinking of remodeling or renovating your bathroom in the Dallas area? Contact the experts at XYZ Plumbing for quality, affordable bathroom remodeling service." Restate your valuable proposition and show them some pictures of bathroom’s you have remodeled before.


In some cases, you will be dealing with services that have a longer purchasing cycle. Air Conditioners, for example. If it's AC replacement or AC installation, if it's bathroom remodeling, or even re?piping, customers are not necessarily going to pick up and call right at that moment. They might just be in the researching process. For these types of services, offer them something for free, such as a buyers guide, design ideas, or 10 things to know before you re?pipe your home. Have a lead capture form, where they can enter their name and their email address to download those guides.

This gives you the ability to catch people when they're in the first stages of their evaluation process. Send them a really well?crafted guide that talks about what they should be thinking about and sets the buying criteria in your favor. Why would they want to choose your company versus the competition? What things do they need to be made aware of? Do they need to make sure that they're dealing with somebody that is licensed and insured? Do they need to make sure that they're dealing with somebody that actually understands the design and aesthetics behind a bathroom model, as opposed to just throwing in a toilet and some faucets? In that guide, you can really position yourself and educate them in a way that will make them want to utilize your services.

You can also use email marketing to send them messages over time. If they're at the beginning of a bathroom remodel project, you do your best to catch them early. Maybe it's going to be six months before they decide to make the final decisions or to move forward with any type of project.

Because you got their email you could send them one email per week for the next six months. They're going to get something new from you once a week. Nothing annoying, but, "Here's an update, here's another thing, here's another bathroom concept you can look at”. When they do get to the point that they are ready to move forward, they've seen you so many times and you've added so much value that they have no choice but to choose your company. You’ve made the decision easy for them.

This is a way to position yourself better for the longer purchase cycle projects, so you can capture more leads and convert them into customers..


AdWords Setup Best Practices

Here are some best practices when you get into Google AdWords (google.com/AdWords).

AdWords - Setup Extentions

The first one is that you want to make sure you set up an extension with your address. In chapter one, we showed you on how to set up your Google Map listings and optimize it to rank in the Google Map. You want to use the same Gmail account that you claimed your map listing with on Google AdWords, so that you can come in to extensions and add your address as an extension. This gives you the ability to add your address and a direct link to your Google Places listing in your search.

AdWords - Example of Address Extension

In the screenshot above, you can see this local plumber in Austin, TX listing their website at radiantplumbing.com/austin?tx. Not only do they have their text ad, but they've also got additional real estate on the page with their phone number, a link to their Google Places listing and their address. Can you see how that pops off the page a little more than the others? This is something you definitely want to consider. You want to take the time to set up your AdWords extensions.

Have multiple text ads for each AdGroup and run Split Tests

Split test for maximum CTR

The other best practice is to have multiple text ads for every one of your ad groups. This way, you can split test and see each of your ads and determine which one is converting better. Split test by looking at your two ads for emergency plumbing. They're just different variations of the same messaging. They're going to get equal share. If there are one thousand impressions, you could distribute 500 to one, and 500 to the other.

By split testing, you will be able to determine which one had a higher click?through rate. With that information, you can drop out the lower performing ad and create a new one. Then at the end of the month, you can compare those two ads and see which one performed better. You keep doing that so you can continually improve your click?through ratios.

Remember, having better click?through rates is going to get you more traffic, but it's also going to give you a better quality score. This will eventually make your cost-per-click lower, making it more profitable for you in the long-term.

Pay Attention to Average Position

Watch Average Position


The other thing you want to do is to pay attention to your average position in your Google AdWords campaign. These settings are available making it very easy to analyze the data. In the report above, you can see what position is being maintained. The average position is highlighted. Position 3.6. Then, one is in 3.2, one is in 2.8, and one is in 1.7. This is based on the quality score and the average cost per click. You want to maintain a top four position on the major search engines in your pay?per?click marketing campaign.

We have found that the further down the list they go, the higher probability that you will be attracting a price shopper that's literally clicking every single company along the way.

You don't necessarily need to be the top listing, because that could just be a result of some random person that didn't think through what they're doing. However, you want to maintain a top four position. That's going to give you the best overall visibility, and ultimately, the best return on your investment.

Pay attention to your average cost?per?click, and manage your bids so you maintain a top four position.

 Example of top 4 posistion on AdWords


Exact Match vs. Broad Match


The other thing you want to pay attention to is exact match versus broad match. You have a setting inside your AdWords campaign where you specify whether you want Exact Match or Broad Match. Always elect to do exact match. The reason is because if you choose broad match, you could very easily find yourself accidentally showing up on the search engines for a lot of keywords that have nothing to do with your specific business.

The other thing you want to do is pay attention to negative keywords – keywords that you don’t want show up for in the search engine. A great example of this is, jobs, employment, marketing, etc. If someone types in "your city plumber," that's great. If they type in "your city plumbing jobs," that's somebody looking for employment in plumbing. Unless you are trying to fill a positiong or if you actually want to use your pay?per?click budget to get applicants, it's probably not the kind of the person you want to attract.

Setting up negative keywords means, for example, if someone types in “jobs,” “employment,” or “marketing services” anywhere in their search, it pulls you out of that search. It pulls you out of that specific bidding process so you won't be paying for clicks from somebody that's not relevant to you.


I talked a little bit about making sure that you've set up mobile pay?per?click campaigns. I've mentioned the major transition of people searching on their mobile device versus people searching on their computer.

More and more people are accessing the Internet via smart devices; their iPhone, Android, and tablets. The searcher is typically in a different mind-frame when they are searching from a phone rather than from the computer. When you're searching from a phone, you often just want to get the information right away, and/or want your problem solved as soon as possible. You can set up a campaign to have click?to?call built into your mobile campaign. In the image above there was a search conducted from a mobile device, "Dallas Plumber".

Example of Mobile PPC - Click to call

Do you see the “Call” button towards the bottom? That's what we call a mobile PPC campaign with the click?to?call function turned on. If somebody hits that "Call" button, they're actually connected immediately to that Benjamin Franklin location. This is a quick alternative to having to search for the website and the phone number on your own. Plus, you can see on a mobile phone there is not a lot of screen space. Those pay?per?click listings become really prominent and they dominate the search results page on mobile. A lot of times, you're going to get the majority of the clicks if you're in those top two positions. It’s all about convenience, and the click-to-call function allows that.

It's extremely powerful to connect with these people that are searching from mobile devices. Set up a mobile?specific campaign and choose "Mobile Devices Only." Then you can pick your geolocation. That would be your 30?mile range or 20?mile radius. You then click a button to turn on the click?to?call function. That's how you wind up with a pay?per?click campaign that has you in the top positions if bidded on correctly, with the options for them to do a click?to?call.

Just to recap, you want to set up your ad groups correctly. Make sure that you pick keywords that group them together, you write text ads that speak directly to that group of keywords, and ensure your landing page (where you are sending those specific searches) speaks to the text ads and the group of keywords. You also want to be sure that you have some type of strong call?to?action that prompts your consumer into calling you as opposed to pressing the "Back" button and looking at four or five other competitors. As the relevancy of your ad groups campaign and your keywords improve, your cost?per?click will decline and your conversion will improve. You can spend less and still get better positioning and more traffic to your website.  This is how you maximize the profitability of your pay-per-click marketing campaigns and succeed in PPC where others fail.

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