Owned and Operated #78 - Are You At The Top Of Google Search?

Defeat The Four Pillars.
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In this episode, John discusses the four pillars of dominating search for your home service business—from the competitive LSAs and the comeback of PPC to the lasting benefits of SEO and the vital impact of your GMB location and reviews. If you're a home service entrepreneur looking to boost your online presence, this episode is your guide. Tune in, follow, and level up your home service business!

Episode Hosts: 🎤
John Wilson: @WilsonCompanies on Twitter
Jack Carr: @TheHVACJack on Twitter

Looking to scale your home service business? Service Scalers is a digital marketing agency that drives success in PPC and LSA.
Discover more growth strategies by visiting Service Scalers: https://www.servicescalers.com

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John Wilson, CEO of Wilson Companies

Jack Carr, CEO of Rapid HVAC

Owned and Operated Episode #78 Transcript

John Wilson: I'm John Wilson. Welcome to Owned and Operated. Twice a week, we talk about home service businesses, and if you're a home service entrepreneur, then this is going to be the show for you. We talk about our own business in residential plumbing, HVAC, and electric, and we also talk about business models that we just find interesting.

Let's get into it.

Welcome back to Owned and Operated. Today we're going to talk about the four pillars of search. LSA, SEO, Map Pack, and PPC. And how you can be number one on Google when customers go to search for you. Thanks for tuning in.

Today, we're going to talk about creating an effective digital marketing strategy for your home service business. Most customers that are new customers, the way they're going to find you is a few different ways. They're going to talk to their friends. They're going to look in newspapers, maybe, if someone's really old.

They're going to check out coupons that come into them. But most of it's going to happen through Google, right? They're going to get online, and they're going to search. So they're going to search plumber, or they're going to search HVAC tech, or water heater broken, or how to get this repaired near me.

So our job as home service entrepreneurs is to dominate search. Now there are four pillars to search. Four different categories. So one is LSA, which is local service ads. Two is PPC, pay per click. Three, Three is SEO, search engine optimization, and four is your GMB and map pack. That's like your physical location, that's what holds your reviews.

So those are the four things that you need to be thinking about when you're thinking about search. Now each one of those four things has a totally different strategy in how to dominate it. And it's important that you're able to tackle each one. You want to be a well rounded business and you want to make sure that you can take on whatever leads walk in the door and get searched.

You always want to be at the top of the list. So over the next couple of videos, we're going to talk about how to get there.

Let's talk Google Local Service Ads, or LSA for short. So Google Local Service ads is a new type of marketing. It came on the scene three to four years ago, whereas PPC has been around for a little while. So Google LSAs is a dumbed down version of PPC. Now it's an important lead funnel for most service businesses including ours.

So if you talk to most home service companies, they'll tell you that LSAs is a pretty significant portion of their total performance advertising spend. Sometimes all of it. Maybe they've shut off PPC completely because LSAs were so good. Now, LSAs have been good for a long time, but they've gotten a lot more competitive recently. You know, A year, two years ago, you could bid on services in drains and in electric that were maybe seven to ten dollars a lead. You can scale that forever. That's a Chipotle bowl right?. Like you could run that to the moon and back, but those leads now might be 50 to 60. So what's happened is, there's a few different things at work.

One, search demand is down. So consumers are harmed, interest rates are high, economy's not doing great, so people are just looking less. And two, while that's happening, more companies are bidding on those LSA terms. More companies need more work, cause Organic search is down. So a lot of our primary keywords have gone up 3, 4, and 5 times over the past year.

Just in the past year. So leads have really increased a lot. Now that said, LSA is still an effective tool. And some people run 20, 30 million dollar businesses completely. off of Google LSAs. It is a powerful lead engine and it's very easy. So you can hire an agency to manage it and that's usually best when you run a lot of ad spend through LSAs.

If you're running it just a couple bucks, let's say 200 a week, you can self manage that pretty easily. Now the best way to manage LSAs is, if you're doing it or if you have an agency doing it, is you have to give some data back to Google. You put your money in, you select what job types you want to bid on, you add your licensing or whatever it is that you need to do.

And then you start bidding on those jobs. And it's nice because it's immediate. You will start getting leads that day probably but how good is your book rate? How good is your call center? This stuff really matters. Because this is an urgent customer. They're calling in with a problem right now.

Two day, and they need a solution, and if you can't pick up and deliver, you're going to lose that customer. So, LSAs is good, because it's immediate, and it can make a real impact on your business quickly. And that should not be overstated or understated. We rely on LSAs a lot. A lot of businesses do. I don't think it should be your exclusive lead funnel, but it should absolutely be a part of what you do.

LSAs now show near the top, right underneath PPC. If you're searching on mobile, I think it actually shows up at the absolute top. So it's one of the very first things that happens when you search for a plumber near me or landscaper near me or whatever the search is. But that's Google LSAs, an important way to drive leads in your home service business.

Pay per click advertising. PPC. Pay per click advertising has been around for a long time. Probably 20 years. It is nothing new. And when people think of advertising on Google, this is probably what they think. So when you search something like a software or a local service company, like us you will show up near the top and it'll say ad.

It'll say the company, it'll give a little blurb about them, but it puts them pretty near the top of the page, if not the top of the page. Now PPC is bid driven. So you go in and you enter your amount of money that you want to bid and it places you wherever you fall in the bidding mechanism. Do you bid the most you not bid the most?

So we have always used an agency for PPC. We talk about them a lot here on the podcast We use service scalers. We've been really happy with them. So look into them if you're looking for an agency, but Ppc is a powerful tool and when LSA came on to the scene About two years ago, people basically said no, you know, bye bye to PPC, PPC became an ineffective and not really often used tool in people's marketing toolbox because LSAs were so good and so cheap.

So at the time, two years ago, 2020, 2021 PPC leads were getting up to 50, 80 a lead, maybe even well into the hundreds. Of dollars per lead. They were expensive, and they were very competitive. Now, they're also complicated. Because the way PPC works it sends you to the website. So that means how good's your website?

Do you have a landing page set up to perfectly optimize that customer experience so they buy your good or your service? So there's a few extra steps that you have to go through with PPC. That said, as LSA got more competitive, PPC has become a real tool again. So in the past six months, we have found that PPC has really started to deliver.

We're probably paying two to five dollars less per lead on PPC than we are in LSAs, which is astonishing. No one would have believed us on that about two years ago because PPC leads were getting to be so much money. So PPC is a valuable part of what you're doing, and I don't think you should ever really turn it off.

I think most people would be well served to look at it again as LSAs have become more and more competitive. When I talk to other people in bigger markets than we're in, they're telling me that their LSA leads start at 80 and maybe go up into the hundreds. That's crazy. That is really hard to grow a business on because if you're supposed to be running a 6 8, 8 10 percent marketing spend in your business and your lead is costing you 120, how are you able to stay competitive if you have to start there to even walk in the door?

So PPC is a good thing. It's a way to distribute your lead flow. I highly recommend you work with an agency on this one. I do recommend service scalers. You're welcome to talk to other people. They've just delivered for us but PPC is more complicated than LSAs. It takes more work. It takes more diligence so this one I don't recommend diy-ing, but it's still a very useful part of your total marketing funnel.

Hey, this episode is sponsored by service scalers. So service scalers is actually a brand that I've used personally with our companies for a little bit over a year now, they've helped us manage our digital advertising. Frankly, they did a lot better than our last agency leads went through the roof and cost per click went way down.

Check out service scalers. If you're a plumbing HVAC or electrical home service company, that's what they knock out of the park and they did a great job for me.

The first pillar of search is SEO, search engine optimization. The way that search engine optimization works is you build your website to show up when someone Googles. So that's how, ranking, is how most people talk about it. So your website is ranking. Are you on the first page when they search your problem?

Powerwashing, or landscaping, and Atlanta, or Plummer, and Phoenix. Are you on the first page? Now search engine optimization takes a few things. It takes a lot of time. Time is important. How old is that website? How navigatable is it? So time is a really big deal and money it takes, resources it takes real money to put content into the world that google will rank and serve up to more people that are potentially searching for you.

Now the advantage of SEO is that it's an investment. So most of the other functions of search, PPC and LSA are like you put money into a token machine, and you play a game, you get something back out, right? PPC is an investment, SEO is an investment. So when you put money into SEO, you're building something for the long term.

That will be on your website forever, and it will forever drive traffic. So if you think of every page on your website as an investment, then I think that gets a little bit more palatable. So we started working on our SEO about seven years ago. So we have seven compounded years of SEO work inside our business that is continuing to deliver results into our business.

So don't sleep on SEO. It's a big investment often businesses are charging a few grand a month sometimes as much as six to eight to drive real results through SEO. But don't sleep on it, it's important and it's an investment that will last forever inside your website.

The Map Pack, the Google My Business Profile. This is a really important part of your marketing funnel. So when someone searches you, how you show up online is important. When people are looking for service providers or they're looking for something on Amazon, they're reading reviews and they're looking at location.

So when you're thinking about your GMB, those are the two big things. Where's our physical location? Are we near our customers? Google cares a lot about that. And in fact, results go down for how you show up inside that map pack. Even LSAs, if you're even more than a mile away from your target customer. We talk a lot about how physical location is less of a cost analysis and much more of a marketing and recruitment decision.

And this is a big part of why. So your Google My Business, wherever it's physically located, you are going to drive most of your traffic within one mile of that location. So think very hard about where you're placing your Google My Business and where you're placing your business itself because you will drive most of your traffic within one mile of that location.

Now, I know a lot of contractors and home service entrepreneurs that place their locations in cheap spots, maybe less than desirable neighborhoods, high crime rate. People that potentially cannot afford their services, but they're doing it because the square footage is cheap but, most of the leads that they're going to drive are within one mile of that location.

Very important. Think hard on that because physical location is a recruitment and a marketing decision. Not a cost decision. The second one is reviews. Reviews matter a lot. People read them like crazy. So you don't need to have a perfect five star. Some people are really worked up about that. I don't personally you need to think you need a perfect five star, but you need a good one.

If you have below a 4. 5, If I'm looking at a restaurant, and they have below 4. 5, I'm a little thrown off. And it's the same when I'm looking for a service provider. If I see a perfect 5, I honestly think something's weird. And if I see below 4. 5, I think that's a little weird.

I think a sweet spot's 4. 8, 4. 9. You have mostly good service, but you're also a real company and you've got some flaws. And maybe those flaws are good things for people to know. Many of our reviews talk about our pricing. We're one of the more expensive service providers in our market, and we're not ashamed about that.

That's something that we are grateful that we're able to be. Expensive, basically. We want to provide Good service. We want to be able to provide good jobs and make a real impact on our community. And that costs money. Now some people expect to pay 20 or pay 60 prices for service. And we're just not the company that can provide that for them.

And that's okay. So those are most of our negative reviews. Our pricing. Fortunately, we still have a 4. 9 depending on which Google My Business location we're at. But reviews matter. Now quantities of reviews also matters. People won't often tell you that. But it really does. If you have under 100 reviews, frankly, I don't think you're a real business.

I'm like, ah, they're just getting started. They're sort of figuring it out. If you have under 500, I'd say you're a small business. You're starting to get your stuff together. You're figuring it out. If you have over a thousand, I think you're a big business. So I think you have your stuff together.

I know you're probably going to deliver on whatever it is that you're promising me. You're probably going to care about customer experience, and that's going to be at the forefront of the conversation. So that's usually who I choose when I go out and I'm looking for service providers, is they don't necessarily need to have the most.

Because the most reviews might mean the most expensive. That's how people think about that. So you don't need to have the most, but you do need to have a lot. And your number of reviews does give a signal as well as what's your rating. So work hard on that. So those are the two big things with Google My Business locations.

Physically, where is that location? That matters a lot. Most of your leads are going to be within one mile of that location. And two, what's your review situation look like? Do you have under a hundred? Get it over a hundred. LSAs doesn't work very well under a hundred reviews. Do you have under five hundred?

Okay, you're a small business. Maybe let's still get bigger. If you have over a thousand, the market's going to have expectations of you. They're going to expect you to be a big business with good customer service, clean, you know, wear your floor savers every time you walk in the house, put down drop cloths.

They're going to have high expectations of you because other people have said, you do a good job. So know that going into it. That's the Google My Business profile. Really important part of how you show up.

Thanks for tuning in to Owned and Operated, the podcast for home service entrepreneurs. If you enjoyed today's episode, please hit the like button and subscribe to the podcast. If you have any questions or topics you'd like us to cover, feel free to reach out. You can find me on Twitter at at Wilson companies.

I'll see you next time.

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