Contractors in the trades depend on lead generation to grow their businesses. In today’s digital environment, that means capturing the interest of customers who search online for a particular home service, then converting those leads into sales. So, how do you stand out among top local competitors on search?
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It all starts with maximizing your company’s presence online with Google, says Brandon Doyle, Director of Marketing for Blue Corona, a full-service digital marketing agency specializing in the trades and a ServiceTitan-certified partner.
But why focus your search marketing efforts only on Google? Because that’s where customers go online to find you.
“Homeowners go to Google as their primary source to find a local service contractor or contracting business,” says Doyle, pointing to recent marketing statistics that show Google consistently holds 87% to 88% of the search engine market share in the U.S.
“In order to maximize your search engine marketing, you absolutely need to be found on the first page of Google results,” Doyle says. “If you are not listed on the first page of Google results in any fashion, you are definitely missing qualified leads, sales, and job bookings. You're missing out on all of that to your competitors.”
With more competition for top-ranking Google search results than ever before, Doyle explains in a recent ServiceTitan webinar what it takes for companies to stand out when customers search online. Follow his proven playbook to discover how you can leverage search marketing to generate high-quality leads for your business.
What’s Google’s mission? It’s the same as your digital marketing goals.
What does your company’s website, digital marketing campaigns, and Google all have in common? The answer can be found right on Google’s own website:
Google's mission is to organize the world's information, and make it universally accessible and useful.
“Now, think about how you use Google,” Doyle says. “Whether you're looking for a plumber, or looking for funny cat videos, or shopping for a new pair of running sneakers, we all use Google to find information and find it quickly.
“As a contractor, that’s what you also need to do,” the marketing expert explains.
To improve your search ranking results on Google, you must:
Organize your website so it’s easy for users and search engines to find you.
Deliver awesome, useful content that provides users with the information they want on your website and in every digital marketing campaign.
“And if you can do that through your website and digital marketing campaigns, you're going to win on Google,” Doyle says. “And winning on Google looks like more qualified leads, sales, and increased revenue for your business.”
How Google’s changing the game for online lead generation
As a Google Premier Partner, Blue Corona understands how Google tracks everything companies and their customers do online, Doyle says.
“They take that information — how you're interacting with search results, what you're clicking on, and how long you're digesting that information — to make improvements to their search results,” he says.
“Google is constantly taking this data and tweaking their own search results to say, "How can we give people the information they want faster, in an organized way, and be useful?" And because of that, we've really seen the game of lead generation for contractors change over the years,” Doyle says.
At Blue Corona, Doyle says clients started noticing a growing trend in the number of customers calling for service after clicking on Pay-Per-Click or Local Service ads.
“Today, more than 50% of all contractor phone calls are being made directly from the search engine results pages,” Doyle says. “So, they are no longer visiting your website before converting into a lead. They're actually calling right from Google, because of the changes Google has made to its search results over the years.”
And that doesn’t mean a company’s website becomes obsolete. All of the content you provide on your website and in your digital marketing campaigns combines to power a better Google ranking. Customers who call your company directly from Google are just connecting with you in a faster way.
“You need to fish for leads where the fish are, and those leads are on Google,” he says. “Google simply made it easier to get in touch with your company.”
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How to maximize your search engine real estate
There are numerous ways to improve your Google ranking online, Doyle says, but Blue Corona focuses on three tried-and-true marketing strategies that most companies can afford and which they know produce qualified leads:
Google Local Service Ads
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Google Local Service Ads
“At Blue Corona, approximately 30% of all of our clients’ qualified leads are generated by Local Services Ads,” Doyle explains. “They're found at the top of the results on desktop, mobile, or tablet devices, and they're super affordable.”
For HVAC, plumbing, and electrical, the Local Services Ads’ cost-per-lead typically ranges from $18 to $25. This pay-per-lead platform means Google only charges companies for booked leads, and you can dispute leads that don’t pan out to receive a refund.
Doyle offers four tips to optimize your Local Service Ads:
1. Reviews — How many reviews do you have and how highly rated are you?
Sync Local Services with Google Business Profile
Generate more Google Business Profile reviews
2. Responsiveness — How quickly do you pick up the phone or call customers back?
Always answer your phone
3. Proximity — How close are you to the user searching?
Optimize your Google Business Profile
Bid Strategy — What’s your specific strategy?
Max per lead (budget play sets a specific amount you’re willing to pay per lead)
Maximize leads (volume play allocates a total budget to get as many leads as possible)
>>Want to learn more about ServiceTitan's Google Local Services integration? Click here.
If you Google “roof repair near me,” for instance, you’ll find Local Service Ads at the top and Pay-Per-Click ads right underneath. To maximize your search real estate and your search engine marketing, Doyle says companies need to invest in multiple channels with Google.
“Today we see about 25% of our clients' qualified leads coming from Pay-Per-Click search,” Doyle says. “So if you combine PPC with the approximately 30% coming from Local Services Ads, we're now up to roughly 55% of all contractor leads coming from paid advertisements on Google.”
With Pay-Per-Click ads, you gain:
Second highest visibility on search results
Immediate lead generation
Budget- and growth-focused bid strategies
“The second you launch that PPC campaign, assuming your targeting is dialed in and you've set up everything correctly, you can start getting leads as soon as you go live,” Doyle says. “We really recommend that you take your pay-per-click search budget, and align it to consumer demand and your goals.”
How do you leverage the real estate in those PPC ads? By providing as many options as possible to convert potential online customers into a lead. For example:
Leverage ad extensions to encourage calls-to-action
Lead form extensions — customer fills out form on Google search results page
Call extensions — customer clicks to call company from Google link
Sitelinks — customer clicks on specific company website page
Discounts/offers/coupons — customer clicks on special offer and converts
Run branded and non-branded campaigns — company bids on specific keywords for PPC ad, like “AC repair near me,” or specific company brand keyword, like “Brandon’s Heating & Cooling.”
Track > Test > Tweak > Repeat
As a data-driven company at its core, Blue Corona’s mantra is “track, test, tweak, repeat,” Doyle says, and Pay-Per-Click is a very trackable data-driven marketing channel.
“You constantly need to be tracking everything, from impressions to leads, from booked jobs and sales, to revenue coming in from each pay-per-click campaign, so you can optimize that campaign for future better performance,” he advises.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Doyle says SEO is his favorite marketing channel, because it’s so affordable and results in long-term leads.
“The SEO work you do today pays off for you three months, six months, a year, two years down the road. And it constantly needs to be tracked, tested, tweaked, and then you repeat that process for better performance,” Doyle says. “Here at Blue Corona, for our contractors, we see a $16 cost-per-qualified-lead coming from SEO or organic results.”
The key to maximizing SEO, he says, is to not simply view your website as a digital brochure.
“You need to treat your website like a virtual sales rep that never sleeps, never takes a holiday off. It's live, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Doyle says.
And you can make the website work for you even when you’re closed by delivering awesome content on every single website page, from service pages and blogs to videos, photos, and customer testimonials.
“Google actually ranks individual web pages, not websites,” he explains. “So every page on your website is a new opportunity to rank and generate leads on your behalf. You need to have all sorts of content that’s useful.”
Awesome content delivers the following:
Optimizes info for local search and ranks on search engines
Resonates with users
Answers your users’ questions
Convinces visitors that your company is the best choice
Converts users into a lead
Companies that can answer the following four questions quickly and easily tend to show up more frequently on page one of Google search results:
Do you provide the services I need?
Do you service my area?
How can I contact your company?
And why should I choose your company?
“If you can do all that and build trust through content, you’ve done your job, both for Google and as a company, to generate leads,” he adds.
To convert website visitors into a lead, you can build trust by listing the following content on your website and digital marketing campaigns:
Contact info & license number prominent throughout the site (header and/or footer areas)
Real images of your staff and service vehicles
Logos for forms of payment accepted
Logos of major brands you represent or service
Customer reviews & testimonials
Awards and accreditations
“To maximize your search marketing and really increase qualified leads in sales, your website and your digital presence needs to be organized for users and search engines so you can be found on the first page of Google results,” Doyle summarizes. “Once you're there, you need to have awesome, useful content that answers those four main questions and conveys trust to users.”
Blue Corona, a ServiceTitan-certified partner, follows this same strategy in helping home service companies grow revenue and increase leads. Doyle says Blue Corona’s best results include helping one multi-trade company increase qualified leads by 593%, and helping another one grow revenue from $5 million to $40 million in 10 years.
And what’s the one thing these companies have in common? They’re all ServiceTitan customers, he says.
“Comparing qualified lead numbers from 2020 to 2021, we saw a 56% average year-over-year increase in qualified leads for our customers who are also investing in ServiceTitan. That’s compared to a 33% year-over-year growth for non-ServiceTitan customers,” Doyle says.
“Better data equals better results,” he adds. “I cannot stress that enough.”
>>Interested in a free marketing consultation from Blue Corona? Visit bluecorona.com/contact-us
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.