Home services is a $500+ billion-a-year industry. What’s the first thing a homeowner does when shopping for a home service provider? A vast majority go straight to the internet to start researching on Google, Yelp, or community platforms like Nextdoor. Consumers look for information that will help them decide on the right contractor to hire.
No matter what home services your business provides – plumbing, electrician, outdoor sewar lines, appliance repairs, HVAC – it’s critical to have a strong online brand presence and a digital marketing strategy that fits your budget.
With Google holding a nearly 88% share of searches in the United States, it’s imperative for home care businesses to appear when a consumer searches for “electrician near me,” or other types of home care services.
There are three ways to have your business appear in Google searches:
Free Organic Search
It does not cost your company to appear on a search engine page for a keyword or phrase, but the free results space is getting smaller compared to the sponsored search results and it’s more competitive than ever to get ranked on page 1 of Google – especially for home services.
There are many factors in Google’s algorithm (and they change it all the time) to appear on page one of search results, which is all that matters as very few consumers go to page 2 and it drops off considerably after that. Check your website to make sure, at a minimum, it is:
- Secure (URL starts with https://)
- Loads really fast (within a second or two)
- Responsive (rendering correctly on different size devices)
- Has good inbound and outbound links
- Has fresh and accurate content on a continual basis, including new customer reviews in Google (a little more on that later)
Also, make sure your Google for Business account is updated with your business address, hours, website address, phone, etc. and your social media accounts (about, services offered, address, etc.). Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites are already optimized and will help your business appear in Google searches.
Keep in mind that according to one study nearly 91% of web pages do not get displayed through organic search. What does it mean to your business? You have an opportunity to beat out your competition if you optimize your website for SEO (search engine optimization). Having a website for your plumbing business will not automatically ensure your business appears on first page of Google when someone searches for “plumber near 60131 zip code,” but you will have a better chance if your website is optimized correctly.
Paid Google Ads
Many home services providers have used and will continue to use the pay per click program, Google Ads, to promote their business. This allows businesses to make bids for ad placement to drive traffic to your website. Google Display Network ads, or banner ads, are more visual and can capture the attention of homeowners.
While Google Ads can be a very effective part of your digital marketing mix, it can also be very costly if not managed effectively. Consumers may click on an ad and go to your website but never convert (contact you or complete a form on your site), and lead quality could be low. Your strategy should include landing pages, promotions, and call-to-actions on your website to capture leads that do click through ads and go to your website. Unlike organic search, when you pay for Google Ads, at least you know your ad will appear for the keywords or phrases you bid on, and the more money you spend, the more your ad will appear.
Local Service Ads
The latest offering from Google is Local Services Ads, or LSAs. Google promotes services that are based locally to searchers, appearing at the top of search engine results pages. Customers can click on your ad to call, message, or book directly with your business.
For example, when searching for: “HVAC Repair Contractors in Chicago, IL”, these three LSAs appear at the top of the search results page and well before “organic” search results:
LSAs might sound similar to Google Ads, but it’s an entirely separate and distinct advertising platform, with some key advantages:
- LSA’s appear at the top of the search page results (even before Google Ads)
- LSAs are pay-per-lead (versus pay-per-click). Your business only pays Google whenever you receive bookings directly from the ad, phone calls, or message requests. Calls are far more valuable than clicks. Research suggests that calls have a conversion rate of around 30%-50% compared to just 2% for clicks. So rather than paying whenever a lead clicks onto your site (before clicking off a few seconds later), you only pay when you receive an inbound call from a viable lead
- Your business only has to pay for calls that last over 30 seconds, which eliminates most accidental dials or very low-quality leads. Google will even refund for poor leads as a credit to your account (there is a cap of $2,000)
- If your business qualifies for the “Google Guaranteed” program, your ad will have a “Google Guaranteed” badge that appears on your LSA ad. This helps build trust with consumers as they know Google has vetted your company as a legitimate business (kind of like the old “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”)
- LSAs are easy to manage. No need to spend time managing ads or keywords, which can be very time consuming. Google takes key pieces of information from your business profile and matches up to various search terms. This can be as broad as “plumbing specialist” or as narrow as “How can I make sure my new sink and plumbing is installed correctly?”
- Pricing for LSAs is fairly straightforward. Google has already set up its own price-per-market and price-per-service. You don’t need to second guess the competition; if you see that the price point for HVAC repair contractors in Chicago is $80+, you already have a benchmark to follow for the cost per lead
What is the downside to implementing LSAs for your business?
Here are a few things to consider before applying with Google:
- Your business must go through an extensive vetting process with Google before you can set up your own LSAs. This includes background checks, verification of business licenses and insurance, current customer reviews, and other information. This can take weeks to get approval from Google.
- It’s more complex to set up LSAs compared to regular Google Ads.
- Make sure your customer service reps are ready to answer calls from LSAs. Missing calls is perhaps the worst thing you can do. Not only do you miss out on high quality leads, but consistently missing calls will negatively impact your LSAs ranking.
- Your LSA may not appear for related searches. Google prioritizes whatever ads they believe will generate the most revenue. If they think they have a better chance of gaining a click from a Google Ad than from a call/message/booking from a Local Services Ad, they’ll go with the Ad over the LSA. In other cases, both ad types will appear.
- LSAs could cost you more upfront. You need to have enough budget in place to support at least three leads per week at a minimum. Home service leads can cost $200 or more per lead, so make sure you have enough $ in your account. And, if you ever run out of budget completely, then you’ll temporarily lose your Google Guaranteed badge.
Whether you decide to implement a search optimization program, paid Google Ads and/or LSAs, below are some steps every home service business should take to optimize search results, capture more leads, and close new customers:
- Make sure your website, social media accounts, and Google for Business profile are complete and accurate, and you include recent reviews and new content on your website and social media accounts on a consistent basis.
- Get as many Google reviews from customers as you can. Consumers love checking reviews. Almost 80% of all consumers (and 91% of 18- to 34-year-olds) trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Google promotes LSAs from businesses that have many positive reviews and consumers will click through to websites with positive Google reviews.
- Make sure your business is prepared to capture leads on your website with easy to find call to actions.
- Make sure your sales or customer service group follows up with every lead generated in a timely manner, and that your team is ready to answer every call that comes in from an LSA.
Executing an internet marketing strategy can take significant time and costs. If done right, you can grow your home care service business exponentially by generating qualified leads and closing new customers in your service area and beyond. However, if the strategy and execution is not managed properly, it can lead to higher costs than budgeted and you may not generate enough business to recoup your investment.
If your business does not have a marketing team with internet marketing expertise, you may want to consider hiring a marketing agency or consultant that can help you develop a strategy that is right for your business and execute campaigns to maximize ROI.
Consumers are searching online every day for home care services in your area – is your business ready?
Download our Marketing Plan Template today to incorporate internet marketing into your business’ overall marketing strategy for 2023.