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PPC Adwords Guide

Your Guide to Maximizing ROI on PPC Ads

How to Do PPC Like the Pros: The Ultimate Guide for Irrigation, Lawn Care & Landscape companies.

Ready to take your lawn care, irrigation or landscaping business to the next level? If you’ve considered PPC and thought it was too expensive, or you tried it and it “didn’t work,” we’re here to show you the right way to do it.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

How to dominate the competition by delivering ads that work

How to acquire new customers for less money

How to convert more of your website visitors into quality leads

Is PPC Right for You?

A lot of businesses tell us that they can’t afford PPC because they think it’s expensive. The truth is that you can’t afford not to do PPC.

In our expert opinion, PPC should be a part of any service business’s marketing strategy. It’s a way to attract new leads and customers on autopilot while simultaneously controlling who you target and how much you spend.

However, PPC can also be a hazard to your business if it’s done incorrectly. We’re going to show you step-by-step how to devise and implement a winning ad strategy for any green industry business.

What is PPC?

Short for pay-per-click, PPC is a type of advertising where you, the advertiser, pay when someone clicks on your ad.

This strategy is distinct from other forms of advertising like print, television, radio, and some types of social media, where you pay based on the number of people who see your ad.

The top PPC platforms are:

Google (including YouTube)

Bing

Facebook and Instagram

Successful Pay Per Click Campaigns for the Green Industry

If you’re reading this guide, it’s likely that one (or both) of these things happened to you.

You spent a lot of money with a digital agency on PPC advertising and got nothing in return. Very few leads came in, and the ones that did call you were not high-quality.

Or…

You tried PPC yourself and were completely turned off by paying several dollars for a click that didn’t turn into a sale. The price seemed high, and without firm results, it didn’t seem like a viable strategy.

These two scenarios are common, but it doesn’t have to be this way. A PPC campaign that’s set up and optimized correctly can bring high returns on investment, ranging from 5X to 35X.

The secret to success in PPC campaigns is to incorporate these 4 steps:

Create ads that are relevant to the services you provide.

Write ad copy that offers your prospects a clear solution.

Have a high-quality sales pages where visitors land after they click on your ad.

Develop a smart keyword and bidding strategy that results in the lowest possible expenses with the highest possible number of leads.

Before You Begin Writing PPC Ads

Eager advertisers often make the mistake of picking a handful of keywords about their business, putting them into a single Google Ads campaign, and then bidding randomly, hoping that they’ll be successful. This almost never works, and even if you have early success with this haphazard strategy, it won’t work for long, and it won’t scale.

Success in Google Ads requires careful planning. Google’s goal, just like yours, is to provide a valuable service for its customers. In order to do that, they have to give their customers the information they’re looking for. If you can manage to set up your ads to match the search queries of Google’s users, then those customers can potentially become your customers, too.

So, before you begin writing a single word of ad copy, think through these steps:

1. The service or services you’d like to promote
2. Which types of customers need this service and why
3. What keywords are customers typing into Google when they’re looking for that service?
4. Which landing pages do you need to create that speak directly to the customers looking for that service?
5. How can you incentivize them to act now?
6. What can you do to make it easy to get in touch with you? A click to call button on your website? A prominently displayed contact form?

The Real Benefit of Irrigation, Lawn Care and Landscaping Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising can help your business grow and scale in unprecedented ways. The clients that we’ve worked with at our agency have been able to realize several benefits:

Speed – Google and Bing ads can work very quickly. In many cases, a campaign can be set up in a day, bringing in leads within hours. By contrast, SEO and social media marketing can take weeks, months, and even years to pay off.

Targeting – With PPC advertising, you can target who you’d like to show your ads to based on location and demographics, including age, gender, income level, and interests.

Scalability – You’re in control of how much you spend and how many leads you bring in. Simply turn your budget up or down to get the results you want.

Intent – Unlike other forms of advertising, PPC ads on the Google and Bing networks target people specifically looking for what you’re selling. Finally, you’re able to reach people the moment they’re ready to buy.

The Different Pay Per Click Platforms

Though there are several pay-per-click platforms to choose from, the ones we recommend most for lawn care, landscaping, and other green industry businesses are Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) and Bing Ads.

With Google Ads alone, you can reach approximately 90% of the Internet due to both the popularity of the search engine among Internet users and the Google network, which allows you to place your advertisements directly on millions of sites on the web.

When you add Bing into your advertising mix, you can reach the other 10% of North American Internet users, allowing you to target everyone in your audience that matters.

How the Process Works

One of the most common questions we get about Google Ads is how much it costs. The answer is that it depends. Prices for Google Ads are based on an auction process, and there are several controllable factors that go into the final price you pay for a click, including:

Competition for your keyword

Your bidding strategy

Seasonality

Quality score

Though you have some control over these factors, the quality score is what tends to trip people up, so we’re going to spend some time explaining what it is and show you can get a high quality score to lower the cost you pay per click.

Quality Score

A high quality score allows you to pay less for a click than your competitors. This is because Google uses its quality score to reward advertisers that are delivering a positive user experience to their customers. The factors that go into your quality score calculation include:

Landing Page Quality – Is the page the user lands on consistent with the promise made in the ad? Does the page load quickly and provide a positive user experience?

Ad Relevancy – How closely is your keyword related to the ads? For example, if the keywords in your ad group are about pest control, but your ad copy discusses sprinkler repair, your ad relevance will drop, which negatively affects the quality score.

Click-Through Rate – Click-through rate is the percentage of the people who see your ad that click on it. For example, if your ad was shown to 100 people, and 4 people click on it, your CTR would be 4%. In general, a high click-through rate shows that your ad is relevant and attracting the right audience.

Historical Account Performance – Google tracks your account performance from day one and rewards long-standing accounts using best practices with higher quality scores. Over time, you can improve your account performance, and therefore, your quality score.

Keyword Relevancy – This measure is similar to ad relevancy, but it compares your performance to all other keywords across the Google Ads network.

How the Green Industry Can Get Fantastic ROI with PPC Advertising

Google Ads done right can help the green industry see a lot of green!

We know you’re ready to get started, but stick with us just a bit longer so that we can outline the best practices you should follow. By taking a systematic and organized approach, you have a better chance of turning a hefty profit with your Google ads.

One of the best ways to get your feet wet with Google Ads is to choose one of your most profitable services and begin running ads to it. A high profit margin service gives you some wiggle room to learn and experiment. Once you find success with a couple of your key services, you can begin to scale your advertising.

Know Your Budget and Numbers

If you’re running lawn care and landscaping ads yourself, plan to set aside at least $1,000 per month. If you’ve hired an agency, that cost will go up to cover their management fees.

The $1,000 budget amount is a minimum, and if you’re in a large, competitive city, that’s not going to get you much in the way of clicks and leads.

According to Landscape Leadership, the green industry should spend at least $2,000 to $3,000 monthly just to show up. This is because larger competitors with deep pockets are willing to pay top dollar to earn the top ad position in Google search results. If you don’t have a large enough budget, your ads won’t be shown.

You’ll also need to figure out what percentage of ad clicks turn into leads. Knowing this number will allow you to determine what you can afford to pay for a lead. For example, if you’re paying $10 a click, and 2 out of every 10 visitors becomes a lead, then your cost per lead is $50.

Keep in mind that these estimates are conservative. In several markets, we can get cost per click amounts down to $1 to $5.

Our experts carefully plan and execute your PPC strategy, choosing the best keywords and platforms for running your ads.

Know Your Sales Numbers

In addition to knowing how much a lead costs, you’ll also need to calculate some sales figures.

For example, let’s say that you can convert about 30% of your leads into paying customers. Following the numbers from the previous section, this would mean that your customer acquisition cost from Google Ads would be $150.

To make Google Ads profitable in this scenario, a customer must be worth at least $150. In the green industry, that’s not necessarily an issue, but you do need to be mindful of these numbers.

For example, if you’re running ads for a low-end service that costs about $80 a month, then it’ll take time to break even, and that doesn’t include your operating expenses.

For this reason, we recommend starting with your more expensive services first in a Google Ads campaign, or work to keep your CPC (cost per click) low.

As an example, let’s say you offer sprinkler systems, and the average cost of a system is $2,500. If you can acquire a customer at $150 and earn $2,500 in return, your ROI would be 1,567%!

Want some help crunching the numbers and figuring out where to focus your PPC efforts?

How to Set Up the Perfect Irrigation, Lawn Care or Landscaping Ads Campaign

Now that you know the basics and some background information about the Google Ads platform, let’s get down to brass tacks and learn how to set up a campaign.

Keyword Research

How well you execute this step can make or break your campaign.

Keyword research involves determining which keywords potential customers are typing into Google when looking for the service you provide.

You’ve most likely got a gut feeling and some experience that you can rely on to get started, but we also suggest taking a scientific approach to keyword research. You’d be surprised at the words people use to search for things that you might not have thought of!

We recommend using Google’s Keyword Planner to identify keywords and discover their search volume. The tool is free and provides decently reliable estimates.

You can also use a paid tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs to drill down into more specific data.

Once you get some ideas about search volume for the various services you offer, it’s time to map them into campaigns. In this example, we created four keyword categories for a lawn care company:

1. Branded keywords
2. General lawn care keywords
3. Lawn care services keywords
4. Modifiers to capture local intent

Brand CampaignGeneral Lawn CareLawn Care ServicesLawn Care Modifiers

Negative Keywords

A vital step in setting up and optimizing your PPC campaigns is to include negative keywords. These are the words that you don’t want to trigger your ad. By knowing which negative keywords to include, you can save yourself a lot of money and dramatically improve your campaign’s performance.

A negative keyword acts like a stop sign. If you specify a list of negative keywords and someone types in that keyword in a query related to your service, your ad won’t show up.

For example, let’s say someone wants the cheapest lawn care services on the planet. So, they type “cheap lawn care services” into Google. If you didn’t list “cheap” as a negative keyword, then there’s a good chance your ad will show. The guy looking for cheap lawn care clicks on your ad and ends up on your landing page.

You just paid a couple of bucks (at least) for that. If you’ve got prices on your website, then he’ll immediately leave. If you don’t have prices, then he might call you and take up your valuable time. Now, you paid not just for the click, but also for the time he wasted.

If you skip the step of identifying negative keywords, you can blow through your ad budget at the speed of light and not have a single qualified lead to show for it. Your goal should be to attract buyers with serious intent, not looky-loos or people who land on your page because your ad didn’t match what they needed.

Some of the negative keywords you might want to add to a campaign include:

Jobs, careers, employment, full-time, part-time

Career, salary

Association

Supplies, suppliers

Stores, Craigslist

Equipment

Tips, DIY

Cheap, budget

Competitor names

As you can imagine, the people typing in these terms in a Google search query are looking for something other than lawn care or landscaping services. If you make the mistake of showing your ads to these types of queries, you’ll waste a lot of your budget unnecessarily.

It’s not difficult to add negative keywords to your account. From your Google Ads dashboard, click on Keywords > Negative Keywords. Then click the circular blue plus symbol to begin adding them. You have the option to add them at the campaign level (which we recommend for the list shown above) as well as the Ad Group level.

Ad Groups & Bidding

An ad group is like a bucket of similarly themed keywords. We recommend creating different ad groups based on customer intent and your service offering. For example, if you’re a lawn care and landscape design company, you might have one ad group for maintenance and one for design services.

Within your ad groups, you’ll also specify the keywords you’d like to target. Your options include:

1. Broad Match – Your ad will show when someone searches for that keyword, variations of it, and related topics.

2. Broad Match Modified – You can use broad match modified to become more granular and specify that the keyword (or close variants) you’ve specified must show up in the search query to trigger your ad. Example: +lawncare +services.

3. Phrase Match – To further hone in on serious search inquiries, put your keyword in quotes like “lawn care services” to ensure that the entire phrase is included in a search query before your ad is shown.

4. Exact Match – To capture high-intent searchers add brackets to your search term, which results in only that exact keyword phrase being able to trigger your ad. An example would be [lawncare services].

Broad match is rarely used because it results in a lot of wasted ad spend. The reason is that Google will show your ad for anything that includes that keyword or is remotely related to it.

For example, if someone is searching for dollhouse landscaping, they’re probably looking for miniature plants and flowers for a dollhouse. You do not want to show up in that search and pay for a click!

Often, agencies will tell you that they need to use broad match for “research.” This simply means that they’re not familiar with your industry, and they think that they’ll find new keywords that they hadn’t thought to use in your original campaign. Unfortunately, the result is that the agency gets to learn on your dime.

Modified broad match gives you more control without restricting search volume. By adding a “+” symbol before each word (with no space), Google knows to deliver your ad to any search query that includes all the words in that keyword phrase in any order. So, for example, +Landscaping +Company would potentially trigger your ad to show for a query like “best company for landscaping in my area.”

Putting keywords in quotes is how you specify phrase match keywords. This tells Google that you want your ad to show up for any search query with that exact phrase in it. For example, the “Omaha landscapers” keyword phrase could trigger an ad for a search query like “Omaha landscapers that work on weekends.”

The final keyword option is exact match, and as the name suggests, Google will only show your ad if the search query matches the phrase exactly. Adding words before or after and changing the order will not trigger your ad to show.

Recently, Google has gotten more lax with this distinction and has opened the door to some variations like singular and plural forms of the word, misspellings, abbreviations, and even synonyms.

Keyword Match Types
Broad Match Modified Broad Match Phrase Match Exact Match
Landscaping +Landscaping +Company “Landscaper Near Me” [Omaha Landscapers]
Landscaper +Landscaping +Services “Landscapers Near Me” [Landscapers in Omaha]
Omaha Landscaping +Omaha +Landscapers “Omaha Landscapers”

These keyword match types are also a vital part of your bidding strategy. For example, you might want to bid lower on broad match modified keywords because their immediate buying intent isn’t likely to be as high. On the other hand, you might want to increase your bid by 20%, 50%, or even 100% on an exact match keyword phrase to ensure your ad shows up when someone is ready to buy.

Campaign Settings

The campaign set up procedure also sets the stage for Google Ads success. You can change your settings at any time to scale your ads up or down, so you’re not fully committed to what you choose. As you experiment, get data, and learn, you might need to adjust these settings down the road.

Campaign Goal

From your Google Ads dashboard, click New Campaign. Select Leads as your campaign goal.

Campaign Type

Your initial campaign for green industry services should be a Search campaign.

Title of Your Campaign

Name your campaign something descriptive – for example, lawn care services, turf repair, etc.

Networks

Google’s Search Network displays text ads, while the Display Network shows image ads. When you’re just starting with a basic campaign, choose Search Network. Leave the boxes unchecked that offer to include Google search partners.

Unless you’re working with a massive budget and have money to burn, you’re not likely to get results here. It’s best to focus your ad spend on what we know will move the needle.

Locations

As a local service business, choose the area that you serve. As you get more advanced, you may end up creating different campaigns for different cities and neighborhoods, but for now, we’ll focus on a single campaign serving a specific radius.

Further, we highly recommend changing the default of targeting “presence or interest” to “presence.” This distinction is crucial when you’re targeting homeowners and commercial businesses.

By targeting the default, which is presence or interest, your ads will show to people who like your city for vacations or might have visited in the past. By selecting presence, you’re telling Google that you only want your ad to show to people who actually live in your service area.

At this step, you can also choose to exclude locations that you don’t serve or would like to create a separate campaign for.

Budget and Bidding

Now comes the fun part. You get to tell Google how much you want to spend and how you want to bid.

For the budget, put the amount you’d like to spend each day. Google will spend this amount on average for a 30-day period, though they might go over or under on some days. Don’t be alarmed if you set a $100 per day budget, and Google spends $200 on the first day. Over the course of the month, it will all balance.

Currently, our recommended bidding strategy is manual bidding. This option gives you full control over your ad account.

Though it can be tempting to give Google’s advanced algorithm the reins and let their Artificial Intelligence use their virtually infinite set of data points to optimize your bidding strategy, the truth is that the algorithm isn’t quite there (yet). You’re better off calling the shots.

As far as the bidding strategy goes, you get to choose what to focus on. Stick with the default, which is conversions.

Setting Up Your Ads

The process of setting up your ads includes creating ad groups, identifying keywords, and writing the ad copy.

It might seem obvious, but it bears repeating – keep your keywords and ad copy consistent with your ad groups. As you go through this process, you’ll start to see why it’s important to separate ad groups by services and customer intent.

The ad group for lawn care should have different keywords and ad copy than the ad group for landscape design services, for example.

As you write ad copy, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think about what they want and why. It can also help to picture who your ideal customer is and speak directly to them. What problem do your services solve? How do your services improve their routine, status, self-worth, and peace of mind?

Many companies choose the angle of discussing how long they’ve been in business, believing that saying they have 100 years of experience builds credibility. To a point, it does, but think about things that might matter more to your customer, like a BBB A+ rating, or thousands of satisfied customers, or the option to get a free quote.

If you put some thought into crafting your ad, you’ll be heads and shoulders above the competition. Very few of your competitors are getting it right. Look at this ad as an example of something that did a couple of things right, but it ultimately missed the mark.

By contrast, here’s an ad that knocked it out of the park. Notice the benefit-driven language and the no-fluff trust factors.

Ad Extensions

To increase the chances that your ad gets seen and clicked on, we strongly recommend utilizing ad extensions. An ad extension allows you to supply additional information about your company, offer, or service. Your ad will stand out more on the page, and it can also inspire someone to click on your ad instead of a competitor’s.

There are several ad extensions available, but the most useful for the green industry are:

Call Out Extensions – Highlight key features that distinguish you from the competition.

Sitelink Extensions – Links to pages on your site where people can learn more about your various services.

Call Extension – A clickable phone number, which is incredibly convenient for mobile users to get ahold of you.

Location Extension – Show your address so that people know you’re local.

Location extensions also give you the opportunity to show up as an ad in the Google Map 3-Pack, which is a practically surefire way to improve your lead generation results.

Extensions are easy to set up, and you can customize them to show on certain dates, during specific hours of the day, whether you want them to show on all devices, and whether you want the extension to apply to your entire account, or just to a single campaign or ad group.

And, finally, as you can see in the examples above, you can use multiple ad extensions in a single ad.

Conversions & Call Tracking

Setting up conversion tracking is critical to your success because if you don’t know which ads led to phone calls and projects, you won’t have a clue which ads worked and why.

There are three different types of conversions to track:

1. Contact form submissions – When someone fills out a form on your website, they should be taken to a separate thank you page. This is distinct from a thank you message because they have to land on a new page to accurately track a conversion.

2. Phone calls from your website – Google has call tracking that allows you to determine that a call came from an ad landing page and not your main website or a google search.

3. Phone calls from your ad extensions – As you saw earlier, you can also have phone numbers in your ads. This allows leads to click directly from the ad, completely bypassing your website. Keep in mind that these phone numbers must be unique so that you know the call came directly from the Google ad.

For the phone number situation, you can set up dynamic number swapping with a different phone number for PPC traffic vs. organic or direct traffic. Services like Call Rail make this a breeze.

At AquaTerra, we don’t just set up your ads–we maximize conversion opportunities and track results.

Landing Pages

Don’t make the mistake of sending all of your ad traffic to your home page. Instead, each ad campaign or ad group should have a dedicated landing page that’s consistent with the text and offer in the ad.

For example, an ad about turf installation should go to a landing page that describes and sells that service, not your home page.

Let’s look at this in action.

If I search for “turf installation,” I see this ad, which takes me to a landing page where I can a free estimate for either residential or commercial turf. There’s also some information on the page answering questions I might have about cost and applications, as well as a finished project gallery.

If this company had sent me to their home page, the experience would have been a lot different.

The home page is about remodeling services. As we scroll down the page, there is nothing about turf, so we have to click on a button called View All Services. Then, we have to do another endless scroll to find turf design and installation. Very people are going to go through all that effort. Instead, take the time to build a landing page for each service you plan on promoting.

Dedicated landing pages also help you increase conversions. Instead of distracting your visitors with all of your services, a potential lead hones in on what you’re offering. Their options are the page are limited to calling you, filling out a lead form, or leaving the page altogether.

Monitoring

Whew! You set everything up. Now it’s time to sit back and relax, right? Nope! Google Ads is not a “set it and forget” model. You have to monitor your ads’ performance and make changes constantly.

Check to see which ads and keywords are converting and which aren’t. Watch your cost per click and cost per acquisition numbers like a hawk. Check your search terms to see if garbage keywords are driving up your CPC.

There’s a lot to keep track of, but it’s totally worth it! Plus, as you monitor your performance, you’ll start identifying opportunities to scale your ads and increase your budgets to grow your business even more.

Facebook Advertising

At the beginning of this guide, we briefly mentioned Facebook advertising as a PPC platform. Like Google, Facebook allows you to target potential customers based on demographics, location, interests, and more. Plus, you can use Facebook for retargeting, which we explain further in our Retargeting Strategy Guide for the Green Industry.

Even though Facebook ads are often set up to charge advertisers for clicks, these ads work differently. The key difference is that Facebook ads are interruptive advertising. For example, a homeowner might see an ad for landscaping design services, but they weren’t searching for it at that moment. By contrast, if that same homeowner saw an ad on Google, it would be because they were actively searching for this service.

Both types of advertising have their place, and as you’ll see in the Retargeting Guide, they often complement each other well.

PPC for the Green Industry: Are You Maximizing This Opportunity?

A lawn care or landscape PPC campaign can transform your business and bring in a flood of new leads on your terms.

Advertising on Google puts your brand name front and center, leading to more brand name recognition, more traffic, and more customers.

The process of creating and optimizing a Google Ads campaign isn’t easy, and it takes time to nurture it so that it’s performing like a well-oiled machine.

We’d love to help you get started with Google Ads or advise you on how to improve your current campaigns. We offer a free strategy session, so we encourage you to get in touch today.