Google’s Evolution and Benefit to Painting Contractors Today
Since the official incorporation of Google 20 years ago, it has revolutionized the way consumers find and hire contractors—including painters. And in fact, it would be hard to argue that anything has ever changed how contractors market their services like Google has.
Like any product growing from infancy to its 20th birthday, Google has changed dramatically. Gone are the company’s earliest iterations, which featured numbered search results and did not include ads or images.
Today, Google has grown to control approximately90% of every online search. This includes its search engine, YouTube, Google Maps and affiliate partners. As a result of its market share, Google has created four distinct paid marketing opportunities painting contractors can take advantage of.
Here’s a breakdown of each:
1) Video Advertising On YouTube
Painters not using video ads are missing a huge marketing opportunity. Google video ads are powered by YouTube and typically appear as ‘commercials’ before a main video starts and, in some cases, they can also appear during the middle of a very long video. If you have watched videos on YouTube, you have likely clicked ‘Skip Ad’ to bypass these commercials.
What most painting contractors do not know is that YouTube video ads are incredibly affordable. The typical cost is around $0.25—and the advertiser only pays when their entire ad is viewed. When a user clicks ‘Skip Ad’ it costs $0.00, but they still have to watch the first five or so seconds, and while the best case scenario is for them to view the entire ad, that short exposure still created some free brand exposure.
Even better, YouTube ads can be highly targeted based on location, income, sex, age and interests. For example, a painter can pay just $0.25 to show their ad to a local homeowner in the top 10% of income earners. Compared to traditional TV advertising, YouTube offers better targeting, guaranteed branding, and painters only pay if their ad is viewed in its entirely at a fraction of the cost. Plus, video ads can be retargeted to your website traffic, further increasing the impact they can have on your future business.
2) Google My Business
Launched in 2005, Google Maps initially focused on helping users find local businesses. Today, it has its own mobile app that works as a search engine and provides GPS-based directions. Then nine years after its launch, Google My Business debuted. This platform was built to help businesses provide more information about their services. Today, it includes business information, ratings, reviews, and a host of other features. Information from Google My Business is relied on heavily to power the Google Maps search results. Combined, these platforms helped create the need for painters to develop a local search marketing strategy.
With Google’s location-based search results becoming the norm, Google Maps results appear prominently for most searches, directly under the paid search results and before the organic search results. The Google Maps results typically feature three unpaid listings for searched businesses, plus one paid ad. This is yet another opportunity for painters to use paid ads on Google to appear above the organic results. (We cover this later in this article.)
Painters can boost their Google Maps ranking by doing a few things, which are all entirely free. First and foremost, set up and verify your Google My Business listing. This makes your painting business more legitimate in Google’s eyes and increases your chances of appearing in the Google Maps results. Also, post photos on your listing that show off what you do. According to Google, businesses that add photos to their listings receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t. Next, ask customers to post authentic reviews on your Google My Business listing on a consistent basis.
3) Paid Search Marketing
While it seems hard to believe, for the first two years of its existence, Google did not have keyword-based (pre-selected terms) ads. In fact, its founders initially wanted the search engine to have no ads at all. All of that changed two years after the company launched, and in 2017 Google made $95 billion in revenue from paid advertising.
Known as Pay-Per-Click, PPC, or AdWords, paid search has been around in various forms since 2000 and some of you may have experimented with this form of advertising. If you’ve been disappointed in your results, evaluate the expertise of the person running your ad campaign. Paid search can be very effective when done correctly, but it is not a DIY project as there are myriad options and variables that take an expert to stay on top of.
Today, paid search results typically occupy the top four slots on Google after someone searches, followed by three additional slots at the bottom of the page. Advertisers’ ads are triggered when users search for keywords. While the fundamental principal has remained the same over the years, new features continue to make it the premier Google marketing opportunity for advertisers, including painters. The best of these features is a top-of-page bid strategy, which guarantees their ads appear above both the organic and Google Map results. Want your painting business to appear at the very top of a Google search? This is how you do it.
Paid search is a crucial part of marketing on Google today due to the transactional nature of searches. When a user searches ‘house painter near me,’ it is because they are looking to contact a house painter at that moment in time. Very few marketing channels position painters so close to consumers when transactional intent is at its highest.
4) Display Advertising On The Google Display Network
Display ads appear everywhere online from mobile browsers and apps to desktop browsers on laptops—appearing above, next to, and inside content. Digital ads are normally image-based and sometimes include a call to action such as ‘Learn More’ or ‘Free Quote,’ however text-based display ads, powered mainly by Google, have become more common in recent years.
Despite being the oldest form of online advertising, even predating Google, display ads still have a meaningful place in a painting contractor’s Google marketing strategy today. Here’s an approach painters can use today:
Display ads can be used to retarget website traffic. Retargeting is a very simple concept. Here’s an example of how it works: After you visit the Sherwin-Williams website, you begin seeing ads for Sherwin-Williams on other websites you visit. That’s because Google views every website visitor that does not contact that business as essentially a ‘window shopper,’ and it uses retargeting to keep their brand and logo in front of its window shoppers until they are ready to make contact.
In terms of display ads, retargeting is the most impactful use for painters with a limited advertising budget. Google helps make this possible by allowing you to spend as little as $1 per day on retargeting.
UNDERSTANDING GOOGLE ADVERTISING COSTS
Most ads on Google run on a cost-per-click basis. For paid search and Google Maps ads, the cost can range from $5.00 to $20.00, and even more than $40.00 in major U.S. markets. Advertisers have control over what they are willing to pay for each click. Clicks on paid search ads are expensive because of the high transactional intent of searches on Google.
Display ads also run on a cost-per-click model, but at significantly lower prices. The typical cost ranges from $0.05 to $0.15. Unfortunately, clicks on display ads have much lower transactional intent, but one benefit is that your budget can be as low as $1.00 per day, making advertising with Google an option for any painting business.
Video ads operate on a cost-per-view system. Every time someone watches an ad for at least 15 seconds, that advertiser gets charged by Google; you can expect to pay between $0.25 and $0.35 per completed view.
LAUNCHING A GOOGLE MARKETING CAMPAIGN
With so many options, marketing on Google can be intimidating. Further complicating matters are the variable expenses involved. While it is not impossible to do your Google marketing, it is incredibly challenging.
Thankfully, there are resources in place for painting contractors to find certified Google partners to assist with their Google marketing campaigns. Simply search ‘Find a Google Partner’ on Google to access the directory of consultants and agencies who meet Google’s testing and performance-based standards. Here, you can review specific credentials an agency or consultant holds to help you choose an expert in search, display or video advertising.
Given that Google’s role in how consumers find and contact contractors in not likely to change dramatically in the foreseeable future, it’s imperative that you, the contractor, have a concrete Google marketing strategy.
Aaron Hockel is the VP of Digital Marketing at AltaVista Strategic Partners, an agency that specializes in marketing commercial and residential painting businesses. He also leads online marketing workshops at the PDCA Expo and is a regular guest on their paintED podcast series. Aaron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org