Google Ads for Landscaping Business Owners
Everything you should know about Google Ads as the owner of a landscaping business.
We can set up this entire system for you. Learn more…
While we don’t recommend hiring for technical marketing internally, we do recommend that business owners stay up to date on how these systems work and the requirements necessary for them to work as well as possible.
This article is an overview of everything we’ve learned over many years of managing Google Ads at significant volume for landscaping businesses.
We take tracking advertising campaigns seriously and have found Google Ads to be a powerful and profitable way to build landscaping business. In fact, it could be the most overlooked and most significant opportunity for these kinds of companies.
Intro – Some Leads Are Better Than Others
Attribution tracking is the practice of carefully measuring and applying values to the various touchpoints along the way of prospects becoming clients.
Touchpoints are prospect interactions with your brand throughout the buyer’s journey. Touchpoints could be when prospects clicked your Facebook ads or when they came to your website through Google searches.
When we study these, we can figure out the ways the best clients end up becoming our clients, and then work to maximize these. When measured accurately, you can understand how the cost of these touchpoints contribute to sales, and eventually profits.
Many companies ask their prospects where they heard about them. We have found this not to be accurate enough for our needs. Prospects don’t know which ad they clicked on, or if they heard about us first on Facebook before they recognized our brand in a later Google search.
When we compare our attribution tracking to the data provided by this over-the-phone collected data, we have found it to be very inconsistent. It’s a good idea to ask this over the phone, but it’s not something a multi million dollar operation should be solely relying on. These days prospects require multiple touchpoints before buying our services. Asking them what the one touchpoint they remember before signing up is not all that helpful when there are multiple touchpoints along the average buyers’ journey.
We have found Google Ads to be a powerful way to market businesses because of the level of control and insight they offer. We can train the Google Ads artificial intelligence (AI) to bring laser targeted qualified prospects. Qualified prospects reduce admin time and increase the likelihood that the people we are attracting to our businesses are the best suited for our business.
Often people are trying to get the cheapest leads, but the problem this brings is that the most inexpensive ones come with so many hidden costs.
The hidden costs usually not correctly accounted for are the administrative costs to sign up the leads and the added costs of looking after them. Higher churn is hard on the whole company; routes are changing, and your teams have to learn to look after new properties.
Cheap leads often turn into less satisfied clients, which generate fewer profits, higher churn, decreased morale, and increased logistical strain on the business.
We’ve found that we don’t want to be trying to get the cheapest leads possible because, down the road, inexpensive leads often end up being very expensive.
The best strategy is to be aiming for a sweet spot where the leads are generating the best return on investment.
All this is to say that some leads are better than others.
The biggest problem with SEO is that we have little control over the quality of the leads that come through organic search rankings.
With Google Ads, we can control the geolocation of where our ads show. We can manage the specific types of searches for which we want to show up. When appropriately trained, Google AI can even target the types of people who are more likely to be able to afford our services. Google AIs can also target the types of people who are most likely to appreciate our services – automatically. This makes our businesses more profitable and more competitive.
We believe that the best marketing strategy incorporates a variety of marketing channels for maximum stability and predictability. We have found that it’s essential that landscaping businesses use Google Ads as a core marketing strategy because of how well they work when correctly set up and because of the insights they provide that help to drive all of our other campaigns.
Pros and Cons of Running Google Ads
There are some fantastic benefits to running Google Ads in a way that they will make our businesses unstoppable forces. Don’t let the cons scare you away; the benefits are worthwhile, just be aware of the pitfalls, and you’ll be fine.
Cons of Running Google Ads
When poorly done, Google Ads can waste endless amounts of cash. Google will shamelessly allow us to flush massive amounts of money down the toilet – if we aren’t careful. Buyer beware, an improperly managed account, can max out your credit card FAST. Just like a chainsaw, we need to be careful. It can work really well for us, but things can go south quickly.
For Google Ads to work well, they require a minimum amount of data. Small territories and small budgets take a long time to collect enough data to learn and optimize. Budgets and territories can be too small to be viable.
While we hope that this guide helps to get your campaigns up to speed as fast as possible, it can take a lot of time and money to get your ads to start working profitably. Because of the seasonal nature of lawn mowing businesses, it can take years to learn the nuances that come with the different seasons.
Timing your campaigns with the seasons can be tricky. There is usually some wasted spend when ramping campaigns up and down at the end of your services’ seasons. We need a good handle on this to manage it properly.
Not only do our ads need to be set up correctly, but so do our landing pages and conversion tracking. There are factors outside of your campaigns that will profoundly impact your campaigns. You or whom you are working with will need end-to-end control to be able to ensure Google Ads’ success.
Pros of Running Google Ads
When done correctly, they can be amazingly profitable in a short amount of time. They don’t require months and months to start working as SEO does. You can hit the ground running with the right Google Ads approach.
We have a ton of control over who sees our ads, so we can generate leads that convert into high paying clients efficiently. This is one of the most significant benefits to Google Ads; we aren’t using a shotgun approach, and then having to deal with whatever falls out of the sky. With Google Ads, we can continuously refine our targeting until we are getting laser-targeted prospects reaching out to us.
We have access to lots of information about how our ads are performing. No guessing games. We can see whom we are competing against, how much market share we own, what keywords people are searching to see our ads, and what combination of everything is making the qualified leads call.
With all this feedback, we never have to guess why or why not our ads are or are not working. We aren’t left in the dark, like with almost every other marketing channel. The insights we get from Google Ads significantly help to drive all the rest of our marketing campaigns where we have less access to insight. Data is king. Google Ads give us all the data we need to understand where we can improve. We can focus our efforts specifically on areas we know are going to make a difference.
Pay per click is the marketing channel that companies want us to be using. Google needs quality search results, but keep in mind that around 70% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. Approximately 98% of Facebook’s income comes from advertising. So sure, we can use organic approaches, and we should. Still, we’ve found that these companies reward companies who support their business models with things like more transparency, insight, and support. This helps our companies to be more stable and to handle inevitable changes easier than with organic approaches. We also have reason to believe that these companies reward companies that use paid strategies with more organic results, but this is very hard to prove.
Google Ads vs. Search Engine Optimisation
Which one is better for your landscaping business? SEO or PPC? Really, as always, the answer is that it depends. The size of our territories, the amount of business we want to generate, our profit margins, the services we offer; all come into play when choosing marketing channels for our businesses.
In our opinion, the best strategy for the most mature businesses is a carefully balanced combination of them all.
Beware biased SEO companies saying things that are wrong about PPC/pay per click marketing. If you hear anyone saying that one way is better than another, you should take it with a grain of salt and know that they are biased, overall it’s simply not true.
SEO vs. PPC for Landscaping Businesses Myths
MYTH #1: SEO is better than PPC because you want to invest in your business, “Don’t Rent When You Can Own.”
The critical thing to realize is that SEO is never “done.” The only time this might be true is if we are in a market with no competition. But if this is the case, we probably don’t need much marketing.
As long as the algorithms keep changing, as long as the guy in position two is working on getting to number one, even with SEO, we are always going to be working to maintain it. SEO in any valuable market is still a work in progress. Rankings are ever-shifting.
We can get ahead by investing in a significant set of assets, but what people don’t realize is that this is the same with PPC. If we invest significantly in your pay per click campaigns, hone them and collect a big enough data set, we can optimize our pay per click campaigns to the point that we can get ahead and receive all the best leads for the cheapest, just like with SEO.
MYTH #2: PPC is more expensive than SEO
Again this depends. Not all SEO and PPC are created equal. There are markets with super-competitive SEO that require continual work to maintain rankings. At the same time, the same is true for PPC.
At the time of writing this at the beginning of 2020, we have found that PPC tends to be less competitive than SEO. SEO companies have been preaching to the masses for so long that SEO is the way to go. Because of this, we have found PPC to generally have more opportunities to get ahead, which means cheaper leads because there’s less competition than with SEO. SEO companies are so abundant due to the low cost to start. The reason why there are far fewer PPC companies is the barrier to entry created by the upfront cost to learn PPC.
Of course, as always, this won’t be true everywhere. However, similar to SEO, if you invest enough in developing your pay per click campaigns, they can become extremely competitive.
MYTH #3: No one clicks on ads
This one is big! It has some nuance to be aware of. You see, overall, it’s true that organic search results get more clicks than paid search results. However, for commercial search intent, meaning for searches where people are looking to BUY something (the types of searches you want the most) paid clicks outnumber organic clicks by nearly 2 to one. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/07/18/diversify-search-strategy-ppc
It doesn’t matter how much traffic comes to our sites; all that matters is how many qualified leads are reaching out to us. It’s easy to rank for all sorts of keywords that will never generate qualified leads. We must hold our SEO companies accountable for ranking our business for “money keywords.” The rest are just vanity metrics. Focus on the conversion rate of your website. Traffic not converting isn’t helping anything; it’s just diluting your statistics.
We’ve tested this ourselves and have found that people click on paid ads. We’ve generated millions in revenues from paid advertisements. When used the right way, people click on them. It is possible to set up ads in a way that people won’t click on them. The words in the ads, the keywords used to trigger them, the AI targeting, and the ad extensions we can use to make our ads stand out all play a significant role in getting people to click on them.
MYTH #4: Ads make your business look bad
Believe it or not, this is a statement made on a popular landscaping business advice website. Advertisements can make your business look bad, but this is a silly statement that probably doesn’t need addressing. Ask any of the most successful companies in the world, and they will agree this is silly.
MYTH #5: SEO is better than PPC
Not one is better than the other. Social media marketing, flyers, door knocking, listing sites, word of mouth, even cold calling all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some will work better in some situations and worse in others.
The best strategy is to use a mix of all channels for the most stability. We must always be testing and adjusting our mixes to get the optimal combination for our businesses.
Anyone who says outright that one is better than another is not considering all the factors. We have a lot of experience running PPC, SEO, and offline campaigns, and from this experience, we find PPC to be better than other channels. Our most significant argument is that PPC ad platforms give you a lot of behind-the-scenes data to work with that you just can’t get with the other channels.
Have a myth we didn’t mention? Wondering if something you heard is right? Please let us know.
Quality Score is a metric in Google Ads that tells us how good of a user experience Google thinks our ads are providing to its users. Quality Score has a direct impact on the cost per click of our ads. It rewards our businesses for running ads with a good user experience.
If we were to run ads saying “Free Beer!” and then send the traffic to our landscaping website, this would be an example of a very poor user experience. Google has secret ways to measure this.
High-quality score ads see discounts in cost per click of up to an estimated 50%, where poor quality score ads are penalized by up to an estimated increase of 400%!
The crazy part about this is that we’ve found that most landscaping business owners aren’t even aware that quality scores exist. Even though they have a massive impact on their campaigns.
The most significant mistake people make when choosing where to send people who click on their ads is to send them to the homepage of their website. A huge misconception is that the homepage of your site is the ‘front door’ of your website.
In reality, a website is just a collection of webpages. (In fact, you do not ‘rank a website’, you rank individual pages of a website, but we’ll talk more about this in a later article about SEO.) In the end, your homepage should be the page that people go to when they search for your brand name. (We recommend running brand name PPC campaigns because they are super cheap clicks that make you easier for your clients to find. Worthwhile, but this is a more advanced and less important strategy which we’ll discuss another time.)
Our ads need to line up perfectly with the page we are sending people to. For example, if our ads are for lawn mowing services, we need to send people to our lawn mowing page. Because of this, we must design our pages with the idea in mind that this will be the first page people will see. They are not just subpages under our homepages – really they all need to be standalone. (Even our blog pages can rank individually for their specific topics, and so we need to consider this in their design.)
For lawn care, lawn mowing, or landscaping businesses, we must set up separate ad campaigns for our services and also have different pages to send them to. Do not try and cram a bunch of services into one ad or one page. Our tests show that people are looking for specific services. So, our ads and pages need to cater to this specificity.
Our landing pages’ loading speed will also affect quality scores. Making sure our keywords are correctly set up (as mentioned in this article) will also improve quality scores. And lastly, our ad copy will further impact quality scores.
“Impression share is the percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could get.” – Google
It’s really useful to understand impression share because it gives an idea as to how much more traffic we can get with increased bids or budget.
Google also shows a few other competitive metrics like Click Share, and Search Lost Top. We can see these by campaign, ad group, and by keyword. They give a lot of insight as to what is going on that you will never get with SEO.
Google even provides some metrics showing how we are doing compared to our competitors.
Conversion tracking is the practice of tracking the exact moment an objective result is completed. In terms of conversion tracking for ad campaigns, this is when a prospect does the thing we want them to do after clicking on one of our ads.
We can set up conversion triggers for all sorts of actions people take. For example, anytime someone spends a certain amount of time on our website or anytime someone watches a video for a certain amount of time, could trigger conversions.
The most common and most important two conversions to be tracking are when someone gives our company a call on the phone, or when someone fills in a form on our website.
When someone clicks an ad that brings them to our site, we need a mechanism in place that triggers a conversion when the target action happens.
This conversion is then sent back to the ad platform to let it know that someone did the thing we wanted them to do from clicking on our ad.
If we have machine learning enabled, this is positive feedback for whatever the ad platform did to make that action happen.
Over time, the ad platform will learn what combinations of settings make conversions happen the most often. It will allocate our ads budgets more to these to try and get more of our target conversions to happen.
Where people go wrong is when they don’t have conversion tracking set up correctly and are either not training the AI at all, or are training the AI to do things they don’t want it to do.
These are the most important for lawn care and landscaping businesses.
Many business owners try to reduce the number of phone calls that they get in an attempt to force prospects to reach out through the forms embedded in their websites. Doing this is a big mistake. We’ve found phone leads to convert at a much higher rate than form leads. By doing this, you’re practically telling your best prospects that you aren’t interested in working with them.
We recommend using a call tracking software like Phone Wagon, Call Tracking Metrics, or (our favorite) Callrail to track ad conversions coming in via Google Ads. It’s so crucial that we’d go so far as to say that this is a requirement for any successful Google Ads campaigns.
Call tracking allows us to complete the feedback loop to Google Ads, letting the platform know that the traffic they are sending to our website is actually turning into inquiries. This feedback loop allows the AI to hone it’s targeting to try and get more people similar to the ones that call. Without it, we’re essentially asking the ad platform to fly blind. No good.
Some people think that tracking conversions through forms is enough. However, as you’ll see below, we’ve found that forms do not represent the best leads. The best prospects are the ones who call. We know this because our tracking shows that leads coming through the phone convert at a much higher rate. If we only send form conversions back to the AI and not phone conversions, you’ll be training the AI to target leads that close at a lower rate. Not good!
If we want to take this to an even higher level, we recommend setting up phone systems to ONLY send QUALIFIED lead calls back to the ad platforms as conversions. There are sophisticated ways you can do this, but they are a bit advanced for this training. Just know it’s possible. The better the conversion data you send back to the ad platform, the better the AI will be able to target the people you are looking to attract.
Form prospects convert at a lower rate and attract more tire kickers. Still, they are essential to have on your site. They should be kept short, but they always should have mandatory fields. There is a sweet spot between asking too much and having nobody fill them out, and requesting too little and getting lots of tire kickers who will never buy. We recommend making phone numbers a required field. Prospects who don’t want to talk on the phone at all tend to be pretty low-value prospects.
Don’t worry too much about spam. We’ve generally found it better just to let spam through and ignore it over making it annoying for prospects to fill in the form with captchas (You know those boxes that come up and ask you if you’re a robot or not? Those are captchas.). We’ve even had problems where captchas malfunctioned and made it impossible to fill out forms. Huge mistake. We can block most spam from being able to visit our sites at all. We find this to be a better strategy than to try and prevent it at the form level where it can hurt our user experience.
Forms don’t need to be above the fold, contrary to what many pros preach. We found that pages with forms above the fold in this industry do not convert better. We think it’s because it looks too aggressive. Prospects are thinking, “I don’t even know who you are yet! Why would I commit to reaching out when I haven’t even learned about who you are yet?” We recommend using a button above the fold with a clear call to action. This button shows that we mean business and makes it easy for people to see they can opt-in on the page but in a less in-your-face way.
We recommend you have buttons that take visitors to your form at the top, middle, and bottom of your pages.
Forms must be on all of your sales pages – don’t make people wait for another page to load. We recommend placing forms in the bottom third of our pages. We use buttons to help people quickly scroll to the forms on our pages.
Google makes testing ad copy a breeze. We can throw a bunch of ideas into the mix and let the algorithms automatically figure out what works the best.
Yet, lots of businesses make these main mistakes:
They try to advertise their entire company in one ad.
We need ad sets for each of our service offerings. Don’t be lazy and cram your entire business into one campaign. It’ll never work even close to as well as when we divide them up. For each service, explain why yours is better than the other guys’.
They say what service they offer, and that’s all.
Doing this isn’t enough to stand out. We need to stand out by saying what is different about our services. We need to be clear about why our company is unique. We need to be clear why they should check out your company instead of all the other ones.
They try to show that their services are better by making empty claims.
For example, “we’re the best” or “highest quality.” These are a start, but it’s not good enough. You need to back up your claims with proof. “We’re the best because we do x and y” or “Our services are the highest quality because our crews follow a 21 point checklist.” One of our favorites is one that you can prove immediately; “We always answer the phone.” A great way to build trust is by making promises and then quickly living up to them.
They don’t test ad copy.
We’ve audited so many accounts where the business put up a few ads and then left them forever. Such a wasted opportunity! Google makes it super easy to test ad copy. We should always be testing ad copy. As soon as we find a new winner, we throw a new option into the mix and archive the losers. Overtime, our ads work better and better.
The keywords you use tell Google what search terms you want to trigger your ads to show. Keywords are your targets. And search terms are what people type or speak into Google. We can adjust how we bid on individual keywords based on how well they generate results. Still, we recommend using AI bidding with a robust conversion tracking set up as we have found that it works better than manually controlled campaigns.
Keywords trigger ads. We want to use keywords that people search when they are looking to buy your service. “Money Keywords.” Generally, we want to avoid keywords that people search for when they want to learn about our services in our ad campaigns. These are better for our SEO campaigns. This distinction is buying intent. We want to use high buying intent keywords to maximize the likelihood that our ads will lead to sales. Low buying intent, research type keywords, tend to yield lower returns on our advertising spend.
Negative keywords are powerful. These are the keywords that you are telling Google that you do not want to trigger your ads. We must have a good list of these. They help us avoid wasting money on keywords that won’t lead to sales and will just lead to annoying phone calls from people who are looking for things we don’t offer (like mower repairs or services you don’t sell).
We negative out our other campaigns. For example, we’ve seen snow removal search terms trigger lawn care ads! Google sees “lawn care” as a keyword that similar enough to “snow removal” that they will use the two synonymously if we don’t control this. We don’t want campaigns bleeding into one another. It hurts quality scores and reduces our control.
Negative out competitors’ business names. We’ve found that when our ads show for our competitors’ business names, all it does is generate “wrong number” calls. We tried to convince these callers to sign up with us but found it to be a task left to more experienced salespeople. Generally, these callers were not interested in speaking with us as soon as they realized they had not called the company they were looking for. For this reason, now we negative out our competitors’ business names. You’d be surprised how often people call the wrong number when they Google something like “Jim’s Lawn Care”, and then our ads show up, triggered by the “Lawn Care” part of the keyword. Even though our ads clearly show our clients’ company names! Long story short, negative keyword them out.
Keep an eye on the search terms list and make sure to add negatives whenever you see search terms popping up that don’t relate to your business. Over time, you’ll find that this work gets easier and easier as the worst culprits get weeded out. You can filter the search terms list by clicks and spend to find the worst culprits.
Search terms are the terms people searched in Google that triggered your ads. They will not necessarily be the same as your keywords but are similar to your keywords.
Google automatically triggers your ads based on keywords that are similar to your keywords. Google does this so that you don’t have to list out every potential possible way that people could be looking for you. Around 15% of Google searches are unique – amazing when you think about it.
The fact that Google does this is both a blessing and a curse. Usually, this is helpful, but often it’s not. It’s essential to watch this list and add the bad ones to your negative keywords list to ensure you’re not wasting money on keywords that won’t lead to sales. Over time, you’ll add the good search terms to your keyword lists and negative out the bad ones. Eventually, you’ll have 95% of them covered and just a few random ones left to keep an eye out for.
We want to carefully geo-target your campaigns. There are so many companies that don’t have this set up correctly. They are easy to find because their ads are showing in far off places, hundreds of miles from their businesses. It’s a problem that’s easy to fix.
We recommend listing out your zip codes individually. Doing this is pretty easy in Google Ads.
Target only people in my target location – do not use the default.
To be safe, we both add positive locations by zip code and negative location by zip code around the perimeter of the positive ones. Similar to keywords, we want to be explicit with Google to say where we want them to show and where we do not.
We can check in our reporting to see where our ads are showing. If we see many searches with ads showing outside of our territory, we may want to add in more negative locations. Some companies go so far as to upload a list of all the world’s countries as negatives except for their business’s country, and we can also do this by state. We’d recommend checking the report to see if this is worthwhile first.
We can manually set bids on keywords, but we have found that the machine learning/AI options have become so powerful that this is the best way to go.
Training the AI is like teaching a human. We need to start by giving it a more general objective. Then, as it learns to do what we want it to do (drive conversions), we can get more specific with our goals.
We train our AIs by starting with Maximize Clicks goal. Once we have enough conversions on the campaign, we switch it over to Maximize Conversions goal, and then once we have trained the AI we switch over again to Target Cost Per Action (Target CPA).
With target CPA, we can worry less about the total budget and have the AI do the heavy lifting and try to only get conversions at the cost we set! Doing this is an excellent way to take all the best leads off the table. We need to be clear on our numbers to use this, but it’s powerful once we get it dialed in.
Where we send the people who click on our ads is very important. Our landing pages make or break our ad campaigns.
Think of it as the fulcrum of your entire campaign. If it’s powerful, it’ll magnify the results, and you’ll get lots of great leads for appropriate costs. Still, if it’s not working correctly, it doesn’t matter how well we set up our ad campaigns, they will always yield poor results.
Our landing pages need to be specific to what people are searching for. They need to work to educate the best prospects about your services and then compel them to reach out to you. They need to filter out the less desirable prospects to move on to your competitors.
Filter and Pre-Sell
The easiest way to filter the visitors that come to our sites is by making it very clear and precise what we are offering. It should be self-evident right away what the service is, including exactly what it includes and does not include.
It needs to be clear where exactly geographically we are offering the service. It should also be obvious what the process is for signing up for the service.
The better we do this; the shorter our sales calls will be. And the higher our closing rates will be because our prospects already know almost everything they need to know before reaching out to us.
We do not recommend putting pricing on your landing pages. We don’t recommend this because we believe that you can have more success asking for higher prices in person over the phone where we can build rapport. Over the phone, we can properly frame the sales call to address the specific needs of prospects individually. Do not sell on price.
We do recommend mentioning minimum pricing. We also recommend including qualifiers like commercial only or minimum or maximum job sizes to help weed out unqualified prospects we often need to turn away on the phone.
The practice of adjusting your landing pages to optimize for conversions is essential. We’ve seen pages go from 3% conversion rates all the way up to 20% with enough testing.
It’s crucial to be doing this work as it can make or break the viability of your ad campaigns.
The best way to do this is with split testing or A/B testing. This is where we take the control (the top-performing version of our landing page), duplicate it, make only one small adjustment to it, and then run some traffic from your ads to the new version.
You can use software like Google Optimize to split the traffic coming from your ads to go to both pages. Depending on how much traffic you have, you might want to only send something like 10% of your clicks to the test page.
Once we’ve sent a statistically significant amount of clicks to your test page, we can see which page performed better in driving conversions. If the test page works better, it becomes the control, the control is archived, you create a duplicate of the new control, and you continue to repeat the process.
Conversion optimization never ends because changes in technology and buyer behavior never end. It’s always worthwhile to keep testing.
It’s important to note that with the massive seasonal fluctuations in the landscaping industry, we always want to be testing our test pages against our controls simultaneously. If we only test one at a time, we won’t know if our tests are accurate or if seasonality is affecting our results.
Note the importance of statistical significance. Tests without enough data can easily mislead us to think we are making discoveries when typical abnormalities are just sending us astray.
The stats behind reviews are undeniable. According to Brightlocal:
88% Of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (and rising).
86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34).
They need to be fresh: 40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past 2 weeks.
You can use software like Hotjar to see how people are interacting with your pages. It can be beneficial to understand what is going on and to find issues. Are lots of visitors clicking somewhere that they think is a link, but isn’t? Or are visitors not scrolling to a spot that you think they are? This software allows us to virtually look over the shoulder of visitors and can be helpful when trying to come up with ideas for our conversion optimization split tests.
If our pages don’t load fast enough, we are going to lose a lot of traffic before they even get to see your page. The biggest mistake companies make here is by not optimizing the size of their images.
The general rule is that our pages need to load in less than 3 seconds to avoid losing significant traffic. This rule does depend on the goal of the page. For example this page you’re reading now would be nearly impossible to load this quickly just because of the amount of information and pitcures. It’s a balance between form and function that needs to be carefully considered.
We recommend you use GTMetrix to see how your page is performing in terms of load time.
Don’t forget to check each page separately, not just the homepage.
If we want our pages to stand out from all the others, we need to focus on making them authentic. Almost all landscaping companies in the world hide behind their logos. Their websites are generally very dull. They have stock photography (which is arguably worse than no photos), and some have real photos of their work. But the ones that perform the best? They have genuine photos of people providing the services they offer.
You see, many buyers see our services as being quite similar. The part they want to know about is what is how the experience is going to be. What will the guys who’ll be in my backyard look like? What does the owner look like? What kind of equipment do they use? What sort of vehicle will the neighbors see parked out front?
We’ve found conversions go up when we place a picture of the owner right at the top of the page. Our conversions go up more when we put a video of the owner introducing themselves and the specific service the page is describing.
Don’t hide behind your logo, stand proud on your site, show what your team looks like, show what they look like when they are working, show what the admin person they are going to talk to on the phone looks like. You’ll find that you have more inquiries and that they are warmer when they call you.
As mentioned in the segment above, video is huge for helping to improve conversions. Don’t try to look like a multimillion-dollar media business. You aren’t competing with them. Most of your competitors probably don’t have any video at all.
Selfie style videos work amazingly and drive the best ROI. Get them onto your site, stand out from all the other guys, and enjoy higher converting landing pages and warmer leads who already feel like they know you when they reach out.
Pay Per Click Impact On SEO
Although it’s hard to confirm causation, we’ve seen direct correlations between paid traffic and organic traffic. We think that one way or another, Google rewards sites that pay for traffic by sending more organic traffic. It could be that the paid traffic that’s converting well shows Google that your website deserves organic traffic – but we can’t say for sure.
What we do know is that paid traffic is, without a doubt, the best way to be planning your SEO strategy. It’s simply not possible to collect the same keyword-specific data with SEO that you can almost instantly with PPC. Because of this, we strongly recommend that you use the discoveries you garner from your paid campaigns to drive your organic campaigns. Unlike some of the PPC vs. SEO myths above, this is for sure the best way to plan your SEO campaigns.
Google Ads are an excellent way to build your business with confidence.
If you need a platform you can depend on, one that you have the data at your fingertips to understand what’s going on, one where you aren’t trying to tickle SEO Gods just the right way, then this is the way to go.
Now is the time to get ahead of the curve, collect data, and build a reliable system, before it becomes so cost-prohibitive that it’s impossible to get into the game.
If you have any questions about using Google Ads for your business, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
If you’d like us to manage your marketing for you, using Google Ads as a core strategy, you can learn more about this here:
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About Chris Penny and Lawn Authorities
I've been helping landscape maintenance companies grow their businesses since 2013.
Our fastest growing client has grown from $250k to $1.5m in 3 years using the strategies covered in this website.
Our unique approach to marketing comes from my experience marketing my own lawn care business for 11 years (2005-2016). There are so many unique challenges to growing these kinds of businesses: churn, lowball competitors, attracting the right staff - to name a few. Our systems solve all of these, empowering our clients to grow rapidly with confidence.