Tuesday, January 19th, 2021
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Did you know roughly a third of U.S. shoppers check out local business listings online daily? To me, this means there’s a real opportunity to grow your business if you find a way to quickly and reliably connect with the best leads.
How do you achieve this?
By creating a Local Services Ad. Let’s dive in and explore why these ads are such an invaluable tool for finding customers and building your brand.
What Are Local Services Ads?
Local Services Ads connect you to local customers searching for the services you offer, whether you’re a tradesperson or small business owner.
- They’re pay-per-lead rather than pay-per-click, meaning you only pay if someone contacts you through the ad.
- Using these ads means you’re Google guaranteed; if someone’s unhappy with your work, Google refunds the cost.
- Ads “rank” based on the number of positive reviews and customers served.
Here’s an example. When customers Google a search term like “New York plumber,” businesses running Local Services Ads appear at the top of the search results.
If you click to see more plumbers, multiple listings show up.
To be clear, Local Services Ads aren’t the same as Google Ads or Google My Business.
- Google Ads are pay-per-click, not pay-per-lead. This means you pay whenever someone clicks the ad, even if they don’t contact you or take action.
- Google My Business lets you verify your business online and add contact details, including a website link. It’s not an ad.
You can use all three features, or opt for just one. It’s up to you!
How Do Local Services Ads Work?
Think of Local Services Ads as a fast-track ticket to positive leads. A few stats will show you why.
- Four in five people want to see local ads when they’re searching for goods or services online. Local ads mean you’re giving users what they want, which, as good marketers know, makes your business all the more appealing.
- Roughly 75 percent of local searches end in a phone call. In other words, these users are actively looking for goods or services, so you want to be one of the first listings to catch their eye.
- 76 percent of customers visit a business within 24 hours of searching for them online. Local ads help you connect with these leads in the quickest time possible by putting you among the top search options.
In short, these local ads help you find leads who are primed to become paying customers. They’re a highly cost-effective and efficient way to market your business at the local level.
Let’s now return to our plumbing example above and work through the features of a typical listing. If we click on “Petri Plumbing & Heating,” here’s what the listing looks like:
This plumber has a 4.6 out of 5-star rating with 504 reviews, they’re accepting customers, and there’s a telephone number to lead potential clients to take the next step.
If we go down further, there’s a business overview. This is where you can set out:
- Which services you offer
- Your opening hours
- The ZIP codes or area you work in
- Business highlights, e.g., if you’re locally-owned or have a BBB A+ rating
Finally, there’s a section where customers can leave a review or read reviews left by others.
If someone books a job through your listing and leaves a review, it’s verified by Google as legitimate. Long term, this reassures prospects that you are a legitimate, trustworthy business.
Managing Local Services Ad Leads and Pricing
Do you need to take every job the ad brings your way? No.
- If a customer contacts you with a job you’re not interested in, you can reject it without penalty. You’ll still pay for the lead, though.
- You can pause your ad for a short period. Since no one’s contacting you through the ad, you won’t be charged anything during this time.
Simply put, you’re still free to choose the jobs you want, and you only pay for the ad when there’s a high chance of conversion, i.e., a prospect contacts you.
Steps to Create a Local Services Ad
Ready to create your own ad? Let’s work through the setup process together, starting with the basics.
1. Check Your Eligibility
Local Services Ads aren’t available for everyone just yet, so the first step is checking your eligibility. It’s really quick and easy to do.
Click the “Get Started” button on Google’s local service homepage.
Next, select your country, ZIP code, and job categories from the drop-down menus.
If Local Service Ads are available to you, move on to the next step.
2. Create a Local Services Ad Profile
Congratulations, you can set up a Local Services Ad! Now it’s time to write a great profile. Your profile determines, among other things:
- Who finds your listing
- Which jobs come your way
In other words, it’s important to get it right.
First, input basic details, including your business name and contact details. You need to provide your own name, too, but it won’t show up on the listing.
Once you’ve completed the first screen, it’s time to add specific details about what services you offer, how much you charge, and the ZIP codes you service.
For instance, if you’re a plumber, here are possible services you can offer:
So, if you can’t repair sewers or garbage disposals (or you don’t want to offer these services), you can remove these options.
This lets prospective customers know what to expect before they contact you, meaning there’s less chance of you sifting through jobs you don’t want.
You’ll also note the important caveat at the bottom of the screen: You shouldn’t offer services that you aren’t qualified to complete safely. It’s also your responsibility to ensure you have the right licenses to work legally.
One other thing: Even if you’re registered for other Google services, like Google My Business, you still need to create a separate profile for Local Services Ads.
3. Submit Relevant Paperwork
To improve service quality, Google needs you to upload various documents. You must prove you’re:
- Qualified to work in your chosen industry
- Licensed to work in the jurisdiction
Why must you upload these documents? Well, it’s all part of the Google Guarantee. Google won’t cover you unless you can prove you’re properly licensed.
Before you complete this section, verify your paperwork is accurate. I’d also suggest double-checking which licenses you need in your jurisdiction to make sure you upload the right documents.
How do you know which documents to provide? Google has a list. If we stick with our plumber example, here are which documents you need:
4. Complete the Background Check
If you’re based in the U.S. or Canada, you and all your employees must complete a background check before you can visit customers at their home address or workplace.
Again, it’s a fairly simple process. Google’s background check partner contacts you, and they’ll ask for relevant information. They’ll cross-check the info you and your team provide against national registries, and they’ll confirm your Social Security numbers are valid.
Do you pay for this background check? Thankfully, no.
5. Manage Your Budget
Once you complete your business profile and pass the background check, you’re ready to start advertising. There’s still one essential box to tick, and that’s setting your budget.
Here’s how it works.
- You decide how many leads you want in a week or month. This determines how much you’re prepared to spend. For example, if you don’t want to pay for more than 20 leads per month, don’t set a budget for 30.
- You’re only charged for each lead you generate through these ads, so if you only receive 10 leads, you won’t spend your whole budget that month.
- It’s easy to tweak your budget if you want more or fewer leads at any time.
To start, it’s probably best to set a modest budget and lead target. You can test the waters this way and increase your budget over time if you feel it’s a good service for you.
6. Review Ad Leads
Just remember, “leads” aren’t customers until you book a job. That’s why it’s key to stay ahead of your leads and follow up on them.
You can review your leads on your desktop inbox or through the mobile app. You’ll always be notified of a new lead anyway, but viewing them this way may make it easier to take action on them.
Best Practices for Local Services Ads
Not sure what to include in your Local Services Ad? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are my five top tips for writing an effective ad and generating the best possible leads for your business.
1. Personalize Local Services Ads
First, make sure your local listing showcases your company’s plus points. Here’s what I mean.
- Explain why you stand out from the competition. What makes you the right service provider for the job?
- Highlight selling points. For example, if you offer emergency callouts or out-of-hours services, state this in your ad.
- Use short sentences where possible. They’re easier to read.
The more information you provide, the more likely prospects are to contact you.
2. Include Relevant Details in Local Services Ads
Think about this from a customer’s perspective. What other details do they need to decide to use your business? Here are some examples.
- Be really clear about which ZIP codes you serve and if your services vary between areas.
- Set out working hours in a user-friendly format.
What’s relevant varies from business to business, so give it some thought before you complete your listing.
3. Respond to Leads Promptly
Remember, these leads are users actively looking for the services you provide, so don’t let them go cold. Here are some tips to manage your inbox.
- If you miss a call, return it as soon as possible, even if you’re rejecting the job. Frequently missed or unreturned calls can lower your ad ranking.
- Set aside blocks of time throughout the day to return messages and follow up on emails.
Most people don’t expect an instant reply, because good service providers are usually busy! However, if your goal is to book jobs and build your business through Local Services Ads, you need to keep a close eye on your dashboard.
4. Encourage Customer Reviews
According to Google, customer reviews directly influence your ad ranking. How do you get those all-important positive reviews? Well, great service is a must, but you also need to ask for them. Here’s how.
- There’s an “ask for review” button next to each job. Click it to send a review link to the customer.
- Or, once you book a lead and mark it as completed, ask the customer for a review.
5. Review for Accuracy
Have you moved premises? Do you need to change your opening hours?
Make sure you update your Local Services Ad to reflect changes like these. Otherwise, you might deter potential customers from working with you.
Finally, keep details consistent across all your profiles, including, for example, Google My Business.
Why is consistency so important? Well, it helps potential customers find you more easily, and it might even build some trust in your brand.
Over 46 percent of Google searches are local, and Local Services Ads can really help you tap into this huge potential customer base. I highly recommend using these listings as part of a diverse, well-rounded digital marketing strategy.
Just remember to keep your information accurate and respond to leads promptly to make the most of your ads.
Are you using Local Services Ads to find customers? How are they working for you?
About two-thirds of companies find it tough to produce engaging content. If you’re one of them, there’s a good chance your problems stem from the ideation phase. In other words, you’re struggling to come up with enough engaging blog post ideas.
Now, if you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll know I write a lot of content (also, thanks for reading!). I’ve been doing this for a long time now. But I still sometimes struggle to come up with new blog post ideas.
So what do I do when writer’s block strikes?
Well, I lean on the tried-and-trusted methodologies I’ve built up over the years for devising new content titles.
Of those methodologies, one of the most consistently useful is to raid YouTube for blog post ideas. I’m going to tell you exactly how to do it in this article.
Why Should You Use YouTube for Inspiration?
It might seem counterintuitive to use a streaming video site to find blog post ideas. Wouldn’t it make more sense just to look at other blogs?
Sure, that can be a super effective tactic, too, but you can’t learn everything from reading your competitors’ blogs. If you keep relying on the same old sources to find content inspiration, you’ll inevitably keep producing the same sort of content, time and again.
If you want to keep pushing the boundaries and creating fantastic content that makes a real impact, you need to cast the net wider. Here are a few reasons why YouTube can help you do that.
It’s Easier to Differentiate Yourself
When you use other blogs to inspire your blog post ideas, you might find yourself wondering: “How can I do this better?”
Sometimes, you’ll be lucky. You’ll stumble across a super engaging title, but the actual article will be poor quality. Maybe it’s several years old and the information hasn’t been updated. Or perhaps it only scratches the topic’s surface, rather than going in-depth.
Other times, there’s no obvious way to improve on the original. But because you’re so convinced it’s a great blog post idea, you end up effectively rewriting your competitor’s article and adding a ton of extra information that doesn’t add any real value. Congratulations, you’ve written a worse post than your rival!
This is far less of a problem when you use YouTube to find new ideas. Why? Because with a lot of videos, there simply won’t be a decent written version available. There might be a transcript of the video, but nothing that’s been created with readability in mind.
That makes it much easier for you to go out and create something better.
There’s So Much Content to Draw Inspiration From
An astonishing 500 hours of content gets uploaded to YouTube every minute, and that number is growing every year:
To put that into context, the major six movie studios released 87 pictures in 2019, at an average length of just over 96 minutes. That means it takes YouTubers around 16 seconds to upload the equivalent of an entire year’s worth of Hollywood content!
With such a wealth of content available, even super niche businesses are pretty much guaranteed to find something relevant to inspire them. And you don’t even need to navigate multiple platforms to find it.
People Interact With Videos & Blogs in Completely Different Ways
This is a subtle point, but an interesting one. Say you find a YouTube title that sounds like a perfect blog post idea, but it has not generated many views or engagement. Well, that’s not necessarily a problem.
Why? Because people engage with different content types in different ways.
As this HubSpot graphic shows us, people prefer to thoroughly consume videos rather than skim through them to find the information they’re looking for. That makes sense; videos are designed for watching from start to finish. There’s often no easy way to jump to a specific section.
Blogs are different. Only 29 percent of people read them from top to bottom, with 43 percent preferring to skip through. That’s because blogs are fantastic for skimming. Subheadings, bullet points, numbered lists, tables, and various visual elements make it simple to find the most relevant information.
So what does this tell us?
A piece of content could perform poorly on YouTube because it’s just not a good topic for a video. Yet it could still make for a fantastic blog post. So you don’t necessarily need to worry about how many views a video has racked up; you can just focus on finding good titles.
4 Ways to Find Blog Post Ideas From YouTube
YouTube is a gold mine of potential blog post ideas! Now here are four ways to find them.
1. Stalk Your Competition
If your competitors are on YouTube, they’ll have done a lot of the hard work for you. Chances are their content will be highly relevant to your audience, too. Go check it out, pick the best titles, and turn them into high-quality blog posts.
Start by drawing up a list of your competitors. Not sure who they are? Try the following:
- Speak to your sales team: They’re the people selling your product, so they’ll know which companies they come up against regularly during the sales process.
- Ask your customers: They likely considered a couple of different products before purchasing yours, so find out which other options they evaluated.
- Do some social listening: Your audience might use forums and social platforms to seek out advice about your product and compare it to your competitors, so go find those conversations! Not sure how? Check out this article on my four favorite social listening tools.
Now you’ve got your competitor list, simply visit their YouTube channels and browse their existing content. In the “Videos” tab, you can use the drop-down “Sort By” menu to segment their content by:
- Most popular
So let’s imagine I’m one of your competitors. Checking out my most popular videos feels like a good place to start.
Straight away, you’ll see a bunch of titles that you know have resonated with my audience. Most, if not all, of those titles could also be written up as blog posts, like:
- SEO for Beginners: 3 Powerful SEO Tips to Rank #1 on Google in 2020
- How to Promote Your YouTube Video When You Have ZERO Subscribers
- How to Create a Digital Product That Generates (AT LEAST) $100,000 Per Month
- How to Write a Blog Post From Start to Finish
- 1 Simple Hack to Getting 1,000 Likes on Facebook
You don’t even need to watch the videos (although you should, they’re great). Take the titles, switch them up, do your research on the topic, then turn them into new blogs.
2. Read the Comments
YouTube comments get a bad rap, but they can be a surprisingly rich source of content inspiration. Commenters are rarely short of advice on how videos could be improved or expanded, and those suggestions can help you formulate new blog post ideas.
Again, let’s use my YouTube channel as an example. Currently, this is my most-viewed video:
As well as clocking up more than 1.7 million views, it has received thousands of comments. A lot of those comments are essentially just people telling me they like the video, which is always nice to hear but not super helpful for finding new blog titles. But some of them give me (and my competitors, if they’re paying attention) a useful steer on future content ideas. Here’s a good example:
Wendy wants to know how I use keyword information from Google Search Console to optimize my content.
As you can see, I’ve already left a short response. But I could go further and create a whole blog post explaining how to use Google Search Console to improve your existing content and create new articles.
Here’s another useful comment on that same video:
Manav asks me if I have any content on Google AdWords certifications. As it happens, this isn’t something I cover, but it could make an excellent blog post idea for some of my competitors.
3. Take Advantage of Predictive Search
You probably think of YouTube as a video-sharing platform, but it’s also a search engine. In fact, it’s the second-largest search engine in the world.
With over two billion logged-in users visiting YouTube every month and watching more than a billion hours of content a day, the platform generates a ton of search activity. Thanks to its built-in predictive search functionality, you can use all that activity to track down potential blog post ideas.
This is a really simple process. Just enter a topic into the search box, and you’ll see a bunch of predicted searches:
Now, it’s a case of exploring the options that sound most relevant. “Marketing degree UK” probably isn’t right for me, but I like the sound of “marketing strategies for small business,” so I’ll take a closer look.
Just from viewing this tiny subsection of results, it seems that “how-to” content resonates with people looking for small business marketing strategies. So do listicles. In other words, we’re not only getting insight on blog post ideas; we’re also learning how our blogs should be structured.
But there’s more. Scroll down the page, and you’ll find a section on related searches:
Each one of those could potentially give me a bunch of additional titles and reveal yet more related searches. The deeper you vanish into the rabbit hole, the more blog post ideas you’ll find!
4. See What’s Trending
It’s important to remember that there’s a whole world of content outside your specific niche. What’s going on out there will naturally affect you and your audience, so it might make sense to write about it.
But what if you don’t know what everyone’s searching for?
Fortunately, YouTube can help here, too. Just visit the “Trending” tab in the left-hand homepage menu to find the content YouTube deems to be most relevant and topical:
Sure, not all of it will be relevant to your audience or brand. Chances are, most of it won’t be. However, I make sure to check in with the Trending section at least once a day to be sure I don’t miss any opportunities to piggyback on viral topics.
Once you start thinking of YouTube as a search engine rather than a video platform, its role in finding new blog post ideas makes a lot more sense.
Just like Google, it’s effectively a huge directory of content on every subject you could ever imagine. But unlike Google, the vast majority of that content exists to engage audiences; the search results aren’t crammed full of product descriptions and category pages. That’s why it’s such a treasure trove for marketers seeking the inspiration they need to create superb content.
What tactics do you use to come up with new blog post ideas?
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