The Ultimate Guide to Paid Search for Contractors

Our guide to paid search for contractorsIf you’ve been relying on search engine optimization to grow your business, we already know what you’re thinking: Why should I spend money on something I could be doing for free?

We’ve seen countless clients promote their services with sponsored posts on Facebook but fail to leverage Google Ads. Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options Google Ads has to offer, there’s no denying that paid search can open new doors for your home services company.

According to a 2019 survey, 63 percent of people would click an ad on Google, and 75 percent of those people say Google ads make it easier to find what they’re looking for. When a local homeowner searches for an emergency plumber or wants more information about landscaping services, they’re going to turn to Google. You want to swoop in, stand out from the competition, and give them the answers they’re looking for.

Paid search not only put you in front of the right people at the right time, but they’re also:

  • Targeted. With paid search, you can choose the keywords you want to target, as well as the geographic locations where you’d like your ads to appear.
  • Efficient. Instead of spending months crafting the perfect SEO strategy, paid search gives you instant access to Google’s prime real estate. If you need leads now (or you’re just tired of spending hours in front of a desk researching SEO algorithms), paid search is the answer you’ve been seeking.
  • Cost-effective. Some contractors spend thousands on TV commercials, billboards, and newspaper ads never to receive a single phone call. Meanwhile, with paid search, you’re only paying for leads who are already interested in your products and services.
  • Measurable. Unlike SEO, paid search provides real insights into your campaign’s performance. This way, you’ll be able to optimize your ads, make the most of your advertising budget, and actively improve your strategy.

So, what are you waiting for? Whether you’re updating your current strategy or diving headfirst into the world of search engine marketing, there’s no better time to tap into the potential of paid search for contractors.



Here are the categories of paid search for contractors that you need to know.

1. Smart Campaigns

How many hours does it take to analyze, update, and maintain your Google Ads campaigns? If the answer is “too many,” you’re not alone. Our clients don’t have hours to sacrifice to build powerful Google Ads campaigns. They’re devoting blood, sweat, and tears to grow their business—and they don’t have any time or energy left at the end of the day. That’s where Google Ads Smart Campaigns save the day.

Google Smart Campaigns, specifically designed for small businesses, use an automated tool to promote your business on Google. They’re one of the easiest ways to dip your toes in the world of PPC and digital advertising—and getting started is a lot simpler than you’d expect. It’s ideal for business owners who (1) have limited time and resources or (2) little to no experience with paid advertising.

The best part? You can set up a Smart Campaign from any device in less than 15 minutes. Once you’ve finished the setup process, you can showcase your ads on Google’s search network, Google Maps, and even Google website partners.

Should you use Smart Campaigns? Google Smart Campaigns come with a user-friendly dashboard and a simple setup process—but they also come with less detailed data and little control over your targeting options. 

By simplifying your options and automating the process, you don’t have to constantly monitor your campaign to drive website traffic and generate new leads. With that said, if you have the time to spend on Google Search Ads (or the advertising budget to hire an experienced marketing partner), you’ll be able to reach more prospective clients with a more targeted campaign.


If you’ve been playing with local SEO, you already know that Google is notoriously effective at identifying which businesses best match what people search for locally. Google constantly refines its local search algorithms to make sure the most relevant businesses appear in local search results.

When it comes to reaching local homeowners, local search ads will be your MVP. Local search ads make your home services company stand out within the local results section of Google’s search results. When a local searcher searches for a specific service near their location, they’ll see ads that show your location, phone number, hours, and online reviews.

Unlike other types of paid ads on Google, local search ads revolve around your weekly budget—not your quality score, click-through rate, or the quality of your landing pages. They’re marked with a small green “Google Guaranteed” checkmark to show searchers that your business is trustworthy. Plus, they’re displayed above text ads, so they’re the first thing searchers see when they’re looking for a local business.

Should you use local search? Thanks to Google Business Profiles and call extensions, local search ads are one of the best ways to get more phone calls. They’re also a great way to build trust among potential clients, showcase your online reviews, and keep up with voice search.

Of course, there are some cons that come with local search. It’s highly automated, with little ability to optimize your ads and target specific segments. In addition, to run local search ads, you’ll need to undergo an extensive application process to become Google Screened. Local search ads can make a dramatic impact on your online visibility, but it’ll take some time to start generating leads.


Branded search is just like it sounds—you’re bidding on branded keywords for a specific brand or product. Nike and Nike Air, for example, are branded keywords for Nike.

You might not think to bid on your brand name, especially if your home services website already appears at the top of Google’s organic search results. Maybe you’re even thinking that paying for clicks instead of driving them organically seems counterintuitive.

The truth is, bidding on your brand lets you promote specific information (with Google’s ad extensions) and set the exact page where you want to send your potential leads. It also protects you from competitors who might bid on your branded keywords. Plus, clicks on paid search are twice as common for keywords with search intent. In other words, 64.6 percent of searchers click on Google Ads when they’re looking to buy something online. Branded searches pack tons of search intent with middle- to bottom-of-the-funnel traffic.

Should you use branded search? Generally, your cost-per-click for branded search will be lower than other search campaigns, since your URL and ads will be highly relevant to searchers. At the same time, you don’t want your paid ads to appear for similar but irrelevant keywords. To maximize your ROI and appear for the most relevant searches, narrow your targeting options and experiment with keyword match types until you’ve found the winning combination.

If you’re new to search engine marketing, branded search campaigns can be harder to implement. If you’re not sure where to start (or you’re having trouble building brand awareness), a marketing partner can help you build a comprehensive branded search strategy. 


Non-branded search campaigns are exploding among brick-and-mortar businesses, with searches like coffee near me up 113 percent year over year, according to MomentFeed. Unlike branded search campaigns, non-branded campaigns target keywords that don’t include your brand. That means your costs are going to be higher, since your relevance to the user is lower, especially for more generic keyword phrases like AC repair.

Non-branded search campaigns drive users to your website while they’re searching for keywords related to your products and services. They can also have a great ROI for contractors. With proper execution, non-branded search campaigns also come with incredible scalability.

Should you use non-branded search? Mastering the art of non-branded search isn’t easy. These campaigns require significant time, money, and resources to manage and test your landing pages, monitor your results, and identify the right keywords.

When done right, non-branded search can be a powerful marketing tool to build brand awareness. The secret to success is to ensure your brand is visible locally when local homeowners search for relevant keywords.


Think of a competitor search campaign as a branded search campaign in reverse. Instead of bidding on your own brand name and services, you’re bidding on searches for your competitors’ branded keywords. It’s all about using the brand power of your competitors to boost your online presence and attract new leads. Sounds like a win-win, right?

There’s no denying that competitor search can be a smart strategy. After all, you’re stealing traffic from your direct competition and redirecting potential leads to your website. At the same time, competitor search campaigns can be expensive. In this case, your business isn’t always the most relevant thing searchers want to see.

Should you use competitor search? If you can justify the higher costs of acquiring new customers, competitor search can have a huge payoff. Sometimes, these customers even come with a higher average order value or lifetime value.

If the local competition isn’t buying its own traffic or doesn’t have strong brand loyalty, and if your services are a better alternative, competitor search can be a profitable paid search strategy.


6. Display Ads

Display ads make it easy for advertisers to reach people outside of search engine results. They’re displayed on over two million publisher sites, with text, image, and video banner displays that appear as your target audience browses the Internet.

There are a few different targeting options you can use here, including:

  • Topics and interests. The broadest targeting option is based on topics and interests, which can range from auto to home and garden. When you choose topic-based targeting, you’ll serve ads on any sites belonging to that category in the Google Display Network. 
  • Contextual. With contextual display ads, you can serve ads on pages with content containing the keywords you’re targeting.
  • Managed placement. Managed placement offers even more targeted ad placement than contextual, letting you choose the specific websites and pages you’d like to run your ads on within the Google Display Network.

Should you use display ads? If you’re new to SEM, setting up a display campaign is pretty straightforward. Display ads typically come with a lower cost-per-click than search ads, which can also lead to a lower cost per conversion.

To maximize your success and stretch your ad spend, you’ll need to exclude certain keywords (using negative keywords) and get creative with your ads. As long as you’re leveraging specific targeting related to the behavior, geographic location, and demographics of your target audience, you can ensure your advertising dollars are well spent.


7. Search Ads

Search ads are a simple, cost-effective way to reach your target audience. All you have to do is choose the keywords you want to target, select your targeting options, and set your budget. You can also enhance search ads with Google’s ad extensions, making it as easy as possible for interested leads to interact with your ad.

With dynamic search campaigns, you can easily create campaigns for all the keywords on your site—from branded keywords to non-branded category keywords and even the keywords on your ‘About Us’ page. In other words, dynamic search ads use your web content to target ads, which can help fill in the gaps of your keyword-based campaigns.

But there’s a catch: Dynamic search doesn’t come with any advanced segmentation options. It’s a good starting point to grow your paid search strategy, but we recommend manually segmenting your audiences as you gather more performance data.

Should you use search ads? Search ads are ideal if you can’t afford to wait for leads. Unlike display ads, which might target people who have visited your website, search ads target people who are already ready to pick up the phone. That means you’ll get more conversions with the right campaign. Ads at the top of the search engine results page can also help you build a stronger online presence, even if searchers aren’t clicking on your ads.

Even if you’re working with a limited advertising budget, search ads are one of the best campaign types. They offer data analytics and conversion tracking, so you can get detailed insights into your campaign performance. You’ll also have complete control over your ad spend so you won’t have to worry about overspending.


8. Retargeting

You already know that driving website traffic is the first step in converting searches into paying customers, but most visitors aren’t going to pick up the phone or provide any information right away. For most websites, only two percent of web traffic converts on the first visit. That means 98 percent of traffic won’t turn into a purchase right off the bat.

Fortunately, retargeting can help you recapture those missed opportunities and bring them back into the sales funnel. Retargeting campaigns typically use display ads to retarget people who have visited your website. After someone visits your website, they might see a display ad appear on other sites. Sometimes, our clients extend their retargeting efforts to other channels, including email.

You can also use retargeting to encourage repeat business by retargeting existing customers. For example, you might retarget past clients on YouTube with video ads. That makes a strong second impression—and it can be even more powerful when paired with an existing strategy, like SMS marketing.

Should you use retargeting? You’ve already done the hard work in getting a visitor to click on your ad. If you can use other channels to reinforce that relationship and convey your brand messaging, you have a better chance at capturing their interest and guiding them through your sales funnel.

Unfortunately, without the right strategy, retargeting can drain your advertising budget. The right retargeting strategy will require a lot of segmentation based on users who have recently visited your website and explored different landing pages. If you just target every user who has visited your website in the last month, you’ll probably waste ad spend on buyers without any purchase intent.


9. Customer Relationship Management

Customer relationship management (CRM) campaigns make it easy to remarket to your list of existing customers or subscribers. They’re hyper-targeted campaigns that leverage the data you have about your customers in your CRM tool. This way, you can tailor specific messaging to different segments, targeting placements in Gmail, YouTube, or search.

Should you use CRM? Your target audience is packed with highly qualified leads, so most CRM campaigns come with a great ROI when done right. The catch is that you need an established customer base (i.e., thousands of email subscribers), so this approach won’t be nearly as effective for new businesses.

Along with an established customer base, you’ll also need detailed data to segment your customer list to tailor your messaging to different audiences. If you have an established customer base and detailed data about your audiences, a CRM campaign is well worth the effort.

Even if you’re not running a CRM paid search campaign, it’s worth investing in a CRM tool to capture data. In turn, you’ll save time by eliminating the need to update new leads. CRMs empower your sales and marketing team with powerful data, improving your conversions down the line.


10. Similar Audiences

Like Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences, Google’s similar audience campaigns are based on the same remarketing lists we discussed with CRM campaigns. Instead of directly advertising to your existing list, similar audience campaigns target similar users based on data Google has collected about them.

Basically, Google takes similar interests shared among your existing customers. Then, Google uses a machine-learning algorithm to serve your ads to other users on the Google Display Network who share the same interests.

Should you use similar audiences? According to Google, similar audiences boost performance, with 60 percent more impressions, 48 percent more clicks, and 41 percent more conversions. 

Of course, the performance of every campaign will vary on a case-by-case basis, but similar audiences typically outperform other campaign types. They’re also a great way to optimize bids within your existing campaigns by layering your ad groups with your lowest-funnel similar audiences.



Although paid search might seem simple, there’s a lot of building blocks required for a successful paid search strategy. Ultimately, by targeting leads throughout different stages of the sales funnel, you can create relevant ads that fit your audience segments like a glove.

Even if you’re in a rush to generate new leads, putting in the time and money to craft a solid paid search foundation can help ensure your campaign hits the ground running. We’ve seen our clients make significant improvements with straightforward adjustments to ad copy and targeting options—and simple tweaks can make a huge difference in your advertising ROI.

And remember: It’s not all about the money. The quality of your landing pages is a key factor after a searcher clicks your ad. If you want your lead to scroll through your website, enter their email address, or request a quote, spend some time working on your landing pages

If you have any questions about paid search, we’re here to help. Our team can help you build a comprehensive paid search strategy, achieve a healthy ROI, and grow your home services business.

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