Stop Wasting Money With Adwords Express

If you are currently using or considering using Google Adwords Express you must read this.

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What is Google Adwords Express?  This is Google's answer to how to get more small businesses to start using Google Adwords and running pay per click ads for their business.  Just like Google Adwords, your ads are eligible to show on, Google Maps and relevant websites on the display network. Over the years, the Google Adwords platform has continued to get more complex which can make it intimidating for small businesses.  Ever since the death of the Yellow Pages, companies have come and go trying to fill the gap that was left behind by attempting to make it simple for a small business to manage their own marketing. 

The problem is on a local pay per click campaign a $500 monthly budget can go a long way, but a typical management fee on that budget should be anywhere from $750-1,500 with an agency or pay per click manager that knows what they are doing.  Many small businesses have a hard time wrapping their head around the management fee being greater than the advertising dollars.  Meanwhile, 10 years ago that same business would spend $5k-$20k/year on a Yellow Pages ad where you had zero control over the results.  Dozens of software companies have tried to solve this problem with little to no success.

Here comes Adwords Express to the rescue right?  According to Adwords, "Adwords express can be setup in just 15 minutes."  Here's all you need to do:

"You’ll set up a budget, and based on the type of business you have, we’ll come up with a list of search phrases that will trigger your ad and potential related sites where your ad can appear. We’ll continue to maintain and update your search phrases over time. Minimal ongoing management is needed, and you pay only for clicks that your ad actually receives."

Now you do have a little bit of control with the keywords.  Google will suggest keywords and you have the choice to keep them so it's not 100% automated.  

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So why exactly shouldn't you use Google Adwords Express?

There are two major issues that completely ruin their intentions.  

1. All keywords added are broad match.  As most PPC Managers know, this is a bad idea.  Less than 5% of the keywords we manage out of hundreds of thousands are broad match.  This is likely to cause the majority of your traffic to come in on poor quality search queries that are irrelevant to your business.  On top of that there is no control over the queries because you cannot see them or add negative keywords.

2. There is virtually no conversion tracking.  So Google is "optimizing" to your goal, but if your goal has anything to do with website conversions instead of calls, they have no insight and neither do you.  They recently added a method for linking a Google Analytics account and importing goals, but if you are using Adwords Express because of its simplicity you likely do not understand how to setup Google analytics so this addition is practically pointless.

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What happens when you use Adwords Express?  Typically we see one of two responses.  Either you have no clue how it is working and you just continue to run it and spend money, or you do not believe it is working so you turn it off and are left with a sour taste in your mouth about running Google Adwords for your business.  When we know how well Adwords can work for many small businesses neither of these responses are good.  

What should you do if you are launching your own Adwords account yourself?

Contact us and we will help you get started.  We have great packages for small businesses.  If you still want to manage it yourself, no problem.  We will point you to a few resources that if you spend just a couple hours learning you will be able to avoid a bad experience with Google Adwords Express.

Google Local Services Ads Explained

Google first launched Home Service Ads in 2015.  They initially launched in San Francisco and only covered plumbers, locksmiths, house cleaners and handymen.  These ad product was bought specifically through Adwords Express.  Fast forward two years and Google updated and rebranded the product as Local Service Ads by Google.  The product now has it's own login and web interface and covers at least 5 verticals and 17 cities across the United States.

Service categories include:

  • Electrician
  • Garage Door Pro
  • HVAC
  • Locksmith
  • Plumber
  • Other*

*Not only is this listed as an option, but there has been expanded services categories seen in select cities.  If you are a local business owner your best bet is the take 60 seconds and try to submit you application.

Current eligible locations:

  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Riverside, CA
  • Sacramento, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Boston, MA
  • Detroit, MI
  • New York, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Dallas, TX
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, D.C.

Same thing with eligible locations.  This list shows 17, but there's information that Google would be in up to 30 by the end of 2017.  This list is not being updated regularly so you are better off at least checking.

Here's what the ads look like on desktop:

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Here's what they look like on mobile:


In both cases they are above the regular pay per click sponsored ads bought through Google Adwords and above the local pack listings from Google My Business.  They still show both the sponsored results and the local pack, but they are in that order below the Local Service ads.

Here's more information about exactly how the ad product works:

Google local service ads is a full lead management platform where leads are purchased at a cost per lead.  When a customer wants to contact you they call you or send you a message directly through they ad.  These products do not click to your website.  Through the online web interface and also a mobile app you can reply to messages, track bookings, manage leads, bid, set your budget and request reviews from customers.

Two major benefits are that you only pay for leads related to your business and the services you offer and you get backed by the Google Guarantee.  This product is not like Adwords that you can just sign up for.  You need to pass a rigorous background check in order to get the Google Guarantee and they also backup your services up to $2,000.  To learn more about the program and qualifying click here.  

The lead cost is set for each market and service and is a flat fee.  You are not ranked by bidding higher.  Google uses the following factors: proximity to your service location, review score and number of reviews, responsiveness, business hours and if you have had complaints.  Once in the program its vital you stay on top of it.  If you get complains or are slow to respond they will stop showing your ads.  Reviews are also extremely important.  These are pulled from your Google business listing, but what else is great is the interface has a built in tool to request reviews from customers you have gained through the Local Service ads.

We are looking forward to this being rolled out for more services and locations.  It seems like a great product and we have a couple clients that use the program successfully.

To sign up for the program follow this link: