For many years, service provider businesses could grow their business through organic (unpaid) search results. Yet, in the past couple of years, there’s been a push to invest in ads on Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Have you used Google AdWords to promote your lawn care or landscape business? What’s the secret of success of Google AdWords? Do you just do a Google search on Google ads and sign up for a program? Does it help prospects find you?

I recently interviewed Maddie Gargano and Daniel Klotz, two Google experts at YDOP, a Google AdWords Certified Partner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Maddie and Daniel help lawn care and landscape clients set up Google AdWords campaigns.

They provided so much valuable information I’ve decided to share it in a series of three articles available only here on Turf’s website. Here is the first article to get you up to speed on this popular digital service.

Q. What are Google AdWords?

A. Daniel: There are three main types of ads Google serves: text ads that appear alongside natural results on search engine results pages (SERPs); display (or banner) ads that appear alongside content on pages all over the Web; and video ads on YouTube.

Google’s ad offerings give a service provider company several ways to pay to intersect with their prospective customers when they’re searching or browsing the Web.

A. Maddie: Google AdWords is an online advertising program supported by Google, allowing businesses to create ads to reach consumers who are interested in particular services and/or products offered by the business. For instance, when a consumer does a Google search for “lawn services near me,” the ads would be triggered to appear on the search page due to the keywords that the business implemented into their ads. When a consumer chooses to click upon one of your ads, you pay Google a fee for this service. The fee is dependent upon how much you bid for a keyword. The more you bid, the more likely your ad will appear at the top of the search page.

Q. How can landscape and lawn service companies use Google AdWords?

A. Maddie: Using Google AdWords has been beneficial for many businesses due to the fact that the advertiser can target a specific audience with their ads. For instance, if a lawn care provider only services clients within a certain zip code, the AdWords interface allows the advertiser to target consumers by certain countries, states, cities, counties, zip codes and radii around a location. AdWords also allow for the advertiser to target specific keywords that a consumer might be searching for. Keywords such as “organic lawn care,” “professional lawn services” and more could be used within the ad created. In addition, AdWords allows for ad extensions to be displayed within the ad. Ad extensions are ads that allow extra information, such as the business’s phone number or location to be shown. This provides a shortcut for consumers who’d like to call the business for their services.

Q. Are there different levels of Google ads? If so, what are their levels?

A. Maddie: There aren’t necessarily levels of AdWords, but there are different networks of ads that can be used. A business’s ad can show just on Google, on Google and Google Search Network or on the Google Display Network. The Search Network includes Google Search, plus other non-Google search partner sites, such as AOL, that allow for the advertiser to reach customers searching for a particular service.

The Google Display Network includes banner ad space on hundreds of thousands of websites plus Google’s own properties including Gmail and Blogger. This network allows for the advertiser to choose more specifically where there ads can be shown, and the exact audience.

Display advertising also lets an advertiser create different types of ad formats such as text, image and interactive ads.

Q. Is Google AdWords something a small business should do on its own?

A. Daniel: We often joke that the only sure way to make a small fortune with Google AdWords is to start with a large fortune. It is very easy for a business to lose money with Google AdWords especially when they try to take on the responsibility internally. Google AdWords is a complicated system that requires expertise to run effectively.

The sad fact is that many companies who spend a lot of money through AdWords don’t know their ROI, because they aren’t set up to track the relevant metrics. If your AdWords campaign is set up well, if you have clear conversion points on your website, and if you’re tracking both phone calls and form submissions and integrating that with your customer database or CRM (customer relationship management tool), then calculating your specific ROI is straightforward. A CRM is a database of your customers where you keep full records of who they are, what they like, what they’ve purchased, etc. A high-end example is Salesforce, a more affordable end is Batchbook or Zoho.

Most e-commerce companies today run on very thin ROI margins when it comes to AdWords. Service provider companies, on the other hand, often see very healthy ROI margins. Once their AdWords program is fine-tuned and being optimized actively on an ongoing basis, it isn’t uncommon for them to be paying in the ballpark of $300 in AdWords spend to get enough leads to close a deal with a customer who is worth several thousand dollars in revenue over the next few years. Those advertisers are only too happy to spend several thousand dollars in AdWords advertising during the spring months. Usually their only complaint is that they can’t spend more money because there simply aren’t any more people to target who are doing online searches!

Q. How do you measure success of your Google AdWords effort?

A. Maddie: ROI of a service business is depends upon their goals. For instance, a landscaping business might want an increase in phone calls; or for a consultation form on their site to be filled out; or to generate more leads. After setting a daily budget, a business owner must determine their service costs and the average cost-per-click of a particular ad keyword.

A successful campaign could be determined in multiple ways. Perhaps just having the ad shown more often at the top of the search results page would be a great ROI for a service provider.

Continually auditing your campaigns is beneficial to determining your ROI. Your goals might change over time. For instance, a business might start with the goal of wanting a certain amount of consumers to click upon their ad and not concern themselves with a steady budget. In the future though, the business might want to increase their spend efficiency, along with having more consumers click on their ads.

Next month, I’ll share with you the “how” of Google AdWords. Daniel and Maddie will answer my questions concerning how a Google ad campaign is set up, how it works and how to set up keywords. Read part two here.

What about you? Have you invested in Google AdWords? Did you get your ROI with them? Share your experience with me at wendy@landscapewriter.com and I may share your comments in a future blog.