Running Google Ads For Tradies

Trades such as plumbing and electrical services can be among the hardest campaigns to run profitably.

There are countless competitors all vying for space at the top of Google, everyone is shouting out free quotes and lowest prices and the cost per clicks are seemingly always rising.

Even experienced Google Ads managers have trouble making a high-converting and highly profitable campaign at the best of times.

That’s where knowing a few extra tips and tricks can really come in handy.

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are an essential part of running a good Google Ads account as Google are pretty keen to match your keywords with anything closely related.

Believe it or not, Google will happily match your contracting/service keywords with terms related to DIY advice, tools, stores or supplies. That’s obviously not the type of search intent that we want to be paying for.

If you’re a tiler, for example, you will want to think about all the different pieces of equipment that you use on the job (and that other tilers/DIYers may be searching for) and make sure you’re not wasting money on those searches.

So, you’d add words into your negative keyword list such as:

  • Clips
  • Seats
  • Wedges
  • Cement
  • Scraper
  • Blade
  • Knife
  • Tools

Eliminating these terms from triggering your ads will greatly reduce the amount of wasted spend from the get-go and increase the likelihood of paying for traffic that is actually searching for trade services.

Every Bob, Dick and Harry

It’s another negative keyword tip, but one that is a very specific problem to tradies and one that may not be obvious when first setting up an account.

Often, when I’m looking through the search terms of plumbers, electricians, painters, carpet cleaners, antenna installers or any other trade-based client – a large amount searches terms that are being broadly matched with our keywords are “first name + surname plumbing”

That’s why it’s a good idea to get a negative keyword list together of all the most common names in the English language to get a head start on culling as many of these searches as possible.

Block Competitors’ Names

Whilst we’re blocking searches for other random tradesman, the next logical step would be to add other companies as negative keywords too.

The easiest way to get a list together, other than putting down the well-known players in the industry, is to just do a Google search. So, if you’re an electrician in the Perth metropolitan area you would search for “electricians Perth” to check out who is around.

Go ahead and add all those companies into your negative keywords (or compile a “Competitors” Negative Keyword List).

If we’re going to bid on competitors’ brand names, it’s best to do it in a more organised, targeted and measurable approach rather than just have them broadly matching with keywords like “plumber near me”.

Local Appeal

When people have problems around the home, they’re typically looking up the service plus their specific suburb with the hope that the service will be both quicker and cheaper using someone local.

Having separate AdGroups for each specific suburb that you wish to target along with matching ads that mention that targeted suburb will go a long way to set you apart from other ads that are using the same generic ads that they’d use for their non-geo or city area keywords.

Be Aggressive With Ads

You really want to make you competitive advantage known in your ads to increase the likelihood of getting relevant clicks to your website.

You’ll notice for this ad for Shutter Co WA that they’re the only roller shutter repair business who can claim to be there within one hour.

So, for a business owner who is trying to open up shop for the day and found that their roller shutters have been vandalised – it is clear who the most appealing option is at a glance.

(You will also notice in this screenshot that some advertisers have not set their accounts up very well and are showing sales or parts ads for a repairs keyword).

It’s always about being relevant to the customer. Being qualified and with 20+ years of experience isn’t a strong competitive advantage when trying to immediately grab someone’s attention. They’re looking for tangible value such as price and convenience.

After Hours Campaigns + Call Only Ads

Instead of having one campaign that is going to serve all day long, why not separate them into regular hours and after-hours?

There’s a few good reasons to do this.

One is that you can write your ads differently depending on what time of day you’re targeting. If you’re advertising in regular hours, saying that you’re available 24/7 becomes irrelevant.

However, after-hours, saying that you’re available 24/7 and can be available within the hour is a great call to action.

You can also try utilising call-only ads during after-hours so that when the search user clicks the ad, it goes straight to a phone call instead of visiting your website. Normally, people like to see the website of the business that they’re contacting first but in a plumbing or electrical emergency, for example, people tend to be okay with such a direct approach.

With the increased profit margins of after-hours work, having a separate campaign allows you to bid at a higher cost per click than what you would during regular hours.

Tracking Is Vital

As with any good Google Ads campaign, making sure that you’re tracking every meaningful action is vital to knowing what is working in your account and how to further improve things.

This means:

  • Tracking phone calls to your business
  • Tracking contact forms filled
  • Tracking online bookings made (if applicable)

Google provides a free tracking number which will redirect any calls made to your normal phone number. When that tracking number is called, Google will credit that call to the keyword, ad, location, device and so much more.

If you really want to get deep into the call data, there are companies such as Avanser who offer call-recording which not only helps you to hear the quality of customers that your ads are generating, but if you’ve got someone else answering the phones it often offers great insights to where things may be dropping off in the sales process.

When I was working with a pest control company, through call tracking we found that the girls in the office who were answering the phones were just giving out prices on demand without explaining the many benefits of selecting them over their cheaper competitors.

This information resulted in additional training for the office staff which then ended up more than doubling the amount of calls that they were converting into booked jobs.

Prioritise Google Reviews

People are not only price conscious, but they also don’t want to waste money on a bad service.

So, more often than not, search users are doing their due-diligence and Googling your brand name (after finding you through a generic search) to see what others are saying about you.

Make sure that you increase the likelihood of people like that calling you by having a strong presence with your Google My Business listing.

Follow up text messages and emails are just a couple of ways you can encourage people to leave you more reviews on Google.

Why I Don’t Do Free Proposals Or Audits

So, I don’t do these free proposals/audits, for SEO or for Google Ads services.

Okay, I may give some feedback over the phone at a quick glance to provide some initial guidance, spot some errors and potential improvements.

But I do not under any circumstance waste my time giving out free proposals.

Someone Has To Pay

The time it takes to create elaborate reports that involve keyword analysis, competitor research, scouring through backlinks, digging through all of the meta data, content and overall structure quality of a website is somewhat involving.

Now, any self-respecting professional doesn’t just give their time away for free. Every hour worked has to be accounted for and covered.

So, if you’re not paying for that service, that means either you’ll make up for it in the fees that you agree to or the existing customers for that professional are paying for your free report.

Personally, I don’t think that’s okay when these reports generally don’t tell you much.

Audit Not A Reflection Of Capability

I’ve seen some of the worst agencies come up with stunning, impressive reports that would make you think they’re scooping a bit of water from the fountain of knowledge that their team must be oozing.

However, when push comes to shove the audit generally has no indication as to whether or not the service that you sign up to is actually any good.

In marketing and advertising, you can do all the research and analysis that you want but you will never know how your product will be taken by the market, how relevant/effective the advertising channels you pick are and what difference outsourcing the execution of that advertising is until you go for it.

Increasing Your Chances Of Success

Focussing just on how to partner with the best provider available to you (and not on your product/services related factors of market success), there are a few ways you can separate the doers from the talkers.

1. No Contracts

A provider that is confident in their own work will not need a contract to secure your business.

And due to the nature of marketing and advertising, it is hard to predict whether or not a campaign is going to work. A good provider should not want to hold onto an advertising account that simply isn’t working and bleeding their clients’ dry of their precious marketing budget.

Sometimes a bit of patience and commitment is needed, yes. Especially when there is a lot of branding involved or a high-involvement purchase being sold. But, that is up to the marketer to communicate to the client and the client should have the flexibility to either heed that advice or go against it and release themselves from the service.

2. The Proof Is In The Pudding

Does the service provider have any case studies where they’ve actually delivered the type of results that you’re after?

Don’t just take their word for it either. Check the results for yourself and I’d even go as far as calling up the business owner cited in the testimonials/case-studies for confirmation.

(You’d be surprised how many business owners don’t even know that they’re a case-study/testimonial on a provider’s website).

3. No Bamboozling

Some providers simply can’t explain what they do in simple terms and have to rely on jargon or industry terminology. I even once saw a competitor’s proposal that included language like:

  • Optimisation of robots.txt
  • Management of canonical tags
  • Appropriate 301 redirects of broken internal link structure
  • Construction of 10x DA20+ dofollow backlinks

Some of this stuff sounds like black magic, but they are just very technically worded ways of outlining fairly simple tasks. Those first two tasks, for example, are usually a one-off job that takes a total of roughly 10 minutes each for most basic brochure websites.

At the end of the day, this stuff isn’t rocket science. SEO and Google Ads are something that you absolutely can do yourself if you’re looking to save money. Just so long as you have the time to invest into learning and actively monitoring and tweaking campaigns.

Most business owners do not have this luxury of time and are busy managing the on-going, day to day operations in their business.

And, like any skill, someone who has been specialising in the field day in day out, consistently for years are going to know a few tricks of the trade.

Similar to how painting your houses seems like a pretty simple task, right? Just put paint on the roller and away you go. Yet, many people still seem to mess it up and need a professional painter to come in afterwards.

How Long Does Google Ads Take To Work?

When investing in any marketing exercise, the idea is to make a return on investment.

And, ideally, the sooner the better.

But how long does it take to get that return on investment and what does it depend on?

The short answer is this: Google Ads can either work immediately, take some time, or not at all.

Whilst that’s not really the clear cut answer most are hoping for, let’s break down the scenarios where the same platform could deliver three very different outcomes.

Google Ads Can Work Immediately

Google Ads can work immediately providing that:

  • Your business is supplying a product/service that is relevant and competitive to your target market
  • You’re working with an adequate marketing budget to give the market enough exposure to your business
  • Know what you can pay for a lead, calculating the lifetime value your average customer
  • Your Google Ads account is being managed efficiently and attentively

We’ll go over these points in more detail below after we’ve run through the scenarios where Google Ads doesn’t work immediately.

Google Ads Can Take Time

However, the first month of Google Ads is always going to be the most inefficient.

So, if you’re seeing some results in your first month but not entirely happy – understand that a part of the process of optimising a Google Ads account is to collect data, refine the campaign and test those refinements.

You must also take into account the commitment requirements and purchase cycle of your product/service.

It is likely that someone searching for a local plumber may call you immediately after searching for a local plumber in Google and clicking on your website. However, it is highly unlikely that someone looking to purchase a renovate their home is going to commit to you the first time they land on your website, even if they’ve specifically searched for home renovations on Google.

Google Ads May Not Work For You

Depending on your business and the market that you serve, Google Ads may not be the right solution for your business.

This is most common in B2B (business to business) industries (such as accounting) where networking, relationship building, and referrals are vital to earning the kind of trust that isn’t typically earned just from landing on a website.

There is also the scenario where, due to such aggressive competition, the price of clicks on keywords relating to your business is simply too high to realistically compete.

Another challenge is when you’re competing with big companies.

For example, if you’re up against a big company that offers electrical, plumbing and HVAC, when they’re bidding on keywords, they’re typically able to bid a lot higher and subsequently pay more per lead due to the fact that they’re able to sell multiple services to that one lead – essentially cutting the cost per lead into thirds.

That makes it a lot harder for companies that offer just plumbing, just electrical or just HVAC services where they need to make profit off just one service per lead.

Or, Google Ads may not be the best way to access your target market.

Despite the rhetoric that old media such as radio and newspaper are dying, I simply couldn’t touch the results that those channels when I’ve run Google Ads for dentists or cruise companies, where the target audience is generally older.

Giving Yourself The Best Chance

In the first scenario, we listed four conditions that were conducive to a successful and explosive outcome Google Ads.

So, let’s dive a bit deeper into those four points and why they are so impactful on the performance of a Google Ads account.

1. Your Business

Two phrases come to mind here.

One of them is that “good products sell themselves”

And the other is “you can’t polish a t*rd”.

Or if we want to be a bit more sophisticated in our marketing speak – there are 4 P’s to a successful business:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Placement
  • Promotion

Notice how only one of those 4 P’s are to do with advertising (Promotion).

That means that what you sell, where you sell it and how much you sell it for contributes to 75% of a successful pitch to market with only 25% of it being down to marketing.

This may sound like us Google Ads professionals voiding ourselves of responsibility but after personally running over 300 Google Ads accounts so far in my career – the correlation is clear.

Good products sell themselves.

And you can’t polish a t*rd.

Be honest with yourself and how appealing your product/service is to the market compared to what your competitors are offering.

2. Adequate Budget

Whilst you can start running Google Ads on a fairly modest budget, some business owners underestimate what a reasonable starting budget is.

When Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) first launched in October 2000, and for a few years after that; the cost per click was so cheap (we’re talking cents) that you could run a wildly successful campaign on just a few dollars per day.

But because the clicks in Google Ads works on a bidding system (whatever people are prepared to pay for a click), and more than just a few businesses have caught on since then – you need to have a serious budget when it comes to getting enough exposure on the platform.

If you’re a roofing contractor and your clicks cost around $4 per click and you only have a budget of $10 per day, you’re only going to 2-3 clicks per day.

Having only 2 visitors to your website per day and expecting the phone to ring off the hook is not realistic even with a well-optimised Ads account.

So, lifting that budget up to $20 per day (allowing 5 visitors per day) or $30 per day (allowing 7-8 visitors per day) is going greatly increase the odds of getting some enquiries through the website each day.

3. Realistic Goals

Knowing what you’re willing to pay for a lead is vital to establishing realistic goals in Google Ads.

When setting these realistic goals, you have to take into account the purchase cycle of a product/service and the lifetime value of that customer.

When Mindful Homes (a boutique home builder in Perth) started Google Ads with me, the only thing we could see in the Conversions column of the account for the first couple of months was tumbleweeds.  However, each month after that, the amount of leads that we were generating was growing aggressively. We just needed to be patient and understand that it can take a while to go from consideration to action with such a high-involvement purchase decision.

You may not be in an industry where there is such a high-involvement in your customers’ purchase decision, yet the cost to acquire that client more or less destroys the profit you make in that initial job – that isn’t necessarily a bad result if you’re able to retain repeat business from that customer.

So, if you end up getting four jobs from that initial enquiry, the cost of that lead essentially goes down to 25% of the original cost when spread across the lifetime value of that customer.

4. Efficient Account Management

Of course, running Google Ads successfully requires efficient management of the account.

You can easily waste a lot of budget by having keywords matching with highly irrelevant keywords, poor messaging, inefficient bidding strategies and/or a landing page that doesn’t sell what you do to your visitors.

If you’re in need of Google Ads management from a freelancer with a proven track record, with no lock-in contracts and who won’t work with your competitors – get in touch.

Adding Users To Google Analytics

When engaging in a digital marketing service such as SEO or Google Ads, one of the first things you’ll be asked for is access to your Google Analytics account.

If you already have an account and unsure how to add users, or what permissions you should be giving them, here’s a step by step guide below.

Step 1: Logging Into Google Analytics

First, you need to be logged into the Google account that is connected with your Google Analytics account.

Either log in first and go to:

Or go to and log in from there.

Once you’re logged into the right account, you should see a dashboard that looks similar to this:

Step 2: Go To The Admin Panel

In the bottom left of your screen, there is a little cog icon with and the words “Admin”.

Click on that to go to the Admin Panel.

Once you’ve clicked on the Admin tab, you should see your Admin panel like so:

Step 3: Click User Management

You will see three different panels from left to right.

Account, Property and View.

Typically you will want to give access to the Property level at the bare minimum if you want a digital marketing provider to be able to do things such as link up your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account.

In this example, we’re going to provide access to the Account level (which is the highest level of access to the account).

If you wish to provide access at the Property or View level, just click “User Management” under the Property panel or the View panel, respectively.

The steps going forward are exactly the same, regardless of which level you’re providing access to.

Step 4: Click Add Users

Once you’ve clicked on User Management (regardless of whether it was under Account, Property or View), you will be greeted with this screen:

Now, there is a small blue circle in the top left with a white + on the middle.

We’re going to click on that:

And on the little drop down box, we’ll click on “Add Users”

Step 5: Choose Permissions

Once you’ve clicked Add Users, you will be greeted with this screen:

This is where we need to pay attention a little bit to ensure we’re giving the right level of access here.

In most cases, you want to tick the “Edit” and “Collaborate” boxes which will allow your digital marketing provider to perform all the tasks that they need to.

Warning: If you click on the “Manage Users” box, you are giving this new user the ability to add any other users that they like and allows them to remove users, including yourself.

“Manage Users” at the Account level should only really be provided to people within your own organisation and not to external providers as a security measure.

Some SEO companies may demand full admin access. They don’t need it.

If an SEO claims that they need to have full admin access to access Google Search Console, there are other methods that they can use to claim it.

Step 6: Add E-Mail Address

Once you have selected which permissions you would like to provide, go ahead and enter their e-mail address in the line towards the top.

Once you have entered the e-mail address, you just need to click the “Add” button to finalise everything.

The “Add” button is at the top right of your screen.

Providing that there is a Google account associated with that e-mail address, that’s everything that you need to do to provide access to Google Analytics!

Error: This E-Mail Doesn’t Match A User Account

If you have entered an e-mail address and the e-mail address is surrounded in a red box, it can mean either one of two things.

  1. The e-mail address you entered may have been wrong or have typos
  2. The e-mail address doesn’t have a Google account associated with it

If there is no Google account associated with the e-mail address, the user will have to sign up to Google using that e-mail address.

You don’t have to create a Gmail address to sign up to Google.

Even if you have a Hotmail or business e-mail account, you can still sign up to Google’s services with that e-mail address.

To sign up to a Google account with your existing e-mail address, follow the prompts to Sign In, Create An Account and then click here on the sign up page:

How To Submit Directory Listing For SEO

2019 has barely started, yet the predictions of Voice Search, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence pollute most marketing/advertising publications.

It’s amazing how much attention these things get by business owners, looking eagerly into the future whilst they’ve neglected the basics.

Those basics being their branding, their website, their online marketing, etc – which the vast majority of businesses here in Australia don’t have ironed out.

Yet they want to know more about these new technologies that are barely even around, let alone matured, advertiser-friendly medium ready to be capitalised on.

And much could be said for SEOs, always looking for the next big link-building hack that will send them flying up the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) when they don’t have their link-building basics down-pat yet.

Back To Basics

Directory links are typically the first backlinks you will obtain either for yourself or for a client.

They’re the quickest and easiest way to build up some domain authority along with giving Google some consistent information regarding your business Name, Address and Phone number (commonly referred to as NAP information).

The thing is; no one seems to treat this initial phase with much respect.

As if it’s that annoying first task you have to get out of the way before you get to the “real backlink strategy”.

Done quickly and out of the way as quickly and with minimal effort as possible.

Directory Links Are Golden

Most of these ‘advanced backlink strategies’ used by agencies are Public Blog Networks (PBNs).

PBNs are basically websites that are devoted to creating content for the purpose of providing links to those willing to pay.

They’re not real websites. They’re not genuine references to your business. They’re not something that Google wants you to do.

Building directory backlinks, however, is always a safe and reliable source of links that Google will never punish you for.

Even before the purpose of directories became primarily for SEO purposes, every new business would go and list themselves in every free website that they could in order to increase their reach and exposure.

So, building as many directory listings as possible is highly encouraged.

But they need to be done right.

What Most Agencies Do

And look, I used to do this too.

They basically prepare 3 or 4 different variations of descriptions for ALL of the directories that they plan to submit to.

These descriptions would all be around 30-50 words long, which isn’t long enough.

But it used to work just fine.

And it was a more efficient use of time.

However, as time has gone past and Google’s algorithm continues to mature, I’ve noticed that directory listings just didn’t have the impact that they used to.

Until I tried something different…

Make the content all directory descriptions lengthier, with each listing’s content being completely unique.

A directory link like this one below on TrueLocal for PWA Electrical Services will never run foul of Google’s algorithm.

PWA Electrical Service Link on TrueLocal

This directory listing is filled out extensively with content that you won’t find on any other directory listing or on the PWA Electrical Services website.

Unique Content

Google hates duplicate content.

I’m sure you’ve done a search of some sort where you find yourself scrolling deeper into the search results, looking for something specific, and have seen this message in the SERP.

Omitted Search Results In Google

What lays beyond here is basically useless and discredited content, in Google’s eyes.

Which is where some of your directory listings will live if you’re going around, copying and pasting the same descriptions into all of the directories that you fill out.

In other words, if a directory listing of yours lives in they beyond (Google’s omitted results) then the link you’ve obtained from that directory listing is basically worthless.

This is why, despite working with an SEO agency, Advanced Plumbing and Gas in Brisbane didn’t have much luck strengthening their backlink profile when they had the same content across all of their directory listings.

You can tell this agency has at least tried as the content above is actually quite good. But as you will see in the listing shown below – the content has been copied and pasted in the next directory listing (among all the other listings that this agency built).

Despite having filled out a lot of directory listing, this agency wasted their time trying to fill it these directories out and wasted an opportunity for their client to capitalise on the full (or any) value of these directory listings.

It’s a shame. Simple mistakes like this are committed by even some of the biggest agencies and it costs results.

It would have been better (although still not ideal) if they had a significantly lower word-count in their directory listings but at least made them unique descriptions.

Content That Makes Sense

There is no quick and easy (lazy) way to produce unique content on your directory listings.

So tools like content-spinners are not recommended – unless you’re okay with your content being at this level of quality:

Poorly filled out business directory on Bloo

Believe it or not, Google can actually read what’s written in the description of your directory listings.

And if Google can read lengthy, unique and highly relevant content about your website, it’s going to be a far more relevant (and powerful) link back to your website than the gibberish shown in the listing above.

On-Page Relevance

Writing not just unique content but trying to write lengthy content is the key to supercharging these directory listings.

See, every page in Google has a “theme”.

It’s a way to roughly know what category this content sits in.

It’s how Google figures out if content is relevant to electricians, to plumbers, to lawyers and so on.

By default, any page on a directory listing is going to fall in the “business directory” theme.

But if you can really bulk out the content on your listing’s page, you’re going to end up making the majority of the content on that page more relevant to your business and your industry.

That makes the link a lot more relevant to your business.

Meaning that you’ll have more relevant, industry related links pointing to your site if you can fill these directory listings out properly.

A Big Time Investment

Yes, this will suck up a lot of your time filling out directories.

Especially if you’re not the writing type.

But the directory listings are your backlink profile’s concrete slab.

It doesn’t matter what quality of bricks, plaster or roof tiles you have on top of that concrete slab, if it’s not strong, the whole house isn’t going to hold up very well.

So, invest the time or pay a copywriter to come up with multiple variations of lengthy and unique directory listing content.

Because it will be one of the best investments that you make in your long-term SEO strategy.

As Always, Take Security Seriously

As with anything that you do online, you always need to consider your security.

A couple of things I typically do is:

  • Use a separate e-mail account specifically for link-building to avoid your regular e-mails being bombarded with spam
  • Ensure your link-building e-mail has a password that is different to your regular e-mail addresses
  • When registering to directories, have a separate password for each one

Unfortunately, some of these less reputable directory websites get hacked or taken over and the information on those profiles can become compromised.

And because people tend to use the same or similar passwords for everything, attackers are able to use those passwords to gain access to your other online assets, doing damage or holding them ransom.

Keep Everything Recorded

It’s always handy to keep a spreadsheet of every website that you’ve submitted your business to along with the username, passwords and description that you’ve used for that directory.

That way, if you ever need to go back in and update anything you’ve got everything on hand to make life easy for yourself.

Should You Give SEOs cPanel/FTP Access?

Once you have signed up with an SEO provider and they’re setting the SEO campaign up, it’s not uncommon for them to request access to your Web Hosting logins, cPanel logins or FTP (File Transfer Protocol) details.

It’s an expected request, as placing or editing certain files on your server is necessary. However, this is sensitive information that grants a great deal of control over your digital assets (including, in most cases, your business e-mail accounts) to your provider.

It’s a big ask, especially since you’re likely only just at the beginning of this relationship with your SEO. It’s the same level of crazy as cutting a house key for someone you’ve been seeing for a week.

Why Do SEOs Need cPanel/FTP Access?

The common reasons that SEO’s will need to access your cPanel or have FTP access is to place files on your server, these files are more often than not:

  • Google verification file to manage your website in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools)
  • To edit you .htaccess file to create redirects or disallow bots from accessing certain pages of your website
  • To edit certain parts of the website that aren’t accessible through your Content Management System (CMS)

Typically, these are once off tasks that an SEO would need to do at the beginning of a campaign.

The Safest Approach

Every business who relies on their digital assets should have a relationship with a locally based IT professional.

It’s important to ensure these services are local so that they are held accountable by local consumer protection laws.

Because these the tasks where SEOs need your cPanel/FTP details are a once off; it’s best to have your SEO send these files to your IT provider who can then check the files and implement them on your server themselves.

Extra Tips For Your Digital Security

Ensure that you’re not giving more access to your SEO or digital marketing providers than is absolutely necessary.

A few ways to avoid the common mistakes that I often see clients making are:

Provide SEOs with their own login details for your website and not the main/administrator login details. Ensure that they don’t have access to edit core files such as the header/footers or function files.

Never give login details to your e-mail accounts, especially if they are connected with your domain name. Everything your digital marketing providers need access to (like Google Analytics or Google Ads) can be provided by inviting their e-mail address to the account as a manager (and not as an Owner).

Never give Manage Users access to Analytics. Giving Manage Users access means that they can add whoever they like and remove whoever they like from the account, including you. That historical data in Google Analytics is invaluable and you don’t want your account held ransom. Edit permissions is usually all an SEO provider needs.

Would These Measures Annoy My SEO?

More than likely.

Yes, it is far more convenient for us SEOs to have unrestricted access – it does make the job quicker and easier.

But ultimately, I’d respect any client’s wishes to ensure their digital assets are safe and as long as there are ways for me to complete the work, the inconvenience is far from unbearable.

Why Do You Need To Take These Measures?

Sadly, the digital marketing industry is highly unregulated.

That means the people who can call themselves digital marketing professionals are not required to achieve a certain level of education, credentials or adhere to any industry body before being able to pose as “experts”.

Some SEO companies have been known to put malicious code on client websites and even create additional entry points to the website, so they can still access it even if passwords have been changed or their logins removed.

This is done to ensure that the website starts to perform poorly if a client decides to leave, hoping that the client will return since there’s a clear correlation with leaving the SEO provider and things going bad.

I’ve even seen a client suddenly have problems with their e-mails after leaving their overseas provider as they had the client’s web hosting logins – it was a lot of work liaising with the hosting company to get all the passwords reset and to rectify everything.

Of course, these are worst-case scenarios. You do limit the potential of this happening with local providers, but it’s always good to ensure the security of your digital assets as they continue play a greater role in most business’ marketing communications.

Writing Extended Text Ads in AdWords

When extended texts ads first introduced a 2nd headline and one, longer description field, it was hard to know what to write.

Now, finally, after getting into the groove of writing enticing ad copy filled packed only with value propositions – Google drops another change to extended text ads.

The change?

We now have 3 headlines plus 2 full sized descriptions (not like the two half descriptions that kinda made one proper description like the old old ads).


Look, it’s a good thing.

It’s more opportunity to communicate all of a business’ unique or competitive value propositions in the one ad.

But God, it has become harder to think of things to write in order to fill up all of the extra space these new formats provide, but also, coming up with a good number of variations to split test.

Although, I remember thinking the exact same thing when the first expanded text ads came out.

It’s something we’ll get used to.

Really, though, the most complex thing about these new extended text ads is figuring out what to call them, differentiating them from the old extended ad formats.

Google hasn’t even given these new formats a specific name…So, what are we supposed to call them?

New expanded text ads? Expanded texts ads v2? 3+2 ads?

First-World problem, I know.

I’ll just have to do my best to differentiate the two in this blog article.

Don’t Just Fill In The Gaps

Just as I’ve mentioned in my previous post about writing good ads for in Google:

You don’t have to sell what you do, they’ve already sold themselves on that by searching for what you do, you just have to sell them you!

The most important thing with writing ad copy is to ensure that everything you are writing conveys value over the business’ competitors.

So, that makes things very difficult when you’ve already got ads that fit all of your USPs (unique selling points) neatly squeezed in.

To write anything more feels like you’re just waffling on.

If that’s the case for you when writing in the new formats, waffling on in order to fill the second description up, my advice is don’t even bother with the new formats.

Value propositions > Real estate on the SERPs.

Quality over quantity.


A smaller, yet punchier ad is far more effective (and helpful to the search user) than a long-winded, space consuming pile of s***.

Just give the search users what’s important to them.

Nothing more.

The 3rd Headline

The 3rd headline is a bit of a pain as it often shows up on mobile devices, but not commonly on desktops.

Which makes it a pain to follow the whole “every word must be valuable” if that valuable message may not be seen.

My advice here is not to put your killer value propositions in the 3rd headline.

Because, if it doesn’t appear like you’re hoping it does, it could make the difference between that purchase-ready search user clicking on your ad or on someone else’s.

Luckily there are a few things you can do with your 3rd headline to maximise value but not hide important messages.

Add your brand name in. Because we often use the 1st headline to stuff a keyword in (to improve quality scores) and save the 2nd headline for our main value proposition, we don’t ever get the chance to brand our Google Ads (unless you think people take notice of the display URL).

And if you’ve been investing in branding exercises, like Absolute Cosmetic have, it’s a good way for search users to immediately recognise you, trust you and click on your ad over your lesser known competitors.

Showing Absolute Cosmetic's new extended text ads

Use the 3rd headline for your keyword stuffing. Since that 1st headline that we normally use for keywords is really valueless to the consumer, why not stuff it in the least valuable part of the ad?

Showing Cleanetic's new extended text ad with keyword in 3rd headline

Especially since the content of the 3rd headline still works towards the Ad Relevancy part of your Quality Score whether it is shown or not.

Or you can put a weaker call to action in the 3rd headline, like I’ve done for a local suburb ad for The Plumbing And Gas Guys with “Free Over The Phone Quote”.

New extended text ad for The Plumbing And Gas Guys

Remember, the 3rd headline and 2nd description sometimes don’t show.

So not only do we need to ensure that important messages don’t get lost but that the ads still make sense if the 3rd headline and 2nd description aren’t displayed.

The 2nd Description

First off, know that the 2nd description field is not compulsory.

If you’re just wanting to take advantage of the 3rd headline but not utilise the 2nd description, you can.

For the most part, I’ve been seeing the 2nd description appearing both on mobile and on desktop.

However, I have once seen the 2nd description being truncated.

And I’ve heard people complaining that the 2nd description isn’t being shown at all.

So, it’s a tough one.

Yet again we’re prioritising messages.

Whilst initially I thought the 2nd description was a pain in the backside, there is an opportunity here.

There has always been heads butted over branded messaging verses search messaging.

Us search advertisers are used to slamming multiple USPs within a very small space, so messaging has to be short and to the point and traditional marketers hate it.

Now, we can have the best of both Worlds with description 1 being filled with our Search style messages and we can fit the more long-winded, on-brand messaging into description 2.

And if description 2 doesn’t always appear…? Oh well! 😛

Be Careful Of Repetition

It looks pretty stupid when an ad repeats itself and this sometimes happens unintentionally with call-out extensions.

If you’re reworking your ads and filling in more space with more value propositions, make sure they’re not being repeated by these extensions.

It’s always better to use call-out extensions for non-essential messages such as:

  • Qualified and experienced
  • Plenty of parking
  • Always on-time
  • Fully insured

These types of messages are nice, but quite often it’s a given that a business would have these “advantages” and therefore not worth the space in your main ad copy.

Always save the main body copy for USPs (Unique Selling Propositions).

Especially since call-out extensions, sitelink extensions and highlights don’t always show up in the SERPs.

Don’t Kill Off Your Old Ads, Yet

Unlike our classic ads that had been around since the beginning of AdWords, Google isn’t planning on killing off our existing extended text ads.

(At least not yet).

So, keep at least some of your existing extended text ads live and split test them with your new extended text ads.

Your old ads have likely gone through revision after revision, surviving split test after split test and have come out on top.

It’s not smart to completely replace highly polished ads with a new ad format that we’re just getting used to writing with.

Sometimes, New Isn’t Better

I’m not sure if anyone else thinks this, but…

These new extended text ads looks like a big brick of text, especially when accompanied by multiple ad extensions.

Because, us advertisers are in the attention economy where everything needs to be snack-sized and easily consumed on the web.

And as a result, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the smaller extended text ads actually perform better.

Bidding On Competitor Brand Names In Adwords

Bidding on your competitor’s brand name is a great way to capitalise on traffic that you would never normally be exposed to.

Yes, bidding on competitors’ brand name perfectly okay/legal to do and it’s a strategy that I’d always highly recommend.

When done right, it’s a great source of cheap and highly qualified leads.

And there are some businesses that have just as much search volume for their brand name as your big-hitting non-branded keywords.

Just check out how many searches Orbit Fitness have for their brand name. It dwarfs some of the biggest geo-tagged fitness equipment related keywords.

Search numbers of Orbit Fitness verses non-branded searches

A lot of the time, the people behind these searches are hot, ready to buy customers who aren’t particularly loyal to the company that they’re searching for.

Think of it like how some people will still say that they will “Hoover” the floors (with their Dyson).

If you’re able to present a better deal or a competitive advantage over the business that you’re targeting, you can pull a lot of opportunity your way.

So, competitors’ brand names can be a valuable source for additional traffic, leads and sales. Especially if you’re not currently hitting your daily budget in AdWords.

However, when done wrong, it can waste your budget at best, and land you in some really hot (even legal) water at worst.

Don’t Use Other Brand Names In Ads

Target your competitors’ brand names as keywords, for sure.

But don’t actually write ads where you write their brand name in.

Never. Ever.

Firstly, in your own interest, you’re just going to fool search users who are just going to bounce straight off your website, running up your daily budget with very little return.

Secondly, it’s a real d*ck move. It’s not going to help you get on with everyone in your industry.

Thirdly, there’s always the potential of legal action.

Just steer clear of that “strategy” all together.

Don’t Use Dynamic Keyword Insertions

So (hopefully) you know not to use your competitors’ brand names in your AdWords ads.

But you could end up displaying a competitor’s name in your ad without meaning to.

Despite how sh*t they are, some people are still using Dynamic Keyword Insertions (DKI) in their ads.

(Okay, DKI has it’s place in some large e-Commerce websites. But for most businesses, it’s a lazy way to try to provide relevancy in their ads).

If you don’t know how DKI works, basically, when you’re writing your ads you can use the {Keyword:Example} command.

As long as the Search Term that a search users looks for (and matches with your ad) fits the character limit of your ad, the “Example” part will be replaced with the Search Term.

In the best case scenario, your ads will look pretty stupid like in this example below from Amazon, who would have written their Headline 1 like this:

“Shop {Keyword:Products} on Amazon”

Amazon ad bidding on Door Stop

The {Keyword:Prodcuts} has been replaced by my search term “door stop”, changing the Healine 1 to read:

“Shop Door stop on Amazon”

So you can see how in the worst scenario, one of your broad match keywords could end up matches with a competitor’s brand name.

And the Dynamic Keyword Insertion feature kicks in, displaying that competitor’s brand name loud and proud in your in your ad.

(Whilst I did manage to find an example of doing this, I thought it was best not to show the example and avoid calling someone’s business out).

Setting It Up Right

It’s always ideal to have a seperate Campaign for targeting your competitors.

Firstly, you can use your competitors’ brand names as negative keywords in your other campaigns so that they aren’t indirectly bidding on those terms through broad match keywords.

Then, in your Competitors Campaign, I would have a dedicated AdGroup for each competitor that you plan to target – making it easier to identify which competitor’s keywords are actually working for you.

Having a seperate budget for your Competitors Campaign is also a good way to ensure that your other Campaigns’ budget isn’t chewed up by this new one.

Writing Good Ads

Ensure you’re writing ads that boast a competitive advantage which your targeted competitor doesn’t have.

It’s also a good idea to ensure that your brand name (not your competitor’s) is very obviously stated in the ad copy.

Because if you don’t do that, the only identifier you have for your business is your URL (which a lot of people don’t always glance at).

A good example of an ad that is designed to be used with competitor’s brand names (without tricking or confusing anyone) is this one with Door Stop:

Door Stop Competitor Ads

Door Stop haven’t mentioned their competitor’s name in the ad.

And whilst the word “better” is used, it requires the search user to put two and two together, and doesn’t explicitly state who their quality and prices are better than.

There’s also the opportunity to be a bit cheeky if the competitor’s brand name can be used naturally in a sentence, like Himac Attachments in this example:

Himac Attachment competitor ad with pun

This one just about gets away with murder here as luckily this competitor’s name can be used naturally. The fact that the word “norm” wasn’t capitalised also helps.

If you want to have a bit of fun but don’t have the chance to perform some word play on your competitor’s brand name, you can try something like what The Plumbing And Gas Guys did:

The Plumbing And Gas Guys Targeting Pascoes

Or if you just want to play it safe, use an ad that you would typically use when bidding on your own brand name like so:

Himac Attachments generic ad on competitor keyword

Monitor Performance

Always ensure that you’re tracking conversions with your AdWords campaigns – such as phone calls and enquiry forms filled.

Monitor your Competitors Campaign and its AdGroups closely and ensure that you’re pulling in leads at a reasonable cost.

If things are starting to look expensive, try lower your bids, revise your ads to be more clear and/or look through the Search Terms report to see if there’s any keywords that are causing waste.

If, for whatever reason, you’re not seeing results from bidding on a particular competitor’s brand name – you may have to pause the AdGroup.

Don’t forget to segment data by device types when analysing, too.

Because there’s a chance that people searching on a mobile are looking for an address or phone number rather than researching.

So, you may get poorer results on mobile.

Or you may not.

That’s the beauty of AdWords.

Every Account is different so you’ll just have to see for yourself 🙂

The Favour May Be Returned

A potential downside to bidding on your competitors’ brand names are that your competitors might start bidding on your brand name too.

However, the risk is easy to weigh up- especially if your brand is relatively unknown and has very small search volumes in Google compared to your better known competitors with larger search volumes.

Dealing With Confrontation From Competitors

Even if you’re playing by the rules, some competitors may give you a phone call or an e-mail expressing their displeasure over your ads.

It’s always best in these situations to be able to compromise somewhat.

Ask what specifically about the ads is causing an issue and show that you’re happy to revise the ads to keep everything civil.

That way, despite the fact that you’re not taking your ads down, they may feel as if they at least got something from their effort. Especially since they’re likely worked up on making contact and adamant for a result of some sort.

Now, you’re not required to do that – but I genuinely believe it’s always better to just get along with your competition if you have the chance to.

Can I Stop People From Bidding On My Brand Name?

For displaying your brand name? Yes.

You can file a request to have your brand name recognised as a trademark in Google which prevents others’ from even creating ads.

But stopping them from bidding on your brand name as a keyword? No.

Google do not investigate or restrict trademarks as keywords.

So, there’s no way to stop it.

The best way that you can combat it is to ensure that you’re also bidding on your own brand name and price your competitors out so that it’s simply not profitable for them to do so.

Calling A Truce

I have one client where the cost per conversion from their own brand terms was around $20…which is far too much.

In scenarios like this, where it’s super expensive just to protect your own brand name; it may be worth calling a truce with your competitors.

Because brand bidding can be a retaliatory measure that can spiral out of control, if you’re paying too much to bid on your own brand, it’s likely that your competitors are too.

Since competitor bidding isn’t always the most profitable source (or largest source) of lead generation it may likely be in everyone’s interest to agree to add each other’s brands as negative keywords.

If this is the case with your business/client, the savings from your branded campaign could significantly outweigh the opportunity loss from bidding on competitor’s brand names in AdWords.

How Branding Impacts Search Advertising

It’s little wonder that so many businesses are abandoning traditional media in favour of search advertising like AdWords or SEO.

The return on investment on AdWords, for example, is quick and highly measurable.

But there is a danger in discontinuing or not engaging in branded advertising at all.

I work with a lot of different business from a range of different industries and over the time, you start to notice the difference between businesses who have, or still are, engaged in branding exercises and those who are not.

So you’re probably wondering someone like myself can see that difference – since I’m only operating in search advertising at the moment.

And it’s easy to see.

The Difference With Well-Branded Businesses

Firstly, a business who has been engaged in lengthy branding activity actually has a decent number of searches per month for their own brand name.

These are called branded searches.

When search users type in a branded keyword into Google, they already know what what and who they’re looking for. So, just because an AdWords ad is the traffic source that finally converts them – it’s far from meaning that AdWords was the cause of sale.

Secondly, these businesses have far better metrics in AdWords than those with practically zero or little brand equity.

These better metrics include:

  • Higher click through rates on ads
  • Higher conversion rates on the website
  • Lower cost per conversions

I’ve seen two dentists, who had the same number of clinics, spending the same amount of money and had very similar campaigns. One consistently converted leads at under $15 whilst the other converted at over $40 per lead.

The difference between the two is that the one that was getting the cheaper leads had a stronger brand identity from years of radio and print advertising.

It makes sense. When you search for a product or service you would be more likely to engage with a business that you’ve heard or seen before.

Resistance To Branded Activity

Whenever I recommend any forms of branding activity, I get a lot of resistance such as “we tried radio for a week and it did absolutely nothing” or “we put one ad in the paper and barely covered costs from the calls it generated”.

Branding, unlike search, isn’t an instant fix.

You’re building a relationship with your audience. And like any relationship – the longer you’re around each other and the more you invest, the more you’re going to get out of it.

A consistent branding campaign continues to build and solidify your brand, products and/or services in people’s minds.

Equally…once you’ve built up some brand equity and suddenly stop your branding activity – you’re not going to see an immediate drop.

This is why so many businesses felt no immediate repercussions when they pulled a lot of their traditional or branded advertising.

People don’t just forget overnight, but they do forget gradually over time…which is why some businesses feel like things are drying up after a year or two from pulling their traditional spend and pumping everything into digital.

The Risk Of A Weak Brand

Of course, even if you’re absolutely killing it from just AdWords at the moment…it’s very risky to have all of your eggs in one basket.

Especially since AdWords is a bidding system and if you get a flood of competitors entering the market your cost per click, and as a result your cost per acquisition, could go up considerable….

This has happened in a few industries where it simply isn’t viable for some businesses to advertise on AdWords anymore due to the leads costing so much where they’re barely covering costs or even working at a loss.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE AdWords and think it’s one of the best mediums out there…but there are just some external factors that you cannot fight.

Branded Activity Doesn’t Always Mean Traditional Advertising

So branding exercises is a good way to build your reputation in the market and further improve the metrics that you see in other advertising channels – such as AdWords.

But don’t think that you have to split your bank account wide open and dive straight into the paper, outdoor advertising or radio to participate.

There are cost effective methods of branded advertising that even the smallest of businesses can engage in.

Such as display advertising on the Google Display Network and Facebook or pre-rolls on YouTube.

A lot of brands that I’ve work with, such as Door Stop, have ceased traditional media like print advertising but it doesn’t mean they’re against branding exercises – they just can’t justify the high cost of those placements when there are much better value alternatives.

You Have To Commit To Building A Brand

Building a brand is not a quick fix or delivers immediate results, like AdWords.

You have to commit and be prepared not to see a return on investment immediately… continual exposure over a long period of time builds a strong brand.

And you need to continue branded activity even when you are seeing the benefits.

There is a reason why large brands such as Apple, Coca-Cola and HBF (to give a more local example) continue to appear on billboards, bus wraps, shopping centre banners and ad shells.

Measuring Branded Activity

It’s very difficult to near impossible to directly measure the impact of branded activity.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good indication, though.

One method I really like is to ensure that you have a branded campaign set up in AdWords with a separate budget that will cover 100% search impression share so that you can actively monitor the impression that they get and see if there is a build up over the months.

Another way is to see if you’ve seen a spike upwards in direct traffic or even in organic traffic with consideration to whether or not your rankings in Google have fluctuated or not.

How To Stop AdWords Automated Ad Suggestions

If you’re like most of the people I spoke to in the industry today, you may have received an e-mail from Google, skim read it and understood that Google are going to start providing recommendations for advert copy.


So, most people assumed this meant that there would be a heap of recommendations in the Opportunities tab just like there is with keywords at the moment.

But no.

As from the 29th of April 2018, Google will suggest these ads to you and if you don’t manually approve or disapprove them in 14 days, they’ll just go ahead and Enable them for you.

Seriously, look below.

Google Auto Ad Recommendation Email

Suddenly, not so funny.

Why Not Let Google Try?

Because writing good AdWords adverts that use up all of the real estate whilst being grammatically correct and appealing is a difficult task that most humans can’t get right.

Good ad copy requires thought and some level of strategy.

I heavily doubt that any of these ad suggestions that Google will algorithmically spin up would be any good at all.

Especially if it’s anything like how Google automatically populate meta descriptions for their organic listings.

In fact, here’s a perfect example of exactly how pointless these automated ads can become if you let them run free on your account.

Ad example taken from: Psyberware

“Leaf Blowers Are Powered By Electric Or Gasoline Motors.”

Well…I don’t know about you but I’m sold.

How To Stop These Ads Approving Themselves

Firstly, you need to get out of the good version of AdWords and enter the dreaded Beta zone (the new interface).

Step 1: Enter AdWords Beta

Step 2: Click on “ACCOUNTS” on the left panel then click “MANAGEMENT” on the top bar.

Stop Ad Suggestions 1

Step 3: Select all the accounts in your list and click “Edit” in the blue bar above.

Step 4: From the drop down box, click “Change ad suggestions settings”.

Stop Ad Suggestions 2

Step 5: Click the circle next to “Don’t automatically apply suggestions”.

Step 6: Click “APPLY”.

Stop Ad Suggestions 3

And there you go!

You don’t need to provide any reasons or comments, that’s all optional.

Provided Google don’t sneak any other changes on us before the 29th of April, we shouldn’t have a problem with auto-generated ads populating our AdGroups.

Keep in mind that this only stops automated ad suggestions the accounts you have right now.

Any accounts you create in the future will, by default, have automated ad suggestions turned on.

So, each time you create an account from now on, make sure that you go into its settings and switch off automated ad suggestions.

UPDATE: It’s not a bad idea to periodically check that all of your accounts have automated ad suggestions turned off as I’ve just been told by another agency owner that found some accounts having auto ads turned on despite previously turning them off.