More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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With Pay-To-Play Looming in Horizon, Will you Focus More on Adwords?

The Local Search Pros G+ Community has been just on fire with tons of great conversations. I need to figure out a way to start cross sharing more, without killing my carpal, so I can keep everyone in the loop.

But here's a really important discussion I wanted to bring up here because it's something that I'm sure it is on many consultant's minds due to all the recent Google Local changes.

Rich Owings said: Pay to play, AdWords and specialization...

A one person shop can't know and do every aspect of SEO these days. I avoid AdWords, and refer clients elsewhere when they need assistance with it. But with pay to play (home service ads) seeming inevitable, am I going to need to start doing more with AdWords? An existential question for a Monday morning!

Here is the convo so far. Please weigh in with your thoughts, below.

Joy Hawkins
We have an equal # of small businesses buying AdWords services from us as Local SEO. I would strongly agree that you should start learning more about AdWords so you can manage accounts for clients. I would start by doing their certification exams.

Bill Verboom
I agree with Joy. We find it effective, especially with new clients. It gives those not on page 1 an instant win. Those businesses with the money to play in AdWords, Home Services & Organic will have a huge advantage, especially in smaller cities. Imagine a top 3 placement in all those areas and the perceived and real value to a client! Not to mention a barnacle or two. Exciting stuff!

On a side note; I'm hoping these Home Service Ads will help curtail some of the exact match business names & place more emphasis on branding.

I still believe local SEO will have a place in the future, just not sure what role will be. Fun times!

Rob Hermann
Yes, I agree with all said here. I have always used a mix of Adwords with my local, and organic seo. The learning curve is steep, but not terribly long, especially if you take +Joy Hawkins advice and get certified.

Rich Owings
I've looked at certification before, and would love to do it. As a one person shop, I'm not sure where I'll find the time. Might have to though!

Linda Buquet
But here is the BIG Q I have for +Joy Hawkins and others. How profitable a service is Adwords management. No one needs to give away exact fees, but could you give a percentage? If you consider an "average" local SEO client as 100%, then what % of income would an "average" Adwords client be?

I guess that's hard to answer because it would depend on their budget. But if you talk about average middle of the road client, is there any way you can give us an idea?

My impression has always been, there is not much $ in managing Adwords, but many companies do it so it must be profitable. I guess in part it's profitable because not as much of a time drain as Local SEO?

Joy Hawkins
+Linda Buquet I will happily share our fees :) We charge a min of $199/month to manage an account and once the spend per month is more than $2,000 we up our fee to be 10% of the ad spend. This is low for the industry. Lots of agencies charge $500 min/month. I have some clients who are paying $14k a month in AdWords so their fee to us is $1400. Obviously those are the types of accounts we'd like all the time but we still do really well with the guys that only pay us $199/month. AdWords can run really well if you spend a few hours a month on it. If you just set it and forget it, it will rot and perform terribly.


So that's the convo up until now. I'll let everyone there know we have a discussion going here as well.

But important note to add to Rich's original comment... it's not just the "Home Service Ads" but the new "Nearby Businesses" local-pack-like ads that continue to keep growing into more verticals as well.

Thanks Joy for answering so transparently and sharing your insights with us!

Of course the other benefit to becoming Adwords certified is then you can say you are a "Google Partner". (Of course all the scammers that aren't really a Partner, say they are, so I'm not sure how much weight "Google Partner" carries these days.)

What about the rest of you? Are you doing Adwords now? If not, why not?

And are all these changes making you consider offering Adwords Management?
Bill Verboom just replied

For us, AdWords management is part of our regular SEO fee, we don't charge extra for it. It does help keep a client in-house & I don't have to worry about what Yellow Pages or whoever is doing that might hurt my SEO. Would I charge for it if it was my decision? You bet.

Can AdWords be profitable? Ask Larry Kim, :).

Interesting concept!

Anyone else currently throwing it in???
Interesting. We currently do offer it, but we also charge for it too. Adwords can be profitable just ask +James Svoboda!
At our client's request we have managed PPC campaigns on Google (and Bing/Yahoo) for several years. Want Page 1 visibility outside your immediate community or for keywords you don't rank well for organically? What else you gonna do?

We are a Google AdWords Certified Partner as well. A few months ago while speaking to our AdWords agency specialist the subject of certification came up in the conversation. He told me that it was a good thing we were certified already because there would soon be a stampede to become one. Why? He wouldn't elaborate.

This was about a month before August 6th.
A few months ago while speaking to our AdWords agency specialist the subject of certification came up in the conversation. He told me that it was a good thing we were certified already because there would soon be a stampede to become one. Why? He wouldn't elaborate.

This was about a month before August 6th.

Very interesting and very telling! Thanks for sharing that Jim!
Great discussion. I agree, Joy, your fee is pretty good as the industry standard seems to be around 15% or more of ad spend. I usually do not do Adwords campaigns without other organic and local because it just doesn?t pay enough. For big clients, sure, but 15% of $1000 monthly ad budget isn?t worth my time.

Adwords is a wonderful platform, but Jim is right?oh what a learning curve it has?at least if you want to be good at it. It takes a lot of time to really nail down a good campaign and lots of testing, monitoring, updating. Between Adwords and Analytics, all the information is available for a highly targeted campaign.

I encourage anyone who wants to stay in the business to become a Google Partner. The exams are not easy and nor should they be. It?s a great barrier to entry and a magnificent challenge.
I think every digital marketing consultant should be proficient with PPC. It's definitely a needed diversification strategy in today's environment. When managed well, it's a great way to drive qualified leads to clients. If you understand how to run display ads, that's cheap clicks that could yield very profitable leads. In the past I ran a display campaign for a law office that sent them hundreds of leads per month, which around 20-30% of those leads turned into cases (where they made $8k per case on average).

SEO is great, but if that's all you're doing then you might be competing with another agency for total digital marketing control for that client :rolleyes:
I was thinking about Google moving local to the "ads" or pay to play model, and thought about the implications iOS9 may have on local search. Since iOS 9 includes an ad-blocking feature which may be disrupting Adwords, would it have the same effect on the sponsored local results? If Google moves to a paid model for that section, is it possible many users may not see that and only find businesses in the organic results?

Still researching what iOS 9 is doing as far as ad-blocking goes, so feel free to chime in if I've misunderstood what the update is actually doing for mobile searches on iPhones.
Google Adwords is the best way to get a client to the top of the search results quickly, and if the campaign is configured efficiently to have a positive ROI then its just a matter of feeding it a healthy budget and watching the leads come in.
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I agree that it's a good way to get immediate visibility and that if done properly is one of the best ways to drive traffic for many businesses; however, I would caution about the implication to let it sit and watch the leads come in.

My campaigns never rest. We are always testing keyword types, ads and various features of the landing pages. We also test new avenues of traffic to see if we can find a hidden angle we can exploit.

Successful campaigns need regular attention and adjustment. This is how you stay visible and ahead of your competitors, many of which are doing the same thing. It's also important to stay ahead of Google updates and platform changes.

It's lots of work if you want your clients to stay in the top 5% of performers.

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