Potential customers are looking for home service businesses like yours each and every day, and the vast majority of them are starting their searches online. Ensuring that your business is one of the first that they find can be the factor that helps you secure new leads, ultimately creating new revenue for your business.

While search engine optimization (SEO) helps your business to rank higher for various search terms organically, it isn’t the only way to help potential customers find your business online. Search engine marketing (SEM) allows you to buy digital ad space on Google’s search engine results page when users search for keywords you choose to target, ideally leading them to a relevant landing page where you can encourage them to fill out a form, schedule an appointment, or interact with your business in some other meaningful way.

Whether you’re new to SEM or eager to start building more effective campaigns, there are a number of steps you need to take to ensure your SEM ads are effective so that you can get the most out of your ad spend. From keeping up with which keywords you should be targeting to evaluating how viewers are responding to various elements of your ads, sprucing up your SEM campaigns should definitely be on your digital marketing to-do list this year.

Utilizing Call Extensions and Call-Only Ads for Home Service Businesses

Call-only ads are ads where the only call-to-action is to make a phone call to the business. These ads create an effective way to generate quality phone call leads.

Call-only ads are a great way to generate leads, typically at a cheaper cost per acquisition (CPA) than average search campaigns. They are particularly successful when it comes to small businesses. By allowing the user to simply call the phone number directly from the ad, call-only ads avoid the user having to visit a landing page or website first to find the phone number.

At WorkWave, we have seen some clients achieve a CPA of up to 40% less for call-only ads compared to standard search campaigns.

Continue to Monitor Search Terms and Add New Negative Keywords

The search terms report that Google offers allows you to see the exact keyword string that a user searched which caused your ad to display. Having this information helps you determine what new keywords should be added.

While Google is now limiting what can be seen on a search terms report, it is still good to monitor and see what keywords potential prospects are searching. By doing this, you can also find new terms that you don’t want your ads to show, commonly known as negative keywords.

As an example, here is a list of common phrases to try to avoid for home service campaigns:

  • Free
  • Do It Yourself (DIY)
  • Cheap
  • Home remedies
  • Homemade
  • Walmart
  • Amazon
  • Lowes
  • Home Depot

By continuing to maintain a negative keyword list, you can prevent your ads from showing up for users you know aren’t likely to be interested in your services and minimize wasted ad spend.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is when you test two variables to understand how performance differs between them. This could involve testing ad copy, calls-to-action, landing page copy, form options, button color, or just about any other variable in your campaign.

By directly observing how the same ad performs when a controlled variable is changed, A/B testing is a great way to determine what is and what isn’t working. Some of the most common tests involve ad copy, so testing headline copy is a great place to start. By letting two different variations run simultaneously for a few weeks, you can see what your audience is reacting to more. If an ad receives significantly more clicks with one headline than with another headline, you can reasonably conclude that your audience is responding more favorably to that headline and use that to inform your future decisions.

Understanding Return on Ad Spend

Return on ad spend (ROAS) is a key metric when it comes to understanding the efficiency of your paid search campaigns.

To calculate ROAS, divide your revenue for a given period by your total ad spend for the same period. If your company spends $1,000 total per month on ad spend and generates $1,500 per month in revenue, your ROAS would be $1.50, or 1.5:1. This means that for every $1 invested, $1.50 is generated. This is particularly important in knowing where to put your ad spend.

For example, if you are a pest control company, it may be worth paying more per click for a termite campaign vs. a mosquito campaign as a termite job will likely generate more revenue. In other words, the higher ad spend is justified since the associated revenue will result in a higher ROAS. Understanding your ROAS and profitability based on each service you offer is crucial.

Test and Optimize Landing Pages

While relevant ad copy is necessary, it is meaningless if the user doesn’t have an easy, straightforward experience when visiting the landing page or website after clicking on your paid ad. The goal of a landing page is to convert visitors, whether that’s getting them to submit a form or place a phone call. If visitors are clicking on your ads but not converting, take a closer look at your landing pages to see where you might be losing them.

Various landing page tools, such as Unbounce, allow you to easily A/B test landing page copy and form options while working with your agency or web developer. Changing the tone, layout, or amount of copy on a landing page may lead to more conversations. Similarly, changing the form itself may help to secure more conversions. Some potential form options to test include fields like Best Time to Call, Specific Problem (e.g. rodent issue, lawn care, heating issue), or Timeframe to Buy. 

Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking allows you to determine where your leads (form fills, phone calls, or purchases) are coming from. This is crucial when evaluating which campaigns are performing successfully or how to adjust your spending on future campaigns.

One thing that cannot be stressed enough is ensuring that conversion tracking is set up properly. Tools like Google Tag Manager make this more manageable and help to ensure that you know exactly how a visitor landed on your page.

If phone calls are a significant part of your business’s operations, tracking them is very important. With the right tools, you can go beyond tracking call sources and even track calls down to the keyword level. This is not only important when calculating your CPA, but is also important in determining which keywords and ads are resulting in more revenue. This can help you narrow down and pause keywords that have a high cost and low lead volume.

Competitor Campaigns and Data

Now more than ever, it’s important to understand what your competitors are doing. Tools such as Spyfu allow you to see how much your competitors are spending on paid searches, what type of keywords they are bidding on, and more. 

In addition, using the auction insights tool allows you to see who you are competing against.

Another great way to stay top of mind, especially when in competitive fields like pest control, lawn care, HVAC, and other home service businesses, is to create a competitor campaign. By targeting competitor keywords, you are able to stay top of mind with potential prospects who may also be seeing ads from your competitors. For example, you may want to bid on the brand term of your competitor. When a prospect searches for that company, this gives you the chance to have your ad displayed and potentially get their attention back on your business. Competitor campaigns are a great way to provide prospects with special offers and potentially sway them into choosing your business over your competitors.

Creating Remarketing Campaigns

Another valuable resource, and one you should absolutely be utilizing in 2024, is remarketing. Remarketing campaigns are either banner ads or search ads that target previous visitors to your landing page or website. These ads can be configured to display on a variety of other websites your visitors frequent, including YouTube, giving you another opportunity to get your message in front of your prospects.

Setting up remarketing campaigns to display for those who have visited your site but haven’t converted can be a great chance to reel them back in. Choosing to offer a discount or other promotion on remarketing campaigns can help to win their business.

Another option is to serve the ad to people who have already converted, creating an opportunity to cross-sell them another service. If you do not have a creative team to create banners to run, you can still explore this option by creating remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA).

Local Service Ads

Local Service ads, also known as Google Guaranteed, are a great cost-effective way to generate leads for home service businesses. It shows your company with a check mark, boosting the user’s confidence by showing your business has been verified by Google.

These ads operate on a pay-per-lead basis and allow you to set a weekly budget to make sure you don’t exceed your desired spending. The best part? You are only charged for legitimate phone calls; there’s also a process to dispute a lead’s legitimacy if you feel a lead wasn’t valid.

To get started, Google will ask for pertinent information regarding your company, including information like company size, year founded, owner, locations, and so on. Your company and some of its workers will then be required to submit to a background check and provide insurance certificates. The specific documentation needed will depend on the type of business. Once completed and approved, Google will offer insurance to both the consumer and your business.

Some examples of businesses that are allowed on Local Services ads include:

  • Pest control
  • HVAC
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Locksmiths
  • Home Improvement
  • House cleaning
  • Lawn care
  • Movers
  • Painters

Know Your End Goal

The most important thing to consider when using SEM is what you’re ultimately looking to accomplish. Knowing your end goal provides crucial context into how you’ll evaluate your CPA and ROAS. As an example, a campaign’s success depends on more than just how many leads it generates; generating a lot of leads doesn’t always equate to success, and lead volume that looks low compared to prior months or the industry average doesn’t always mean that a campaign has fallen short. With your business’s unique goals in mind, one of the most important metrics to look at is the win rate on the leads that come in.

In most cases, especially in the home service industry, the quality of individual leads is far more important than the total number of leads acquired. Your business’s goals are unique to you, though, so defining success for a campaign can be subjective. By defining what you are trying to accomplish before you launch a campaign, you can establish concrete goals that keep you on track. When you know your goals and evaluate how profitable your paid search campaigns are, you put yourself in the position to enact a plan that takes your SEM campaigns to the next level and sets yourself up for success in 2024 and beyond. For expert insight into SEM and maximizing the profitability of your campaigns, explore WorkWave Marketing today.


Nick has years of SEM experience and is well-versed in SEM strategies.