- Google Ads should be used as one part of a digital marketing strategy that also includes SEO (search engine optimisation) and a free Google My Business page.
- Sydney practice Tax Effective Accountants found that leads coming via Google Ads had double the conversion rate of those from organic search.
- A Google Ads campaign is not a ‘set and forget’ tool – it requires constant monitoring for trending keywords.
By Adam Turner
Advertising online with Google can be an effective way for accountants to generate business leads, but your Google Ads spend can go to waste if it’s not coordinated within a broader digital strategy.
Competition is fierce for firms to appear in the top 10 (the first page) of a list of the Google search results. And that elusive top spot receives about one-third of all clicks, says the latest Advanced Web Ranking report.
There are three main approaches businesses can take: search engine optimisation (SEO), Google My Business and search engine marketing (SEM).
SEO improves your ranking in “organic” searches for relevant keywords and phrases. While organic search result listings are free, an effective SEO strategy can involve ongoing expenses in monitoring keyword trends, improving website design and updating content so it includes those searched-for terms in its headings. Firms might also employ in-house staff and/or external content marketing agencies to manage their online presence.
Creating a free Google My Business page allows a business profile to appear in a map at the top of some search results, as well as in Google Maps.
“It is more effective to send potential leads to customised landing pages, rather than the home page, to ensure their specific queries are answered.”
A Google My Business profile allows firms to spruik their wares, and includes contact details, opening hours and directions. It also lets customers interact directly through written reviews or recommendations.
You can also buy your way to the top, through SEM. Google Ads lets advertisers promote themselves by appearing as an advertisement at the top of Google search results pages.
How Google Ads can deliver better leads
Paying for Google Ads does not affect a business’s organic search ranking, although SEO and choosing the right keywords can improve Google Ads performance by ensuring your landing page presents potential leads with the precise information they need to encourage them to make contact.
Even if your firm ranks highly in organic search results, there can still be a benefit in paying for SEM such as Google Ads, says Michael Cosmidis, head of digital assets, marketing and sales with Sydney accounting and financial advisory firm Tax Effective Accountants.
Using Google Ads, Tax Effective Accountants had a 20% increase in traffic for key terms even though the business was already ranking highly for those phrases in organic search results.
Leads coming via Google Ads also deliver double the conversion rates of organic search leads, Cosmidis says. “The key to getting warm leads is choosing action-based keywords and phrases – like ‘lodge a tax return’ rather than simply ‘tax return’ to attract those ready to take the next step,” he says.
While improving the quality of incoming leads, which includes targeting ads at specific demographics, Cosmidis also honed Tax Effective Accountants’ digital strategy to make the most of those leads. This included creating specific landing pages for different keywords and phrases as well as tracking their individual conversion rates.
Cosmidis says it is more effective to send potential leads to customised landing pages, rather than the home page, to ensure their specific queries are answered and they’re presented with a prominent “call to action” to make contact.
Calculate the true cost of customer acquisition
Calculating the value of advertising with Google requires looking beyond cost per click, advises Melinda Samson, founder and co-owner of Melbourne-based Google Ads and Google Analytics consultancy Click-Winning Content.
Considering that only a percentage of visitors to your site become customers, it is important to understand the true cost per acquisition. It is also key to calculate the lifetime value of a customer when they sign up for different financial services; and spending more to attract lucrative customers in the long term.
Google also offers “display network” advertisements, placing large visuals such as banner ads on websites that sign up as Google advertising partners.
While these advertisements are cheaper, the fact they appear across a wide range of websites means the customer conversion rates tend to be lower as visitors are not actively looking for an accountant. As such, display network advertisements are better suited to brand building than generating leads.
An exception is “remarketing” display network advertisements, Samson says, which will be seen only by people who have previously clicked on your advertisements or visited specific pages on your website.
“Remarketing is one I would recommend for accountants,” she says, “based on the fact that potential customers often don’t convert when they first visit your website.”
What is good about working with an agency?
One key mistake is thinking that a Google Ads campaign is “set and forget”, says Ashleigh Smithies, marketing manager with Melbourne accounting and financial services firm Liston Newton Advisory.
Liston Newton has been using Google Ads for only a few months, but has already found that making the most of campaigns requires monitoring performance.
Working with an agency, its search optimisation spend is divided equally between Google Ads and SEO, regularly adding search engine-friendly content to its website.
“The key is crunching the data, which is where we’ve found working with an agency helps – staying on top of the best SEO and SEM phrases as well as recommending new content for our website,” she says.
“This means it’s important to work with an agency that has a clear strategy, offers regular updates and is proactive to ensure your efforts bear fruit.”
7 tips for an effective Google Ads strategy
1. Along with Google Ads, also invest time and effort in search engine optimisation (SEO).
2. Target ads at specific demographics to improve the quality of incoming leads.
3. Take advantage of remarketing to ensure your business remains visible while potential leads surf the web.
4. Consider synonyms and other alternatives if competition for specific keywords is fierce.
5. Opt for action-based key phrases to attract potential clients who are ready to take the next step.
6. Create custom landing pages for different search terms.
7. Include a call to action on landing pages, for example, “Book an appointment today”, “Call us now”.
How to improve your Google search ranking (without Google Ads)
It is important to determine the best keywords and phrases for attracting strong sales leads. These include the location the practice serves as well as references to specific services and activities, rather than only generic terms like “accounting”.
Tools on SEMrush.com measure a website’s current Google SEO performance, while Google Trends is useful for checking the popularity of various search terms.
Work a list of keywords and phrases into the website’s page titles, headlines, subheadings and body text. But the text should still read well. “Keyword stuffing” – cramming in keywords to the point where it feels forced – is punished by the Google search algorithm and can harm your search ranking.