Google Adwords for a Local Service Business – a Beginner’s Guide

Local Service

There’s nothing like getting your business right in front of customers when they are searching for you.


Nailing that ad placement like a G

Even better, there’s nothing like knowing exactly how much you need to spend per new customer, allowing you to confident scale up your marketing knowing if you spend $1 you’ll get a return of $5.

thumbs up after searching gif

…and then we make it rain. – image source

After seeing all the trouble local services owners are having (seeing all that in facebookgroups), I knew I needed to put together a straightforward guide to help them get on their feet ASAP. If you’re one of these owners you’re probably pretty savvy already. You’ve started a local services business with employees or contractors and you’re connecting all the right people to deliver an awesome service to the beautiful people of your area. The problem? You’ve already got to worry about all kinds of other stuff:

  • Getting your business out there on yelp, thumbtack, facebook, your actual website
  • Making sure you have enough cleaners or other service people to service your clients
  • Making sure your scheduling is all sweet and working smoothly
  • And now you’ve got to worry about getting customers…

I recommend having a bunch of traffic streams, but an area many people leave out is Google Adwords because it seems like this big scary monster that wants to eat you up, steal all your money, and the spit you out. Many local service owners try setting it up with Google’s recommended settings and quit after a month because they don’t see the results (the fatal flaw here is that Google wants you to spend more money so they will recommend strategies that make you spend more unless you know what you’re doing). Here’s the key to a successful campaign:

  • Get targeted ads in front of people that are looking for your services (don’t worry, we’ll work through this too)
  • Do the maths!! We’ll work through this together but basically you want to know the most you are willing to pay for new customers
  • Don’t use Google’s recommend settings (they are there to make you spend more money)

So let’s get started!

Why Adwords?

Adwords is an online marketing service where users can display ads in front of users while they are doing different things on the internet. In our case we’ll be focusing on Search. Why? Because we can show our ads right in front of people when they are searching for the service we offer. E.g. People that are searching for “House Cleaner in New York” are very likely to be looking for a cleaner and are ready to book – right where we want them.

House Cleaner search in New York

Like giving candy to a baby.

Google Adwords Definitions

Let’s get some fancy terms out of the way. What terms would a local services owner need to know?

Account – Each domain/website has an account. This is where you manage your adwords. Campaign – Campaigns are a way to organise your account, and allow you to set Adgroup – Adgroups are subgroups under campaigns. They are used to group Keywords & Ads together Search Query – This is what people on Google actually type into the Google search. You use your keywords to target search quieres. Keywords – Keywords are the terms you use to tell google when you want to show your ad when someone searches. E.g. if your keyword is “House cleaner” then you will show when people search for “House Cleaner in Georgia”. There are different types of keywords and we can use these to control what search queries we want to show for. Negative Keywords – Negative keywords are a way for you to tell Google what you DON’T want to show for. Ad – You write this and it is shown to searchers when your keywords are activated. It has a Headline, Description, Link and a bunch of other things you can add on. Click-Through-Rate (CTR) – This is a metric you can use to evaluate the success of your ads. It’s calculated by getting the total number of clicks divided by the number of impressions – which is the number of times people saw your ad. Conversion Rate – This is a metric used to determine the success of your campaigns. It tells you the percentage of people that clicked your ads that actually converted – meaning, they booked, filled out a form, or did whatever you defined as a conversion. It’s calculated by getting the number of conversions divided by the number of clicks. Quality Score – this is the score that Google gives your use of keywords. We want this as high as possible. The higher it is, the less google will charge us for the same clicks as competitors. Landing Page – A landing page is a specific page you use for a specific purpose. You might use a landing page for “End of Lease Cleanings” and the content of that page will be all about end of lease cleans. The cool thing here is that you can create landing pages that are very specific and you can show them to specific searchers. If you know that people are searching for an “End of Lease Cleaner” you can show this landing page and there’s a better chance of converting them into a customer because the landing page is more targeted than their homepage and more likely to solve their problem. Cost Per Acquisition – this is a very important term and it should be in your mind as you build and manage your adwords. It is the average you need to pay Google to convert a user into a customer. If you know this figure then you can decide if you are making money or not, and if you need to do more to optimise your campaigns or stop altogether.

Holy moley, that’s a lot of new terms to know. Don’t stress, keep reading and come back to the list if you have trouble. We got this!!

Making The Money! ?

The awesome thing about Adwords is that we can easily break things down into numbers and make a decision about whether or not Adwords is worth it for us. Just like in other parts of your business: If you are making a profit from Adwords then you should keep going. So basically, we just need to work out if we are making a profit. Easy? Of course. We’re now going to create our campaign, adgroups, keywords and ads, step by step. After a month you’ll be able to see if this is worth it for you. You’ll need to spend a bit of money at the start to get going but the cool thing is that you can be making conversions from day 1. It’s not like SEO that requires months to start delivering traffic. How do we calculate this? Easy. We find out our Cost Per Acquisition and compare this with how much each customer is worth. If our cost per acquisition is higher than the life-time value of a customer then our campaigns aren’t effective. Why did I use life-time-value? Maybe you’ll be paying $16 per new customer conversion. But if you’re paying $70, this might be more than the profit you earn per booking. But if you can convert recurring bookings, the life-time-value is more than just the profit of a one-time booking.

Let’s Create Your Account

A quick note: Sometimes it’s possible to score free Adwords credit when you signup. I recommend googling around here because you might save yourself $100 on your first bit of Adspend. This is super helpful in the beginning, especially when you are testing and figuring things to at the start. That extra cash sure does come in handy. 1. Go to and find the button that says “Start Now” or “Create account” Create your Adwords account 2. Skip the guided set-up. I’ll provide you with everything you need to know here. Skip the guided Adwords setup 3. Enter your email, country, time zone and currency and click “Save and continue”. Enter your email, country, time zone and currency and click “Save and continue”. 4. Once you are in the Adwords dashboard, it should look like this: The Google Adwords Dashboard. Here we are using the new Google Adwords dashboard. Many people are stuck on the old one because we’d been using it for so many years. We’re going to learn with the new one because that’s what google’s transitioning to. There’s no point spending all your time learning the old one if Google’s going to transition over soon. 5. Let’s set up our billing clicking the the tool icon on the top and clicking ‘Billing & payments’ Add Google Adwords billing details.

How does billing work?

Google ads work on a pay per click basis. You will pay for each click you receive. Don’t worry, you won’t get charge hundreds of transactions to your credit card, google waits until you’ve accrued a minimum amount ($500 depending on the account) or you haven’t been charged for 30 days before charging you. Ok, Now that our account is setup, we’re going to create our first campaign

Creating your first campaign.

Video: Adwords Account Creation Walkthrough – for a Cleaning Company.

Here I’m not going to go into all the definitions of what we are doing. First we will set things up and then I will explain the things you need to know. 1. Click “Campaigns” from the Adwords dashboard Open your Google Adwords campaigns 2. Click the “+” button and click “+ New campaign” New Google Adwords Campaign 3. Select a campaign type, we will select Search. 4. Now it will ask you what goal you want. Let’s select “Create a campaign without a goal” for now and click continue. Create new Google Adwords Campaign without a goal 5. Now we add in the campaign settings. 6. Campaign name. I find it useful to have a naming convention here – you can change this later. But for example we can use something like “House cleaner sydney” Add your Google Adwords campaign name 7. Networks: uncheck the box that says “include google search partners” and make sure that “Add Display Network” says “No”. We want to limit this campaign to just the Google search. We don’t want to let Google show our ads on other websites because we don’t have as much control. We can experiment with these later but when you are starting I highly recommend removing these. Change your Adwords Search Network Settings 8. Locations: this is important for local services. Here we want to add in where the people searching for us will be. E.g. if we are in New York we definitely don’t want to include all of the US and Canada because then we’ll show our ads for people that live all over the continent, even though we can’t send cleaners to their homes. So here you should put your city. Add your campaign settings for your location 9. Languages: keep this on english 10. Budget: this doesn’t matter at the moment. I just put $1 in here for the moment and I change it later. Set your Adwords budget 11. Bidding:

  • What do you want to focus on? Keep this on clicks
  • How do you want to get clicks? Manually set bids
  • To be sure here, click the blue text that says “Select a bid strategy directly” and make sure it shows “manual CPC”. this allows us way more control over our bids in the beginning which is important for retaining as much control over the campaigns as we can.

Set your Adwords Campaign bidding settings 12. VERY IMPORTANT. Make sure you click “Additional Settings” down the bottom. You will now see a heap of new options but we will only need to focus on a few. Ad rotation: click this section to expand it and click “Do not optimise: Rotate ads indefinitely” We are doing this because we want to be able to look at our ads and know which are performing better ourselves. With this setting, google won’t show any of them more than others, this gives us more reliable data when we want to optimise things. Set your Adwords ad rotation settings Location Options: very important, change this to “People in your targeted locations”. We don’t want people in other locations (like europe or asia or wherever) that are searching for our city to see our ads. We only care about showing ads to the people that are already located there. Why? Because we can’t go sending our cleaners to Asia! Set your additional Adwords campaign location settings That’s all for now folks. Click “Save and Continue” You’ll then be taken to the next step which is to create your Adgroups. If you haven’t already, I recommend you check out this post here to understand the structure of an adwords account. This will help you navigate the dashboard and understand how to craft better campaigns and to better organise your account.

Doing Your Research

Most people start this part waaaay before they create their campaigns. Actually, I would usually recommend the same. The reason we’re doing it now is so that you’ve already got your feet wet a bit by creating your campaign. You’ll see that it’s not that scary and you won’t get scared off by this part. A lot of people start researching, then they get distracted or bored, and give up. So how are we going to do this? Let’s get it down right now what we are actually doing here: We want to figure out what search terms the people searching for our services are using. So basically, we want to know what people that are in New York are searching for if they want to find a cleaner in new york. The good news is that as a local services company, this isn’t too hard to figure out. I’m going to give you some suggestions, as well as show you how to search yourself. For cleaners, here’s a list of suggested keywords to target:

  • House Cleaner
  • House Cleaner [your location]
  • Professional House Cleaner
  • Residential Cleaner
  • Domestic Cleaner
  • Maid
  • Housekeeper

Now, you can add your location to the end of these keywords to form more as well. That’s not a bad idea. But it’s important we also add the keywords without the location. Why? Because our campaign location settings are already targeted towards our business location, so we don’t need to worry about someone in Alaska searching for our New York cleaning services because our ads will only trigger when people near us search.

Google Keyword Research Tool

Ok, let’s open this baby up. 1. Click the tool/spanner icon at the top of the Adwords dashboard and click “Keyword Planner”. Open Google Adwords Keyword Planning Tool 2. You’ll now see a box asking you to add in some keywords. Add your keywords 3. Google will use these keywords to get an idea of what you do as a business and suggest keywords to use so that people can find you. For us, as a cleaning company, I suggest using something like: House cleaning, maid service, residential cleaning. You can only use 3 here at the moment but that should give us enough data. Click “Get started” and you’ll be shown this lovely page of data: Data view of Google Keyword Planner 4. First thing you can do is go to the top and change the location to the location of your business: Change Keyword Tool Location 5. Ok, now let’s check out the data. Filter by “Avg. Monthly Searches” Filter by monthly searches 6. Ok, now have a look at the list. Don’t worry too much about the bid amounts or anything like that. We just want to look at the list and think about which keywords have buyer intent. Keyword search results For example, looking at this list: Cleaner – this is the most basic, but most common keyword here. In this example, think about who would be searching with just this. We could have:

  • People looking for the definition of a cleaner
  • People looking for a commercial cleaner
  • People looking for a house cleaner
  • People looking for a car cleaner
  • People looking for cleaning jobs
  • People looking for a computer screen cleaning product

This is why we need to really think about this. We don’t want to be paying for traffic that has an extremely low chance of converting. Even the people looking for a commercial cleaner are much less likely to even convert on our house cleaning website. On your list, go down gradually and make a note of each keyword that you think would be indicate someone looking for house cleaning services. For example, on our list, I would add:

  • House cleaning
  • House keeping

Set these aside as definites. As part of our campaigns, it’s also a potential idea to create the campaign targeting just “cleaner” and then seeing the results. It will cost you per click to gather this data, but you can find what people are really searching for. Using our strategy, we’ll then build out the campaigns further with these new search terms and create ads that are more targeted to what people are searching for. Go through and create a list. Don’t stress too much about this at this stage. This is just to create the shell of our campaign.

Creating your Adgroups, Keywords & Ads

This is where the fun happens. This is where we build out our campaigns using our keywords. Here we’ll create our Adgroups, add our keywords and then write our ads.

The Structure of Adwords, Keywords & Ads

This is where a lot of people get stuck. Here’s a diagram that explains it for us: The Google Adwords Account Structure Ok, this image might look big and scary at first so let’s break it down. Basically, it is showing you the breakdown of what is within a campaign Campaign: All your Adgroups sit within your campaign. We can create hundreds of adgroups and they will all sit inside your campaign and use the settings that you have set in your campaign settings. Adgroups: Adgroups are like the boxes that hold your ads and keywords. Here in the diagram we have labelled them based on what keywords we are using. E.g.

  • Adgroup name = House Cleaners in New York
  • Keywords: = house cleaners New York

This method of labelling makes it super easy to see what keywords are within each adgroup. You’ll see that we didn’t stuff each adgroup with a heap of keywords. We’re just keeping it to 1 keyword each (with 3 different keyword match types). This allows us to choose exactly which ads we want to show for that keyword. For example, if someone searches for “Maids in New York”, we can show ads that are super related. This increases our ad relevance and makes it much more likely for someone to click through. In turn, this decreases our Cost Per Click (because google rewards keywords with a high quality score with a CPC discount). Even better, it means we only pay for relevant clicks. This is a gamechanger for clients. You’ll only pay for searches that are directly related to your product. Ads: You’ll see in the image that each Adgroup has 3 ads. This let’s us test between the 3 ads and look at the data to decide what’s working better. Maybe different ad text is more effective – it has a higher CTR and a higher conversion rate. Then we’ll adjust our other ads and test something else. You’ll also see that the Ad Headline is always the name of the Adgroup. This increases Click Through Rates because people searching for that term are much more likely to click your ad if they see exactly what they are searching for. Let’s look at an example.

  • Imagine, like in the diagram, you are bidding on “House Cleaners in New York”
  • Someone searches for that term and your ad shows.
  • But also imagine if your competitor is bidding on that keyword too. But their ad says “Residential Cleaner”. Yes, it is similar to house cleaners – but we have made our ad exactly like the search term, and also bidding on the search term that includes the location.
  • This is going to be way more effective in getting good clicks because we are showing the people searching that our service exactly solves their need.

Keywords: Here’s the technical stuff. In each Adgroup we’re going to add 3 different keyword match types – all for the same keyword. The idea here is that we show our ads for the keyword but also for variations of it too (but closely related and often with more words). For example: “house cleaner new york”phrase match – here we will show if this sequence of words is somewhere in the search query. E.g. “best house cleaner new york” [house cleaner new york]exact match – here we will only show if someone searches exactly for “house cleaner new york” +house +cleaner +new +yorkmodified broad match – Here we will show, like phrase match, but if the words are slightly modified. E.g. “trusted house cleaning new york” We’ll add these match type keywords to each Adgroup. Then, after we run our campaigns for a few days, we’ll look at the data and make some changes. This is where most people give up. They set their campaigns and forget about them. If you want to really maximise your Adspend you’ll need to check back every few days for the first few weeks and then weekly after a month. Why? We’ll look at the Search Terms Report and see what variations we are showing for, for each Adgroup. Then we can build new Adgroups targeting those different terms. For example, maybe we see in our search terms report that our “house cleaners in New York” ad is showing for the search term “best house cleaners in New York” search. We then clone our original adgroup and rename it to “house cleaners in New York, Best” (I like to add the variation at the end of the Adgroup name so I can sort alphabetically and see the variations easily). We then change the keywords in the new Adgroup to: “Best House cleaner new york” [best house cleaner new york] +best +house +cleaner +new +york And we also change our ads too. So that the first Headline says: Best House Cleaner in New York Finally (and super importantly), we go back to the original campaign and add a negative keyword. We don’t want these two Adgroups competing with each other. So we go to Negative Keywords and add a modified broad match negative keyword “+best” at the Adgroup level. Repeat this process as you build out your campaigns.

Writing Ads

Here are some handy tips for writing your ads

Number of ads:

  • I recommend 3 per adgroup. This lets you easily test the difference between each
  • Make sure in the campaign settings you have your ad rotation settings set to “Rotate Indefinitely”


  • First headline should be your targeted keyword (same as the title of your adgroup).
  • Second Headline should be some sort of benefit, fact or feature. Examples:
    • “100% Money back satisfaction guarantee”
    • “143 5-Star Ratings on Google”
    • “Fully Insured & Trained Expert Cleaners”

Display URL:

  • This is the URL that google shows searchers on your ad – it isn’t actually where they go when they click
  • I recommend adding your keywords here. E.g.
    • House cleaner in New York: “”

Ad Text:

  • Here you want to talk about your service and add a Call To Action
  • You can talk about your benefits and features, about your service, and encourage people to book. E.g.
    • “We’re rated the best House Cleaners in New York, with a 100% money-back guarantee. Book Now.”

A good tip is to see what your competition are doing. Do some searches and see what text they are showing. If you can, I also recommend checking out It’s a great tool for doing keyword and competitor research. You can see what ads they are showing and for what keywords.

Conversion Tracking

This section is incredibly important. We can build these amazing campaigns but it doesn’t mean much unless we can tell what parts are working and what parts aren’t. Conversion tracking allows us to see exactly what keywords, ads and Adgroups are bringing us the results – bringing us the money! Installing conversion tracking is worth a whole another blog post in itself. But here are some tips:

  • The most important thing is that conversions are working.
  • If you are using booking software like Launch 27, they have a guide for getting conversion tracking setup here.
  • Otherwise, you can put the conversion code in the html of a ThankYou page. This won’t import the conversion values but it will at least tell you what keywords/ads are causing you conversions.

Landing Pages

A landing page is where the user goes once they click your ad. Do they go to your homepage or to a special page designed just for Adwords? Here is where you can really improve your conversion rates. For example, you will have much better results if you send “Move Out Cleaner” searches to a landing page just for your move out cleaning service. On that page you can add information directly for move out cleaning, how you treat it differently to normal house cleaning, prices specifically for that service, etc. This is going to result in higher conversion rates because people are seeing information much more relevant to their needs. Maybe they will convert by sending them to your homepage, but there’s a chance they will not easily find what they are looking for and they will leave.

Calculate Max CPC

Ok, so you’ve been running your new campaigns for a few weeks now. You’ve got some conversions, happy days right? Maybe you’ve been performing awesomely and you’re making a profit. That’s good. We love profits, that’s why we do all this Adwords stuff. What if I told you that there was a way that you could make sure your campaigns always delivered profits, right into your pocket? But first, we need to have been collecting data in our account for a few weeks now, we’ll need conversions before we can make that judgement. Got it? Good, let’s go.

Calculating Your Max Cost Per Click

Once we have our data, we can look at it, use some handy formulas, and work out the most we are willing to pay per click. If we know that it takes us (on average) 10 clicks before we get a conversion, then we can work out how much each click is worth to us, and then tell Adwords that we don’t want to pay more, per click, than we think each click is worth. The steps to doing this: 1. For the keyword, look at the data and the total value of all conversions e.g. $2000 2. For the keyword, divide this by the number of clicks you have received for that keyword. E.g. $2000/500 3. Now we have our revenue per keyword = $4 4. Now we work out our net profit per keyword. Get your net profit ratio (e.g. 30%) and multiply this by your revenue per keyword. E.g. $4 X 0.30 = $1.2 5. So now, we know that for this keyword, every click (on average) delivers $1.20 in profit. So with this data, we know that we can pay up to $1.20 per click (for this keyword) and still breakeven. So there, we have our Max Cost Per Click for this keyword. Repeat this for all the highest performing keywords in your campaigns. Remember: you can see here that this fully relies on your data. If you haven’t been running your campaigns for long then you won’t have much data and so your Max CPC calculation won’t be very accurate. Keep this in mind! Also note: This calculation only takes into account the conversions directly through Adwords. If you set up a re-marketing campaign and manage to convert 20% of past website viewers into customers then you will be much happier paying more for these clicks. Keep this in mind, this is where calculating your marketing budget can get more complicated.

In closing..

Phew, that was an adventure. We walked through an overview of Adwords, creating your account, campaign, and getting your first Adgroups going. We explored setting up our keywords and ads effectively so they are better targeted towards searchers. We also looked at writing your ads and optimising your campaigns in future. This was a basic overview and we hope that you learned a thing or two. If you’ve implemented some of these strategies, we’d love it if you left a comment letting us know how you improved your campaigns.