Local search marketing may be in it’s infancy for Google, but this baby is booming. In two short years they have grown through a 10-pack, to a 7-pack, to a mixed local and organic result. They have further added a revenue stream with Google Sponsored tags (Yellow tags) and most recently they added Google Boost. Google boost has been active for about 6 months now, so time for a review of the latest GEO/Local adverting package from Google. To Boost but not to boast.
What is Google Boost?
Google boost is a new pay per click (PPC) advertising push from Google that is being promoted through Google Places. This ad is unique in it’s style from other PPC ads because it features a blue pin drop and is only offered to local businesses that have a local physical office.
The Pros to Google Boost
Pro #1 – Location, Location, Location
One of the key P’s to any marketing strategy is the “Place”. Clearly there is a certain appeal to doing business with a company that feels like a neighbor. Having a blue pin drop on a familiar local map adds a nice warm fuzzy to the consumer. Plus they are now supporting the local economy. So the new ad layout is fantastic. I am drooling over the simplicity. Plus the clear message that says, “Do Business with your Local Pest Control Guy. Good’ole hometown heroes.”
Pro #2 – 5 Star Reviews
The best comeback in any sporting event when the fans start cheering, “We’ve got spirit yes we do” is “we’ve got more check the score!” The reviews make this Google Boost the cream of the crop pay-per-click option, if you have the reviews to boast about your company. But honestly, no one simply believes all the pretty text you have on your website promoting your service. Your website will never tell the customer what potential problems they could face. Reviews on the other hand are raw and real. The bad reviews show your company weaknesses, which is okay, because every company has some problems. But, the overall rating is the real punch. If your ration of good to bad reviews is good then those little yellow stars become a Gold Star min.
Pro #3 – Phone Number
I must admit that having a phone number included on the ad could potentially get an advertiser phone calls that they are not directly paying for. This is a pretty hefty bonus buy which could make or break the value of the Google Boost program.
Pro #4 – Easy to set up and runs automatically.
When you log into your Google places you will see convenient link Create Boost ad Click on it and you will come to a very simple fill out forum like this one:
Hit Continue. Read some legal jargon on the next page, agree to pay, and you are on your way to a hassle free automatic Pay per click system. For the average business owner, this system could work well. There will be no overhead for a PPC management firm. There is nothing more to do. Just sit back, relax, and let the leads roll in. I mean… “Pay only for success You only pay when potential customers click on your ad.” http://places.google.com/boost Sarcasm aside, this may truly be a benefit for a busy business owner.
The Pests/Cons to Google Boost
Having test driven the new Google boost system for a couple of months now, I have come across a few bugs. Yes, I am pest control guy so bare with the pest/con switch-a-roo.
Pest # 1 – Automatic Keyword Selection
Hmmm… This poses several problems, some of which could be monumental depending on your “Category”. Specifically, with pest control there are several different types of pests an exterminator may or may not control. Pests, like rats, snakes, pigeons, require different treatment options that not all pest control companies will offer. More specifically, as of late, bed bugs have become a huge concern, and not all pest control services treat for bed bugs. Further, some of these pests, like termites, require specific licensing. Potentially moving Google boost advertisers into a red zone for violating state laws.
Google does offer an option to “Provide feedback on these keywords”, but I’ve yet to get any feedback on the feedback that I provided. And some of those terms, “Bulwark Exterminating”, are still showing in my keywords. (Sorry, but if they are requesting my company by name then I have already done my marketing job and paying for that click is money wasted.) So there is no way to exclude keywords from your campaign. In my professional opinion this is a HUGE PEST PROBLEM.
Pest #2 – Automatic Bidding
So let’s hand over the hen house keys to the fox. Do some simple math of the numbers they lay out in the sign up and here are the numbers from the ranges they outlined above:
Granted Google Boost didn’t max out the cost per click in my campaign. But those prices per click are much MUCH higher than our adsense average. Those are premium prices, and from that list of keywords above, not all of those keywords are premium competitors. And if these Google Boost ads work in conjunction with the other adsense ads then Google has it’s own horse in the bidding races effectively raising the prices on all other pest control clicks. But hey, at least I don’t have to worry about Quality Score anymore.
Pest #3 – Lack of information.
Despite the link at the top that suggests you can dig deeper if you’d like, that link for More Details takes you to a support page. So there are no lists of additional keywords they are bidding on. And if you want to calculate the click through rates of your ads you will have to do it manually. The math for numbers above, CTR=0.5%. If you want that CTR to improve you will need to log and monitor your own dates of changes made to the ad.
Pest #4 – Tracking
The advertiser cannot insert a call tracking number. The advertiser cannot even insert a custom landing page. So all the advertiser is left with is their Google Analytics. Yes they do provide a report under adwords specific to Google Boost. Although they named it: Places Ads_2g55663ebe1687_1. We will assume it’s one in the same. But left only with this as a measuring stick the numbers are not looking too good. Average time on site is lower than the Adwords average time on site. Although page views are up… probably because they are having to search for the information they want.
Google Boost Review
To sum it up. Google Boost has the makings to be the cream of the crop for local advertising. The Boost ad is simple, sleek, and powerful for those companies that provide quality local services. But can the added style and design compensate for the lack of control? Do the Pros really out weigh the Cons? Do you really want the fox guarding the hen house? Theses few cons may bug internet marketers to the point that Google Boost isn’t anything to boast about.