Free and Low-Cost Ways to Grow Your Business with Google Products

A person utilizing Google Ads on their phone to leverage free and inexpensive Google products

I need an online presence, but I don’t know where to start.” “I need to bring in more business, but I don’t know what tactic will work.” 

You’ve been there, and you’ve had those questions about how to continue growing your business. There are millions of resources and agencies available and willing, but all of it comes with a price…and it could be out of your budget. So, what can you do as a business owner to stretch your marketing funds and move the needle of progress? 

Depending on your industry, there are a variety of options available, including inexpensive Google Ads solutions that can help you get started. Utilizing Google’s products effectively can provide a cost-efficient way to boost your online presence and bring in more business.

Google Things To Do Center

The Things To Do platform enables qualified partners to show travel/tourism-related activities at the very top of a Google search. How do you sign up for this option?

First, you’ll need to apply to be part of the Things To Do center. It’s a short form with only a dozen fields to fill out about your business. This application allows you to select whether you want to run free listings, sponsored ads, or both. Select the option that makes the most sense for your business and submit your application. 

Nothing Is Free. What’s The Catch?

Now, this isn’t as simple as submitting an application and seeing web traffic roll in once it’s approved. Once the application is accepted, there are a few steps to complete. It’s also important to note that Google can reject your application due to the volume of applications it receives. If so, you can always wait, reapply, and hope for a different outcome. 

Once you receive your approval, there are a few steps you need to take:

  1. Approved connectivity partner: For your booking engine, you’ll want to ensure it’s an approved connectivity partner. Look through Google’s partner list to see if yours is approved. 
  2. SFTP endpoints: You’ll need to set up SFTP (secure free transfer protocol) endpoints. This will help you develop your product feed.
  3. Product feed: Speaking of product feed, you’ll need to provide Google with a list of products to display. Once you have your products in your feed, you can direct users to the booking engine once they click your ad. 

Some backend setup is needed to connect your booking engine and products; however, it’s a small price to pay for free ad listings. This can feel daunting but don’t worry about the technical details. We are here to help every step of the way. Discover how you can leverage our PPC services to help with this process. 

Curious about what the ads look like? Check out the sponsored listings below 👇

Sponsored search results for "things to do lancaster pa" in Google

It’s important to note that these sponsored listings take the searcher directly to the booking engine. Below these ads, you may see some more things to do in reference to the Google map or map pack. These aren’t sponsored ads, and if a user clicks on them, they will be directed to the business listing page instead of the booking engine or general website.

Google Local Service Ads

Local service ads are great for a variety of business professionals. From roofing to plumbing to garage door professionals and locksmiths, all (and more) are eligible to apply. 

Unlike the Things To Do center, local service ads (LSAs) aren’t free. However, they are more cost-efficient than starting up a brand new Google Ads account for small businesses. This is because there is a shorter learning period and ramp-up timeframe. Additionally, Google only charges you for qualified leads, so you only pay for leads that apply to your business, not for the click of your ad like regular pay-per-click (PPC) methods. 

Additionally, your LSAs will show at the top of the page and throughout the search results page under the Google Guarantee logo. This means more awareness for your business throughout the search page. Also, if you have a standard Google Ads account, you can run these ads in tandem with your LSAs. Not only is this putting more eyes on your business, but more eyes mean more clicks, and with more clicks, this can lead to more conversions and a higher conversion rate. 

What are LSA’s?

"Google Guaranteed" listings for the search result, "locksmith near me"

These appear at the very top of your search underneath the Google Guaranteed check mark. Typically, below this, more listings will be associated with a map; those are not LSAs. 

How Do I Sign Up For LSA’s

This process has more steps than Things To Do; however, it doesn’t take any product feed updates or connectivity to a booking engine.  

✅ Eligibility requirements: Enter your state, zip code, and job category to see if you meet eligibility requirements

✅ Business information: Once you’ve been deemed eligible, you’ll then be directed to fill out more information about your business, such as areas served, number of employees, and some pre-selected categories that fit in your job industry. For example, if you only do roof coating and repair rather than roof replacement. 

✅ Customer reviews and verification: Once all of this information is collected, Google will then collect public customer reviews, and you’ll be directed to add more details so Google can verify you. This will include licenses, proof of insurance, background checks, etc. 

✅ Verification timeline: Verification of these items can take up to 2 days.

✅ Linking Google Ads: If you’re running standard Google Ads, you can link them to your ads account as well.

How Can I Boost Visibility?

If you already have a standard Google Ads account, LSAs are a great way to increase awareness at the top of the page, especially since they appear above all paid/sponsored placements. If you’re noticing fewer clicks and conversions, your ads could be getting lost between LSAs and the Local Map Pack. Signing up for LSAs is a great way to stand out so you can avoid getting sandwiched between the two. It’s also a great way to boost awareness without paying the typical cost.

Additionally, LSAs can show anywhere in the SERP, whereas standard sponsored ads only show at the top and bottom of the page. This allows more visibility as searches scroll through options on the first page. 

Leveraging Products You’re Already Using

Google recently renamed “linked accounts” to “data manager,” which can be found under tools and settings at the top of your Google Ads account.

Once there, you should see something like this👇

Popular products used under Google Ads' "data manager," which can be found under tools and settings at the top of your Google Ads account

From here, you can select which products you want to link. Each product is different, but most require an ID from the product you’d like to link. This also helps keep data flowing as one cohesive unit. Other options not listed in the screenshot include Google Business Profile, Google Analytics (GA4), Google Tag, and Google Search Console. 

Whether you’re a small—to medium-sized business owner or a “one-man band,” there are a few ways to leverage Google Ads offerings, stretch your budget, and boost awareness. If you have any questions or would like to chat more about some of these data links and products, feel free to reach out about Improve & Grow’s Google/PPC services

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