7 Effective Google Ads Tactics for Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

Money Saving Optimizations for Your Local Google Ads Program

Countless managed service providers (MSPs) ranging in size utilize Google Ads to market their services to those seeking local solutions on Google. And one thing unites these businesses – all of them seek to tap into the millions of Google searchers scouring the web for information, products, and services.


According to Search Engine Land, who conducted a Local Consumer Review Survey, “85% of consumers make use of the Internet to find a local business.” The same survey also found that “72% of consumers prefer finding information on local merchants through search.”

Optimizing and employing the right tactics on Google Ads can send cost effective leads to your local business, which will positively impact your sales and bottom line. Many managed service providers trying to conduct their own Google Ads programs manage their programs ineffectively, not producing the revenue expected at the onset of a paid search effort. The taste in their mouth sours towards paid search, and often will abandon PPC altogether in favor of SEO or other means of traffic. Google Ads is complex to effectively execute, especially when considering the algorithms behind their complicated auction system, their new offerings, their geotargeting and more — but if you are a managed service provider on a budget, and you want to drive lead form fills, customer calls or traffic to your website, pay per click campaigns are too important to ignore.

Below are some key tactics that need to be addressed to ensure local PPC success for MSPs:

1. Claim Your Business on Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a free listing on Google, which lets web searchers easily find information about your local business on search and Google maps. Google My Business listings help showcase your business address, contact information, website, and can include reviews, posts by the business, visuals, promotions being run, and much more.

2. Utilize Call-Only Campaigns

The opportunity to generate more leads via paid search is enormous for managed service providers, especially when utilizing call-only campaigns. According to Google, 70% of mobile searches directly calls a business from search results.

These call-only campaigns are designed to show on mobile devices alone with the sole aim of generating more phone calls to your MSP business.

With call-only campaigns, search engine users can just search and then call, without any landing page barrier in-between. Larry Kim of Wordstream estimated that “phone calls to a local business are worth at least 3X more than clicks to websites — making this a very strong means for reaching time-sensitive prospects you may lose otherwise.”

3. Use Ad Extensions Like Location Extensions, Call Extensions and Callout Extensions

Leverage every relevant Google Ads ad extension to not only expand your ad presence in the search engine result pages (SERPs), but also to motivate your leads to call since they have your phone number at their fingertips.
Apart from ad extensions, we’d also suggest taking advantage of including callout extensions and sitelinks to promote special discounts and offers — and to also link to other vital pages on your website such as your “About Us” and “Contact” page.

4. Ensure That Your Location Targeting is Accurate

This appears like common sense, but you’d be amazed at the number of accounts that are either targeting an area that is too big or too small. Targeting too large of an area could spread your budget too thin to truly penetrate a given market. Refining your targeting to the lowest possible level (zip codes, counties or cities) tends to work best. This localized targeting is especially important for managed service providers who convert these leads into clients, who subsequently require in-person interaction with their clients.

5. Utilize Negative Keywords Religiously

Negative keywords are very important for your Google Ad campaign’s success. With ad budgets stretched thin, this should help drive the “right” type of traffic for each ad shown on the Search Engine Result Pages. As such, you don’t want to spend money on Google Ads for a business prospect, who through their broad match keyword search, has already shown that they are not interested in becoming a paying customer.

For example, a person searching for “cyber security job” isn’t looking to find cyber security services, instead, he or she wants a job. Likewise, someone performing a search on Google for “Free IT Help Stamford” is not intending to spend any money. To prevent this waste of money, you need to implement negative keywords in your campaigns. Negative keywords simply let Google know that if a visitor to the search engine mentions your “negative keywords” as part of their search in the search engine, your ads won’t show on the search results.

Reviewing Search Query Reports (SQRs) to help inform what your negative and positive keywords should be is a must have tactic to drive efficiency. This process should be done at least weekly to keep your account fresh.

For example, words such as “job”, “free”, or “How do I” are excellent phrases to add to a negative keyword list. Below are some other examples of negative keywords that will be a great start for most local businesses:

• cheap
• Youtube
• do it yourself
• hiring
• employers
• employment
• occupation
• career
• work
• learn
• training
• review
• rating
• opinions
• how to

6. Use “Search Network Only” Campaign Type

The display network is great for managed service providers with larger budgets that need to gain more marketplace awareness, but it generally offers a far lower conversion rate than a Search Network campaign. If you do want to run ads on the Google Display Network, you should definitely consider separating Display and Search networks into distinct campaigns so you can easily measure their individual performance and allocate budgets appropriately.

7. Optimize Your Landing Pages

Most MSP Ad campaigns drive to the website’s homepage and that’s all. While this might be okay if your homepage content is compelling and you have a clear call-to-action (CTA), oftentimes though, homepages are weak on content or provide generic information about all the products and services offered by the organization.

However, specific dedicated landing pages can have a dramatic effect on two critical elements of your ad campaign success; Conversion Rate and Quality Score. And conversions, as measured by landing page form fills, should be optimized to capture just enough information to continue a dialog with a searcher that is seeking MSP related services but not have too many fields to fill out that would hamper data collection and conversion performance.


There are countless other tactics that should be employed that are not covered in this post (Remarketing, Dynamic Keyword Insertion, Local Service Ads, Responsive Search Ads, Dynamic Search Ads and much more). The seven tactics listed above should provide a foundation for managed service providers to start realizing local PPC success with Google Ads. It is imperative that those foundational elements are coupled with the ongoing optimizations necessary for a targeted and effective Google Ads program.
Media Horizons has the expertise, technology and talent to efficiently oversee this marketing channel for you… allowing you to close more tickets, be more proactive with your clients, and ultimately return time and resources to your MSP business, while also ensuring your brand is present when qualified prospects are searching for services that your business offers.

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