How to advertise computer repair WITHOUT Google Ads? Since Google’s policy update a few years ago, I have seen this question repeatedly on forums across the web. Today we’re going to discuss it.
There used to be a time when you could advertise your computer repair business on Google, just like any other business. You would create an ad campaign, select your keywords, and set your budget. A well-crafted ad could take your brand new business and put you in front of customers. Google AdWords was one of the most effective marketing tools for a new computer repair business.
So what happened? Now that Google has banned advertising computer repair, they have left a lot of legitimate business owners looking for an alternative. You still need to advertise… so what should you do?
I went through this with my own computer store, and I have found that there are a few ways you can bring your business back from Google AdWords purgatory. Let’s talk about them.
Going From Ten Calls A Day to ZERO
It started with denial. I couldn’t believe that Google would suspend the account of such a longstanding and reputable customer as my computer repair business. I thought there must be something wrong with how I wrote my ad. And at first, I believed it. I rewrote my ads several times and submitted them. But with each “ad disapproved” message I was greeted with, my frustration grew.
Seeking an explanation, I Googled furiously. I thought back to just a few weeks ago when my computer store’s phone would ring, and I would hear the familiar voice of Google, letting me know that I had a call from a customer. I used Google Ads for several years, and in the early days, the calls were sporadic and infrequent. But by the time my account got suspended, there were easily days when I was getting ten calls a day just from Google Ads.
All of that was in the past. Now all I had was Google’s support forums offering the same answer repeatedly: “third-party tech repairs are currently not allowed to be advertised on Google.”
Desperately digging through the official documentation, my suspicions were confirmed. Being the owner of a third-party repair service, I was devastated to read that third-party services were effectively banned for no reason.
You can read Google’s list of banned business categories here. You’d be surprised with some of the categories that are banned. Some make sense, but others don’t. But anyway, what reason did Google have for banning computer repair shops from advertising?
Why Doesn’t Google Allow Computer Repair Ads Anymore?
Innocent Google users searching for help with their computer would inadvertently click on a malicious ad leading them off to download a virus or let a scammer take control of their computer. With this happening more frequently over the years, trust in Google would be compromised if they didn’t take drastic action.
I quickly learned that Google didn’t really hate my store; their blanket ban on third-party repair services was intended to remove the tons of tech support scams that were overtaking the site.
With great relief, I also learned that Google had spared me the damage for over three years. While the AdWords policy change actually took place around the middle of 2018. My AdWords campaigns weren’t disapproved until over three years later, in early 2022. The ban appeared to trickle through to every computer repair business worldwide, slowly but surely.
While my Ads were running, I was oblivious to the repair shops that were getting their ads taken down. Now that I joined them, I was looking on helplessly at other shops that still had active ad campaigns. Could anything be done to stop the slaughter?
I searched for ways around the ban at first. Using keywords that were close but didn’t specifically reference computer repair was suggested. Still, everything I tried was ineffective. According to Google’s own policy, ads about the sale of computers were still permitted. Unfortunately, my ads in this category were taken down all the same.
If I couldn’t find a way to use Google AdWords for my computer repair business, I needed to find an alternative. After all, my ads had given me solid performance for some time at this point, and the drop in business without them was definitely noticeable.
Through much trial and error, I managed to fill my schedule back up and keep the new customers coming in. Luckily, there are so many other ways to drum up business that all you really need is a change in focus.
So, the big question: How to advertise computer repair WITHOUT Google Ads?
So What Should You Do To Advertise Your Computer Repair Business?
With Google AdWords no longer viable for a computer repair business, what should you do to keep new customers coming in? Fortunately, there are many other ways to get the word out and advertise your computer repair business.
After my Google ads stopped, I could switch my attention and marketing budget toward other things. What I found was that there was a silver lining to my situation. I could completely reinvent my computer repair store’s marketing efforts.
As this switch coincided with me getting into freelance web development, I was especially keen on anything that would let me leverage the power of the internet and search engine optimization. This meant I never went for guerilla marketing tactics like mailing postcards, passing out flyers, or something like that. These old-school methods had always been ineffective for my business anyway. This is often the case for computer repair businesses in general.
When people need your service, they will find you 99% of the time by searching for the name of that service or a description of their issue. How can you get your business in front of these potential customers without spending money or by spending as little money as possible?
These are a few of the things that have worked for me so far over the past year.
You can still use Google
Google Business Profile (GBP), originally known as “Google My Business,” has grown more in popularity over the years. GBP evolved from a simple business listing with a phone number and a link to your website in the early days to a full-fledged marketing suite. With the low cost of free, it has turned into something every business should be using.
So how can you leverage Google to bring in new customers? Basically, a Google Business Profile is just one of the ways to improve your SEO and show up in more search results. Additionally, since GBP is so easy to set up, it should be one of your first steps in setting up an online presence for your business.
You can start by claiming your business listing on Google if it already exists or making a new one. From there, you’ll need to add all of your business information like hours, address, services list, and website. But don’t stop there! Google favors profiles that are active and have a lot of engagement. There are a few ways to maintain your GBP and stay engaged once you have set up the initial profile.
Firstly, reviews are of the utmost importance. You should always encourage reviews and make it as easy as possible for customers to leave you a good review. You are doing it right as long as you are careful never to directly incentivize reviews. In my store, for instance, I have multiple plaques with a QR code leading directly to my Google reviews page.
When you get your first reviews, try to respond to them and slip in some keywords. This way, when someone searches for your keywords on Google, your reviews will be highlighted and go even further to build customer trust.
Besides reviews, another important aspect is the Google Posts feature. You can share pictures or information about your business and its day-to-day activities by making a Google Post. This further helps to boost your GBP engagement. Finally, posting many pictures of your store, your merchandise, and your staff will help build up your authority even more.
Some people do actually “Bing it.”
When Google first started disapproving my ads, I completely forgot that other search engines do actually exist. While other search engines are largely irrelevant, since Google’s market share is so vast, specific clientele are still active on other platforms like Yahoo and Bing.
While I quickly realized that Yahoo is not very friendly or helpful for small business advertising, Bing ended up surprising me. I soon learned that many of my customers were active on Bing since it was the default search engine on Microsoft Edge. While many computer users quickly switch from Edge to Chrome or Firefox, many older clients don’t know how or don’t care to do this.
Bing turned out to be a much lower “cost-per-click” than Google AdWords. While I never reached the level of calls that I was getting from AdWords, I was spending far less and getting a much higher conversion rate.
Facebook is effective but expensive
I had always used Facebook for random marketing efforts. I did things like boosting a post or doing a limited run of a targeted ad campaign. Now that I had so much more room in my marketing budget, I could divert some of my Google Adwords expenditures to Facebook ads instead.
Unfortunately, I noticed with Facebook that I would get a ton of leads but few conversions. Countless Facebook users would drop a “Like” on my ads but never message the page or call the store. Even more shocking, many users would message the business page to inquire about some topic but never respond again.
Eventually, I figured out the “targeted audience” aspect of Facebook ads. By tweaking my settings to only show my page to users over a certain age, in a specific area very close to my business, I ended up getting more conversions. The cost was still an issue. Even with higher conversions, I still spent several hundred dollars each month on Facebook ads. With any luck, I would make this back in sales, but it was a gamble to get started.
The key to using Facebook to advertise is to stay consistent. Don’t run an ad and cancel it a few weeks later. You need to keep your ads in front of eyeballs consistently each day to build recognition for your computer store’s name.
Optimizing your own website is the best, and it’s free.
Focusing on the optimization of your own website will offer the biggest payout. However, this method is the most time-consuming and least rewarding initially. While you could create a Google ad and start getting calls immediately, search engine optimization was more like planting a tree and waiting for it to grow.
However, the results could be tremendous with a few months of work. Optimizing your website is a lot easier than you might think. The only challenge is that you must keep at it consistently to see results.
We’ve already gone over the importance of a Google Business Profile. This is the first ingredient in optimization. If you don’t have a GBP set up, you shouldn’t worry about anything else until that is done. The next step is stuffing your website with as much content as possible and building authority.
Content can be done by building out your product pages and service pages. Additionally, once you have a healthy library of service pages, you can start making blog posts to increase traffic. A website full of keywords and helpful content will naturally start to rank for your chosen keywords before too long.
The next ingredient to a well-optimized website is authority. To build authority, you need your business name, address, and phone number to be displayed consistently on as many websites as possible. Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, Yahoo, Pinterest, Instagram—all of these are potential places to post your business information and a link back to your website.
Is This Related To the Right To Repair?
Is Google being paid off by large tech corporations to suffocate independent repair shops? Some tech entrepreneurs seem to think so. While we can’t prove anything, it does seem awfully suspicious that Apple’s lobbying against third-party repair services coincides with Google’s policy change.
It’s easy to think that Google is in the wrong here. After all, we need an alternative to fixing our devices that isn’t taking them to an Apple store. Other manufacturers are often no better. They would rather encourage you to buy a new device than fix your old one. It would be in the best interests of large tech corporations to put a stop to independent repair.
Google’s claims of reducing fraudulent activity seemed plausible initially. But they have yet to introduce a verification process so legitimate businesses can continue advertising. Currently, there is still no verification process in place. Computer repair shop owners are forced to seek alternative routes to market their businesses.
In many ways, the Right To Repair movement is being suffocated. Consumers need easy access to materials, components, and third-party repair shops. Without easy access to shops to repair devices, consumers have no choice but to buy a new device. This contributes to a growing e-waste problem and furthers the decay of the Right To Repair and corporate responsibility.
While we can’t do much to turn the tides of Google’s policy updates, we can seek alternative marketing avenues for our businesses. In my own business, I have found success with different advertising methods and even branching out into additional services like web development to ensure my business stays future-proof.
Hopefully, this guide on how to advertise computer repair WITHOUT Google Ads will help you turn Google’s policy change into a new chapter for your business.