On Monday, May 7, 2018, Google announced they would be banning for-profit bail bonds ads on their AdWords platform. Facebook, not to be outdone, joined in on this ban as well. This news came as a shock to many agents and businesses in the bail bonds industry as well as many people outside of the industry. I’m going to share what we have learned about this ban and 5 ways bail bondsman and women, agents, and companies can prepare for the Bail Bonds AdWords Ban in advance of the July 2018 policy enforcement.
Why Did Google Ban Ads from Bail Bonds Services?
The two main reasons listed by Google for this particular ban are quoted below from their original post outlining this new policy.
- “Studies show that for-profit bail bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low-income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing, offers that can keep people in debt for months or years.”
- “We made this decision based on our commitment to protect our users from deceptive or harmful products…”
Apparently, unbeknownst to many of us outside of the bail bonds industry, there has been an ongoing bail bond reform movement across the country spearheaded by groups such as the Essie Justice Group, Koch Industries, Color of Change and many civil and human rights organizations.
The “social justice” aspect of this debate is slightly disconcerting in my opinion. I get it. We live in a very politically correct society and everyone wants to place responsibility on others instead of accepting responsibility. But this is another discussion for another day.
C.H. Local Media does not claim to know all the ins and outs of the bail bond reform movement. We just learned about it when we saw the news regarding the AdWords bail bonds ban.
This is what we do know…
Bail bonds business owners and agents that have been using the AdWords platform will have their online visibility and presence adversely affected when the policy goes into effect in July 2018.
Never Put All Your Eggs In One Basket – Especially When Those “Eggs” are Your Marketing Dollars.
As many of us know, or should know, it is never a good thing to place all your eggs in one basket. This saying is more relevant than ever, especially when we are talking about your company’s marketing dollars.
AdWords and Facebook ads can have a great ROI for your marketing dollars. This is not something I would dispute. The problem arises when we place the majority of our marketing dollars into platforms we do not own.
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not saying do not advertise on platforms that have a broad reach. However, whenever we place ad dollars on any platform, we should be mindful that the powers that be can change policies at any time and refuse to run those ads even for legal businesses and services.
Reactions from people on both sides of the issue have flooded social media. Some people have praised Google for the move, others have cried foul that another legal industry has been booted off the AdWords platform.
We have seen agents and companies that have claimed to pay over $20K in the last year on the AdWords platform to promote their service when people are searching online for bail bonds agents to help get their loved ones out of jail.
If you are in the bail bonds industry and have been using Google AdWords as your primary online marketing channel, it’s time to get in front of this situation now.
If you wait until the new AdWords policy goes into effect, your competitors will already have the jump on you.
What can you do to maintain or help increase your service’s online visibility?
Here are the 5 things you should be doing in advance of the bail bonds AdWords ban.
- Claim and provide complete information for your Google My Business listing.
- Do the same for your Yelp Business listing.
- Do a citation and directory audit for your business name. Make sure the name, address, and phone number for your business are correct across all listings.
- If you do not have citations or directory listings, now is the time to set them up and make sure they are in order.
- Finally, optimize your website for your local or regional service areas so your company shows up when someone is searching for a bondsman.
What I have shared is the minimum that you need to be doing to ensure some kind of online visibility and presence for your service. There is so much more that can help you gain the coveted listings in the map pack and the first page of Google.
Many of you know your competitors in your local service areas. You also know who is crushing it online and showing up in the map pack and the first page of Google when someone searches for a bail bonds company or agent.
They are going above and beyond with their websites on-page and off-page search engine optimization, and the optimization of their business and directory listings.
What do they know that you may not know?
The difference between ranking on the first page of Google and the Map Pack vs ranking on page 2 or further back in your industry equals more calls and more signed contracts. This equals untold thousands of dollars in revenue. Assuming that rankings for the bail bonds industry run similar to other industries, it would be safe to say the first three spots on page 1 and the Map Pack take the lion’s share of the contracts in your city or region.
Supposing that you can’t afford a solid search engine optimization or marketing campaign, at the very least take my 5 action points and start working them now. If it helps your business become a little more visible than you are now, wouldn’t it be worth it?
In case you don’t know where to start with the suggestions I provided above, or if you want to take the plunge and market your business so you can be found when people are searching for your services, feel free to contact us.
We would be glad to set up a date for a call to learn about your marketing needs and share how we can help you increase your online visibility and become the first choice when people are searching for bail bonds services.