5 Steps to Optimize Local Paid Search

In the blur of text on the search engine results page before each user how can any ad truly stand out? In a world of personalization and customization, reaching our audience with the most relevant message is becoming increasingly more important. Whether you are a small business or own multiple franchises, adopting a local PPC strategy can help increase relevancy and efficiently utilize budgets. Check out these 5 steps to begin planning your local PPC strategy.

Organize Your Campaign Structure

When planning for your local PPC strategy, the first thing to think about it how you are going to structure your campaigns. While you could just throw everything into a few themed campaigns you won’t have the kind of granular control were looking for in trying to find local success. When creating an account structure think about how you want to target your ads, ways to make pulling reports easier, and avoid any overlapping of terms.

AdWords allows users to set location targeting at the campaign level, so I would recommend creating location specific campaigns. This will allow us to create targeted keywords and ads within our campaign which we can guarantee will only be served in specific locations. In addition, it will make pulling data by location easier, and when looking at Search Query Reports we can gain a better understanding into location specific search queries.

Define & Set Location Specific Goals

If you are currently using the same budgets and bids across all locations you’re targeting, stop and reconsider. No two markets are the same, and your campaigns should reflect this. Setting goals is vital to achieving measurable success, but when we set general goals across an account we are not considering the local idiosyncrasies of each market and can end up under-performing in some markets while over-performing in others. Not only do population sizes, and thus search volume, differ from market to market, but the competitiveness of the market and demand for your services will differ.

Use these differences between markets to your advantage. Consider the competitive landscape, search volume, nature of the market, demand for your services, and more when defining location specific goals. If your product or service costs less to serve to a certain market or a certain area is higher income and more likely to spend, it may make sense to place loftier goals in these markets to improve your return on ad spend. Defining location specific goals is important because it can help you understand ways to better allocate your resources and it allows you to define and measure success.

Geographic & Radius Targeting

Location targeting allows your ads to appear only in the geographic locations that you choose. Targeting to specific countries, cities, airports, or zip codes helps to narrow in on the audience we are serving ads to. Since we all can’t have unlimited budgets, location targeting is essential to being able to spend our budgets efficiently on more relevant audiences.

When first setting up a new campaign, the default is to serve your ads all over the world. Even if you are prepared to service the whole world, targeting everyone in one campaign isn’t a very efficient way to distribute ad spend when trying to serve the most relevant audience. Instead, be sure to target locations where your customers are. If your business has a physical location, only target areas around your location. If you’re running an e-commerce business, only target locations where you are able to ship your products. When in doubt, look at the data. If a particular area does well and another one does poorly, consider pausing the under-performing area and focus on areas that do perform.

If you have a particular location or only service a particular area, I have found it is more effective to use radius targeting than a general location. For example, let’s say we’re a pizza place in Chicago. While it might make sense to initially target all of Chicago, how often will someone go to a pizza place more than 5 miles from their home? Instead, you could target a 5 mile radius around your Pizza location. These users are going to be most likely to come in for pizza.  Still concerned about missing traffic from users 10 miles out? Consider creating concentric radius targeting around your location and add bid adjustments to decrease your bids as you get farther away from your location. Radius targeting can be a great method for reaching the most relevant audience.

Location Specific Keywords & Ad Copy

Reduce wasted spend and increase relevancy with location specific keywords and ad copy. The more relevant your keywords are, the more likely they are to be served, and at a lower cost. Searchers today are not just typing in “pizza” anymore, they are searching on location specific keywords. Become more relevant by expanding your keyword list to include location specific keywords such as “pizza in Chicago,” “pizza in Wicker Park,” or “pizza near me.”  If you notice search queries coming from people searching for terms like “pizza in Seattle” while in Chicago, consider adding negative keywords to block all location specific keywords you are not interested in serving.

The more relevant your ad copy is, the more likely your ads will get clicked which leads to a higher CTR and better quality score. Localizing your copy can mean more than just concatenating a city onto you old copy. Localizing copy means writing copy which resonates with a certain location’s audience. While adding in zip codes or nearby cities is a great start, try adding in even more relevant terms by calling out neighborhoods, intersections, or nearby landmarks. When searchers know exactly where you’re located they will be less likely to click on your ads if they aren’t interested in going to that location, which means spending less money on uninterested searchers. Beyond geographic language, try incorporating local slang or pop culture. Consider calling out the local weather if there’s been a bad storm, or cheering for a local sports team. In developing a local PPC strategy, try to think of each location as its own unique market. Make sure the location matches the language you’re using and that you’re serving ads during hours in that location’s unique time zone. Taking the extra step towards connecting with your audiences will help you stand out from your competition on the search engine results page and can improve your ROI.

Location & Call Extensions

If you’re a local business that is looking to drive phone calls or bring in customers, you should be using call and location extensions. Call extensions allow users to directly contact businesses when they are on their mobile phone with the click of a button. On desktop, call extensions display a phone number next to the ads allowing it to stand out more than other ads on the page. Location extensions are another great extension to use if you are looking to bring customers into your business. Location extensions allow a business to display their address alongside their ad. Searchers want what they are looking for quick and easy. Make giving you a call or heading to your business the easy option with call and location extensions.

Have any other great local PPC strategies? I’d love to hear them!

Emily Ball About the author
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