Local pay per click (PPC) advertising is a fast-growing and cost effective form of internet marketing. It allows you to reach the customers who are actively searching for your products and services and quantify return on investment in real time. Google, Yahoo!, Bing and AOL are the leading PPC search engines and there are numerous secondary and niche engines as well. A well executed local PPC campaign involves the integration of strategic targeting, ad copy, extensive keyword research, landing page optimization, indentifying relevant distribution channels and detailed tracking.
As mentioned earlier, search engine algorithms take into account the IP address of the user, showing location-targeted results without the searcher requesting it. This is known as targeting and taking advantage of it will help you spend your ad dollars wisely. Bing and Google allow ad campaigns to be specifically targeted to a geographic area. Business owners can target an area designated by their corporate office or areas that have historically generated high sales. The areas can be defined by state, metro area, city or even a custom sales area.
There are some additional considerations to targeting if your business is part of a franchise or multiunit brand. Overlapping targeting in multiple accounts is a violation of search engine advertising policies, so you will have to coordinate targeting with other locations in the vicinity. Even if two franchise locations use different domain names they are not allowed to have overlapping targeting. Additionally, it is not in the franchisees’ best interests to overlap targeting, as it creates competition between the two locations and dilutes the brand power of the parent company. If two franchise locations are very close together, they may consider advertising together to maximize ad spend.
A vital aspect of a local pay per click campaign is creating ad copy that speaks to the local consumer. Using location-specific keywords in the title, ad copy and display URL maximizes your ad spend. There are also a variety of additional features available from Google to help make your ad location-specific. Targeting a city or metro area will make the name of the area appear below your ad and implementing location extensions shows your full address below the ad. You can also apply phone extensions to show a click-to-call number on mobile devices so a searcher can easily contact you.
Geographically targeted keywords are another important aspect of an effective PPC campaign. Using a combination of both geo-modified and non geo-modified keywords generates the best results. Geo-modified keywords like “New York pizza” or “Dayton plumber” allow your ad to be visible to searchers outside your targeted area because Google recognizes the geographic intent of your search. Since IP address targeting is not foolproof and not all potential customers are in your area when trying to find your business, using geo-modified keywords helps customers find you. However, it is also important to include keywords that are not geo-modified as well so local searchers using broad terms (e.g., pizza, plumber) in your area can find your business. The rollout of Google Places makes this mixture even more important. Combining both geo-modified and broad keywords ensures that your ad is reaching the maximum number of potential customers.
Local business searchers are further along in the purchase cycle; when an individual is searching for a specific service in their area, they are typically more ready to buy. Help them complete the sale with an effective landing page. Your contact information should be front and center, with the physical address, website and phone number. Content on the landing page needs to be relevant to the advertisement and contain the same keywords as the ad. If you are advertising with other locations the landing page should contain information for all locations.