Local PPC is near and dear to my heart: help­ing mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty prof­it by con­tribut­ing to their com­mu­ni­ties is both sat­is­fy­ing and scal­able.

From SMBs dri­ving leads to their own­er-oper­at­ed shop to a nation­al brand chan­nel­ing the trends of an indi­vid­ual loca­tion, and every­thing in between, there are decid­ed­ly right and wrong ways to lever­age a PPC bud­get.

Here are my top 10 ways to win at local PPC.

1. Claim Your Local Listings!

Google My Busi­ness (GMB) has evolved a lot over the years.

Leav­ing your brand’s local list­ing open for a mal­con­tent to wreak hav­oc on your brand is not only is bad brand­ing, but it also deprives you of a pow­er­ful SEO/PPC mar­ket­ing chan­nel.

GMB allows you to:

  • Mon­i­tor and respond to reviews about your busi­ness.
  • Share pro­mo­tions.
  • Unlock place­ments on the search engine result page (SERP).

The data from GMB helps inform ad place­ments, as well as pro­vide reviews.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, GMBs do require a phys­i­cal address (no P.O. box­es) – some busi­ness­es opt to use their home address or main office, while oth­ers for­go GMB.

Claim­ing your loca­tion requires request­ing a post-card with a unique code (usu­al­ly arrives in 10–15 days).

It’s worth not­ing that Microsoft Adver­tis­ing does not require a claimed list­ing to include loca­tion exten­sions.

2. Set Campaigns Up by Location vs. Service

There are pros and cons to each, but the struc­tur­al choice ulti­mate­ly boils down to the fol­low­ing:

  • Are all of your ser­vice areas the same?
  • Are there dis­tinct mar­ket indi­ca­tors that require more bud­get allo­ca­tion con­trol?

If dif­fer­ent loca­tions you serve rep­re­sent dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent mar­ket oppor­tu­ni­ty (due to afflu­ence, demand, and oth­er fac­tors), you’ll want to make the cam­paigns ori­ent­ed around your local mar­ket, and the ad groups as your ser­vices.

If the ser­vices you offer rep­re­sent dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent mar­gins, vol­ume, and oth­er fac­tors that influ­ence your abil­i­ty to ser­vice your cus­tomers, you’ll want to make cam­paigns ser­vice focused.

The ad groups will be the dif­fer­ent ways those ser­vices can be sought after/allow you to lay­er on audi­ences for ad copy. In this sce­nario, all loca­tions would be lumped into one cam­paign.

A major decid­ing fac­tor is whether you have your GMB claimed for each loca­tion (and if it’s pos­si­ble to have one per loca­tion).

As men­tioned ear­li­er, GMB opens up addi­tion­al ad place­ments, exten­sions, and ways to engage with your audi­ence.

You can’t tell Google which loca­tion to serve, so ide­al­ly you’ll only have one GMB list­ing per cam­paign.

3. Include Local Insider Knowledge in Creative

This one may seem obvi­ous, but it’s painful how few busi­ness­es take advan­tage of their authen­tic local rela­tion­ships and knowl­edge.

By seed­ing true “local” knowl­edge into the ad, a busi­ness can dis­arm a weary brows­er and turn them into an excit­ed prospect.

Here are some exam­ples we’ve used to great suc­cess:

  • Ori­ent the user with local land­marks and high­ways.
  • Sub­tleties of local com­mutes (par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant to lay­er device and sched­ule adjust­ments here).
  • Local lin­go (great fod­der for head­lines and exten­sions).
  • Local sea­son­al activ­i­ties (for exam­ple, if most apart­ment leas­es end around August 31, include ref­er­ences to that in cre­ative).

4. Location Targeting by Profit Center

Not every loca­tion is worth the same. Con­flat­ing true val­ue with per­ceived val­ue is a dan­ger­ous path to waste.

Every loca­tion has dif­fer­ent auc­tion prices. While it’s true not every loca­tion will have dras­tic dif­fer­ences, many will be as much as $2-$3 more/less per click based on WordStream’s lat­est Google Ads Bench­mark report. (Dis­clo­sure: I work for Word­Stream.)

While a few fluc­tu­at­ing prices won’t hurt the cam­paign, large dif­fer­ences in auc­tion price at scale (think across hundreds/thousands of clicks) will begin to add up to both you and Google/Microsoft/Facebook.

Bud­gets want a sin­gle job, which means com­bin­ing one loca­tion rep­re­sent­ing high val­ue (and high­er aver­age CPC) and anoth­er loca­tion rep­re­sent­ing vol­ume but low­er qual­i­ty leads (and like­ly low­er aver­age CPC) will like­ly lead to impres­sion share loss.

Not every loca­tion deserves access to bud­get (either because it already has a steady flow of cus­tomers and can’t sup­port any­more, or because the price for leads doesn’t work with con­ver­sion rates/profit cen­ters).

Some­times it makes more sense to com­bine loca­tions that are phys­i­cal­ly close and have a sin­gle strong cam­paign.

There’s also val­ue in con­sol­i­dat­ing loca­tions into prof­it tiers (high, aver­age, and low) so you can bud­get for each market’s val­ue.

Tak­ing this path means you can’t guar­an­tee bud­get makes its way to a giv­en loca­tion, but it does mean you’ll have stronger cam­paign per­for­mance.

Location Targeting by Profit Center

5. Localize Landing Pages

There’s a degree of implied trust prospects are will­ing to give to local SMBs that nation­al brands have to work (and spend aggres­sive­ly) to achieve.

Don’t lose it on the land­ing page!

At the end of the day, land­ing pages/websites are essen­tial­ly vir­tu­al stores, and prospects want to feel just as at home in your vir­tu­al store as they do when they vis­it your busi­ness in per­son.

Land­ing pages always need to have the fol­low­ing box­es checked:

  • Easy to con­vert. (A phone num­ber is easy to see and click­able on mobile devices.)
  • If using a form-fill, it’s above the fold.
  • Hon­or that most peo­ple will read your site from top left to bot­tom right.

Local land­ing pages should fac­tor in the fol­low­ing:

  • Local awards that high­light com­mu­ni­ty love.
  • Local images that either show the business/team or real local cus­tomers.
  • Copy that shows local knowl­edge to back up the local cre­ative in your ads.
  • One local num­ber per page.

When struc­tur­ing your site, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to have a sin­gle site with pages per loca­tion or a domain per loca­tion.

It can be tempt­ing to go or the local­ized domain name, but be mind­ful of what you’re giv­ing up:

  • Domain equi­ty on the SEO side. (Many lit­tle URLs will have a tougher time rank­ing than one potent URL).
  • Sim­ple con­ver­sion track­ing.
  • Ease of land­ing page tests. (Only one domain allowed per ad group.)

That said, here’s what you’d give up by going for a sin­gle domain:

  • Local­ized URL
  • Easy attri­bu­tion of leads

6.  Include Search Partners

Way back when there was a right-side of the SERP, exact meant exact, and ads were 70-char­ac­ter haikus, Search part­ners got purged from accounts.

Who would want their ad serv­ing on in-site search results?

Today Search Part­ners are a lit­tle more inter­est­ing:

  • Spon­sored place­ments on Google Maps.
  • YouTube spots.
  • Ecom­merce sites that used Google’s in-site search tool.

It is doing your local busi­ness a dis­ser­vice to exclude Search Part­ners. Yes, the aggre­gat­ed met­rics may look “ugly,” but your qual­i­ty score isn’t neg­a­tive­ly impact­ed by the CTR loss.

You’ll unlock all these ben­e­fits by hav­ing your loca­tion exten­sion turned on (which is pulled from your GMB list­ing).

7. Audit Capacity by Location for New Business

Google and Microsoft Ads need data to fuel their algo­rithms – which means cam­paigns need to be on most of the time (even if the bud­get is low/there’s a sched­ule in place).

When decid­ing to lever­age PPC for your local busi­ness, a big con­sid­er­a­tion needs to be “how many new cus­tomers are you cur­rent­ly get­ting and where can that num­ber grow to?”

Dif­fer­ent loca­tions are going to have dif­fer­ent capac­i­ties for growth and it’s impor­tant to be hon­est with your­self on the true poten­tial vs. the desired out­come.

Assess­ing capac­i­ty starts with whether you’re a con­trac­tor busi­ness vs. a local shop with a fixed num­ber of folks you can serve (due to phys­i­cal space and staff).

8. Pick Your Competitors Carefully

Depend­ing on your indus­try and loca­tion there may be more com­peti­tors than is worth active­ly focus­ing on.

When you choose a com­peti­tor to include in a com­peti­tor campaign/keep track of in auc­tion insights, it’s impor­tant to con­sid­er the fol­low­ing:

  • Are they priced at your lev­el or they over/under?
  • Objec­tive­ly, do they win on ser­vice, or are they lack­ing?
  • Are they going after the exact same peo­ple as you are, or is your audi­ence tan­gen­tial to them?
  • Are they a com­mon­ly searched busi­ness?
  • Is the com­peti­tor named some­thing that could be con­sid­ered a gen­er­al key­word (Boston Lock­smith, LA Fit­ness, etc.)

It can be tempt­ing to exclude/go after all com­peti­tors, but that will cause bud­get prob­lems.

If you exclude all com­peti­tors, you’ll end up miss­ing out on SERPs that could have held val­ue.

If you active­ly tar­get all of them, only a few will get access to bud­get and the rest will drag down the qual­i­ty of the cam­paign.

Instead, pick 5–7 com­peti­tors that you know rep­re­sent equal threat and oppor­tu­ni­ty for your busi­ness.

Build an ad group for each com­peti­tor, and set those com­peti­tors as neg­a­tives every­where else in the cam­paign.

By tak­ing this approach you ensure your cam­paign bud­get can sup­port your cho­sen com­peti­tors, and that you can prof­it off of the strat­e­gy, as opposed to hav­ing your gen­er­al ser­vice cam­paigns dragged down by low­er CTRs and con­ver­sion rates.

Each com­peti­tor gets an ad group because you want to be able to craft spe­cif­ic mes­sag­ing about why you’re bet­ter. (Impor­tant: you aren’t putting your com­peti­tor down, just high­light­ing spe­cif­ic gains cus­tomers will get by going with you).

These cam­paigns are great can­di­dates for ad group lev­el exten­sions, because you’ll want to high­light spe­cif­ic val­ue by com­peti­tor.

9. Create Social Moments by Inviting Your Community to Share Your Space

This may seem like more of a “social” tip, but a big part of PPC suc­cess is bid­ding on trans­ac­tion­al intent.

While some busi­ness­es will have infi­nite mon­ey to throw at cre­at­ing demand and brand affin­i­ty, there’s a lot of val­ue in get­ting folks to talk about your brand organ­i­cal­ly.

By being a com­mu­ni­ty hub for more than just the ser­vices you offer (indus­try knowl­edge, host­ing events, etc), you cre­ate:

  • Email lists (great for nur­ture cam­paigns).
  • Cre­ative for your ads.
  • Clout with your prospects.

These events make amaz­ing can­di­dates for YouTube Live Stream­ing or Face­book Live. This con­tent can then be turned into a YouTube place­ment to help edu­cate your mar­ket on why you’re wonderful/they need you.

You can also lay­er on a spe­cial audi­ence onto your search cam­paigns based on users who have seen the video/ad/subscribed to your chan­nel.

10. Budget for Your Bottom Line

The most cat­a­stroph­ic mis­take most local busi­ness­es make is set­ting a bud­get that can’t sup­port their cam­paigns.

We chat­ted about pri­or­i­ti­za­tion ear­li­er, and this is the most impor­tant appli­ca­tion: only run cam­paigns for products/services that have a chance at pos­i­tive ROI.

Ide­al­ly, every cam­paign will be able to fit at least 10 clicks per day (10% con­ver­sion rate is real­ly good for non-brand­ed search).

If the search budget/campaign struc­ture you’ve set is oper­at­ing at less than 30% impres­sion share, odds are the entire endeav­or is wast­ed spend because you can’t secure enough poten­tial impres­sions, to get enough clicks, to get enough con­ver­sions.

Whether you favor phone leads or form-fills will influ­ence bud­get needs con­sid­er­ably. If all you val­ue are phone calls, you may opt into call-only cam­paigns.

Call-only cam­paigns are con­sid­er­ably more expen­sive than their tra­di­tion­al search coun­ter­parts because you’re opt­ing exclu­sive­ly into mobile SERPs (which require aggres­sive bid­ding).

If you are bud­get con­strained, I find includ­ing a call-exten­sion and opt­ing into search part­ners with your MB synced dri­ves just as much val­ue with­out the exces­sive price tag.

In either case, you’ll want to use bid adjust­ments to direct bud­get towards or away from devices, loca­tions, and times that make the most sense for your busi­ness.

Auto­mat­ed bid­ding can do this work for you, but at the local lev­el, there may not be enough vol­ume for machine learn­ing to out­per­form your busi­ness acu­men.

If you do opt for Smart Bid­ding, be sure you bud­get 15–20% more than you nor­mal­ly would to build the data-set and hon­or learn­ing peri­ods.

SOURCE: Search Engine Jour­nal