Google AdWords for Local Search

For businesses that operate only in the virtual world, people just about anywhere on earth are prospective customers. Brick-and-mortar businesses, however, must focus paid advertising efforts on searchers who actually have the potential to purchase products or services from them. Without this type of targeting, ad dollars may be wasted. So, where do you begin?

As with most Internet marketing, concentrate your efforts on Google, because that’s where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. Once you have AdWords figured out, you can then branch out into other PPC (define) platforms or other types of advertising, if you wish.


Geo-targeting refers to showing ads only to people in a specific location. That location can be as big as an entire country or as small as the block you’re on. Without going into the ugly details, geo-targeting is terribly flawed. However, it’s continually improving and, until it’s perfected, we have to work with what we have.

Define Your Marketplace

Think about who your customers are and where they’re physically located. Also, consider how far potential buyers may be willing to travel to do business with you.

  • Do you have a hyper local business that caters to people within a fairly well defined geographic area, like a barber shop, delicatessen, dry cleaner, or neighborhood bar and grill?

  • Do you have numerous locations, which all serve different areas, like a bank or fast food chain?
  • Do you deliver to consumers in areas outside your own, like a furniture warehouse or an appliance store?
  • Do you or your employees travel to a variety of locations to provide services, like a plumber, carpet installer, or spa technician?
  • Are you situated in a city or town that is a market hub (one that attracts people for shopping and services from outlying areas)?
  • Do you fit into one of the above categories and also sell via the Internet to those far away from you?

Where to Place Your Ads

Each scenario will require a slightly different focus in PPC marketing. Like most real world businesses, you need to be well represented in Google universal and Google Maps (a.k.a. Google Local).Why? Because you must be where searchers are looking for you, and searchers are looking in both places. Therefore, you need to have ads on both platforms.

For non-geotargeted ad groups that will appear on the universal results pages, create campaigns and ad groups using terms that include geo-qualifiers, like a ZIP code, neighborhood, town, metro area, or larger region. Then, while the ads will appear to everyone regardless of where they are, only those people specifically looking for a product or service in your area, and not one 500 miles away, are likely to click on your ad.

You can also specify that your ads show only to searchers within a defined geographic area, and you get to choose the area. You can use areas predetermined by Google or create your own. You may choose one or many locations where you’d like your ads to appear. Also, use geo-targeted terms in these campaigns to keep your CPC (define) down.

Just by searching within a specific geographic area in Google Maps, people are targeting their searches to only include results in the location they specify. Therefore, for local business ads that appear within Google Maps, use broad terms like “chiropractor,” “K2 skis,” “book store,” “fresh bagels,” and the like. Anyone searching within your area will see these, regardless of where they search from.

You may further narrow your market by geo-targeting your local business ads to be seen only by searchers within a specific area.

Managing Google AdWords accounts for brick-and-mortar businesses can be a little complex. However, you’ll likely see higher CTRs (define), lower CPCs, and lower bounce rates, if you take the time to set up geo-qualified and geo-targeted campaigns. Watch your results and continue to refine them for the best return on your advertising expenditures.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies Chicago December 8-12 at the Chicago Hilton. The only major search marketing conference and expo in the Midwest will be packed with 60-plus sessions, multiple keynotes and Orion Strategy sessions, exhibitors, networking events, and more.

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