Get Up to Speed
For local business owners, search engine marketing (sometimes referred to as “pay-per-click” or PPC) is one of the most useful tools in targeting local prospects who are searching for your type of business online and via mobile. Of the options out there, Google AdWords is by far the most popular paid search tool on the search platform playground.
How It Works
Google AdWords places a link to your website at the top of certain search results pages. How do they choose where to put you? There’s a bidding/auction system in which you bid on your preferred price-per-click. Once you set up a campaign, choose your geographic location and come up with some keyword-savvy copy, Google uses these variables along with your bid to rank your ad among others for relevancy. Pro tip: Consider automating your bids, and Google will help bid for you to achieve better results.
In return, you only pay when a potential customer clicks to visit your website or contact you. You can even put a cap on your budget, and Google will remove your ad once you hit your limit.
Like most online marketing techniques and tools, Google AdWords has evolved over the years. Even if you’re already conducting paid search campaigns, you can definitely step up your game and market like it’s 2017.
Use Expanded Text Ads
As of January, you’ll only be able to create and edit text ads using a brand new expanded text ad format. Any existing standard text ads will continue to serve alongside expanded text ads, but you won’t be able to modify their content.
What’s up with these new expanded text ads:
- These ads give you more space for additional text, including two headline fields instead of one.
- Your display URL just got a lot less complicated. Google will automatically enter your display URL for you, using the domain from your final URL. Then, you can customize how it appears by adding vanity terms at the end that better reflect what the end user should expect to encounter on your site.
- They’re automatically mobile-optimized, so you no longer have to choose the mobile device setting when you’re drafting your ad.
- In mobile results, the top ad is a whole lot bigger than it used to be, displaying sitelinks, reviews and ratings and even location extensions. Here’s what location extensions look like:
Use “Nearby Business” Ads
According to Google, “near me” searches are way, way up – as in they’ve more than doubled in the last year. Since we’re smart cookies, we’re willing to venture an educated guess that the number of hyperlocal, intuitive “close by”, “nearby” and “around me” searches will only continue to rise. Lucky for us, Google has a specific way to address these special searches called “nearby business” ads. These ads are even designed to look like organic, non-paid local business listings on Google.
To make the most of these ads, ensure you’re doing a few things:
- Make your location very specific. Instead of giving a state name or a big city name, incorporate a few names of surrounding suburbs you want to target.
- Get your reviews on point. They’ll show up, and they appear pretty prominent on mobile results pages. If you have no reviews, it will state so. If you have loads of negative, unaddressed reviews…well that’s even more cringe-worthy and likely to get your business skimmed over.
- Pro tip: For this to even work, you must enable location extensions on your account. We hope you already had this enabled, but it’ll be our little secret if you didn’t.
Think “Mobile, Mobile, Mobile”
More than 50 percent of the searches on Google come straight from mobile. So, catering to these folks is definitely worth your while. Today, search engines, particularly Google, are tracking searches to zip codes better than ever before. This means that local businesses who use granular geographic targeting are better capturing users on mobile who may be wandering around your town.
- Give ‘em the good stuff first. List specials early on in your ad to entice potential customers to click.
- Modify your bids for mobile based on a percentage of your desktop bid. If you think your target audience is hanging out on their phones, this may be worth a shot.
- Make sure your website is mobile-optimized so customers have a good experience once they get thru the ad.
- If you’d rather people call you, and you know someone can pick up the phone, consider adding call extensions to your ads. Some choose to add this in lieu of a website, but we only recommend doing so if your website isn’t mobile-friendly. This also helps make the call-to-action really clear if you do most of your booking by phone.
If you’re just starting out, or maybe if you’re a pro but are suddenly spinning your wheels, there’s no shame in asking for help. (Ask away.)