If you haven’t heard of Google Adwords before, Adwords is Google’s paid advertising platform. Essentially, Google reserves the top 2-5 spots in their search engine results for businesses that pay Google for their listing. When a search engine user clicks on one of the ads, the business pays Adwords for the click, in the hopes that the visitor will become a paying customer.
National brands and chains have been advertising on Adwords for over a decade, and have largely rendered that advertising channel “mature” and thus not particularly likely to yield new customers at a low ROI. One area where that isn’t the case, however, is with local businesses. Local businesses have been slow to adopt Adwords and as a result, there are still amazing opportunities for local businesses to generate new customers at a fraction of the cost of more traditional advertising like TV, billboards, or the yellow pages.
The reason that small businesses have been slow to hop aboard Adwords advertising, is that it’s not as simple as creating a single yellow page ad and running it for years. Rather, having an effective Adwords advertising campaign takes a bit of know-how and ongoing monitoring. In this article, we’ll cover four tips that local businesses can use to make their first Adwords campaign a success.
Using Location Targeting
Search engines are global. But just like you wouldn’t pay to run a yellow page ad in New York if your business’ clientele are concentrated in Houston, as a local business you shouldn’t pay for people to click on your ad if they aren’t in your geographic area.
Geo-targeting is easy to set up in Google Adwords. When creating your first Adwords campaign make sure to select “Let me Choose” in “Locations”, and select a geographic area that best matches your customer base.
Remember, on AdWords you’re paying each time a potential customer clicks on your ad. Therefore, having your ad displayed to people who theoretically might be your customer, but in reality are a longshot based on their geography, means that your ROI will be relatively low. So, when starting out, pick a narrow geographic area as narrow as one or two zip codes. If your initial ROI is positive you can always expand your geographic area later.
Using Location Ad Extensions
Local connotes “friendly” and “convenient” in the minds of potential customers. Being local is a huge advantage over your competition, so make sure that your potential customers know that you are local when they see your ad. You can achieve that when setting up your Google Adwords account by selecting “Location Extensions”, and then entering your business’ storefront address. That will cause your Google Adwords Ad to include a pin and your business address.
Not only does the location extension immediately let the search engine user know that you’re local, but it also increases your ad’s effectiveness in two other ways. First, the address itself is clickable and makes your ad one line larger. Thus, you’ve got extra real estate on the search engine results page and an extra place where search engine users can click that will take them to your website. The second reason, is that it will deter people from clicking on your ad that aren’t looking for a business in your geographic area. Remember, you’re paying every time your ad is clicked on. So you don’t want people clicking on your ad merely to find out that where you are located isn’t convenient enough for them. By placing your address on the actual ad, via an Adwords Location Ad Extension, you reduce the number of clicks that aren’t likely to lead to a sale, and thus improve your advertising ROI.
Excluding “No Buy” Keywords
As a local business your ad dollars are stretched thin as it is. So the last thing you need is to pay Google Adwords for visitors that have already indicated via their keyword search that they aren’t actually interested in becoming paying customers.
For instance, someone searching for “Houston car dealership job” isn’t a person looking to buy a car, rather they want a job. Unfortunately, if you’ve set up your Adwords campaign to match for searches of “Houston car dealership” your ad will show up with a search of “Houston car dealership job”, and if the job seeker clicks on your ad, then you’re stuck paying for that click.
Similarly, someone searching Google for “Free ice cream coupon Houston” isn’t looking to spend any money. And someone searching “Houston computer repair reviews” or “How do I repair a computer” are probably individuals in the research phase and not in the purchasing phase.
Therefore, when creating your first Google Adwords campaign, just as important as setting up your positive keywords (e.g. “Houston computer repair” or “repair a computer”) it’s equally important to set your negative keywords list. A negative keywords list simply tells Google that if a search engine visitor mentions any of your “negative keywords” as a part of their search in the search engine, your ad won’t show up. For instance, words like “free”, “job”, or “How do I” are good phrases to include on a negative keyword list. Here’s a big list of 75 negative keywords, that will be a good start for most local businesses.
Adding keywords to your “Negative Keywords” list is simply a matter of copying and pasting them in when setting up your first campaign.
No Ads After-Hours
If you’re a local retail business, you’re probably not open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But unless you set your Google Adwords ads to only run during your business hours, you’ll be paying for clicks that aren’t likely to turn into conversions.
For example, if you’re an ice cream shop that’s open from noon to 9pm, having your ads run at 10pm is almost certainly a mistake. That’s because a customer using their smart phone to search for local ice cream shops at 10pm is probably looking for someone open late-night, so getting a click from that potential customer is almost certainly a waste of money.
As with geo-targeting, restricting the times that your ad runs is essential to preserving a positive ROI on your Google Adwords advertising because Google defaults to running the ads 24/7. Thankfully, this is fairly easy to do: simply select “Ad Schedule” when setting up your ads and select the appropriate times and dates for your business.
As you can see in this brief article, Google Adwords is a fair bit more complicated to setup than a Yellow Pages ad. But because of that, the vast majority of local businesses don’t participate in Google Adwords at all. That means there’s a huge opportunity for local business owners to obtain a really attractive return on investment if they take the time to design more effective Google Adwords campaigns, then tweak their ads monthly based on their performance.