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Local Marketing Lab

Local PPC

Introduction to Local PPC

Welcome to your LOCALiQ Marketing Lab course on local PPC! In this exciting course, we’ll be learning all about:

  • What local PPC is.
  • Why local PPC is important.
  • How to create a local PPC strategy.
  • Google Local Services Ads.
  • Finding a local PPC partner.

Let’s jump right in!


What Is Local PPC?

First, let’s get this out of the way. PPC stands for pay per click, but this type of online advertising can also be called:

  • Search Engine Marketing
  • SEM
  • Search Advertising
  • Paid Search Marketing
  • Search Marketing
  • Google Ads
  • Bing Ads
  • Search Engine Ads
  • Search Engine Advertising
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

We may use some of these terms interchangeably, but they all mean the same thing, which is this:

Local PPC involves running paid search ads on top search engines to show up for searches with local intent.

what is local ppc - ppc definition

Now, some specifics:

Where Do Local PPC Ads Appear?

Local search ads appear in prime spots on the search engine results page (SERP), across multiple devices (mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.). Prime spots vary depending upon the search engine but typically are on top of organic results. All PPC ads are labeled with an “ad” designation.

local ppc - where do local ppc ads show up

Local PPC ads can also appear in the Map pack on Google and within the Google Maps app.

local ppc - local ppc ads in google 3-pack

How Much Does Local PPC Cost?

When it comes to local PPC, you’ll be charged each time someone clicks on your ad (which is why it’s called pay-per-click advertising). Cost-per-click varies by industry, keyword, geography, and competition, and will also vary regularly throughout a campaign. WordStream has some helpful PPC benchmarks here.

Now that you have some basics down, let’s talk about why local search advertising is important.


Benefits of Local PPC

Local PPC isn’t a free marketing strategy – it does incur a cost and requires a budget, planning, and knowledge of how to execute PPC campaigns. But, it’s also one of the best ways to get found by new customers and grow your business.

Here are some of the top reasons local PPC is a must for any local marketing strategy.

Local PPC Is Built Around Quick Results

You may be wondering, why pay to show up in search engines and have people click on your website pages? Can’t you just improve your website’s SEO and get online visibility and organic clicks for free?

SEO strategies are very beneficial to your business, but local SEO takes time to take effect, (up to six months, at least) and the tactics involve a lot of work toward producing quality content. With local SEM campaigns, you can see results right away in the form of your business name on page one of search results pages.

Local PPC Helps Your Business Rank on Search Engines

There’s limited real estate for the top positions in local organic search results. With the amount of content on the web today and the number of competitors you have, it can be hard to get in a top position, even despite your best efforts.

If you’re a new business or an existing one trying to build your online presence, local search advertising can get you in front of highly targeted customers without a ton of effort.

Local PPC Drives Conversions

Another one of the benefits of local PPC is that people who see your local search ads are those most likely to want to buy your product or service. Your local PPC campaign requires you to choose a geographic location and specific search queries to target (more on that later).

As a result, you can be sure that anyone who clicks on your ad is not arbitrarily surfing the web, but rather, is looking for your product or service in the specific area you’re targeting.

Local PPC Gives You Reporting & Analytics

After a potential customer clicks your local PPC ad and reaches your website, pay per click ad services (such as through Google, Yahoo, and Bing) enable you to collect data on each click, such as

  • Where that person is located.
  • How much time they spent on your site.
  • What pages they visited on your site.
  • What type of device they were using (mobile, tablet, laptop).

With this data, those who click on your ad can become leads for you to contact at a later time.

Real-time and specific tracking are huge benefits of local search advertising that allow you to see exactly what you’re getting for every marketing dollar you spend and obtain more leads in the long run.

Now that you understand why local PPC is so important, let’s talk about how to get started with a local SEM strategy.


How to Create a Local PPC Strategy

Local PPC isn’t one of those marketing strategies you can just jump right into. It requires planning, expertise, and budget. Here are the basics of a successful local PPC strategy.

Determine Your Local PPC Goal

Before you start any local marketing plan, it’s important to outline your goal for the campaign. When it comes to local SEM, there are a few different goals you can consider:

  • Getting more website clicks.
  • Generating leads.
  • Increasing sales.
  • Driving phone calls.
  • Driving in-person visits.
  • And more.

The goal of your local PPC campaign will help inform your overall strategy, including your PPC keywords, budget, and ad copy.

Set Your Local PPC Budget

Because local PPC is built around paying for each click, it’s important to designate a monthly budget. You’ll want to base this off of your industry, geography, and the number of products and services you’re trying to advertise. Your budget will influence how much money you’re able to spend throughout a month on PPC ads, and your spend level may vary day-to-day.

Here’s an example of how you might calculate your local PPC budget based on cost per click (CPC):

Let’s say one customer is worth $500 and it takes 10 leads to get one customer. So, that makes one lead worth $50, which means you can’t spend more than $50 per lead to be profitable. Taking it one step further, if it takes 10 clicks to get one lead (one in 10 fill out the form), you can ultimately spend up to $5 per click.

While you can come up with thresholds for your budget, Google will ultimately determine the exact CPC based on your budget as well as the quality of your ad and landing page and its click-through rate in relation to your competitors. Here’s a graphic that illustrates how CPC is determined:

Once you know how much you can spend per click, you simply scale it up to your daily budget.

Determine Your Local PPC Keywords

With your max CPC worked out, it’s time to pick the keywords you’ll be using in your campaigns. The Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for doing this, and WordStream has a free keyword tool you can use as well.

To start, brainstorm some keywords that are related to your products and services to get a good baseline and use the Keyword Planner to expand your list and generate new ideas. Ideally, you’ll want to find keywords that have high search volume, low competition, and fit within your max CPC plan.

The Keyword Planner provides you with an abundance of valuable information and sorting options. Be sure to spend some time getting familiar with it so you can master the research process for future campaigns.

If you’re working with a local advertising agency, they can determine the best keywords for you to use so you don’t have to dive too deep into this step.

Write Your PPC Ad Copy

Now it’s time to actually write the ad. Again, if you’re working with a local PPC company, they’ll take care of this for you, but if you’re doing it yourself or just want to know the steps, then this is the next one!

Having only two lines to work with, you need to keep your ad short and to the point, while demonstrating your unique value proposition (UVP). This will take some trial and error before you get it down, but you’ll want to write multiple versions of an ad so you can do A/B testing to see what works best.

The main factors to a good ad are keyword headlines with actionable intent, making your URL visible to show users that your ad is relevant, the ad copy itself, and using a clear call to action.

You want your PPC ad copy to entice searchers to click on your ad, so including offers and specials is always a good idea.

Here are a few examples of good local PPC ads:

Make Sure You Have a Relevant Landing Page

All local PPC campaigns link back to a page on your website, and you want to make sure that the page you’re leading searchers to is relevant to your ad copy. Many businesses will create dedicated landing pages for their local PPC campaigns to increase relevancy, which can help your ads perform – and convert – better.

If you don’t have landing pages you can link to, make sure that the page on your website closely matches the copy of your ad. For example, you don’t want ad copy about leaf-blowing services to clickthrough to a page about hedge trimming on your website. That would result in a potential customer abandoning your site without taking any action.

Run Your Local PPC Ad

Once your ad is built, it’s ready to go live so you can start collecting valuable information about its performance, make adjustments, and ultimately, get leads. You can track factors like clickthrough rate (CTR), ad relevance, cost per conversion, Quality Score, CPC, and conversion rate.

As you spend more time analyzing, you’ll gain the necessary information to make informed decisions about your local search ads going forward.

Make Adjustments to Your Local PPC Campaign

After your local search ads have run for a while and you’ve started to see results, you can make adjustments based on what’s working and what’s not. It’s important to continue refining and optimizing your local search ads based on what’s driving not only clicks but also conversions. This will allow you to maximize your marketing budget and ensure you capture local searchers and converting them into customers.

We’ll go over even more tips to optimize your local SEM campaign in the next lesson.


5 Tips for Successful Local Search Ads

If you want to take your local PPC a step further and optimize your campaign, here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Run Two Ads & Check Your Bids

Simply put, bids are the amount of money you’re paying per click for each respective ad. But just because an ad may be getting a lot of clicks doesn’t mean it’s performing well; you have to look at how many of them are actually converting into leads or customers.

By that same token, it’s never a good idea to run just one ad, because then you’ll have nothing to compare it to. To start, we recommend running at least two ads so you can compare their performance side by side and see which one is yielding better results. Ultimately, you want to reduce the amount you’re spending on low-performing ads and increase your bid amount for higher-performing ads.

2. Experiment with Keyword Match Types

We talked about determining your keywords and keyword list, but it’s also important to consider keyword match type and choose the match type that’s going to draw in the most targeted traffic. These determine the types of search queries Google will show your ad to, which are covered below.

local ppc - keyword match types

Broad Match

Broad match will show your ad to anyone performing a Google search that includes your keyword in it, regardless of additional text in the query. This will give your ad the highest level of exposure, but you also run the risk of attracting the wrong kinds of customers to your landing page and wasting money.

For example, if you’re selling “men’s shoes,” you wouldn’t want someone searching for “men’s black shoe polish” clicking on your ad.

Phrase Match

Phrase match tells Google to only show your ads to users that search for your keywords in the exact order you’ve entered them, while still allowing words before or after. This match type is a nice middle ground that allows you to narrow your ad reach to a more targeted market so you limit the number of irrelevant clicks you receive.

For example, if your keyword is “bar stools,” it can show up for searches like “cheap bar stools” or “buy bar stools.”

Exact Match

Exact match is the most restrictive match type, only showing your ad to users who search for your keywords exactly as you’ve entered them with no text before or after. While this can greatly limit your ads’ reach, it increases the likelihood that users clicking on your ad will be interested in your product or service.

For example, if your keyword is “desk lamps,” your ad will only be shown to people that search that exact phrase.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach as it depends on your marketing goals and budget, so experiment to see which match type works best for you.

3. Add Negative Keywords

Negative keywords give you the ability to better control who Google shows your ads to. If you’re using broad or phrase match types, your ad can be shown to users that use additional words in their query, increasing the risk of appearing for irrelevant searches. For instance, if you’re selling “men’s suits” and they’re fairly high-end, you probably wouldn’t want to draw traffic searching for “cheap men’s suits.”

Negative keywords allow you to exclude search terms from your campaigns so you can focus on targeting the right kind of clicks.

local ppc - ppc strategy - negative keywords

To do this, start by brainstorming the obvious search queries you’d want to avoid. You’ll learn more about which negative keywords you should include for each ad as they continue to collect data and you can see the actual search phrases people are using, allowing you to limit exposure.

4. Add New Keywords

As you know, keywords are going to determine who your ads are shown to. But, just because a keyword may be working for you one month doesn’t mean it will perform as well as the following.

As an online advertiser, you have to stay on top of the best-performing keywords and most popular search phrases that your target audience is using to stay ahead of the game. Make it a habit of regularly checking and tracking the performance of your keywords so you know which ones to avoid and which ones to capitalize on.

This will help you identify trends and make it easier to adjust your bids accordingly. To come up with new keywords, use Google’s Keyword Planner tool (or any alternatives) to find new ideas that you can build ads around.

5. Test Ad Copy

Outside of using the right keywords, negative keywords, and match types to design an effective paid search campaign, it’s the ad copy that will ultimately determine whether or not someone clicks on your ad. You don’t have to be a writing wizard when it comes to PPC ad copy. In fact, sometimes keeping it simple and to the point works best.

For every ad, you should have a few different text variations that you can try out to see which one works best with your target audience.

local ppc - best ppc ad copy

Experiment with different action words and phrases that clearly define what you’re offering. If you’re having a hard time, don’t be afraid to look at competitor ads to see what’s working for them.

Now that we’ve covered creating your local PPC strategy and some tips to get started, let’s take a second to talk about Local Services Ads – which are Google local PPC ads specifically for specific industries like electricians, plumbers, garage door repair, HVAC, and locksmiths. If your business isn’t a service-based industry, and you don’t want to learn about Local Services Ads, go ahead and skip to the next lesson.


Google Local Services Ads for Service-Based Businesses

For most business types, a local PPC strategy is all you need to show up for relevant searches. But, for service-based businesses like locksmiths, plumbers, and garage door repair companies, you can take it a step further with Google’s Local Services Ads (LSAs).

So, what are Google Local Services Ads, which businesses can take advantage of these ads, and how do they work?

We’re going to cover all that and more here!

What Are Google Local Services Ads?

Google Local Services Ads are meant to connect people looking for a service to a service-based business and provide them with enough information to reach out and book a job.

For that reason, Local Services Ads are not pay-per-click, but rather pay-per-lead. So, if a searcher clicks on your ad but doesn’t contact you, then you won’t pay for that click.

local ppc - what are google local services ads

This is huge, because if you’re in a service-based business and you’ve run Google Ads before, then you know your cost-per-click (CPC) can get pretty high at times.

local ppc - google local service ads

Image Source

So, by paying for each lead rather than each click, you can feel confident that your ads are truly connecting you with customers ready to give you their business.

What Businesses Can Use Google Local Services Ads?

Local Services Ads aren’t for every business, but they are available to a wide variety of industries.

local ppc - what businesses can run local services ads

The best way to determine whether or not your industry is supported is to attempt to sign up for them in Google Ads.

Why Run Google Local Services Ads?

So, one of the pros of Google Local Services Ads – to both consumers and businesses, in our opinion – is that in order to have an LSA shown, you have to be Google Guaranteed or Google Screened, meaning you’ve passed background checks and Google has checked your licenses and insurance.

When you’re Google Guaranteed or listed as Google Screened, it signals to potential customers that you’re a trustworthy business, which is important for all businesses, but especially service-based businesses.

local ppc - local services ads - google screened

In addition, if a customer is not satisfied with a job booked through a Local Services Ad, Google may reimburse the customer (with certain restrictions).

Customers want to know they can trust a company that’s going to be helping them with their home, taking care of their pet, or representing them in a legal capacity.

By running Local Services Ads, you’re not only getting the advantages of local PPC ads – in that you’re showing up for relevant local searches – but you’re also showing prospective customers that you’re trustworthy.

How to Run Google Local Services Ads

Now that you know what LSAs are and why they’re beneficial for service-based businesses, let’s talk a little about how to get started with Google Local Services Ads.

Make sure your business is eligible.

As we mentioned, Google Local Services Ads aren’t available in all regions for all business types, so the first step is making sure your business is eligible. You can check that here.

Create your business profile.

When you run Local Services Ads, you have to create a specific profile that’s separate from your Google My Business profile and your account in Google Ads.

Your Local Services Ads profile is how Google determines which jobs are matched to your ads. Within your profile, you’ll include:

  • Your weekly budget.
  • Your business hours.
  • Your service areas.
  • Your job types.

In your profile, you can also add highlights about your business – like family-owned – and special offers – like military discounts – that can potentially show up next to your Local Services Ads.

You don’t want to neglect this section because it can help you set your business apart from others in your industry. Google recommends adding 2-5 highlights.

Add your license and insurance info.

In order for your business to earn the Google Guarantee, Google has to verify your licensing and insurance information. Within your profile, there’s a place for you to upload these documents so you can earn this guarantee.

local ppc - local services ads - how to run lsas

Requirements as to what information you need to submit vary by industry.

Go through (and pass!) your background check.

Before you can start running your Local Services Ads, Google requires an authorized representative of the business to undergo a background check. In some cases, Google also requires the fieldworkers to pass background checks as well.

There’s no cost for the background checks and they provide another layer of credibility to the businesses that run Local Services Ads.

Get those good reviews.

While not a prerequisite for running Local Services Ads, reviews do play a role. Your star rating and the number of reviews you have impact how your Local Services Ads are ranked.

local ppc strategy - local services ads - reviews

The more – and the better – reviews you have, the more likely your ads are to show, and the more likely your business is to get booked.

Start running your ads and see the local leads roll in!

Once you’ve passed your background check and gotten your Google Guarantee, you can start running your Local Services Ads and managing your leads through the Local Services Ads dashboard.

When leads come in through your Local Services Ads campaign, you can reply to the customers, call the customers, or decline the job request.

Google Local Services Ads are a great way for service-based businesses to get in front of local searchers and turn leads into customers.

Now that we’ve covered LSAs, let’s talk a little bit about finding a local PPC agency to work with.


Working with a Local PPC Company

Local PPC is a very involved process that includes a lot of moving pieces, from account set up in Google Ads and Bing Ads, keyword selection, budget allocation, and staying on top of the changing local search trends. So, many businesses opt to work with a local PPC agency to take care of this for them.

If your business chooses to work with a PPC company, how do you find the right one? It’s important to ask the right questions to make sure you find the ideal fit and stay on track.

Questions to Ask Your Local PPC Agency

Here are some conversation points and questions to help ensure your campaign runs smoothly and reaches its absolute maximum potential.

local ppc - questions to ask your ppc agency

Our goal? To have you talking – and sounding – like a true local PPC expert.

1. What is your keyword research process?

Any local PPC agency you talk to probably uses the Keyword Planner and diagnosis tools provided by Google, but how are they building out the keyword list for your campaign? What goes into their selection process from the data Google makes available?

It can be helpful to ask for a full keyword list to review prior to actually going live. This confirms a few things: understanding how extensive your list is, and what sort of keyword match types you have incorporated.

We covered the match types earlier, but as a refresher, they’re:

  • Broad Match
  • Exact Match
  • Broad Match

2. What will you use for negative keywords?

As a reminder, negative keywords are a way to identify keywords or phrases that you do NOT want your ad to show up for. Incorporating negatives helps eliminate unqualified and unrelated traffic, and ensures you are targeting only the most relevant users and traffic.

You want to make sure your local search agency will incorporate this keyword strategy into your local PPC campaigns and has an idea of the types of keywords you don’t want to show up for.

3. How will you measure local PPC success?

There is a significant amount of metrics that surround local PPC campaigns, so it’s important to work with your PPC agency to determine what makes the most sense for you to help measure “success.”

Clicks, impressions, and clickthrough rate are the most common data points that teams look at but determining your ROI may take you deeper into the analysis.

Lead tracking, including through the use of UTMs and phone call tracking, can be an effective tool for measuring lead generation and new business.

We covered the top metrics to measure for PPC success here.

Related: Search advertising benchmarks for the top 20 industries. 

4. What is your ad scheduling strategy?

Ad scheduling, or ad delivery, is an important component of any local PPC campaign. Understanding the difference in ad delivery methods – and which strategy aligns best with your campaign – helps determine how long your budget lasts, and in turn, when and how your ad serves impressions.

By default, your ads will be scheduled to be shown any time someone searches one of your keywords in your area. However, you can use ad scheduling to define specific days and times your ad shows based on performance, known as dayparting.

By using ad scheduling, you can outline certain hours or days of the week you want your ads to show or set adjustments to increase or decrease your bids for certain days or times.

Ad scheduling can help you capitalize on what’s driving the best results for your local PPC ads, so it’s important to discuss whether or not this is something your search marketing agency will incorporate into your overall strategy.

5. Where will my ad link?

Yes, keywords and ad copy are important, but the landing page(s) themselves will have more influence on conversions and campaign performance. Where do your ads click through to? Where are we directing traffic?

local ppc strategy - questions to ask ppc agency - landing page

If you have service- or product-specific ad groups (think “Residential,” “Commercial,” etc.), you’ll want to ask your SEM agency if they plan to link different ads to different landing pages that correlate to each product or service you’re highlighting in your local PPC ads.

6. Will we be bidding on brand names? Competitors?

You know your business better than anyone, including variations of your company name and, more importantly, your competitors. Your ability to identify other advertisers in your space can be an advantageous tool in your arsenal for local PPC. If you are in a digitally competitive industry, you can incorporate your brand name and competitors’ names into your keyword strategy.

This can (obviously) be beneficial in a number of different ways. For one, you can place your ad – and your stronger call-to-action – above your competitor’s organic result. Also, clicks for these terms are typically cheaper than the more general industry terms. By bidding on your competitors’ names, you can boost your results (and gain a competitive edge) for a fraction of your local search advertising budget.

You may also want to bid on your brand name if you notice that competitors are bidding on it already or as a way to get your business ranked on the first page of Google while you work on your SEO.

7. Can we sync up with my Google Analytics?

First off, if you’re not using Google Analytics on your website – you should get on that! Google Analytics provides key metrics and web traffic data for your website to help determine site health, site effectiveness, and user behavior. You can also link this data directly to your local PPC campaign.

Making this connection between Google Analytics and Google Ads – which can be done easily through your SEM team – helps attribute lead generation to your campaign as well as benchmark user activity. How does the engagement of SEM-referred traffic contrast to your organic site visitors?

Clicks and clickthrough rate are key metrics in SEM, but what are the users doing on your site once they click? How do the bounce rate, time-on-site, and pages-per-visit stand up to the rest of your site traffic?

By asking these important questions when trying to find the right local PPC company you can help set your business up for success in the long term and make sure your goals and expectations are aligned with what your local digital marketing company can deliver on.


Congratulations, Local PPC Expert!

You did it! Now you know all about local PPC, what it is, how it works, and how to find a local PPC company (if you so choose).

Here are some other fun resources to dive into: