local business PPC

Beginners guide to local PPC

Pay-per-click (PPC) is a form of search engine marketing (SEM) that only charges a business when a potential customer (or lead) clicks on their ad.

Although Google Ads is the most prominent PPC platform, many others exist, including Microsoft Advertising (previously Bing Ads), Facebook Ads and Snapchat for Business. Essentially, it’s whatever the owners of the search engine in question choose to call it. PPC is simply the generic term.

What is local PPC?

As the term suggests, local PPC drills down further, by specifically aiming at nearby customers via the use of geotargeting and local keywords. In so doing, it improves the effectiveness of local marketing by making a business easier to find online, and by those customers who are more likely to convert. It puts your business in front of your target audience without you needing to make too much effort – though careful planning is essential.

Where do local PPC ads appear?

Local PPC assumes a choice position on a search engine results page (SERP), irrespective of whether the searcher is using their smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Such ads appear at the top of a SERP and are clearly identified by the word ‘Sponsored’ or ‘Ad’. They can also be found on Google Maps (desktop and smartphone app versions).

google local ads sponsored listing
google maps sponsored listings

How much does it cost?

Cost-per-click (CPC) rates are dependent on the kind of industry you work within, the keywords you use, your location and the level of competition, and you’ll only be charged when someone clicks on your ad. To get an idea of costs, Google Ads Benchmarks in the UK (or an equivalent site) is a useful resource – and please refer to the Budgeting your PPC campaign section of this article further down the page.

The benefits of local PPC

Ever increasingly, shopping habits favour retailers with presence on the internet. This means there’s a growing online target audience for your business, which is good news if you’re looking for improved conversions.

Here are just some of the advantages offered by localised ad campaign:

●      With local PPC, you can place ads based on your geographical location while targeting specific behaviours.

●      Your business provides a solution to a local problem. Therefore, if you’re easy to find online, local PPC offers a win-win scenario. This is because it delivers enhanced visibility while allowing you to control who it is you target by cutting out random, drive-by clicking. It also strips out nationwide competition with no skin in the local marketing game. Less competition means more clicks, which means greater potential conversion.

●      Local PPC helps to increase brand awareness – a lack of conversions doesn’t necessarily mean a campaign is ineffective.

●      Local PPC provides quantifiable, actionable data: impressions, clicks, conversions, the clicker’s location, how much time they spent on your site (including the pages they visited), the device they used, their age, gender, etc.

●      If your SEO expertise is not the best, local PPC provides an easy point of entry into the world of local marketing.

●      Local PPC enables you to cast your net wider (i.e. beyond your established audience).

●      Flexibility – local PPC allows you to work within your budget by establishing a price limit, and it can be expanded according to your success rate – or paused if need be.

Let’s talk strategies

In order to have a successful PPC campaign, you first need to make sure your strategy is properly aligned to your goals. Here we have broken down everything you need to consider in order to have a successful local PPC campaign that doesn’t swallow your budget straight away:

Goal setting – Before engaging with local PPC, establish your aim. For instance, do you wish to generate more clicks, leads, sales, phone calls, physical visits…?

Keywords – Think of keywords that best describe your products and services. Brainstorming is a good way to create a shortlist, and Google Keyword Planner (which allows you to identify the highest search volume keywords) and free keyword tools (such as this one) will help you to refine your list further. Utilise high search volume low-competition keywords – words/phrases that are common enough to increase your website traffic but not so popular that they’re used by every competitor.

Consider different keyword match types in order to optimise targeted traffic:

Broad match recognises searches that relate to your keyword. Although it offers the widest possible reach, it will also deliver plenty of dead-ends.

Phrase match identifies searches that include your keyword. It’s a more targeted keyword type that results in fewer irrelevant clicks.

Exact match pinpoints searches that exactly replicate your keyword, omitting any extraneous words before and after. While it limits your reach, it maximises the likelihood of attracting someone who’s interested in your specific product or service.

The process of choosing the right keywords allows for quite a bit of experimentation. For example, you can also establish negative keywords, which will help you to exclude pointless search terms. Over a relatively short space of time, such terms will become clearer, enabling you to quickly identify and eradicate them.

Tailor the language you use to your specific locality. For example, plimsolls may mean something in one region but not so much in another (whereas sand shoes, galoshes, gutties, pumps, etc. might be more relevant). This is where Google Trends comes into its own because it provides trend hit-rates by region (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

Keep on top of shifting keyword trends. You may feel you’ve established the perfect formula but a keyword that’s effective one month may not be so another. Be sure to check and/or track the performance of each of your keywords – again, Google Keyword Planner is a helpful resource.

Other keyword tools worth considering include Google Search Console, Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool and Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator.

Location – Include a location in your ad. This will eliminate the need to pay for clicks that don’t turn into leads. While setting location parameters (post codes, town/city names, etc.) make sure that unrelated location terms are omitted (i.e. those places that provide you with a limited target audience).

Test and tweak – Local PPC provides real-time data (as does Google Analytics), thus allowing you to test, tweak and optimise your local ad campaign. It enables you to react swiftly to ads that perform well (or poorly). This makes it easier and quicker for you to positively transform your local PPC trajectory, as opposed to using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which is more of a trial-and-error approach that requires a lot of work and takes at least six months to perfect.

That said, using SEO results can help you finesse your campaign by capitalising on top-performing keywords, for example.

Similarly, there’s no harm in cherry-picking keywords that perform well in organic rankings (unpaid for algorithmic search engine results).

Short and sweet – Few advertising lines are available to you so your ads need to be to the point and accentuate the virtues of your offering. For example, if you provide a value-added product, be sure to mention the extras, whether they be ‘free’ or ‘24-hour delivery’, etc.

Experiment – Try A/B testing (otherwise known as split testing) to see which ads work best. This will enable you to compare click rates – and leads that become conversions (which hopefully, turn into customers).

Crib from the competition Don’t be afraid to look to your rivals for tips. As Kurt Vonnegut once said, “I didn’t really steal it. I just borrowed it for all eternity.”

Facilitate ad extensions – This will allow you to get the most from your budget by including relevant information about your business, thus improving your chances of greater reach.

Ad extensions include location and call extensions (an address and phone number) that come in the form of easily identifiable and clickable buttons.

Before enabling ad extensions, make sure your Google My Business (GMB) profile details are up to date. This is necessary because local PPC platforms retrieve data from GMB. If you have a Google Local Service Ads profile (more of which at the end of this article), ensure that it also includes up-to-date information.

Work your landing page – Your landing page is your virtual shop window, so make sure that all relevant information is included – your contact details, for instance.

Use, clean, crisp copy, include examples of social proof, establish your community commitments, utilise local keywords and be sure to espouse your unique value proposition (UVP).

Your landing page must support the contents of your PPC ad. If not, any discrepancies could quickly cause the clicker to bail.

Basically, ensure that you have eliminated all hurdles that lie in the way of conversion.

budgeting your ppc spend

Budgeting for your local PPC campaign

There is no magic bullet when it comes to PPC budgeting. A local PPC campaign treads a fine line between business growth (by converting clicks into leads, and leads into conversions) and lost revenue (wasting money on unwanted clicks).

Here, we’re going to concentrate on Google Ads, but the same basic approach applies to other PPC platforms.

Establish your local PPC budget

Determine how much money you’re prepared to spend on your campaign. Start by setting a maximum CPC bid cap: the most you’re prepared to pay per click while using Google Ads.

Generally speaking, the bigger your bid, the higher your ad will rank on a SERP. However, your Quality Score is of equal (and possibly even greater) importance. This is because Google uses Quality Score to reward advertisers who create ads that are more relevant and which offer greater value to customers. This means that a high Quality Score could see your ad ranking better than that of your competitors, even if you don’t set the highest maximum bid.

Ultimately, you should establish a budget that your business can realistically afford. With careful planning, there’s every likelihood that your campaign will prove to be a success, and if it does, you’ll be in a position to make higher bids whenever necessary.

Don’t worry if your budget is small. A clearly thought-through PPC strategy can help to put your ads in front of audiences who offer the strongest buying potential.

Cost per click averages

With Google Ads, the average CPC is calculated by dividing the total cost of each click by the total number of clicks received. Average CPC doesn’t necessarily equate to maximum CPC (i.e. the highest amount you’re prepared to pay for a click).

Google can determine the exact CPC, based on your budget and the quality of your ad, and the CTR in comparison with your competitors. And don’t forget, CPC rates are dependent on a number of factors (industry, keyword types, location and competition).

Once again, Keyword Planner can be pressed into action because, in this case, it allows you to estimate average CPC levels for your local PPC campaigns.

Lightening the load

Many businesses choose to run their local PPC campaigns themselves. However, if you don’t have the time but you do have the budget, it’s worth considering employing the services of a PPC consultant. As with most options, there are pros and cons to each. For instance, hiring PPC management services is an added expense, but on the other hand, it allows you to minimise your workload.

If you do decide to go this route, be sure to shop around by asking potential PPC management teams questions that are pertinent to your business’ marketing needs. Here at the search mechanics we believe understanding a clients business needs is the most important factor before we start work on any campaign. If you are looking for assistance with setting up a paid search campaign, contact our PPC agency in Kent and we will be happy to help.

Local Service Ads (LSA)

LSA is intended for use by service-based companies (plumbers in Kent, electricians in Kent, etc.). As opposed to local PPC, it works on a pay-per lead basis. This means that if someone clicks on your ad but doesn’t contact you, you won’t be charged for the click, which is extremely helpful since service-based customers tend to click widely before contacting.

Another benefit of LSA is that, if you qualify, you’ll be Google Guaranteed or Google Screened. This means you’ll be provided with a green tick which identifies that your licence and insurance have been verified. Essentially, it demonstrates to the customer that you’re trustworthy.

When using LSA, be sure to include between two and five highlights, which help to distinguish you from your competition.

Once you’re up and running, you can easily manage your LSA leads via your Local Services Ads dashboard.

Final Thoughts

If you are new to setting up PPC campaigns, it can seem a daunting prospect at first, however the benefits it can deliver to small businesses are clear to see. Hopefully this guide will have provided you with all of the information you require to get started with your campaign, however, if you have any questions feel free to drop us an email hello@thesearchmechanics.co.uk.

Jon is the founder of the Search Mechanics, specialist PPC agency based in Kent.
He has worked in the PPC industry for over 15 years and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things related to online paid search including Google Ads and Bing Ads, he also has a thorough understanding of ad server systems as well as Google Analytics.