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Google AdWords: Local Advertising

Search engine advertising is beneficial for local advertisers as well as national advertisers. Google's advertising system, AdWords, offers the option to target ads to searchers in a specific geographic region. Due to the method Google uses to identify the location of these searchers, though, it's imperative for local advertisers to run national ads as well.

Let's look at a specific example: marketing for a bank in Columbia, Maryland. With Google's system, it's important to create two advertising campaigns, one with a national focus and one with a regional focus. The national campaign needs to include regional-specific keywords while the regional campaign should include more generic keywords. Why is the national campaign necessary? For two reasons:
  1. Google's local targeting is achieved by correlating computer IP addresses to geographic locations. Users connected via large ISPs (like AOL) will be routed through proxy servers and the location of those proxy servers (at the ISP) will be the only location Google can ascertain. This location is often not anywhere near the actual searcher's location.
  2. Many people search at work. If these searchers have a long commute, their geographic location might not match the location from a Google regional campaign. However, these searchers might be searching for products or services near their home and not their workplace.
Read the Region and City Targeting Accuracy section in the Google AdWords Learning Center* to confirm the need for two campaigns. The table below includes some examples of the types of keywords a Columbia, MD bank might employ while creating local search marketing campaigns using Google AdWords:

Campaign 1: Region and City Campaign 2: National
Location Targeting: Columbia, MD Location Targeting: United States
Keywords: Keywords:
- bank - columbia md bank
- banks - columbia maryland bank
- banking - columbia md banks
- savings account - columbia maryland banks
- checking account - howard county bank
- free checking - howard county banks

Keep in mind that a real ad campaign on Google would include phrase, exact and negative matches as well as broad matches like those shown in the above table. Additionally, a Google AdWords campaign is comprised of ad groups which include at least one ad and a list of keywords. The keyword list for each ad group should be organized around a theme which closely matches the text of the ad(s). A local campaign targeted to Columbia, MD might include an ad group focused on checking accounts. The keyword list might look something like this:

checking account
checking accounts
[checking account]
[checking accounts]
free checking
[free checking]

and the ad text for an ad in this ad group might read:

Free Checking Account
Choose a bank with local roots.
Locations in Howard County only.
Columbia, MD

Note that Google appends a fifth line of text to local ads in order to distinguish them from national ads. A bank in Columbia, MD would clearly want to be visible on the search engines when someone in the Columbia, MD area does a search for "free checking" on Google. The ad will be most effective if, upon clicking the ad, the searcher is sent directly to a page which talks about free checking options with the local bank. If the ad is linked to the bank's home page and the searcher has to search again on the bank's web site to find free checking information, the ad will not be quite as effective.

For the national campaign, that fifth line will obviously not be present so the text of the ad(s) should include the geographic location. Note that the campaign is, indeed, a local campaign. It's configured on Google's system as a national campaign but it's actually a local campaign since all keywords include geographic locations. Accordingly, the ad text should include location keywords listed in a given ad group:

Columbia Maryland Bank
Choose a bank with local roots.
Locations in Howard County only.

Google AdWords is an ideal, yet complicated, platform for the local advertising of products or services. Any local search advertising undertaken with Google needs to be organized into at least two campaigns, one with local geotargeting and one with national geotargeting. The campaign with local geotargeting should include general keyword phrases while every keyword phrase in the nationally geotargeted campaign should include location keywords.


If you found this article useful, read more Google AdWords tips.

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