Localize It! Part 1: Evaluating Your Paid Search Account for Local

Optimizing for local has become one of the major digital marketing themes. Local targeting and messaging is a crucial piece of maximizing each dollar you spend, and can offer intended prospects a more personalized user experience.

This is not only true for local brick-and-mortar businesses, but for national or regional brands with various locations. Google & Bing offer granular geo targeting capabilities and are constantly creating and improving extensions that make it easy to effectively engage a more localized audience.

Each business and brand has unique goals, value propositions, and limitations which make “localization” of an account different on a case-by-case basis. However, we would like to offer up some general guidelines based on our learnings to help you get started.

For National or Regional Brands

The thought of restructuring your entire account to improve local messaging may seem daunting, but is entirely manageable when you know where to start. You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • What cities/regions do we serve?
  • How many locations do we have?
  • Do all locations have the same promotions/offerings, etc?
  • Are we hitting our campaign budget caps within our current structure?

When you have a good understanding of these basic questions, you should conduct an audit of your campaign settings. What regions are currently targeted? Are we receiving traffic from regions that we cannot serve? Do we want to continue branding in regions that we do not serve and if so, what is the message or goal?

Within each campaign, the Settings tab is where you can find which locations are being targeted. Geo targeting can be overlooked upon initial account set up, and it is important to know where your ads are being shown.

In this same tab, you can see geo exclusions. You can exclude targets as broad as a country or as specific as a zip code. Conversely, you can also target based on zip code and designate a surrounding radius as your target.

If you don’t want to entirely exclude a region, you can input a bid adjustment that automatically lowers the max bid when served to the designated region, or increases bids for your top performing regions.

If you have broad targeting, you should pull a Geographic Report. This report will show where your traffic and leads are coming from on a regional basis. This report is found under the Dimensions Tab from the account or campaign view. Typically this report will default to the broadest level of targeting (country, state) and you will need to customize the columns (by clicking on the “Columns” button) to include which “Level of Detail” you want to see.

This is the best report to identify performance by region, and is where you should start when restructuring your account to optimize for local. This report will let you know where the most traffic and conversions are coming from, identify problem regions, and isolate regions with opportunity. If your budget is capping out, and one region is spending the majority of the budget, you may not be reaching all of the locations you want to reach.

This information will empower you to make strategic campaign structure decisions with the ability to create specific regional ad copy & landing pages during efforts to improve click through and conversion rate. For example, if your target market is Arizona, and 80% of clicks are coming from California while your budget caps out daily, you are missing out on clicks and potential conversions from your main target.

There are many other factors that will affect how you restructure your account for local including keyword match type, brand vs non-brand keywords, budget constraints, and landing pages. In the next blog, we will walk through campaign & keyword structure, localized messaging, and paid search features that will help your prospects best reach you.

Read Part 2: Implementing Localization to Your Paid Search Account.

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