If you own a local business and think you can’t effectively compete with large, national companies, think again. Recent changes in consumer online behavior and powerful new tools from Google have made it easier than ever for local businesses like yours to compete against the big boys on the block—and win.
LOCAL CONSUMERS ARE LOOKING FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES
In the past 2 years there’s been a more than 900% increase in the use of “near me” and “close by” in Google searches, as in “plumbing contractors near me” and “affordable furniture close by.” Equally important, a large percentage of those “near me” and related local searches result in both visits to brick and mortar stores and purchases. Consider for example these game-changing metrics from HubSpot:
- Almost 50% of all Google searches are now aimed at local products and services
- About 3 out of every 4 of those local searches results in a visit to a brick and mortar store within 5 miles
- More than 97% of consumers now get information about local businesses from internet searches
- Almost 90% of consumers who search for local businesses on their smart phones will call or visit that business within 1 day
- Almost 80% of local searches on mobile devices result in a purchase from one of the businesses searched
GOOGLE IS MAKING IT EASIER FOR LOCAL SHOPPERS TO FIND LOCAL BUSINESSES
Google’s job is to give internet searchers the information they’re looking for, and increasingly what they’re looking for are products and services from local businesses like yours. Specifically, Google now provides local marketers with powerful tools that make it easier for local consumers to find and connect with them.
For example, local marketers can now get a lift by opening a Google My Business (GMB) account. If you’ve ever done a local search and seen a Google Map which red flags local business with the products or services you’re searching for, you’ve seen the power of Google My Business.
GMB, which is a free Google offering for local businesses, has several important benefits. First, it allows local marketers to micro-target local customers who type relevant keywords into Google. Second, it presents a large amount of information about your business, everything from your location and directions to your address and phone number, store hours, interior and exterior photos and those all-important customer reviews. And, because your GMB listing includes a link to your website, it also tends to boost site traffic.
In addition, Google now enables what’s called “hyperlocal marketing.” This is a relatively new feature that lets you define very specifically the geographical area in which you want a given sponsored ad to appear. You do this through so-called “radius targeting.” For example, you could tell Google you want the keywords for a given local campaign to apply to consumers within a 1- or 2-mile radius of your brick and mortar store. The “hyper” part of hyper local marketing refers to its granular geographical specificity—with hyperlocal, you can limit your ad campaigns to a single neighborhood.
WHAT ARE GOOGLE ADS LOCATION EXTENSIONS?
One of Google’s newest and most powerful local marketing tools is what’s called “location extensions.” That sounds intimidating, but all it really means is that you can now add your business address and phone number to your Google Ads listing. That means your Google PPC ad will be larger and more prominent in search results. It also means you can make your phone number clickable—when a prospective customer clicks, their smart phone automatically calls your business, in other words. If you recall (from above) that about 80% of people who do local searches on their mobile phones end up buying products from local businesses, you understand why that clickable phone number is a potential game changer.
As WordStream points out, location extensions are a powerful new weapon in your local marketing arsenal:
“Location extensions allow you to get more real estate on the SERP and provide more information to local searchers, including a clickable phone number on mobile devices. Given that AdWords location targeting is probably more aggressive than you think, this is a pretty powerful option…[there is] a large swath of potential searchers, and there are a number of local businesses for whom getting additional real estate in a search result and getting easier access to a connection with potential customers is important.”
WHEN ARE LOCATION EXTENSIONS IMPORTANT?
The bottom line is that it’s always smart to use location extensions in your Google Ads copy—but there are some circumstances in which they’re more critically important, including the following 2:
- Ad campaigns targeted at mobile searchers: more than half of all Google searches now take place on mobile devices, like smart phones and tablets. That’s a lot of potential customers for your business. The local extensions “click-to-call” functionality makes it possible for local searchers to instantly connect with a live person at your brick and mortar store. To maximize the potential of this capability, it’s important to prepare your employees for incoming calls related to each ad campaign (in other words, you don’t want someone calling about the 20% discount in your ad and your employee responding, “what 20% discount?”). It’s also important to time your ads to ensure your staff can handle an influx of calls.
- Ad campaigns for businesses with multiple locations: if your local business has multiple addresses, you can use local extensions to highlight different product and service offerings at all of them. You can include up to 4 separate locations in each campaign. This is where it gets a little tricky. Let’s say for example you have 4 stores, but only 2 of them are featuring a discount. In that case, it might be better to run 4 individual campaigns. You’ll also need to make sure that the keywords you choose and ad copy you write match the products, services and special offers for each location.
Using tools like Google My Business, radius targeting and location extensions can be a game changer for your local business, but it can also be both complicated and confusing. To succeed with your local marketing campaigns, you need to know how to optimize each of these tools, as well as how to integrate them with a larger, more comprehensive local strategy—one for example which also includes Facebook. Fortunately, there are experienced marketing agencies who can give you the advice and guidance you need to succeed.
To learn more about the ways our digital marketing services—from creative design to SEO, content creation, marketing automation and social optimization—will help your drive sales and grow your local business, contact us today.