So you’re a local business. You know you’re great, and the customers you do have know you’re great. But here’s the thing – you need more people to know your name, experience your company’s greatness, and become loyal customers. If you’re looking for something beyond SEO, billboards, and radio ads, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll teach you how to slay the real money-maker: local business PPC.

local business ppc gif

I’ll teach you everything you need to know here.

First, you need to get a grasp on what PPC is, exactly. Here’s your SparkNotes.

What is Local Business PPC?

PPC, or pay per click, is a type of marketing where you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. There are many pay per click platforms including Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. But it’s not just search engines. PPC also includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and many other social media platforms.

However, in this article, we’re going to focus on Google Ads because that’s where the highest converting customers are. (I mean, these people on Google are literally searching for you or the services/products you offer.)

PPC often confused with SEO, which is search engine optimization. SEO is when you optimize your website to appear higher in organic search results. PPC, at least in terms of Google, allows you to use paid ads to appear higher in search results.

ads vs organic search engine results

Ads always appear above the organic search results and are marked with the word “Ad” in the upper left corner.

The ads are paid for, but the organic results are determined by how good your SEO is.

When it comes to accomplishing goals with PPC, those can be anything you determine but are usually something that makes you money. For eCommerce, purchases are goals; for a chiropractor, form submissions and phone calls are goals, etc. So before you begin, you’ll want to determine what you hope to accomplish by running PPC ads.

When it comes to PPC for local businesses, you might be surprised to find that you’re at a bit of a disadvantage. Before I go into tips on how to win, let’s take a look at some ways you’re going to struggle and how to overcome that.

Hardships for Small Local Business PPC

A lot of local, or small, businesses tend to run some ads through Google, get frustrated, and give up. They decide that the only way to run Google Ads is to have bottomless pockets and an inside deal with Google.

Well, they’re kinda right. Not about the inside deal with Google, of course, but it’s no secret that spending more means you don’t need to worry as much about strategy. But wait, wait, wait, I’m not trying to dishearten you. You really don’t need to plan the next Shawshank Redemption to win at Google.

local business ppc gif

We won’t break your mind with this strategy, promise!

Yes, it’s going to be a little tougher to bet against the giants of your industry. They certainly will have more budget, but it’s not the end of the world.

Now for what you came for. Here are twelve tips for slaying that local business ppc game. Let’s get cracking!

How To Win the Local Business PPC Game:

First things first, I can never stress spending time at the drawing board enough. Don’t just open a Google Account, sign up for smart ads, and throw in your credit card. You’re throwing away money, and if you really are a local business, you don’t have extra money to waste. That’s why you’re here. I’ll cover some drawing board strategy first, then some optimization and continued winning after that.

  1. Know Your Competition

If you’ve ever held a job, you pretty much know who your competitors are. If you own a business, then I guarantee you know your competition. You should also know who you can properly compete with.

If you’re a small mom and pop shop, then you can’t go toe to toe against Walmart. You might be rolling your eyes right now, and going, “duh, that’s why I’m here.” But it’s important to know your competition because then you’ll also know where you’re better.

Focus on your selling point – is your quality better? Do you offer more unique goods? Can you beat your competitor’s prices? Take some time to think about it and use your strong selling points in your ads and landing page copy.

It’s also important to study your competitors to see what they’re doing. In this day and age of the internet, spying on your competition is easy. Facebook lets you see who is running ads, and simply searching for your goods and services in Google will show you competitors’ ads (and promotions). Plus there are tools out there that allow you to see what keywords your competitors are bidding on. So take the time to list your competitors, your winning factor, and then sleuth away!

Bonus note: There’s a bit of a hot debate out there about whether bidding on your competitors’ brand names is a good idea or not. The pros are that the keywords are dirt-cheap, the search intent is very high, and snatching away customers is rewarding. The cons are that you can get in a bidding war, the people searching might be loyal, and there might be legal troubles.

  1. Set Up Tracking

For the last year or so, I operated under the assumption that everyone set up tracking. Then, I recently started working with a company that had never so much as linked their Google Analytics to their website. Pretty sure my jaw dented the ground on its way down.

Setting up tracking may feel tedious, but if you can’t track your success, how do you know you’re even succeeding? Here are your necessities:

  • Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a free dashboard offered by Google that allows you to see critical information about your website. You can see website visitor count, website bounce rate, and so much more.
  • Google Tag Manager – Google Tag Manager is also a free Google product. Do you know how your website holds code? Adding a lot of tracking code can slow down your website, and if someone can’t get it to load, they leave. Google Tag Manager holds all that code for you so you only need one bit of coding to track everything. An absolute must.
  • Facebook Pixel – The Facebook Pixel is a bit of code that goes onto your website or in your GTM and tracks people who visit your website, perform actions, and also have a Facebook account. If you’re touching Facebook, it’s a necessity.
  • Heat Mapping – HotJar seems to be the industry go-to. Heat mapping is a necessity. It’s where you see a visual representation of what people are doing on your website; you can see how far they scrolled, where they clicked, and even record user sessions.
  • Phone Tracking & Recording  – There are many software choices out there for recording phone calls, and we highly recommend you start using one. First, you should always be recording your calls for quality. Second, you can track where the calls are coming from, and third, you can track trends in keywords and paying customers.
  • Landing Pages – Okay, so this one isn’t part of tracking, but you do need to have post-click landing pages set up so your customers are more likely to convert. Landing pages are also vital for local businesses so you can track who visited a page, what actions they took, and where they came from. All the good w’s.

After you set up your tracking, you’ll be good to go on the next part of this strategy.

  1. Plan Your Budget & Goals

Hopefully, you’re not diving into the marketing game with an “I’ll spend it and see how it goes” mindset. Of course, you want to evaluate the total amount you can afford to spend on marketing.

But there are a few other budget and goal metrics you want to consider during this planning phase:

  • Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) – Your end goal is to make money, so you want to see how much one customer, on average, makes you. From there, you can deduct how much you spend on your product and service, and decide how much you can afford to spend to acquire that customer.
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) – This is one of the more common key performance indicators that we use to track how well we’re doing for a client. Once you know how much you get from your customers, you can see how much you can afford to spend to get one client. That’s your goal, and you want to be as close to hitting that as possible.
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) – This is calculated by dividing your total revenue from ads by the amount spent on those ads. This is easy to calculate for eCommerce business, but a bit trickier for lead generation companies.

Once you determine the budgeting aspect of your marketing plan, you want to set realistic goals. To see how many customers or leads your goal should be, you’ll take your monthly ad spend and divide it by your target CPA.

formula for cost per lead

The formula for finding target CPA or Leads/Month

Let’s say your monthly ad spend is $3,000, and you can afford to spend $75 to get one lead. You’ll divide $3,000 by $75 for a target lead goal of 40 per month. Now that you know your goals, you’re ready for the next step.

Disclaimer: Most industries will face competition on Google Ads and other PPC platforms which means you may not be able to hit your target CPA immediately. It will take time and perseverance to dial your account in and get the results you want.

  1. Choose Your Platforms

When it comes to platforms for local business PPC, there isn’t a shortage of options. You’ve got search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. You’ve also got social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, Snapchat, and many more.

Most local businesses like to focus on Facebook. It’s pretty logical; the ads are visual, there’s less effort and strategy for set up, and Facebook also advertises on Instagram. Between Facebook and Instagram, you have access to a massive audience. There certainly is a time and place for using Facebook, but you shouldn’t neglect Google. In fact, Facebook Ads and Google Ads work best when they’re used together.

Google Ads are great for local businesses because users are already searching for your product or service all you have to do is show up and get them to contact you.

  1. Do Some Light Keyword Research

Before you start running ads on Google, you’ll need to do some keyword research. Now, please notice that in the heading, it says light. We really do mean light. Some marketers firmly believe that keyword research is a waste of time. We disagree – to a point.

When you’re a local business with less money to burn through, every keyword you bid on counts. Every click is going to count because remember, you’re paying per click. So do some keyword research. There are a few ways to do your keyword research:

  • The “describe it” method – Take a minute to reflect on what you sell. Write down how you describe your business, and then ask others to do the same. Don’t skimp on asking your customers, either; the best way to attract more customers is to understand what problem your current customers believe you solve. Once you list out those keywords, you’ll have a number of keywords to bid on.
brainstorming keywords

Just to start out.

  • Google Keyword Planner – Google offers a free keyword planner tool. You can either type in a list of words that describe what you sell, or you can have Google scan your website. From there, Google will give you a list of words with bids, traffic, and other useful information. A perk of using the keyword planner is the ability to add the keywords straight from the planner into your account.
google ads keyword planner

This is where you start – either with some keywords or your website.

  • Competitor Research Tools – Nothing is safe from the internet, especially when it comes to things on the internet. There are tools out there, like SpyFu, that allow you to “spy” on your competitors. You’ll enter in their website URL and boom, a list of keywords that they’re allegedly bidding on is at your fingertips.

Pro Tip: High-cost keywords and keywords that have been running for long periods of time are usually good indicators. After all, you’ll pay more for keywords that make you money and continue bidding on them long-term.

But here’s where further strategy comes into play. You don’t want to throw all these keywords into a campaign and call it good. (Next section covers organization.) Your competitors may have bottomless pockets, but you might not, so here’s how you pay less for your keywords.

Focus on long-tail keywords with high intent. Keywords that aren’t generic. And avoid bidding on keywords with less than two or three words. If you’re a dentist, for example, bidding on the keyword dentist, might seem like a good idea, but it’s not the best place to start. Because of keyword match types, your “dentist” keyword could trigger your ads for millions of different search terms.

Instead, consider bidding on phrases with two or more words like dentist near me, dentist salt lake city (or whatever city you’re in), dentist appointment, etc. These keywords generally cost less because the lazy big companies tend to throw all their money at shorter, easier keywords like dentist and skimp on the long-tail keywords.

So once you have your keywords down, you’ll need to know how to organize them in your account.

  1. Set Up Google Ads with SKAGs

Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) is the best way to organize your Google Ads account. First things first, you’ll need to understand a bit more about keywords then we’ll explain what a SKAG looks like.

Keywords

In a Google Ads account, keywords are words that tell Google to show your ads. However, if you just enter in the keywords as is, you’ll find your ads showing up for a whole lotta nonsense. That’s because Google gives you match types to determine how closely the search term has to match your keyword for the ad to show up. Here are the different match types:

  • Broad Match: This is just your keyword with no bells or whistles attached. However, this is the most dangerous kind of match type; you’re telling Google to show your ads for literally anything that includes your keyword or anything remotely close to your keyword.
  • Broad Match Modified: This is the safer version of a broad match keyword. You’ll type out your keyword with a plus in front of each word +like +this (if I’m bidding on the keywords “like this” for some reason). This tells Google to show your ads if someone types in those two words in any order (plurals and misspellings). Anything else goes. If your broad match modified keyword is +chiropractor +near +me, search terms that might trigger your ad include: “chiropractor near me in utah”, “chiropractor office near me”, “utah chiropractors near me” and many more.
  • Phrase Match: This is where you use quotations to mark the keyword as a phrase match. “Like this”. This tells Google you want your ads to show for search terms that include that exact phrase, but there can be additional words before or after the phrase. For example, the phrase match “hot dog” would trigger your ads to show for searches like: “hot dog stand near me”, “best hot dogs”, “franks hot dogs”, and many more.
  • Exact Match: This is where you use brackets to mark the keyword as an exact match. [Like this]. This tells Google to show your ads for that keyword and absolutely nothing else.

That’s a lot of match types! So if your head may is spinning right now and your wondering which match type is right for you, fear not.

What a SKAG Structure Looks Like

It’s easier to show in an example, but basically, a SKAG is a single keyword (three match types) in one Ad Group. Let’s say this is your list of keywords you want to start bidding on:

  • Chiropractor Denver
  • Chiropractor near me
  • Chiropractic massage therapy

Here’s what your account would look like:

  • Campaign 1: Chiropractor Denver
    • Ad Group 1: Chiropractor Denver
      • Keyword (Broad Match): +chiropractor +denver
      • Keyword (Phrase Match): “chiropractor denver”
      • Keyword (Exact Match): [chiropractor denver]
  • Campaign 2: Chiropractor Near Me
    • Ad Group 1: Chiropractor Near Me
      • Keyword (Broad Match): +chiropractor +near +me
      • Keyword (Phrase Match): “chiropractor denver”
      • Keyword (Exact Match): [chiropractor denver]
  • Campaign 3: Chiropractor Denver
    • Ad Group 1: Chiropractor Denver
      • Keyword (Broad Match): +chiropractor +denver
      • Keyword (Phrase Match): “chiropractor denver”
      • Keyword (Exact Match): [chiropractor denver]

There are several reasons we use the SKAG setup. First, you get more control; the more control you have, the less Google can sneak by you. (Don’t get me wrong, Google is great, but they certainly want to make money.) Secondly, you get to be as granular as possible. When you write your ads, you’ll want to add your keywords to the ad copy itself.

Lastly, the SKAG setup allows you to see what keywords are making you money. Naming your campaigns and ad groups properly allows you to easily hop into one and know exactly what you’re going to look at. You can also better control your budgets and bids.

  1. Use the Right Settings

We’ve written a more in-depth article on using the right Google Ads campaign settings. However, there are certain settings that are especially important for local businesses:

Location

This is going to be covered a little later in more depth, but you’ll want to make sure you’re only targeting the area where you can get customers.

Languages

It’s pretty logical to set your target language to English. After all, who will be searching for you not in English? That’s a rookie, and more often than not, big company mistake.

language settings for local business ppc

Set it to All languages

You’ll clear away whatever filters are there. Sometimes customers will have the languages on their device set to something different, but they’ll be searching in English for you. Don’t miss out on customers; your keywords are your filter.

Bidding

The easiest thing in the world is to let Google control your bidding. After all, it’s so easy; just turn it onto maximize conversions and watch them roll in, right? Ha – no, no, no.

As mentioned before, Google does want you to make money. But Google’s goals aren’t exactly in line with yours. Google, after all, wants to make money for themselves, and if they get to control how much you pay, then they can make the extra money off of lazy companies.

bidding strategies google ads

All the bidding strategies.

Although there are a ton of automated bidding strategies, and they look awfully pretty, they really are money takers. If you ask Google why they’re spending so much money, they’ll give you a line about, “the algorithm needs time to learn, then your spend will even out.”

Don’t fall for it. Set your bid strategy to manual, don’t enhance it, and you can control exactly how much you spend per click.

Bidding is a big topic and deserves a post of its own. So, of course, we gave it one. Give this post a read to learn all there is to know about Google Ads bidding.

  1. Don’t Skimp on the Ad Copy

Many companies with big bucks will dynamically create ads using Google’s auto-filled suggestions. Or they’ll throw together a generic ad to show for all of their keywords. If you can afford to be lazy, I suppose that’s fine, but let’s break down some things you need to have in your Google Ads copy if you want to maximize your performance.

The Keyword

The ability to add the keyword you’re bidding on to the ad itself is vital. Imagine you search for “7 day cruise to the bahamas”, see an ad for “premium espresso maker”, and when you click the link the landing page says “wedding dresses online sale”. You’re gonna be pretty confused, right?

Thankfully, most companies don’t have that large of a disconnect between their keywords, ads, and landing pages, but the closer you can get to matching all three together, the better your results are going to be. So make sure your ad has your keyword written in it whenever possible. For example, if you’re bidding on the keyword Bahama Cruises then make sure your ad says “Bahama Cruises” in the headline. This tells your customers that you’re offering exactly what they’re looking for. Sometimes it’s a little uncanny how close the search terms and ads match up.

When adding the keyword in your ad copy, we recommend using it in headline 1, the URL display path, and description 1. Headline 1 grabs attention, the URL display path makes them feel like they’re going to a relevant website, and description 1 will reaffirm what they’re looking for if they’re readers.

message match local business ppc

Here’s an example if the keyword is PPC Management.

The Location

I’ll cover locations more in-depth later on, but it should be pretty obvious that it’s really important. Even if the keyword you’re bidding on doesn’t include the city you’re located in, you’ll want to include the city in headline 2, or at least the description text.

Generally, people searching for local businesses have two main questions on their minds: can you solve my problem? And how much effort do I have to put in? Part of that effort is how far you have to travel. If you can answer those two big questions in two of your headlines, you’ve got a pretty solid ad.

ad copy

Do they treat kids? And where are they?

The point of this ad is to confirm that this chiropractic office does take children and it’s located near the searcher.

Write For Your Locals

Above all, the most important aspect of writing ads is making sure that they make sense. And since you’re limited to a certain number of characters you may not always be able to write out the exact keyword in your ad copy. For example, if I’m writing an ad for a physical therapist in Salt Lake City, I can abbreviate Salt Lake City as Salt Lake or SLC. However, if I wrote out Physical Therapist in Salt Lak, that would cause some minor confusion and look pretty weird. You’d be better off shortening the ad by removing “in” and using a shorter version of Salt Lake City.

When thinking of your locals, think about who they are as well. Are you targeting families, are you targeting the younger generation, couples, etc. Sometimes when a company sits down in front of a computer, the idea of who they’re writing for goes out the window and they write the ads for themselves.

The last note regarding writing for your local population involves a bit of keyword bidding advice and ad copy. Sometimes you’ll have to add a SKAG for a neighboring city, and then the advice of adding the keyword to the headline 1 feels like lying. After all, you’re not in that city, so why would you advertise to people searching for something in that city.

local business google ad example

Can you guess the keyword?

Well, there are a few reasons why. First, if you’re in a bigger city, you have an upper hand of being more reputable just because you’re in that city. People are more likely to trust a doctor in Denver than Broomfield. (Although those two aren’t really close if I remember correctly.) Secondly, most people have a commute between work and their home. If your business lands somewhere between them, you’re in luck because you’re a justifiable stop. Lastly, you’ll especially want to focus on your location if you’re off a large interstate. Heck, you may even want to bid on it. One of our clients is right off of Katy Freeway in Texas, and you better believe I’m bidding on that.

  1. Take Advantage of Ad Extensions

If you don’t know what ad extensions are, then you’re really missing out. Here’s the thing; when your ad pops up, you want it to take up space and be informative. Ad extensions help you on both fronts. And they’re free.

Google Ads Ad Extensions

Not highlighted is the call extension, but the others are callouts, structured snippets, and sitelink extensions.

Note all the ad extensions present in the above example. Without them, the ad would be much smaller. Also, notice the extra information this ad is giving customers who care to read.

Not only do ad extensions benefit the customer, and the way your ad looks, it also benefits your quality score. Without going into too much detail, quality score is how Google decides if your ad, landing page, and keywords are relevant to the search terms. After all, Google wants people to keep using their platforms, so there has to be a quality check for advertisers. Decreasing the cost per click for advertisers with high quality scores is one incentive Google Ads offers. There’s a bit more to this than I’m going into, but in a nutshell, ad extensions could save you money.

Here are the ones local businesses should really focus on adding to their ads:

Call Extensions

Call extensions are click-to-call phone numbers you can attach to your ads. Calls are great to track as high-quality leads because people don’t call unless they have an interest in your product or service. The easier you can make it for someone to call you, the better.

Also, people who are less tech-savvy will often see the call extension and think the world of you. They no longer have to navigate a website to find a phone number to call someone; the phone number was delivered to them on a silver platter.

Furthermore, if you close sales over the phone, using a call extension is a no-brainer. Most people on the internet tend to browse from their phones. If you can make it easier to get a hold of you directly from the device they’re using, everyone wins.

Pro Tip: Remember that call tracking software we talked about? Creating a trackable number for your ad extensions is the way to go! That way you don’t miss the opportunity to learn from every single call – whether they came to your website or not!

Location Extensions

Location extensions are a no-brainer for local business PPC. Here’s how they appear:

location extension

A look at basic location extensions for a company with multiple stores near you.

As you can see, they come with a note of how far away they are from the user’s location, an option to click for directions, and the ability to call straight from the extension. Really, it’s a pretty great extension. A lot of companies will skimp on this one, but choosing between a business that you know is local and one that you have to hunt down is an easy choice.

There are some exceptions to this rule. If you are a company that comes to the customer, think twice about adding location extensions. For example, if you’re a Heating and AC company, you probably don’t want consumers thinking they have to drive to you to book an appointment. What a pain! But if your company requires the customer to arrive in store, then absolutely add these on.

Price Extensions

Price extensions are a bit of a touchy subject in PPC, especially local business PPC. Here’s what a price extension looks like:

price extension

Ticket prices are being listed right on the ad itself.

Something a lot of local businesses advertise is their ability to beat big brand’s pricing. If this is a key point of yours, list it out! It also builds trust when you can show transparency as a company. Again, the more someone knows before they choose to show up at your store, the better.

When it comes to ad copy, a lot of companies will put discounts and promotions in their headlines. This is great for attracting attention, but if you can show that with your promotions, you beat other prices, you’ll get more of the customers. There’s nothing wrong with reaffirming what you can offer customers.

Promotion Extensions

Speaking of promotions, you can run promotion extensions. Promotion extensions are fairly unsung heroes of the extension world. It’s really a pity because they have amazing options:

promotion extension

It’s a little tough to get everything in here, but there’s the occasion, discount, details, display date, and scheduling options at the very bottom.

You can schedule them, and you can break down the details of how long this deal will be valid for. You don’t even have to run them for a holiday; you can promote anything at any time. Promotion extensions are a great way of displaying that you can beat your competitors’ prices, and promote transparency at the same time.

Sitelink Extensions

Lastly, sitelink extensions are your friend.

Sitelink Ad Extension

Two site links with important information.

Sitelink extensions are perfect for when you need to take up more space. Just because their company is bigger doesn’t’ mean that your ads can’t be larger than theirs. Sitelinks are useful shortcuts for your customers to navigate straight to where they want to go. Add a sitelink for a contact page, a promotion page, a pricing page, etc. As long as you’re directing customers to high-converting pages, you’re doing great.

The only word of caution is to make sure you’re directing them to conversion pages. You’re paying for every click on these ads; make sure you’re paying for conversions – not for someone to browse information.

So as you can see there are a few extensions for you to focus on in local business PPC, but running as many extensions as possible is really the way to go.

  1. Break Down Location Targeting on All Platforms

This is, of course, part of your settings, which I covered a bit of earlier. But location targeting is vital to your local PPC success, which is why I chose to add it as its own section as well.

You’ll need to know where your customer base comes from. One of the first questions I ask local businesses I work with is for a list of their customer’s cities and zip codes. This gives me a vague idea of where I can find more customers for them.

In Google Ads, you can target your customers by city, zip code, or radius. You can even do a radius around your Google My Business.

local business ppc location targeting

Note the zip codes, GMB radius, and city itself being targeted.

I advise all of the above so you can see the data and decide what works best.

As a final note, you’ll want your Google Ads location settings to look like this:

local business location settings

The targeting set up.

This allows you to only show your ads to people actually in your targeted locations. (This could be changed if you’re a hotel, but generally speaking, this is your ideal targeting.)

In Facebook Ads, you can set up the same targeting, but you can’t layer them like you do in Google Ads.

Facebook ad location targeting info

Note the “or”

You’re stuck choosing one, but your options for when your ideal customer sees the ad is pretty endless.

facebook ads location targeting options

Location options.

You’re not just stuck with targeting people who live in that location. For instance, if you’re a tourist shop, you can target those traveling in this location. You have several options, so make sure to take advantage of them.

  1. Spend Time in Your Search Terms Report

Now going back to 100% Google Ads strategy, you’ll want to take the time to do something a lot of big businesses don’t care to do. Look at your search terms report. You can find it under your keywords tab, and select the option that says search terms.

search terms report

As of 2020, it’s right here.

Remember that when someone searches something in Google, they trigger the keywords you’re bidding on. Unless you’re just using exact match, your search term report will give you a variety of words that are closely related to your keywords.

Part of single keyword ad groups is getting the ratio of keyword to search terms as close to 1:1 as possible. This allows for the most control of how much you’re bidding per keyword (and conversion), and it allows for the most granularity between keyword, ad, and landing page.

So when you open your search terms report, sort by impressions (high to low), and add new SKAGs for high-quality keywords to test their conversion rate. Don’t forget to add poor quality keywords as negative keywords.

Pro Tip: After you add new SKAGs, add the tail of the new one as a negative keyword to the original ad group it came from. (i.e. add “near me” to chiropractor if you make a new SKAG Chiropractor Near Me from the search terms.)

  1. Study the Key Performance Indicators For Optimization

As part of your optimization routine, you’ll want to check how your keywords (Google) and ads (Facebook) are doing. Most local businesses make the rookie mistake of tracking vanity metrics.

Vanity metrics include things like clicks, impressions, and even quality scores. Sure, all of these things are good indicators of your account’s health, but they’re not needle movers.

The KPIs you’ll want to focus on are cost, conversion rate, cost per acquisition, and conversion value (if you sell online).

When you first open your account to do maintenance, you’ll sort by cost. What’s spending the most in your account will make the biggest difference when you make changes to it. So go from the highest-spending campaign to the lowest when making your changes.

Remember, keywords are what spends your money. So when you open a campaign to see what’s going on, look at the keywords. See what’s spending money, and what’s close to the CPA. Ideally, you’ll want your keywords to be hitting CPA or slightly under CPA.

From there you can adjust bids (why we recommend manual CPC), and turn off keywords that exceed CPA by a significant amount.

  1. Retarget, Retarget

Let’s say you’ve got your Google Ads pretty down pat. The first thing to expand on is remarketing. Remarketing can be done through Google Ads, Google Display, and Facebook.

In Google Ads, you can build audiences and add them to campaigns. We recommend adding an audience of all website visitors and adding that audience to every campaign. Start out by leaving your audiences on an observation-only setting. That way you can see how it performs before adjusting bids or setting up a targeting campaign. In the Google Search Network, once you have a good audience that performs well, you can set up a Remarketing List For Search Ads (RLSA). You can then build other campaigns, perhaps with lower-intent keywords, that you only show to people who have previously visited your website.

On the Google Display Network, you can build visual ads to follow people around if they have recently visited your website. (Make sure to build an audience of people who have converted already and exclude them so you don’t spam your customers.)

Remarketing/Retargeting Audiences

Target the second audience and exclude the first.

Lastly, the Facebook network is a killer place to remarket to your potential customers. We call it Facebook retargeting. Basically, you’ll build an audience using your Facebook Pixel data or upload an email list. Combine your retargeting audiences with that location targeting we mentioned, and you’ll be sure to see some results.

  1. Never Stop Testing

My last note of advice is going to be your make or break. It’s what sets you apart from the big boys of your industry. Put in the extra work to test, test, and test some more!

It’s so easy and tempting to pat yourself on your back and relax when you’ve found something – an ad, an audience, or a set of keywords that work well. Don’t fall into the trap!

space gif

Probably my favorite gif ever, still – sorry!

Even though there’s no work as time-consuming as onboarding, you still can’t relax after it’s done. Always keep testing because there are always things you can improve. I have a client that started out with and $85 CPA, and now three years later, we’ve taken it down to below $50. So keep plugging away and remember better results are only a test away.

Local Business PPC Wrap Up

So there you have it! Linear’s top tips and tricks to get ahead of the big corporate boys in the world of local business PPC. It may feel a little overwhelming, especially if you’re already running PPC in all the wrong ways. So here’s a pro tip: don’t focus on changing all the gears at once. If you’ve already built your account, start at the beginning.

Take it one step at a time and focus on the big needle movers first. Make sure your tracking is set up, make sure you know your goals and budget, then start creating SKAGs, optimizing settings, etc. Don’t move everything at once because if your results skyrocket or tank, you won’t know what to change back. That’s generally a huge cause of frustration and table tossing. Ultimately, if you’re not using data to grow, you’re really doing the business game wrong. But you know that, so go out and prosper!

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Evie Welborn

Account Manager

Evie is dedicated to keeping an eagle eye on her PPC and digital marketing accounts. When she’s not scouring through her accounts to make sure they’re flawless, she can be found ascending new heights in the local mountains or hiding inside the rock climbing gym when it’s too cold.

Evie Welborn

Account Manager

Evie is dedicated to keeping an eagle eye on her PPC and digital marketing accounts. When she’s not scouring through her accounts to make sure they’re flawless, she can be found ascending new heights in the local mountains or hiding inside the rock climbing gym when it’s too cold.