Local search is hot right now, and everyone is trying to figure out their strategy and options. But in the process, don't forget about an awesome local opportunity that's been available in Google AdWords for many years now: geotargeting.
Why You Should Consider Geotargeting
Breaking out separate geotargeted campaigns is a great tactic that will quickly improve the performance of any national Google AdWords account. It allows you to focus your spend on the top performing portion of your current traffic so you get the most out of every dollar of budget.
You'll also see improved performance as CPCs for this traffic drop. Even better, it's virtually risk free. Thanks to the AdWords quality score system, should any keywords in your new geo-targeted campaigns completely bomb, they'll simply stop serving them and their traffic will revert back to your nationally targeted keywords.
Geotargeting is easy to set up. Below are four steps to help you get started.
1. Identify Which Locations to Target
Figure out which cities/DMAs (designated market areas) you should target. There are several potential sources the can be used to determine your top markets, but pulling geographic reports in Google AdWords is a good place to start. Look at impression and click volume by DMA, and if you have conversion tracking enabled, also check which locations are driving the most conversions.
In addition, dig into your site's analytics to see if your overall traffic reveals any other potential markets. Don't get carried away, just pick the top three to five markets and start there. You can always expand this list later on.
2. Create Mirror Campaigns
Your goal here is to focus your spend on the most valuable searchers, and fine-tune your creative to speak specifically to them. To do so, create a separate copy of each of your current campaigns for every new geographic location. Since this is your top audience, these campaigns will likely be the top performers in the account and will require less frequent bidding and budget adjustments than your others.
Don't forget to set the campaigns to target only their city/DMA. You also might want to bid these keywords a bit more aggressively to give them an initial nudge, and then lower bids back down a week or so after launch.
3. Write Creative that Calls Out the Location
Sure, it's cheesy, but it works. I call it the "rock concert effect." During a show, the lead singer of the band says "Thank you [insert city name here”!" and the crowd goes wild.
Well this strategy also works in paid search, and it's why we create separate campaigns for each location. Go through your campaigns and write creative that includes the name of the city that you're targeting.
It doesn't have to be fancy. For example, one of my clients offers nationwide free shipping, so an ad in their San Francisco campaigns reads "We offer free shipping to San Francisco." You'll be surprised how much calling out the searcher's location improves your CTR -- which further decreases your CPC.
4. Review Performance and Remove Your "Safety Net"
Remember, if any of your geo-targeted keywords fail to drive an improved CTR, their traffic will revert back to the preexisting national version of the keyword. But once you've determined that your geo-targeted campaigns are successful, it's time to remove that safety net.
Go into your national campaign and exclude these markets to ensure those searches are always triggering your higher-performing keywords with location-specific creative.
This strategy won't expand your coverage -- you'll still likely see the same number of total impressions. But it will allow you to focus your spend and speak more directly to your audience, which will drive a drastic improvement in performance.
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