Local Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Strategies to Start Implementing Today  

January 10, 2021

Marketing today is as synonymous with thoughtful strategy and data analysis as it is with memorable branding, visuals and messaging. When it comes to strategy, one of the easiest and most impactful efforts brands can focus on right now is with local SEM. And, instead of daydreaming about SEM success, we wanted to share a few of our top strategies and insights to help you get started—and get ahead of the curve.

Why Local Marketing?

For years, we’ve heard about how the Internet can eliminate the distance between product and consumer. Why, then, should you put such a heavy focus on local marketing?

The answer is simple. For all of the emphasis put on online marketing, the reality is that the Internet isn’t everything. In-person store visits are the lifeblood of many businesses, and offline metrics govern the success and failure of those organizations. They don’t need massive email campaigns or e-commerce websites. They just need a way to get people into their stores, where their personal skills and product offerings take over.

In local marketing, success is determined by phone calls, in-store visits and searches for directions. Google My Business is a particularly essential tool for hitting these targets. What’s great about local ads is that they can appear anywhere. Local campaign ads can show in a standard Google search, on YouTube, in Google Maps or as part of the Google Display Network. This allows you to have a big reach while still staying local.

Local Service Ads

Marketing services on the Internet has always been challenging. With so many descriptions sounding the same and so many options from which to choose, how does one select the service they want to use?

Local Service Ads are Google’s answer to this dilemma. Much like typical paid search ads, Local Service Ads show up in the SERP (search engine results page) of the relevant search. That’s right — no worrying about keywords! Instead, Google will automatically display Local Service Ads when someone makes a relevant search. Those listings that get included in the SERP will have a green “Google Guaranteed” badge, showing that these are Google-approved items.

How do you make sure your ad gets shown instead of someone else’s? The algorithm behind Local Service Ads is primarily governed by proximity to the searcher and the company’s Google review rating. Encouraging satisfied customers to leave favorable reviews is a great way to ensure that you’ll be able to use Local Service Ads to their maximum potential.

Location Extensions

Earlier, we mentioned Google My Business as a must for local businesses. An up-to-date Google My Business listing is even more important when it’s paired with Google paid search ads.

Location extensions help businesses to get even more out of their SEM by bringing in additional information that can be displayed in the ad. As the name suggests, using a location extension means expanding your ad to leverage whatever information might be included in your Google My Business account. Depending on the device, you might see your address or phone number appear in an ad; you also might get a Call button or have your store hours displayed.

In any event, you’ll get more relevant information in your ad. As an added bonus, your ad will take up more screen space, which means viewers are more likely to read your ad at the expense of a competing ad. Best of all, location extensions open the door to your ad appearing in Google Maps.

We use location extensions for all of the reasons listed above, including one additional factor — the ability to track store visits as a conversion metric. We’re able to tell if a searcher ended up visiting our client’s location; if so, it means our ad did what it was supposed to do. We can track these metrics to fine-tune our local SEM approach and optimize our approach.

Structure Campaign/Ad Groups by Location

Sometimes, the best SEM strategies are the ones that don’t require you to jump through any additional hoops. Instead, all you need to do is execute what you’re already doing in a slightly different way.

In the same way that email marketing is tailored to different segments of the market, SEM can also be segmented. Google, in its perpetual effort to always return high-quality search results to its users, prioritizes search intent above all other factors. And in local SEM, location is by far the more important factor in user intent. Therefore, it’s often beneficial to run multiple versions of the same campaign, with location being the sole difference.

This is a simple, practical technique that will help you to accomplish everything we’ve already discussed and a whole lot more. By using different SEM ads for different locations, you’ll ensure that Google knows you’re a local search option, meaning you’re more likely to show up on Maps or through Local Service Ads. Additionally, there will be no confusion in the marketplace. Shoppers will know exactly where they need to go, without having to worry about which location is best for them.

SEM agencies use location-based structuring where it works for their clients. For instance, we have separate campaigns going for multiple locations for an Arizona client. By doing this, our client benefits from local traffic, and searchers get the most relevant information available.

Bid Adjustments by Location

Segmenting your SEM strategy based on location isn’t limited solely to running separate identical campaigns. You can also prioritize certain locations by increasing your bids for keywords in those areas.

It’s not hard to see why this is an important and effective strategy. Naturally, you’ll want to bid more in areas where there is more competition, and where your marketing is more sorely needed. Just the same, you can dial it back a bit if you’re comfortable with your standing in a particular market.

Using this strategy has incredibly positive ramifications, both during normal times and during the COVID-19 pandemic in which we currently find ourselves. We use bid adjustments to emphasize locations and industries that have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. For one casino client in the Phoenix area, we’re considering a significant bid adjustment for Tucson ads, since two Tucson casinos remain closed due to COVID-19. We’re also making smaller bid adjustments in areas where we’ve seen positive results from previous campaigns.

No matter your size or situation, there’s a way you can use local SEM strategies right now to improve your standing in the marketplace. You don’t even have to be heavily invested in paid search. You simply need to understand the tools at your disposal and how you can best utilize those tools to bring about immediate results.

For more information about how Commit Agency can help your business develop an effective SEM strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out today.

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