Local search is becoming increasingly important as mobile use increases and affects search behaviour. In fact, around 46% of searches have local intent. The search behaviour has changed gradually, and the development is placing new demands on search marketing strategies. To have a local SEO strategy based on an optimised Google My Business (GMB) account is crucial, however, this blog post will focus on the possibilities occurring when linking the Google My Business and Google Ads accounts.
What is Local Search?
Local search is when someone uses a search engine with the goal of finding something within a specified local area. Google is the most used search engine with five main interfaces: Local Packs, Local Finder and Google Maps for desktop, mobile then of course the app. By using Google My Business, a free tool, you can manage the business’s presence on Google. With this tool, it is also possible to manage how the business information appears across Google’s products, including Search and Maps.
In addition to the organic visibility, there are several features to make locations more visible or calculable in Google Ads.
Integrating Google Ads and GMB
Linking the two tools Google Ads and Google My Business is quite easy, and in short, it only requires an email address to have relevant access to both Google Ads and GMB. Once the integration is made, changes made in GMB synchronise with Google Ads.
Examples of features that can be used after the integration
1. Location extensions – show addresses in combination with ads
Location extensions is a foundational feature required for all the following features (2-4) and can be attached to campaigns or ad groups. If geographically close, the address of the location will show up below a text ad. This feature also allows you to add a phone number next to the store location.
Expected benefits from using location extensions are:
- Increased CTR (click-through rate).
- Increased chances of getting walk-in visitors to the physical store.
- Increased engagement actions, such as phone calls.
2. Local campaigns – specific campaign type to promote offline stores
By setting up campaigns using the local campaigns format, defined store locations can be promoted across Google properties and networks including Google Search, Google Maps, business profile, Google display network, Gmail, and Youtube. Machine learning technology will then optimise bids, ad placements and asset combinations. It is also possible to attach a local product feed to the local campaigns format.
Expected benefits from using local campaigns are:
- Maximised instore value (using store visits, call clicks, and/or direction clicks).
- Broad promotion of store/products over various networks.
3. Local search ads – ad format for local search
If you use location targeting, bid by locations and use keywords related to the destination (for example “dentist close to me”), ads will show up on Maps above the organic results. Additional info like opening hours, reviews and phone numbers can also occur below the ad.
Tip: Here it can be fruitful to look in GMB on generated search queries to get keyword ideas. The queries visible in GMB are the ones that the business profile has shown up for, or in other words: Which queries people have used to find your business.
Expected benefits from using local search ads are:
- More store visits.
- More calls.
- Spread of information, such as opening hours and reviews.
4. Store visits – metric for omnichannel perspective
Using this metric, you can get an omnichannel perspective to see which campaigns, keywords and devices are driving the most visits to the business. This metric requires opt-in and enough clicks and impressions to pass privacy thresholds (the number of clicks and impressions vary from business to business).
Tip: If an omnichannel approach is used, add ads with a message like “buy online or visit a nearby store” to promote both e-commerce purchases and store visits.
Expected benefits from adding store visit conversions are:
- Possibility to see which campaigns, keywords, and devices are generating the most store visits to the business.
- A better understanding of return on ad spend (ROAS), by receiving both online and offline values.
- Ability to bid from an omnichannel perspective by including store visits in bidding strategies.
Further possibilities with local search
There are also possibilities to show local products in Google Shopping campaigns by linking the Merchant Center with Google My Business and with Google Ads. The feature is called “local inventory ads” and lets people know whether a product showing in a Google shopping ad is available at a nearby store.
Local search requires specific strategies for both SEO and Paid Search. My recommendation is to have established processes for optimisation of GMB and to link the tool to Google Ads. Which features and solutions that you then choose depends on your goals as well as the size of your business.
A good start is to attach the foundational feature location extensions to selected campaigns to show addresses next to existing ads, and then measure the impact of those. It is also important to be updated regarding new features and changes on existing features to be one step ahead of the competition.
About the author
Christian Langéen works at Curamando Göteborg as a Senior Consultant within Paid media. If you want to discuss local search strategies or other paid media related subjects, you’re welcome to send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.