Adwords: Keyword Bidding Strategies for Local Businesses

Adwords is possibly the single most potent advertising platform for small business bar none. The unique feature of advertising on Adwords and other paid search models is that by careful keyword selection you can cherry pick the most qualified Google users, such as those who are actively looking to buy whatever it is you’re selling.

A good strategy to reduce bid prices and improve your relevancy is to use location modifiers in your keyword selection and ad copy.

For instance if you were offering plumbing services in London, a good idea would be to use “emergency plumbing london”, “emergency plumbing in london” and “london emergency plumbing” you may use a keyword generator tool to create a list of keywords containing the three words emergency, plumbing and london in them. I have a bespoke software built for this purpose.

On the Ad copy it is recommended that you use the location modifer to make your ad more relevant to your viewers, alternatively you can use the Ad extension feature and place your address underneath your ad copy. Google will show your address underneath the ad if the searchers location is close to yours. For instance if the searcher is within the same borough as you – your address will be show with a link to Google Maps.

This way you are targeting a very specific request. Combine this with dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) and you have a very good ad.

If you have the best price and can prove it, you can put the superlative “best” in your ad copy. This will increase your CTR and conversions. Policy requires superlatives to be supported 2 clicks from the landing page, though for best quality score it’s better to have it on the landing page itself.

I recommend against using a phone number for regular desktop and full browser search ads. This can reduce your CTR and play havoc with your attribution.

Mobile works well with local, searchers generally use short-form keywords and the character quantity is often less. Eg. for desktop search you may not find it useful to bid for [plumber london] because the search could be for information & videos. But mobile searches tend to be more actionable so [plumber london] is a good keyword to search. Call extensions are good, but they are due to be phased out soon. Only ads on mobile generate calls straight from the SERP, bypassing the site. With mobile searches there is often more urgency, they are on the move and won’t browse around endless on their phone. They will usually be looking for a solution quickly and in a hurry. So craft your ads to cater for that.

Small businesses tend to have a small budget, say £20/$30 a day. This means that you can afford the luxury of tightly matched keywords. Often the entire campaign will be composed of exact match keywords only – which fill the daily budget. If you have a restricted budget, you may want to use the same approach. If you are unable to fill your budget, consider adding 3-4 word phrase match keywords which will get more clicks.

Depending on your market and marketing goals you may have a different approach to keyword match types. It’s important to measure results. Structure you account by themed ad groups, create custom reports in analytics which report on keywords from each ad group – measure the bounce rate – aim to get less than 50%.

The specificity of keywords and how relevant they are to your market will determine whether your campaign converts well or not. View the diagram at the end to understand how keyword types affects conversions.

Note: relying excessively to location modifiers in keyword may drastically reduce your reach, “emergency plumbers london” would be highly relevant to plumbers in London. But “emergency plumbers” on it’s own with geo-targting to people in London will achieve similar conversions. Although “emergency plumbers london” converts better, it’s reach will be lower.