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.

5 Common Adwords Mistakes Made by Small Business Owners

Throughout my time consulting with small business owners I’ve come across several recurring issues that prop up time and time again.

I wanted to address these issues here for the benefit of other small business owners, in order to allow you to avoid these mistakes for your own campaigns.

1. Website not designed/formatted correctly to capture leads or make sales. This is common, often when I first do a consultation this will stick out to me, typically the ordering process is too complicated and sometimes it’s not even apparent where the order form/checkout button is. The sales copy may not speak to the customer. Remember marketing lesson 101, state the benefits and not the features. The body text should jump out to your prospects and solve their needs.

2. Inappropriate landing pages. Often many Adwords novices will divert traffic straight onto their homepage, leaving the visitor to fend for themselves and locate the products/services themselves. Each ad should link to the specific page of the product/service the ad was promoting. This is because the homepage is too crowded and trying to serve too many purposes, so it’s not the right place to land visitors to.

3. Keywords are too broad. There are 3 match types in Adwords, broad match is the default and it will display your ad to search queries that are vaguely similar to your keyword list. In most cases the traffic will be a mish-mash of everything. Using phrase match in “” and exact match in [] to narrow down on your keyword selection in order to get traffic from qualified sources.

4. Keyword groups are not themed in categories/product lines. This is crucial, keywords need to be themed into a tightly clustered group which in most cases is the same product but written in different forms represented by each keyword. The secret lies in being highly specific. Creating ads for very specific products with keywords that match the ad perfectly. Often first time Adwords users will just lump hundreds of keywords onto one ad group with one ad all pointing to the homepage.

5. Poorly constructed ads. There’s a format to writing adwords ad that is optimal for receiving clicks. The title must describe your product/service in 2-3 words which closely matches the search query submitted by the end user. The second line of the ad tells the end user how your product or service can solve their problem. The 3rd line gives them a compelling offer like 10% off or free bonus gifts along with a call to action like “call today”, “enquire now” etc.

There you have it, 5 common Adwords mistakes made by small business owners, chances are if you have these in order you are well on your way to a semi successful adwords campaign and you can probably save yourself a consulting fee 😉