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While search engine advertising has been a great advertising medium for businesses
capable of or interested in marketing their products and services to a national or
international audience, the effectiveness of this type of advertising was limited
for businesses interested in advertising to a local market until very recently.
For example, a realtor with a web site in Minneapolis is likely interested in
advertising on search terms such as "homes for sale" and "sell my home." The only
problem was the realtor would have to advertise to everyone in the country who
happened to type those terms into search engines. This was wasteful and ineffective
because the vast majority of visitors clicking through to the site would not be
qualified visitors since they lived outside the realtor’s regional market.
At that time, the only work around to this was to include a regional qualifying term
next to each search phrase, so instead of advertising on the term "homes for sale"
the realtor would have to advertise on "Minneapolis homes for sale."
What about the prospective clients who live in Minneapolis, but only type in "homes
for sale?" They’re likely just as qualified for the realtor, but it there wasn’t a
way to target this type of searcher. The gap between forcing advertisers to use
regional qualifying terms or advertising to a national market was finally closed
this spring by Google.
Targeting a known geographic location of searchers became a reality earlier this
spring when Google launched their local targeting program. So now the realtor in
Minneapolis can advertise on the more general terms, then specifying a geographic
area they’d like the ads to appear within.
The options for this include picking specific cities, metropolitan areas, or even a
distance radius from a specific point. For example, maybe the realtor only wants to
generate leads from within 30 miles of their home.
Does this work?
Yes, it works very well. There are very few types of advertising online or offline
where you have such detailed control over who you are advertising to. Basically it’s
pretty hard to beat advertising to people who are searching for what you sell and
happen to live close to your business. And, since this is pay per click advertising,
you are only charged when searchers click through to your web site.
Local Advertising Tips
Promote Your Location - You’ll definitely see better conversion rates for your local
advertising if you include your physical address on your web site. We recommend
including this in the footer of every page of your site to reinforce that you’re
local to the prospects.
Track Performance - When you use local advertising you will still have to compete
against businesses willing to advertise nationally on the same search phrases. This
means search terms can get expensive but your conversion rates should support this.
However, as with any form of advertising, it’s important to track what’s working.
Ed Kohler is the president and founder of Haystack In A Needle - a full service web
marketing and search engine positioning firm based in Minneapolis, MN.