Advertise Locally Using Search Engines

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.

Local Targeting

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 - http://www.haystackinaneedle.com/ - a full service web marketing and search engine positioning firm based in Minneapolis, MN.

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