11 local PPC management strategies for better client results

Research shows 85 percent of consumers turn to the internet when looking for information on local businesses (SmallBizGenius). Add that to the fact that search ads are linked to an average 80 percent lift in brand awareness, and local PPC becomes an essential part of every successful digital marketing strategy tied to a local business (Google).

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Here’s a look behind the scenes at what goes into successfully managing a pay-per-click advertising campaign and how professional agencies can help companies boost their online presence using the power of PPC.

What is considered local PPC management?

Local PPC management focuses on paid online advertising campaigns that target a specific geographic area. While traditional PPC strategies might cast a wide net, going after potential customers across North America or even internationally, local PPC limits search parameters to a much smaller area — think a state, city, zip code, or even an individual neighborhood.

11 strategies for local PPC management

Whether you’re an agency interested in making money from PPC ads while expanding your client base or a business owner just beginning to learn the basics of local business PPC management, it’s important to get to know best practices behind local PPC management.

1. Incorporate a SKAG-based account structure

Google Ads can make or break a PPC campaign, but the truth Is that the platform can be a bit difficult to navigate. There’s a big gap between those who can perform basic functions via Google Ads and marketing pros who’ve mastered this industry-leading tool. But turning to a SKAG-based account structure can help streamline operations and produce laudable results.

A single keyword Ad Group strategy (SKAG) is an account structure that targets variations of a single keyword rather than expecting one ad to somehow work for a slew of keywords that are only peripherally related. Paring down your keyword list offers a ton of benefits, including:

  • A more user-friendly Google Ads experience
  • Better messaging matches
  • Precise ad targeting
  • Higher quality scores
  •  Lower overall cost-per-click (CPC)
  • Boosted conversion rates

2. Monitor local competition

Minding your own business may be a good approach to some entrepreneurial concepts, but that’s not the case with local business PPC management. Keeping an eye on your competitors — or hiring someone to do that for you — can help you get to know the local market in a different way. It’s also helpful to analyze competitors’ PPC strategies to identify opportunities for differentiation. In other words, how can you stand out from the crowd already advertising to consumers?

By scanning the PPC ads that pop up from competitors, you can find gaps in the market and fine tune your unique selling point (USP). You may also be able to see what’s working and not working for consumers and offer compelling incentives to turn heads and increase conversions.

3. Conduct thorough keyword research

The connection between SEO and PPC ads is strong, but some new-to-SEO marketers might not realize how important it is to anchor keyword usage in data. Base your choices not on guesswork or “gut feelings,” but on thorough keyword research with a localized twist. Instead of broad keywords, consider long-string alternatives that take location into account. You can refine those options even further by combining local keywords with other KWs tied to the brand’s key differentiator.

Example 1:

  • No: wedding venues
  • Yes: wedding venues in Rockland County
  • Best: boho wedding venues in Rockland County

Example 2:

  • No: emergency plumber
  • Yes: emergency plumber 89178
  • Best: 24-hour emergency plumber 89178

Example 3:

  • No: music lessons
  • Yes: music lessons near me
  • Best: classical piano music lessons near me

Finding stellar keywords

Tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush can help marketers find keywords that tick two essential boxes: high search volume and low competition. That way, you’ll be able to leverage optimal visibility without getting lost because you’re using the same keywords favored by the opposition.

Why not go for high-volume keywords that everyone else is using so you can get a piece of that pie, too? Well, you can, but that pie has already been served up. Trying to compete with sites that are already ranking high in the SERPs and garnering a lot of ad attention can cost a ton of money and take more time than clients are willing to wait. Focusing on lower-competition keywords helps you get a foot in the door and produce results while “slow burn” campaigns are plugging away in the background.

4. Utilize location targeting

Take advantage of productivity boosting local PPC management tools like Google Ads and Facebook Ads to work on location targeting. Geographic areas should be based on the client’s target market to get brand messaging in front of the right audience.

For some businesses, the target area might be a city or state. For others, the goal might be reaching out to people in a specific neighborhood. Google Ads offers other options, too:

  • Countries
  • Territories
  • A radius around a specific location
  • Broad geo targeting that reaches out to people who have shown an interested in targeted locations

Tips for picking the right location targets

Sometimes, the “right” locations aren’t the most obvious ones.

Target the areas where customers are, which might not be the same area where a brick-and-mortar business is located. This is especially true with e-comm businesses or service-based businesses that travel to customers instead of the other way around.

Also avoid targeting very small locations, as that can accidentally cause ads to fall short of Google’s targeting criteria.

5. Create compelling localized ad copy

No PPC ad is complete without some captivating copy, and that copy should be just as locally themed as the campaign settings already dialed in. Copy should highlight the brand’s unique selling point but also speak to the needs and preferences of a local audience.

These tips should help create effective copy:

  • Use location-specific language
  • Incorporate relevant location-specific keywords
  • Emphasize any special offers or promotions
  • Use regional jargon that’ll resonate with locals

Examples include:

  • “Piping hot pizza delivered to Woodlawn residents in 30 minutes or less.”
  • “Moving soon? Rent a truck from our new Henderson location and save 20%.”
  • “Our affordable oil changes help keep our Highland Grove neighbors on the road and ready to go.”

 

Some agencies expand their bandwidth and build on in-house talent pools by opting in to a PPC reseller program. These offerings allow the agency to deliver superb PPC services to end clients without taking on the responsibility of writing copy and running campaigns themselves.

6. Optimize your landing pages

SEO is one of the fundamentals of white-label PPC, but keyword-laden ads are only truly effective if clicking through takes consumers to an equally refined and well-thought-out landing page. All landing pages should be optimized for conversions, which requires:

  • Using mobile-friendly designs that load quickly and look professional even on a smartphone or tablet screen
  • Clear call-to-action buttons (all focused on one specific call to action) that help consumers understand what to do next
  • Content that aligns with the content of the ad message
  • Copy that speaks to the target audience

Testing landing page copy and formats

Not sure if your landing page is optimized? Consider A/B testing two versions of the same landing page, with some ads taking consumers to page A and some leading to page B. You’ll want the ad parameters to be identical (that’s the “control” aspect of the experiment). Then you can look at conversion rates and other key metrics to see which page offers the best ROI.

Rev up your local business PPC management ROI by leveraging local ad extensions that provide additional information and increase the visibility of your PPC ads. These enhancements help make ads more appealing, because they facilitate superior UX. Think of it as the table-side Parmesan cheese added to your pasta at an Italian restaurant — it’s not required, but it sure does improve the experience.

Google Ad extensions are free to use, but you don’t get control over how often they show up for consumers. That’s up to Google’s almighty algorithm.

Google local ad extension options

As of late 2022, there were 18 Google Ad extensions available, including 11 manual options and eight extensions that are dynamic. The manual extensions require some knowledge and finesse, while dynamic extensions are powered by information Google nabs from client assets like the ad account and referenced website.

For local search, the best extensions to consider are:

  • Location extensions. Speak to locals and help them find the advertised business with an extension that displays the business’s address, phone number, and even a map marker to accompany regular ad copy.
  • Call extensions. Encourage consumers to call the advertised business using an extension that shows your chosen phone number alongside the ad.
  • Review extensions. Piggyback off social proof by showcasing store reviews that potential customers can consider while deciding during the buyer journey.

8. Monitor and adjust bids

Setting up a PPC campaign is only the beginning. Every campaign starts off in a sort of test mode. You’re trying out your ideas. Copy, ad settings, audience targeting — they’re based on research, but the only way to truly know if those choices are on target is to regularly monitor advertising data and see what that data says.

It’s likely that you’ll need to adjust bids based on performance, too. See how keywords are doing and what ad placements seem to produce the best ROI and increase bids accordingly. Keywords and locations that are underperforming should result in lowered bids, or you might want to eliminate them altogether depending on how poorly the numbers are and what the overall goal is.

Keeping an eye on outsourced PPC campaigns

If you’re an agency looking to resell white-label paid advertising services, you’ll want to ask third-party PPC managers how they monitor performance and how often you’ll get to see reports and request strategy adjustments.

Best case scenario is that they’ll use a platform with multi-person dashboard access, so you can sign in and see how campaigns are doing whenever the mood strikes. But if that’s not an option, report frequency should be specified in your initial contract.

9. Double down on your best local campaigns

Once you identify the campaigns that are performing best, funnel more of your budget in that direction. Remember, you’re not looking for full coverage of your target area so much as you’re looking for maximum ROI. There’s no point in blowing your budget on zip codes or cities that aren’t gelling with your core message, product, or service.

Rather than picking the campaigns that are generating the most conversions, choose the ones generating the most actual sales. Reviewing each campaign’s cost per acquisition (CPA) will help, too, as the lower the CPA, the more effectively you’re using your budget. A big part of local PPC management is figuring out where your money makes the most sense, and knowing which campaigns are effective can be hugely informative when you’re shifting funds around.

10. Leverage local remarketing

Another way to maximize PPC management efforts is to find ways to market brands locally without starting over from square one. Remarketing is a tactic that involves engaging with consumers who have already shown interest in a brand. They’re essentially already warmed up and ready to receive further messaging — this is no cold call.

Local remarketing takes information from general marketing campaigns and puts a local spin on it. It’s two wins in one, because you’re targeting people who already know about the brand and also dialing in your ad copy and parameters to make your messaging even more personalized.

Remarketing can pay off in a number of ways:

  • Repeat customers spend 67 percent more than new customers (Bain)
  • Marketing to new clients has a success rate of just 5 to 20 percent, while the success rate of selling to return clients is as much as 70 percent (Clickz)
  • Retargeting has the potential to increase ad engagement by 400 percent (Social Media Today)
  • Nearly 80 percent of consumers report only interacting with offers based on previous brand interactions (Wordstream)

11. Customize your client’s goals to their local market conditions

The last vital tip for successful local business PPC management is to always customize client goals to match local market conditions. Every small business is unique. It has its own mission, a key differentiator that separates it from the competition, and budget and campaign concerns that might differ from those found elsewhere as well.

To optimize properly, you must create a campaign around the client rather than expecting clients to fit into a pre-set campaign.

  • Use local language to make your client’s ads stand out and appeal to the people who actually live in the target area.
  • Target specific geographic areas that show promise and exclude those that probably won’t produce the most exciting results.
  • Within geographic areas, target ads to audiences who are most likely to benefit from the core product or service. Yes, location is important, but so is making sure an ad for wedding dresses hits potential brides to be rather than people celebrating their 50th anniversary.
  • Look at all possible locations and choose those that hold the most promise as well as those that aren’t necessarily the most competitive.
  • Instead of relying on existing landing pages, hire copywriters to rework content for the best experience and highest conversion rates.
  • Craft campaigns that honor the client’s budget. Aim for the most effective ideas now and scale later based on performance.

Frequently asked questions

How can I target specific geographic locations with my local PPC campaigns?

Geo-targeting is the core focus of local PPC management. You can target specific states, cities, zip codes, neighborhoods, and even an area around a significant attraction by using your chosen ad platform’s campaign settings. There are drop-down menus listing your options. Just click the most relevant selection and follow the instructions to finish constructing the campaign.

How do I pick the right keywords for my local PPC campaigns?

Local search engine marketing and PPC campaigns work in tandem to help brands increase visibility, attract consumers, and make sales. But finding the right keywords requires a little professional assistance paired with extensive research. Explore search terms using platforms like Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush, and then refine the list to highlight high-volume, low competition keywords likely to produce the best ROI.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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