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A lot of Business owners I know are getting fed up with the “Yellowpages mafia” that overcharge for their advertising. They think there are no alternative means of reaching their local market. They know people look up their products or services on the internet, but who wants to spend money advertising a local business on the World Wide Web? Wouldn’t you be paying for ads that show up in China?

No. The truth is, Yahoo! and Google have some great tools for targeting local communities with search engine marketing. Say that you’re an attorney, and you want to target your “Personal Injury” ads to your local city or state – in Google Adwords, this is a task that’s easily accomplished. Sometimes we find that it takes a little fine tuning to balance the size of the area you want to cover with the amount of traffic you want to get. The bottom line is return of investment, and Google’s local targeting options definitely increase ROI when you’re trying to reach that small audience.

Here are some examples of how local targeting works:

  1. If we don’t use Google’s local targeting tools on a campaign, we need to specify keywords with the names of the localities in them, for example: “Philadelphia personal injury lawyers” or “personal injury lawyer in PA” – as you can see there are infinite possible combinations of these keyword phrases that grow exponentially as you include more city and state names. These ads could potentially show anywhere in the US, but we exclude non-relevant searches by requiring the local term in the search itself. These campaigns can get very big, and we still use them alongside locally targeted campaigns, because they can catch some traffic that local targeting misses.
  2. With Google’s built-in local targeting tool, we can specify a radius, or even city names or areas, where we want the ads to show up. In other words, if we only want the ads to show for Google searchers in Philadelphia, we can specify that. Then we can target more broad keyword phrases, like “personal injury lawyers” (without the locality name).

Keep in mind that Google’s tools aren’t perfect. Experienced search engine marketing professionals know which settings work best for which types of campaigns. Once we go through the exhaustive process of setting up these types of campaigns, we start tacking conversions and modifying bids on all of the keyword combinations over time to increase your ROI.

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