PPC Chat Streamcap – Local Pay Per Click Campaigns

Welcome fellow PPCChatters!

This week, I filled in for our regular host Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) who was unable to attend. He let me pick the topic and questions, so I hope everyone enjoyed the theme. If not, Matt should be back next week;).

Now before we start, I want to clarify the 2 Keyword types that pertain to Local PPC: “Geo-Modified” & “General Geo-Targeted”. Also abbreviated as GM and GT.

Geo-Modified Keywords (GM) for Local PPC Campaigns are terms like “pizza in Portland” and “Minneapolis restaurants”.

Geo-Targeted General Keywords (GT) for Local PPC Campaigns would be “pizza restaurant”, if the Campaign is Geo-Targeted to a City, State or Region such as Minneapolis.

This chat’s topic focused on “Local Pay Per Click Campaigns”. The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat.

Q1: When you initially build a Local PPC Campaign, do you prefer to start with “Geo-Modified”, “General Geo-Targeted” or both? Why?

  • Both, unless the client has a really small budget. Customers out of market may still search for gifts or whatever. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
    • I agree with Melissa , I go with both depending on budget. Def keep them apart in the account structure. – Justin Freid (@Justin_Freid)
  • I like to start with both and then pare down the list. – John Lavin (@johnnyjetfan)
  • I create two separate campagins, one as geo-targeted and one geo-modified. Then test to see which performs better. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem) +
    • How do you make sure keys don’t overlap? – Sergey Smirnov (@Smirnovi4)
      • I start mostly with exact & phrase kws in the geo-modified so I exclude those from geo-target & vice versa. – Michelle Morgan
  • Depends on their budget. If they have enough I do both. If not I just do general geo targeted. – Pamela Lund (@Pamela_Lund)
  • Unless budget is a real factor, I build both GM and GT keywords. When budget is a concern, then just GM campaigns. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • In Adwords, General Geo-Targeted is all that is needed. In Adcenter I do both. – David Kyle (@DavidKyle)
  • Geo-modified unless targeting a very small area. General = higher likelihood of searches for services outside targeted area. – Andy Groller (@AndyGroller)
  • I would start out with Geo-Modified keywords as Google can now use that as for it’s GeoTargeting, then do GeoTargeted later. – David Pedersen (@SeaPPC)
  • Budget, industry & offering primary factors in determine geo strategy though. – Andy Groller
  • Both, as prospects use both types of search queries for local searches. – Andrew Baker (@SEOEdinburgh)
  • Almost always geo-modified. If someone’s on vacation in Florida and they need service at home, they need ads! – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Depends on the target audience, is the biz representing the location, or serving the location. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos) +
  • Both in different campaigns. IP lookups aren’t actual location, modified broad, phrase & exact match make geo-modified national. – Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)
  • I’ve used both at the same time (with overlap) & difference in performance is surprising. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
    • Any conclusion on that difference? – Sergey Smirnov
      • Conversion was better in campaign with defined geo area. Google still misses location intent (same city in diff. states). – Robert Brady
  • Clarification – with modified broad, phrase & exact on the geo-modifiers, it’s safe to run geo-modified nationally. – Harris Neifield
  • Both – 1 geo-targeted campaign w/ all terms such as ‘college’ & a geo-qualified targeted nationally w/ terms ~ ‘indiana college’. – Amy Hoffman (@Hoffman8)
    • Seperate campaigns. – David Beltramini (@dbeltramini)
    • Different campaigns. Geo-modified kws I generally run nationally. – Pamela Lund
    • I separate them. General kws in geotarget and geomodified in, you guessed it, the geo-modified campaign. – Michelle Morgan
    • I always separate them. So GM keywords can see an ad w/ the city/region they specified in their search. Not always nec w/ GT. – Neil Sorenson
    • Always separate; gives greater perspective of performance at high levels and also in terms of targeting, extensions, etc. – Andy Groller
    • Separate campaigns – geo-modified keywords if match types are done right don’t need location targets, unlike general words. – Harris Neifield
    • Used to be separate campaigns but now thanks to advances location settings, physical & search intent options you can use 1. – Andrew Baker
  • Q1.1: Follow-up: Do you target both General Keywords and Geo-Modified versions in the same Campaign or separate into different ones?

Q1 Summary: I would have to agree with most of my fellow chatters in that, budget depending, I would plan on building separate Geo-Modified and General Geo-Targeted campaigns from the outset. I have built Geo-Modified campaigns that pull the lions-share of clicks and conversions, and have others that Geo-Targeting has been the more effective way to target. By building both versions in separate campaigns, you will be starting off with the best targeting that Local PPC has to offer.

One major consideration for planning new GEO-campaigns is whether the business can go-to the client (roofing company), or whether the customer has to visit the business (dental practice).

In the cases where the customer has to visit the business, then the targeting radius tends to be smaller and might only be 20 miles. Due to geo-targeting inconsistencies for smaller areas, a GEO-Modified campaign might be the better initial option.

However, a business that will travel to the client may have a larger radius that could commonly reach up to 100 miles. In these cases you can set the geo-targeting specific to the clients desired reach and back that up with a geo-modified keyword campaign for select locations that have larger search volume.

Q2: What has been your experience with Google AdWords newer “Advanced Location Options” Campaign settings?

  • They’re tremendously flawed. Radius targeting etc. tends to include a LOT more than just the “circle”. – Aaron Levy +
    • They have to be if you understand how geo-targeting works. – David Kyle
    • Agree radius targeting has big problems. Polygon would be better. – Harris Neifield +
  • I’m a fan. Kept having too many “search intents” end up in the wrong area. These keep me from having to add so many negatives. – Michelle Morgan
    • Also, to Michelle’s point, definitely cuts down on neg keywords too. – Andy Groller
  • Ran Zip 3 location targeting – depending on budget the additional charges for developer costs & API credits might be too much. – Harris Neifield
  • Huge fan. If we have a client in Manhattan NYC, less likelihood of Manhattan KS ending up in searches. – Andy Groller+
  • It’s a time saver mos def but I wouldn’t say I’m 100% comfortable with it yet. – Andrew Baker

Q2 Summary: Overall, AdWords newer Advanced Location Options are a good step in the right direction for helping to control targeting for your separate geo-modified and geo-targeted campaigns. You should strongly consider how these options will affect each of your campaigns, and use in the manner that will best reach your exact desired local audience.

Q3: Do you receive higher QSs, CTRs and CPCs from Geo-Modified Keywords or Geo-Targeted General Keywords? Comparable?

  • I’ve seen exponentially higher CTRs and very good QSs for geo-mods; again comes down to industry though. – Andy Groller
  • It really depends on the size of the location and the number of competitors – but roughly even. – David Beltramini
  • Higher QS from geo modified, but better overall results from geotargeted general. One of those times that results outweigh QS. – Melissa Mackey
  • It bounces back and forth. Sometimes mod. get higher QS other times targeting get them. – Michelle Morgan
  • Geo-modified is much better. searchers on general keywords sometimes aren’t looking for local information so lower CTR, QS, etc. – Harris Neifield
  • I find that due to low traffic on geo-modified the QSs are sometimes lower. – Pamela Lund +++++
  • CTR is better if it’s apparent you’re local. The familiarity of your location = trust. – Robert Brady +++
    • The higher the CTR, the higer the QS. Go with what performs better. – Michelle Morgan +
  • I think it depends on how they’re used – but typically comparable. – Amy Hoffman
  • Normally better results with GM KWs by their very nature they are more targeted less chance of irrelevant clicks. – Andrew Baker
  • Overall I get a better QS with GeoTargeted versus GeoModified. What drives my GeoTargeted QS most may be my branded terms, I can imagine that people don’t use GeoModified Brands as much. – David Pedersen
    • Geo modified usually gets very low traffic in my experience; but geo general may not convert as well. – Melissa Mackey
    • Traffic for geo-mod depends on how big of target area, but usually more on mobile. Conv and ROI about the same though. – Michelle Morgan
    • Depends on industry. GM = lower traffic than GT but conversions can vary; usually better ROI. – Andy Groller
    • It can vary, but usually geo-targeted has more traffic and conversions. geo-modified has a better ROI. – Harris Neifield
    • Depends on size of geo-targeting and industry. – Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
    • I find typically ROI is higher for geo-targeted b/c there are more people in the area already looking for those products/services. Also, people in the location are more likely to need that product/service NOW rather than someone planning a trip. There are some exceptions though.. people in Indiana may be less likely to be looking for something like a vacation in Indiana. – Amy Hoffman
      • Good point. Makes the case for attribution & conversion latency, too. – Melissa Mackey
    • I think GT is going to be better in the future since SERPs are already supposed to reflect location. No need to type it in anymore. – Michelle Morgan
      • Yes it will. Also because ISP’s are now beginning to provide more detailed geo-information for IP addresses. – David Kyle
    • We look for diff conversion types for Geo target vs modified due to industry traffic is the same typically. – David Beltramini
    • Depends on sector but GM KWs doesn’t always = low volume, you can target large area (UK) for bigger reach. – Andrew Baker
  • Q3.1: Follow-up: How do Traffic Levels, Conversions & ROI compare for Geo-Modified and Geo-Targeted General Keywords and Campaigns?

Q3 Summary: Once again the differences in performance between Geo-Modified and General Geo-Targeted campaigns can be little to great depending on industry and targeted location. Thus building separate campaigns would be a good way to prove which is better for your campaigns.

Q4: How do you approach writing Text Ads for Local PPC Campaigns? Same or different for Geo-Modified & Geo-Targeted Campaigns?

  • I like to use the city/location in the display URL regardless of targeting (modified or geotargeted). Also using the location in the ad headline works well. – Melissa Mackey
  • Locations in ads much more important for GT; still key in GM ads though b/c of it being in the keywords. – Andy Groller
  • GM- I use the location in copy (try to reflect the kws as close as possible), GT- I do about 50-50. – Michelle Morgan
  • You’ve got to convey you’re local because it gets you instant trust. (echoing earlier tweet). – Robert Brady +
  • I use KW & location in copy for both at the start and test test test. – Pamela Lund ++
  • People seem to be only talking about GT for local companies. Anyone have any win with custom ads for each major city? (I have) – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
    • I’ve got them by state for the national companies. Definitely perform well. – Michelle Morgan
    • It’s all about maximizing the limited space. – David Kyle
  • In AdWords, I link the ad with a specific Places listing so all that info is added beneath the ad copy. – David Kyle
  • I’ve seen success including the location in the ad, but loc extensions typically handles that. save the space. Good test. – Francis Shovlin
  • Usually my geo-targeted ads won’t reference location unless the product is itself local. Geo-modified will include geo-reference. – Harris Neifield
  • GM – always use location in the copy across all ads. For FT – sometimes. Will test brand vs. location and use what works better. Justin Freid
  • I use location ad extension (big trust) in both to free up more ad copy for USP & CTA messages. – Andrew Baker
  • Take advantage of your Google places acc, if it’s not linked. Link it! – Matt Hopson (@matthopson)
  • I use location in copy & extensions. It is a convenience for those geo-targeted and helpful for those using geo-modified terms. – Amy Hoffman
  • I’ve seen performance dip when I linked Places vs. manually inserted addresses. Any others? May be coincidence. – Francis Shovlin
    • Normally GM KW search queries are quite long and over 25 characters so I don’t use DKI, if I can I’ll split test to ads. – Andrew Baker
    • I stay away from DKI – queries are usually longer (pizza in Philadelphia) and can present unattractive ads. – Justin Freid
    • I don’t really use DKI in local. It’s easy to make adgroups VERY granular in most cases. – David Kyle ++
    • DKI can get ugly because of misspellings – common for local terms – Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, etc. – Harris Neifield
    • Yes – Melissa Mackey
    • I don’t – I try to focus on making a display URL look real and credible and rarely do you see a location in an actual URL. – Amy Hoffman
    • For GM KWs if it fits then yes … more bold why not! – Andrew Baker
    • Yes – locations as sub-domains in the display URL has worked – even if you’re using location extensions it can help.
    • We use other kws 1st versus location but will use it for specific neighborhoods and test. – David Beltramini
  • Q4.1: Follow-up: Have you used DKI in Text Ads for Local PPC Campaigns? If so, to what avail?

    Q4.2: Follow-up: How do you handle Display URLs for Local PPC Campaigns? Do you use Locations in the Display URL?

Q4 Summary: Making sure a location based keyword is in the text ad will help signify that your ad is relevant to the intended region as well as boldly stand out to draw the attention of the searcher.

Q5: How do you approach Keyword Match Types for Geo-Modified & General Geo-Targeted Keywords? [“+Minneapolis +pizza”] & [“+pizza”]

  • General geo-targeted broad match modified keywords works very well in Adwords. – David Kyle
    • We use modified broad also. – Melissa Mackey
  • If not using geo-targeting, I make sure that the geo-qualified term is necessary. – Amy Hoffman +
    • In the local game (in the UK at least) I see stacks of them, pesky keyword stuffing SEO types! – Andrew Baker
  • I’m a fan of modified broad match, but I also use some very basic exact and phrase match for both GT and GM. – Michelle Morgan ++
    • I love modified broad search too! – John Lavin
  • Broad match modifier is great for local, I modify on the location mostly e.g. “search marketing +Cambridge”. – James Hume (@zerospin)
  • Make geo-modifiers in modified broad, phrase or exact match. Makes geo-targeting for geo-modified campaigns unnecessary. – Harris Neifield

Q5 Summary: Broad Match Modifier is a staple of local PPC campaigns. Using it in AdWords to control the matched queries will help reach the intended audience while reducing the volume of negative keywords that would otherwise be needed to reduce wasted clicks.

Q6: How do you approach Negative Keywords for Geo-Modified & General Geo-Targeted Keywords? -[“frozen”]

  • I actually exclude the geo location from my national geo modified campaign & worry less about negatives. – Melissa Mackey ++
  • I stick with adding irrelevant cities, states, and especially abbreviations as negative phrase. – Francis Shovlin
  • I exclude the exact match GM from the GT campaign and vice versa. But I do tend to let them overlap to save having 19083 negatives. – Michelle Morgan
  • Find modifying themes (shipping, online) whose words are unlikely to convert and build negative lists. – Harris Neifield

Q6 Summary: Identifying other regions and cities that share the same name is a good start for generating local negative keyword lists. For instance, if you are in Portland Oregon, then using the following negative keywords will help limit clicks and impressions from searchers intending to find regional information for other areas: Maine, ME, United Kingdom, UK, England, Dorset

Q7: Which Ad Extensions are working for your Local PPC Campaigns? To what avail?

  • Sitelinks really raise CTR! – David Kyle +++
  • I’m having good results from the 3 I use: Phone, Location, and Sitelinks. – Michelle Morgan
  • Location extensions higher CTR but really Call metrics have driven CTR up 3x on ads not calls. – David Beltramini++
  • Location & Call Extensions. – Harris Neifield
  • Location and Click to Call are clutch. – Amy Hoffman +
  • Location ad extensions have made a big difference. No issues with my linked Place Pages good CTRs. – Andrew Baker
    • So far no problems. Ad Extensions is one Google feature I have no real problems with the performance. – Michelle Morgan ++
    • Call Metrics have dropped once I implemented Loc Extensions to same campaign. Unsure of cause. – Francis Shovlin
  • Q7.1: Follow-up: Which Ad Extensions are NOT working for your Local Campaigns? Why?

Q7 Summary: Michelle summed up the 3 popular ad extensions that work well for Local PPC: Phone, Location, and Sitelinks. They all function differently, but consistently provide good results.

Also, if you happen to be running multiple ad extensions for the same campaigns, which is very common, then make sure to see Lisa Sanner’s (@LisaSanner) SMX Advanced Ad Extensions slideshare. In particular see frame 5 titled “Hierarchy of Extension Serving”.

Q8: How do you approach Landing Pages for Local Pay Per Click Campaigns? What is working? What has not?

  • Funny you ask. Just getting ready to start creating location based lps. Right now nationwide is working well though. – Michelle Morgan
  • I ‘geo-qualify’ my landing pages. – Amy Hoffman
  • Adding a Map to a LP can really grab visitors attention! – James Svoboda
  • Usual applies but include address, phone number, opening hours, picture of shop front, map, directions, etc. – Andrew Baker
  • No matter where the traffic is coming from, I make sure key terms in copy are geo-qualified. – Amy Hoffman +

Q8 Summary: Adding Geo-References to landing pages is a good way to quickly reassure to the visitor that they are in the right spot. Geo-references should likely include the name of the city or region that the visitor was searching for information regarding, as well as local phone numbers, addresses, maps, directions and relevant local photos.

Q9: Mobile PPC is Hot and Extremely Local! What’s working for your Local Mobile PPC Campaigns?

  • Mobile specific landing page, click to call, maps! – Amy Hoffman +++
  • I am getting poor results from mobile – we should do a #ppcchat so I can figure out what I’m doing wrong. – Melissa Mackey
  • Click-To-Call. – Andrew Baker
  • I haven’t tried mobile yet. I’ve been itching to, but none of my sites are locally based. – Jim Last (@jimlast)
  • I haven’t tested enough Mobile PPC to find what doesn’t really work TBH. – Andrew Baker
    • Hate to say it but some clients aren’t always ideal for mobile. Mobile is great for things you need NOW & things you buy on a whim. People don’t use mobile for products/services that require lots of research/comparison. – Amy Hoffman +
  • Q9.1: Follow-up: When Mobile is NOT Hot, it can be Extremely Cold. What has NOT worked out so well for Local Mobile?

Q9 Summary: I think Amy summed it up the best with “Mobile is great for things you need NOW & things you buy on a whim.”.

Spending 10 minutes trying to identify IF mobile can be good for you, just might be the most valuable time you spend on the whole campaign.

PPC Tip of the Week

This week’s pay per click tip came to us from Robert Brady (@robert_brady), PPC wizard and all-around internet marketer at Righteous Marketing:

CTR is better if it’s apparent you’re local. The familiarity of your location = trust. – …

Robert’s point is simple and powerful. Local searchers will gravitate towards local results. Crafting your ads to reflect your local connection will not only help CTR and QS, but conversions as well.

Additional Resources

  • Running an AdWords Campaign in a Competitive Local Market by Claire Jarrett on WordStream.com
  • Set Up a Local PPC Campaign in 8 Easy Steps from SEObook.com
  • If You Got It, Flaunt It: A Follow Up On Google’s New Product Local Ads by Amy Hoffman on PPCHero.com
  • SMX Advanced 2011 Amazing PPC Tactics – Ad Extensions slideshare by Lisa Sanner
  • More PPCChats

    Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


    Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

    About the Author

    James Svoboda provides SEO Consultant at WebRankingThis is a guest post by James Svoboda, managing partner at Portland based WebRanking, an infrequent blogger, Sphinn Editor, SEM content hound, and Co-Founder of the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association.

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