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The power of Google Ads for Local Businesses

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

Using google ads for local business

You know that local searches drive sales and that 80% of local searches result in a conversion. So why not use Google Ads for local business campaigns so you can see a return on your advertising investment?


Driving local sales and leads with Google Ads is about a lot more than geolocation targeting. Let's dive in a little deeper on the overview of these ads!

When advertisers of local businesses head to Google Ads, they tend to repeat the same campaign process over and over: Geolocation targeting in a radius to where their customers might be.

But there are a ton of different tactics that cater to the local patron including local extensions, remarketing, and more. Use Local-Friendly Ad Extensions

Ad extensions is the Shark bait for improving your Google Ads strategy for local search. Wow, that sounded extremely lame. But it’s true, ad extensions are fantastic.

If you aren’t using ad extensions, you definitely should be.

The main benefits include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Increased click-through rates.

  • Give more information/context without taking up character limits on your actual ad copy.

  • Make it easier for local customers to call with one click

Using ad extensions is a no-brainer. You get extra room to compel someone to click your ad on the search network. And it doesn’t cost anything to do. With ad extensions, the biggest mistake people make is loading up on them without cause. You need a reason to use them. Simply using ad extensions isn’t going to generate big wins. Using them strategically will.

But what extensions do you use for local ads?

Here are 4 key extensions to add to a local-specific campaign.

Let’s start with two of the basics before diving into more advanced extensions.

Google Ads for Local Business Extension #1: Location

If you are running local ads, you need location extensions.

While this seems obvious, it’s really not. If you Google local-driven searches for local businesses, you will see a staggering amount of ads running without a whiff of location extensions:

google ads location for local businesses

These are the top three ads for a local search on plumbers.

Shocking stuff, right?

This is great news for you: You have the opportunity to stand out with just minutes of work.

The latest data shows that 76% of users who searched for a nearby good/service visited that local business in a day. 28% of those visitors made a purchase, too.

Local searches for location targeting are increasing by 130% each year.

Be sure to use location extensions on your local ads. You can add them directly from the extensions tab in your Google Ads dashboard:

When users click on your location on an ad, they will be directed into Google Maps for easy navigation:

Google maps ads

Boom. Now that’s how you drive local visits.

Google Ads for Local Business Extension #2: Phone Call

Google data shows that local searches are heavily dominated by mobile devices.

And it makes sense: people are likely out and about, looking for something to do, or looking for a store location.

And a common practice is calling that business for more information. If you have staff that can always answer incoming calls, setting up phone extensions is an easy way to generate more traffic.

Google ad phone number placement

Again, you would be shocked at how many ads don’t feature this basic extension.

Alright, are you ready for a few more advanced options? Let’s take a look.

Google Ads for Local Business Extension #3: Affiliate Location

Affiliate location extensions are just what they sound like: Extensions on your search ads featuring affiliates that carry your products.

Do you sell products to big retail shops or boutique stores? Do other brick and mortar stores that aren’t yours sell your products?

For instance, are your products located in Walmart?

Then affiliate location extensions can drive big wins for your business with cheap clicks.

Google ads for multiple locations

Sometimes, people don’t want to wait for shipping and delivery on your online store. The “need it now” culture is thriving (see: Amazon Now, Postmates, etc.).

Even if you don’t have a brick and mortar store, you can drive local sales to your products in stores to ensure that your retailers keep ordering from you.

Note: According to Google, these are only available for retail chains and auto dealers in select countries.

Google Ads for Local Business Extension #4: Dynamic Sitelinks

Dynamic sitelinks are the cream of the crop. Essentially, Google puts some AI to work to choose site extensions for your ads based on searcher intent and previous search + site visit history. They are designed to connect searchers to the content they are actually looking for, in real-time.

Here is an example:

Google Ad placements

The dynamic sitelink is shown as:

“Schedule a Test Drive at Joe’s Used Cars”

This sitelink is conversion-focused, something that dynamic sitelinks center around.

By linking deep into your site, sitelinks take contextual relevance to drive users into sales pages faster.

Sure, you can run sitelinks on your own and manage them specifically for each ad you run locally.

But these will get the job done automatically and likely perform better.

Run them for a few weeks and assess performance. If they aren’t living up to expectations, create your own sitelinks and focus them on actionable benefits, not just linking to more pages.

For instance, if you are selling clothes, create a sitelink that says:

“Select clothes to try on in-store today!”


“Put an item on hold in store to try on!”

You get the point: make them actionable and interesting. Avoid generic sitelinks like the plague.

Bonus Tip:

For added visibility, consider getting The Google Guarantee Badge, which adds a green checkmark next to local businesses that offer protection for consumers who are unsatisfied with the work they receive.

Google Guaranteed Badge

Target Local Keywords and Firm Locations (Not the Google Ads Default Setting)

Having years of experience in PPC campaign management, I can’t count the number of times I audited client accounts and found a setup like this:

  • Campaign Name: Los Angeles Exterminator

  • Ad Group: Exterminator keywords

  • Sample Keywords: exterminator, pest control, bed bug control, etc.

  • Targeting: 30-mile radius around Los Angeles County

What does this setup do?

Essentially, it targets potential customers within a 30-mile radius of your target area that are searching for those keywords.

It won’t target “exterminator” searches from New York City, so the keywords become less competitive.Great, right!

But this strategy isn’t foolproof.

There isn’t anything wrong with using this style of setup. You can definitely get the job done and target these keywords with success. But you are lacking localized keywords that you know for a fact locals are searching. You see, the default settings of geolocation targeting on Google aren’t always that accurate.

People in, or who show interest in, your target locations. Do you see the problem there?

Let me clarify what Google is explaining here:

The default setting for location targeting isn’t actual location targeting. It also targets people who “show interest in” your desired locations.

That means someone from the panhandle of Florida could be looking for your business in Los Angeles.

While this is great if you want to run brand awareness campaigns to target travelers, it’s awful if you want quick local visitors.

You could be paying for hundreds or thousands (depending on campaign size) of clicks that never visit. If you look at what locations you are paying for, it’s probably not just your target location.

So, what can you do?

You have two options here, but I prefer to combine both to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Combining these two marketing strategies might lower-traffic potential, but it ensures precision targeting and gives you the best chance at converting searchers.

First, you want to change that default setting of location targeting. To do this, head to your campaign settings and click on the locations tab.

From here, click the advanced location options tab to pull down more options. Select to target “People in or regularly in your targeted locations.”

This tells Google that you only want to target people physically located in your target area. Switching on this setting eliminates the possibility of people outside your target radius searching.

Still want to capitalize on those? Run a brand awareness campaign targeted with the default setting. But if you want strong local visits now, you can’t afford to be paying for window shoppers who may or may not make the trip.

Next, to get a double impact of accuracy, you can target local keywords instead of just generic searches. Chances are if you are advertising in a thriving local area, searchers are looking for businesses like yours while using local-driven search terms.

For instance, terms like: “Pest Control Los Angeles.”

That’s a perfect term for capitalizing on guaranteed local searches.

Combine that keyword with geolocation targeting and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed pool of users in your local area. But please, remember this: don’t just throw the keyword into your headline if it doesn’t flow. A big mistake is focusing too hard on keyword optimization and forgetting that you are targeting real human beings that have to read your ads.

To avoid this, I highly recommend throwing your ad copy into a grammar tool to make sure it flows well.

After you tighten up the copy and flow using a tool, utilize Google’s Ad Strength feature to double-check it before sending it live.


When looking to run a local ad on Google for your local business, what’s your first step?

Is it to run a geolocation targeted campaign for a business keyword like “used phones”?

If so, you need to rethink your strategy. Typical geolocation campaigns on default settings don’t perform as well.


  • Switch to firm location settings and target local keywords with location markers in the keyphrase.

  • Use local-friendly ad extensions and combine them for big wins.

  • Target local searches on Google Maps and build a better GMB profile.

The moral of the story is this: Google Ads for local businesses shouldn’t be basic.

Instead, they should combine a variety of tactics to reach local searchers in every way you can.

Diversify your approach and you’ll start to see the results you’ve been looking for.

Contact us here at The Social Sharks if you want any more advice or would like to start some Google Advertising campaigns for your local business whether it is here in Fort Worth, Texas or anywhere in the United States.


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