You know local customers are out there.

You see them walk by your store, looking at their phones searching for just what your business offers and yet they still click on your competitors – even when your ads appear in the search results.

As a local business you know that can’t compete with the national competition on price because they leverage their economy of scale. They use their volume-based economies of scale to make offers with razor-thin margins, offers which any local business is unable to match.

You feel frustrated and see no way out.

You know the value of your local business is not the price –  the value your business provides is the knowledge of the local market and your ability to provide local customers the individualized attention and customized solution that no national business can match.

While you may not have the budget of national advertisers, you can still go toe to toe with them in Paid Internet Advertising and win. Trust me – I spend my days consistently beating national advertisers by helping local businesses with only a fraction of their competitor’s budget.

I am not any smarter, I do not have any super skills. The key is something that I know about a local customer base and what matters to them.

I may not be Clarrissa, but I am going to try to explain it all about beating national brands with Internet Advertising in your local market…..

You Try to Compete with National Companies on their Terms.

Since national brands have professional advertising departments, it seems safe to assume that their Internet Advertising campaigns are profitable.

Many local businesses look at their national competitor’s advertising campaigns and attempt to discern what aspects are driving the clicks and the sales online. They assume that since campaigns are created by professionals that they must be profitable for the national brands.

Following this logic what works for one business should work for another –  local businesses assume that they should copy their national competitors. These local business owners borrow/copy some phrases that national companies use in their ads, copy the extensions, and may even try to match their offers.

However, this method of copying national advertises is a recipe for disaster for local businesses. These local business can’t match razor-thin margins on offers like the national companies can, and when they copy the ads the messaging doesn’t make sense for the local business.

If you, as a local business owner, attempt to copy national advertisers you end up with bland ads that few people click on, and when they do click on the ads – the offers have become so discounted that they are not profitable.

Be More Relevant by Being More Local

Since you can’t compete on the national companies terms, you must outsmart them and win on your own terms.  

While the national companies do offer value in the form of cheap offers and national awards, your local company offers a different kind of value.

Your value is how local you are – and this is important in AdWords.

The way AdWords is designed the more relevant an ad is to a users search query the more likely it is to be clicked. This leads to cheaper clicks, a higher ad rank, and a better quality score.

One way to increase relevance to uses is to be local.

Think about it –  there are many business verticals where it is a much more relevant answer to the user’s question to be a local business. If a user is looking for a carpenter, a lawyer, or a florist they often want a business that is local to their area. The most relevant answer is the one right down the street.

Your job is to show the user beyond any doubt that your business is the local choice.

Fortunately, there are a variety of tools within the AdWords interface which communicate to the user just that very fact.

How To Use AdWords to Be Local

There are 4 steps to convey to the user that your business is relevant and local within Google AdWords.

I am going to go through the example of an Adwords campaign for a law firm, based Philadelphia who handles DUI cases (I have been running lot’s of Internet Advertising for lawyers lately) who is competing with the national law firms. In this case they know the clients care that their business is located in locally and want to convey that they are a Philadelphia based business.

1. Target Ads At Geographic Locations

The first step is to make sure that your local ads only show within your specified geographic locations. Within the AdWords system, locations are set at the campaign level. We are going to set this specific campaign to run in Philadelphia only.

A. In your campaign, select the Settings tab, scroll down to locations and select Edit.

Select Locations

B. A list will come up, by default the locations are set to the US and Canada. Remove both of these locations.

Remove Both Of them

C. Now you have the option to add locations by a couple of different methods. You can add by metro area, by zip codes, states, etc. We are going to add the city of Philadelphia by typing it in the box and selecting Add and hitting Save.

Select location and save

Step one is complete – your campaign is now setup to show only in Philadelphia. Let’s begin making those ads localized.

2. Localize Your Ad

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 8.04.35 PM


Now, you have a campaign that is only showing in Philadelphia. You want to make sure that the ads demonstrate your location to local customers. We recommend putting the location in the headline as well as the display URL.

One of the cool little tricks about AdWords is that your display URL is literally what is displayed to the user – it doesn’t have to be a real URL. So while the display URL and the destination URL have to be in the same domain, you can essentially add anything you like after the backslash. Since you are attempting to show relevance via location we recommend putting the location after the backslash.

URl and Headline


Step two is now complete – you have an ad that demonstrates that you have a local business. As a bonus tip you can put in any awards that you have won locally such as: Awarded Philadelphia Business Journal’s Best Law Firm.


3. Use Location Extensions

location extensions


Now that you have the ads reflecting that your business is local, it is time to use location extensions. Location extensions are an option within AdWords that allows your local address to show up below your ad.

These are a pain to set up at first, but they are worth it.

A. The first thing to do is to is to register your business with Google My Business. This is free to do but this is the step that takes the most time.

B. Next, go to your campaign and select the Ad Extensions tab. Click the drop down on the View menu and select Location Extensions.

Location Extension Add

C. Click the big red +Extension button.

big red button

D. Since you only have set up one campaign and it is location targeted at Philadelphia, select Show My Ad With All Locations. Also, make sure to select the campaign location extension which connects to My Business Account. This setting is really your Google My Business listing and I don’t know why Google makes this particular step so complicated!

All Locations


You know have completed step three and have ads which display your local business address beneath them.

4. Use a Local Phone Number

All Locations

Another way to use your location to show relevance is to include your local number in your ad. To accomplish this you must first have a number that has a local area code. If you do not have a phone number with a local area code there a variety of services that you can use to get one such as Grass Hopper. For this example, in Philadelphia ,that local area code is 215.

A. Go to your chosen campaign and in the Ad Extensions tab select call Extensions.

Call extensions

B. Click the big red + Extensions button.

big red button

C. Select New Phone Number.

new phone number

D. Enter your businesses phone number with the local area code, and select My Own Phone Number. This selection prevents Google from using their default 800 number and enables your to ads to appear with the local area code. Click Save.

My Own Phone number

You have completed step four and now have ads that show your phone number with your local area code.

You now have a highly localized AdWords campaign which should help your business be more relevant to local consumers. This should enable you to compete against the national players in the industry on your own terms!