For Local Search, Think Like A Local

Marketing, like politics, is local. Or at least it’s becoming that way. On the heels of findings that the $5 billion location-based search and advertising segment is going to grow by 40% over the next four years, comes a survey from Balihoo revealing 87% of marketing executives believe local paid search would improve their business.

Among those surveyed, roughly two-thirds said local paid search was either an “important” or “very important” part of their advertising mix, and a similar amount felt it was important to target their marketing in specific geographical locations. Yet, many aren’t doing it, or aren’t doing it right, says Amanda Cash-Crowley, director of marketing for the Boise, ID-based company.

“We believe 90% of companies are not doing it and a fair amount of [companies] are not doing it at the micro level, and so they’re not seeing the best results from it,” Cash-Crowley tells Search Insider



Some of the tips for getting involved in local search are obvious, such as tying keywords to location information like cities and zip codes (surfboards in Santa Monica, for a Southern California surf shop, for instance) and gearing keywords to more colloquial voice search phrases.

But others aren’t so obvious, and can be a bit intimidating for companies with a large footprint covering different geographic regions. Among the things to consider:

Many brands pool one budget and apply it across all local paid search markets. While this may benefit a few outposts, many others are left wanting and resentful of paying into a budget that doesn’t serve them, Cash-Crowley says.

Yes, even search has its dayparts. Too often a multi-market brand will set up a search campaign to go out at one time, without recognizing that other markets may not benefit. Cash-Crowley offers the example of a deal for coffee and donuts timed for the East Coast’s morning while the West Coast is still asleep. “We see that a lot with regional brands,” she says. “And again, it tends to only benefit a few.”

As with dayparts, messages lacking in regional relevance or nuance run the risk of falling flat in local markets. “We know that when your ads are micro-relevant within a city or region, that adds a whole new level [to the campaign],” Cash-Crowley says.

That all sounds like a lot of work, and it can be a lot to track on traditional dashboards and spreadsheets. (This is where Cash-Crowley notes an automated product like Ballihoo can make things easier.) But even small, hyperlocal tests (on the scale of about 10% of locations), can show actionable results when measured against national KPIs and can be enough to convince even the skeptical that it can be worth the continued investment which, as the survey shows, many think is already worthwhile.

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