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February 1, 2008
What Every Small Business Should Know About PPC
 

Local pay per click advertisers have a lot of options in today’s pay per click landscape. In some ways, local advertisers have more options than other advertisers. There is a tendency to see local business advertising, particularly online, as being limited, but that’s really an illusion. Today’s local business owner can take solace in a few facts about the nature pay per click advertising, namely, that optimization and local advertising practices allow for a more effective campaign that can serve your business well.

The discussion on pay per click advertising options must begin with keywords. It doesn’t matter whether you are a local business or a global business, if you want them to be effective, your pay per click advertising campaigns will be keyword-based. Local advertising, however, does rely on a little bit more focused effort and in addition to keywords you must think about geo-targeting.

A geo-targeted pay per click campaign can consist of several components:

 

  • Geographic place names
  • Zip codes
  • Area codes
  • Local landmarks
  • Regional area marks
  • Grid coordinates

     

Which of these components is the best to use for your local pay per click campaign depends on a number of factors, but all of them are available and it’s good to know what they are. Each major search engine that offers pay per click advertising also has a local search feature that involves mapping. Users can search for businesses by address, city and state, zip code, or even pinpoint them by grid locations. Pay per click advertising is similar in some ways.

A good pay per click campaign may involve the use of your local geographic place names, whether it is city and state or neighborhood. For instance, you might use Bronx, NY instead of New York, New York. Either way, your goal is to drive traffic to your local business website using pay per click advertising strategies.

Zip codes can also be effective, as can area codes. If your telephone area code covers an entire state, this might not be effective, but if it covers a specific area of a large metropolitan area like Los Angeles then it be quite effective.

Even landmarks can be useful in pay per click advertising. Phrases like, “Two miles South of Niagara Falls” can give people a general idea of your location. If the landmark is well known enough then it can be effective.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked geo-targeting techniques in pay per click advertising, yet one of the most effective, is the use of grid coordinates. Using Google Maps, or the mapping feature of Yahoo! or MSN, you can locate the exact grid coordinates (latitude and longitude) of your business and tell GPS users precisely where your business is located. This is particularly effective with mobile advertising.

Speaking of mobile advertising, local business owners can use pay per call services just as effectively as traditional pay per click. Just like the pay per click models of the search engines, some services allow advertisers to bid on mobile calling services and users are given the option to call your business directly from their mobile phones at the point of a single click. Bid prices generally start at $1 and you pay only when a mobile phone user makes a call from the ad. This is one unique feature of the Superpages pay per call service.

Both Superpages and Citysearch offer pay per call services as well as pay per click services. You can run both services simultaneously using the same ad. Known as local yellow pages, these services are used much like traditional phone books except that they exist online for users searching for a particular type of business in a local geographic area. When a searcher looking for your type of business finds your ad they can choose to click a link and visit your website or click a link and call your business from a mobile phone. Either way, you do not pay for the click or call until it is made. It’s a powerful way to advertise and the benefits far outweigh the cost for most local businesses.

Another benefit to using Citysearch and Superpages is that the cost per click for the pay per click service is usually much less than it would be with Google.

The leading pay per click service online, of course, is the above-mentioned search engine. Google started its pay per click service in 2001 and since then has gone on to become the largest pay per click provider on the Internet. That doesn’t mean it is the best option for everyone.

Yahoo! and MSN also provide pay per click services, though neither has yet presented an effective pay per call service. Google, on the other hand, has begun offering the pay per call service for mobile users and likely will see an increase in its advertising business in the next year.

When it comes to local pay per click or pay per call, many small businesses are forced to pay attention to budgetary concerns. This is not a limitation. It’s a reality. A simple test run of any campaign before getting too deep into the campaign at any search engine is advised and could save your local small business a lot of money in the long run.


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Nick Stamoulis is the president of the full-service Internet Marketing Firm, Brick Marketing.  Nick’s philosophy and strategies can be found in his SEO blog the, Search Engine Optimization JournalNick Stamoulis is also the editor and publisher for seven Internet marketing-related blogs: Pay Per Click Journal, Social Marketing Journal, Blog Marketing Journal, Email Marketing JournalLocal Advertising Journal, and Online Publicity Journal.

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