Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Promoting Your Local Business On Google - Part II: Intro to AdWords

As I said in Part I, the most important thing you can do for business costs nothing: set up your Google search listing using the Google Local Business Center.

But once you've done that, the next thing is to advertise. Yes, this will cost you money, but not as much as you might think, and you are in complete control of your budget. A reasonable campaign for a local business could cost as little as $20-40 a month.

To get started, you'll need to add the Google AdWords service to your Google account. Start here: http://adwords.google.com. Just use the same Google account you used in Part I with the Local Business Center.

New users of the AdWords service get a chance to choose between the Starter Edition and Standard Edition.

I have not yet used the Starter Edition, so we'll be talking about the Standard Edition here. Click the button next to Standard Edition and then Continue.

As a new user, you're treated to the "Sign-Up Wizard" to create your first Google Ad.

Click the "Create your first campaign" button. In the Google AdWords system, each campaign is a collection of "ad groups". An ad group consists of a single ad, and possibly variations on it.

The next wizard screen is the first step of "targeting" your ads to the audience you want. Targeting is the key to any effective ad campaign -- the success of Google AdWords is largely due to the superior targeting it offers over yesterday's media like newspapers, magazines, radio and TV.

This page lets you choose your target language and geographic area (location). Language is presumably an easy choice. But for a local business we need to pay very close attention to the location targeting. Click on "Change targeting" and let's get started.

Location Targeting

A click on "Change targeting" opens a large pop-up panel "Target customers by location":

The system selects an initial region for you based on where you appear to be located. For example, if Google thinks you're located in the USA, you'll see the entire United States selected.

For a truly "local" business this never what you want. If you're a plumber in San Jose, California, why waste money advertising to people looking for a plumber in New Jersey? Location targeting allows you to specify the particular area of interest.

To begin with, enter the name of the city where you are located, for example, "San Jose", then click the "Find" button.

The map displays rectangle "bounding box" around the selected city.

How Location Targeting Is Used

I think it's helpful to understand how Google is going to use your location targeting information.
It's really used in two somewhat different ways.
  1. In business searches for a location, such as [plumbers near san jose], either as a regular Google web search, or on Google Maps, and
  2. In "viewport" searches on Google Maps. This where a customer is looking at, say, San Jose on the map and then enters the query [plumbers].
Let's get back to the "Target customers by location box". Take a closer look at the selection box that appears on the screen:

I want to point out a couple of things here.
  • Nothing is selected yet. Even though San Jose shows on the map and is highlighted in the list above, it's not really selected until the checkbox is checked.

  • The list is a hierarchy of geo-political entities. For example, click on "San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose" to display the next larger area:

You can also point on the map to pick regions. In the image below you can see a small "X" where I've clicked on the location of Mountain View, and another popup list of the enclosing geo-political entities.

Finally, below is a screen shot after selecting several cities in the Bay Area. Notice that the box at the lower left lists the regions you have selected.

Now click "Done" to close the location targeting popup and return to the targeting wizard. Click "Continue" to advance to the "Create an ad" window.

Creating Your Ad

... under construction ...

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