Making Local Search Work for B2B Marketers

The fact that you can apply geographic constraints to more accurately target searchers in a specific region makes PPC an obvious partner for a local search strategy. Here the term ‘local’ is defined purely as the area in which an advertiser operates business.  For a scrap metal recycling firm in Springfield, Massachusetts local may be defined as Hampden county, a the entire state of Massachusetts, or a certain area radius where the operation, transportation, and labor costs are low enough for the transaction to be profitable.

Let me pose this question to the imaginary business owner of our recycling firm above:  Who would you rather show your ad to – someone that searched “copper recycling Massachusetts” or someone in your targeted region that searched for “copper recycling”

The answer, most likely, is both – so how do we achieve this without cannibalizing our local listings, and without abandoning the local strategy altogether?

Campaign Structure

We are going to continue using the recycling firm as our example.  I’d first build the following campaigns:

Local Search Campaigns

Here we have two campaigns with a very similar theme.  However we will differentiate them with geo-targeting, and keyword selection.  Let’s take a look at these one at a time.

Geographical Targeting:

Here is our opportunity to define what specifically is local, and what specifically is a national arena where we have the potential to do business.

“Local”

local search image

“National”

local search image2

The ‘local’ targeting in the local campaign is defined as a 60 mile radius around Springfield, Massachusetts (where our imaginary headquarters is located).  Note that this includes a large portion of Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as portions of New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New York.  Using out of box targeting gives us the ability to choose whole states, specific cities and urban centers, or entire countries and time zones.

If we chose to advertise only in major states or key cities we are probably not effectively reaching our whole target audience.  Our map suggests that someone who needs copper recycling in Cape Cod is probably not a prospective customer, while someone in Eastern New York might be, so we should choose an advertising radius that makes it possible to target one and not the other.

The ‘national’ theater contains a statewide approach of Mid-Atlantic and New England states.  Note that this campaign overlaps the regional campaign, so its obvious that our keyword list would be different.  Let’s talk more about that now.

Keyword Strategy

The regional campaign would have a very standard list of keywords.  With the requisite research we’d find some of the more important keywords to be: copper recycling, scrap metal recycling, commercial metal recycling, and a host of similar keywords.

The regional list of keywords has to encompass everything that the target audience (in this case – a firm looking to get rid of a large amount of scrap) would use in search.  In the regional campaign we have room to use all match types and be liberal with our keyword selection, because there is value in connecting with any company that deals with metals and recycling within our defined region (In this case only 60 miles).  Second, because the geo-targeting is so narrowly defined, we don’t have to worry about overspending – we’ll probably see that search impressions are relatively small, but the impressions we do generate are probably very valuable to us.

In the national campaign we would use a similar set of keywords, but the important differentiation is that every keyword we selection has to have a regional qualifier that ties it into our designated business area.  So we would replace copper recycling with copper recycling Massachusetts and copper recycling Springfield, Mass and a host of other associated and location based keywords.  We have no interest in someone recycling copper or doing business in Ohio, but we are very interested in someone in Ohio researching copper or scrap recycling in our designated area. Keep in mind (specifically Massachusetts business owners) that we have to be especially careful with using broad match.  Someone may be looking for “mass” (as in – bulk) materials recycling, so we should probably limit national keywords to exact match at first.

I admit I am not a metals expert and this may not be a perfect example, but there is definitely value in casting a wide national net for people searching for business is a specific area, as well as using a much smaller, narrower approach in the local market.

TL;DR

PPC is a very effective tool for business owners that want to advertise for a very specific region, however they have to be aware how to use geo-targeting to make sure that they are best reaching their prospective customer base.

1.  Limit Waste!  Define your search region by city / county codes, or an area radius, this way limits waste and unqualified impressions from areas you may not serve.

2.  Advertise to a large market using qualifiers that are specific to your area.  Use exact match!

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Rebecca Johnston-Gilbert' — Rebecca Johnston-Gilbert, Marketing, Postman

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