Image via The SEM Post
Google may have laid out what it takes to improve local rankings organically, but for paid efforts, you have to follow the breadcrumbs that it is leaving for multi-location brands. Yesterday, another crumb was added to the trail when experts noted the occurrence of localized ads hitting the Local Finder results.
April 19, 2016
Another dimension of once solely organic territory has now been touched by brand bids on Google. On the flipside, this could potentially give multi-location retailers and service providers who were once unable to get featured elsewhere an opportunity to reach high-intent users, front and center.
Google Maps is no longer considered a Search Partner and is now part of the Google Search Network. Local Finder results rely on Adwords location extensions, so brands who enabled these location extensions and had already opted out of Search Partners could potentially see a lift in impressions and clicks to ads that appear in the Local Finder, but also an increased spend as a result.
The Proverbial Trail of Breadcrumbs
While Google hasn’t confirmed that this Local Finder ad testing is the lay of the land yet (the results have not yet appeared on Mobile), there have been other recent events that make us think a major shakeup local advertising is definitely near:
- Local Pack Shrink
Brands that once ranked between organic spots 4-7 lost their edge when Google shrunk the organic local pack down to three results. Since, multi-location marketers have had to shift their approach to still garner visibility by narrowing categories, providing visuals and reviews, and overall finding ways to up their value factor both paid and organically.
- Google Plus Revival
Google revived Plus by shifting its local information towards a hub of higher local intent, Maps. It was only a matter of time until this destination for location information became a focal point for paid advertisements.
- Right Rail Removal
Most recently, the SERP landscape shifted and the Right Rail was removed, forcing marketers to develop strategic advertising tactics to reach the top space for commercial local searches. Google is searching for other opportunities to monetize their digital real estate and capitalize on the increase of high intent “near me” inquiries. Ads that are personalized to these needs are essential in order to reach customers when and where they need it.
The latest crumb in this trail should not come as a surprise for any savvy location-based marketer. With so many recent changes reflecting the great mobile shift on Google, we can expect that this experiment will also head in the same direction. It all speaks to the greater need for brands to personalize their offers and capture consumer interest in the moment. Google is essentially calling for brand ads to be as targeted to specific locations and user search intent as possible, which will require marketers to gain a deeper understanding of local targeting information.
Start competing in this emerging territory by making your brand eligible to target ads on the Local Finder. Ensure that your location extensions are enabled, your Google My Business listings are updated and accurate, and begin formulating targeting methods set by locations.