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Local marketers now have many tools to consider when using paid search that go beyond simply bidding on keywords for ads to appear. 

Google and Bing have built out advanced functionality in their platforms over the last few years that can help search engine marketers drive engagement with consumers at a local level.

Yet even the more experienced local marketers are not making use of all of the available options.

I’ve grouped together seven of the most useful paid search features below.

1.  Sitelinks

Sitelinks let you enhance your ads by including links to specific pages from your website in addition to the main URL. This can help create a more tailored experience for searchers.  

Through Google AdWords, for instance, you can display up to six additional destination URLs. And according to Google, advertisers who use ad sitelinks have seen their ad CTRs improve by 30% on average.

2.  Call Extensions

These extensions make it easy for customers to call you directly from your ad by incorporating a phone number. In fact, 70% of mobile searchers call a business directly from search results.

Of course call extensions also offers a powerful means of tracking the effectiveness of a local ad campaign. 

3.  Location Extensions

These allow you to include physical addresses in your ads, using this to ensure your customers find your nearest bricks-and-mortar location in searches to drive local foot traffic.

Location extensions work in two ways. Firstly, they can track a user’s IP address and run a search based on where the searcher is.

Or if an internet user runs a search using a location-specific term, for instance if they’re planning a weekend away, “night club Birmingham” will return a more relevant result.


4. Review Extensions

Review Extensions display positive third-party reviews within your search ads to boost your credibility. Organisations spend a lot of time encouraging positive customer feedback and this provides a powerful way of amplifying this.

Google estimates that review extensions can boost click-through rate by up to 10%. 

5. Social Annotations

Social Annotations showcase the number of followers for your linked social profile within your ads to help increase exposure and social engagement.

It’s important to note that currently this feature is only available to companies with a presence on Google+. Additionally you need to have a minimum of 100 followers to get started.

However the investment can be worth it and it encourages searchers towards a more open forum where they can find out more about a company via its socially active customers. 

6. Seller Ratings

Seller Ratings show your prospects how real customers score your performance and can help build trust within your community.

These reviews come from a variety of sources. Google for instance includes nearly 30 sources including reviews.co.uk, and Price Grabber as well as its own shopping sites and certified shops.

As with review extensions, seller ratings based on real feedback can help earn more qualified leads and increase ad performance. 


7. Local storefronts for Product Listing Ads (PLA) 

This allows local searchers to see stock information for products at a store location nearby, search for additional stock at that store, and get all the location information including address, directions, and hours.

This is particularly powerful on a mobile device.The illustration below shows a local mobile search journey through initial enquiry, to local availability via product listing ads and then the user landing on the related items from the local storefront. 

There is a real window of opportunity for local businesses to embrace local search. Research from Group M shows that national advertisers have yet to really embrace local search, with 34% not actively using online directory ads and 45% not geo-targeting their paid search programmes.

So the field is open for businesses to capitalise on their local customer base.  

Matthew Whitehead

Published 10 July, 2014 by Matthew Whitehead

Matthew Whitehead is Lead Solutions Consultant, EMEA at Kenshoo UK Ltd  and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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