Should You Localize Your PPC Campaigns?

By Sarah Stemen | @runnerkik | Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

A local PPC strategy is not only for franchise businesses. For businesses that depend on in-store purchases, like restaurants and furniture stores, geotargeting is part of the campaign from the onset. However, occasionally setting up local PPC campaigns can be a valid and beneficial tactic for a standard PPC account as well.


This post will cover just a couple of reasons why you should consider localizing your PPC accounts and how to setup the campaign structure if you decide to head down this path.



Keyword Coverage


Generally speaking, it is easier for people to do business in their native languages. However, globally, searchers in Latin America as well as Europe do business in English out of necessity. Nevertheless, if you are reviewing a search query report and you find keywords coming though in other languages, building out a local campaign could be worth the time and effort. This will expand the keywords in the account and give your account additional visibility across search terms.


Google Translate
Example of Google Translate


To build a better business case for taking the time to translate keywords, you can use the Ad Preview Tool in Google to see what other ads are being served on the results page. Using Google Translate is the simplest way to translate the campaign. If other advertisers have translated the keywords, ad copy, and the website, you may want to consider your user experience before running English ads in that locale.


Taking the easy way out and simply translating the keywords may end up wasting more money than it is worth, especially if other advertisers have full translation. The other key is to find a native speaker to review the translations. Sometimes word order and context can vary and the online translation tools do not account for this. No advertiser wants to run ads that reflect poorly on the brand. Hiring a professional translator is worth the effort.


Google Ad Preview
Google Ad Preview


Google Ad Preview Tool
Google Ad Preview Tool



Customers Desire to Work with A Local Company


In my experience, in service industries, people use search terms with local modifiers.   Here are some examples: “software development firm columbus ohio”, “dublin, ohio lawyer”, “best marketing company ohio”. The searcher often times begins with local modified search first. If your company is service-based, consider the benefits of a local campaign for your city and state. If you are building a PPC campaign for a company that offers services nationwide, you can create a few small local campaigns and test them against a national campaign.


Obviously, if you are a company based in Texas and running a campaign with locally modified keywords targeting Ohio, the ad copy and the landing page should entice the searcher. No searcher likes a bait and switch, and no PPC manager likes an unusually high bounce rate. Nevertheless, building local terms in a campaign is a great way to gain some additional qualified traffic and try an out-of-the -box solution.



Budget Control


Another reason to build local campaigns is for budget control. Suppose your company is based in California and decides to run a radio campaign in a few cities. This casts a broad net to listeners, and is effective in passively raising brand awareness with an audience. Some radio ads even have an online call-to-action. Often times after hearing the radio ads, potential customers follow up with an online search. So, rather than focus your PPC dollars on the entire state of California, you may want to consider controlling advertising costs and complementing the radio campaign with supplemental PPC advertising in nearby DMAs.



As a Complement to Other Marketing Channels


In a similar fashion to cost control, most non-digital marketing channel campaigns target specific DMA’s. If your company is running a radio, television, or even doing a mail drop, having the supporting pay-per-click ads can complement the existing campaigns. Setting the campaign organization up around the specific DMAs allows you to increase marketing spend in the areas with higher multi-channel exposure to your marketing efforts. You can effectively use the PPC channel to reinforce the messages that are already running.



Setting Up Local PPC Campaigns


The setup of local campaigns is one of the most important steps, especially for franchise businesses or businesses promoting in-store products or services. Organized setup can help businesses manage the geo-targeting, as well as the vast number of local keywords that are needed in the account.


One essential phase of localizing your PPC campaign is to determine all the business locations. The closer together the business locations, the more campaigns you will have in the account. Sometimes, if there are hundreds of campaigns, you can set up sub-accounts by region. This also helps if there are multiple account managers involved in the day-to-day management of the account.


Once you have set up the account and campaign structure, the next step is keyword coverage. You can list out all the cities, states and zip codes you want to target. Within Google you can chose to set up targeting according to the county, city, or zip code.


Another option is to use radius targeting. Depending on the nature of the business, you may want to target a larger area than where the business is located due to potential customers traveling to the business location.


Google Geo-Targeting Settings
Google Geo-Targeting Settings


Google is only able to serve one campaign ad at a time, so taking the time to review the targeting and ensuring that the campaigns do not have overlap is extremely important. If you do not take the time to do this, you could end up bidding against yourself and raising your CPCs in the account.


Another important setting to consider is the location setting. The options in Google are to set the targeting to “People In My Targeted Location” or “People In, Searching For or Viewing Pages About My Targeting Location”. Google uses IP Address to determine when to serve an ad in an area. If you chose “People In My Targeted Location,” you can avoid showing the wrong business location in search. This is more important for business with multiple locations in close proximity.


Consider that exclusions are important at times as well. For example, if your company only ships products to certain states, you will need to exclude the other states your campaign settings, if you chose the United States as an option.





As account managers, we need to think as marketers and consider the entire marketing channel including how and where PPC fits into the equation. While enterprise level clients run large national campaigns, localizing allows the chance to double down on high converting markets.


While building a local PPC campaign is always necessary for franchises and businesses with multiple locations, standard PPC accounts can benefit from a local structure as well. You may have the best chance at reaching your target market in your own city and state. Some brands do very little PPC, but the PPC they do is highly targeted. Brands that run highly targeted local PPC campaigns fundamentally understand that there are endless ways of reaching their customers and that local PPC is an important part of the entire marketing mix.