by Kelly Shelton May 31, 2018

Stand Out in a Crowd: Overcoming the Challenges of Local PPC

It has become relatively easy for small businesses to rank well in organic search results. With the right strategy implemented by an SEO professional, you can even reach the top of page one. In fact, you are often at an advantage over larger competitors when it comes to local search terms.

However, without an ad strategy, it is impossible for businesses to maintain their dominance of the search results—there is often at least one ad above the organic results. Plus, only with ads can you stand out on social media, where you would otherwise be swallowed by the noise.

For these reasons, local businesses are now investing in online ads more than any other form of advertising. At Boostability, we’ve surveyed 4,697 businesses and found some fascinating results. Among those we surveyed, in 2017, spending reached $128,000, and that number is only growing. By 2022, these local businesses will be spending $170,000.

To put it simply, local PPC advertising is becoming an ever-more important part of any successful small business marketing strategy. With that in mind, let’s talk about how to put PPC advertising to work for your small business.

Local PPC Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is the top choice for online ads because you only pay when a user clicks on your ad. In contrast, with traditional online advertising, you pay a flat rate for a space.

Facebook is the most popular option for local PPC ads, with Google in a close second place. In fact, 62 percent of local advertisers use Facebook Ads.

Facebook has the advantage of having the best-implemented advertising platform. For instance, it allows ads to appear within newsfeeds or on the right of the page on desktop computers. It lets advertisers show ads from Instagram. It has advanced features like pay per impression and ad retargeting. Plus, it has the largest user base of any social media platform.

However, it is equally useful to create ads for Google, as you can tie them to your SEO strategy by targeting the same keywords.

The Struggle for Small Businesses

Now that local PPC is a mainstream marketing tactic, it is more difficult for small businesses to gain visibility. Unfortunately, they cannot compete with the bottomless budgets of large corporations.

The trick, then, is avoid competing at all. Instead, you need to stand out, just like you do with SEO. Here’s how:

1. Know Your Competitors

For a start, you need to know who your competitors are and what they are doing. A tool like Adthena is a great way to do this. Adthena it lets you monitor the activity of your competitors to see when they are running ads, about how much they are spending and which keywords they are targeting.

All this provides you with insights on how to improve your own strategy. For instance, you can avoid competing where other businesses are strong but take advantage of their weak points.

2. Use Long-Tail Keywords

As a local business, it makes no sense to target short keyword phrases. This will only present your ad to many users who will never have an interest in your business.

Plus, on Google where you are bidding for visibility, these keywords are highly-competitive and will end up being too costly. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, will bring you far more targeted clicks at an affordable rate.

3. Implement Tracking

There is no point in launching a campaign if you are unable to measure its impact. Before you create any ads, you need to set up tracking. At a minimum, you should be utilizing built-in social media analytics and the basic features of Google Analytics. It is better still if you implement code snippets on your website.

4. Optimize Your Ads

Once your ads are up and running, you need to ensure that they are performing at their best. Beyond measuring the results, make necessary improvements. It’s a good idea to use A/B testing to find out what makes the perfect ad.

5. Improve Your Landing Pages

Just as important as the ad itself is where you are sending users. It is rarely a good idea for a click to lead to the homepage of your website.

Dedicated landing pages are a much better way to approach local PPC. These pages can provide users with more information about your service, your contact information, the chance to purchase a product, or the opportunity to download or sign up for premium content.

Also test the difference in conversions when you use landing pages within your website and PURLs (personalized URLs). PURLs can be a responsive page or an entire microsite. Either allows you to better personalize and target content and to track individual users.

6. Create Campaigns According to Your Funnel

You’ll also want to create ads with a particular stage of the buyer’s journey in mind. This will prevent you from reaching the right user and the wrong time.

Think about whether your landing page is aimed at users in the awareness, consideration, decision, or purchase stage. Use your decision to write appropriate ad copy, design the landing page, and plan the navigation of your site.

7. Stretch Your Budget

Although it is more difficult to work with a limited budget, it is still just as possible to run a successful PPC ad campaign for a small business as it is for a large business. You just need to employ some additional strategies.

For instance, you may like to run your ads only during a certain time of the day. One option is to run them just during business hours. This will enable you to respond to users immediately. Another option is to run ads when your competitors are pausing theirs.

You can also reduce expenses by targeting more strictly. For example, if a particular subset of your audience is responding to your ads, you can target these users more than others. Similarly, you may find that users respond more often to ads on mobile devices than on desktop computers. In this case, you could just run mobile ads.

8. Work with an Expert

Heavy competition and so many aspects to take into consideration make it difficult to manage your local PPC strategy alone. Whereas it may seem cheaper to handle everything in house, you need to remember that the results will be diminished.

Investing in an expert will lead to higher upfront costs, but you’ll see much greater returns. At Boostability, we recommend Disruptive as an excellent PPC partner.


Just as you would never decide that it’s too difficult to rank in the SERPs and give up on SEO, you shouldn’t dismiss ads.

The trend toward greater online advertising shows how much potential PPC has for local businesses and local search marketing. When you use ads to complement your organic strategy, you can expand your reach and stand out online.

How do you use PPC ads to enhance your local search marketing performance? Will you be investing more into PPC in the coming months and years? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

  • PPC

Kelly Shelton

Kelly has over 20 years marketing, sales and customer service experience. He is a champion for small businesses and prides himself in helping them compete and thrive in a digital world. Kelly is currently the VP of Marketing for Boostability, a company dedicated to helping small businesses grow online.

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