Are Local Businesses Trying Hard Enough with Paid Search?

If You Want Results You've Got to Earn Them

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On Friday, the Interactive Advertising Bureau announced that the US had reached $5.5 billion in online ad revenue for the first quarter. This was down a bit from last year, but that’s not too bad considering the state of the economy. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find other ways to advertise your business that are as cost-effective. Do you think paid search is a good way for a local business to advertise? Tell WebProNews readers what you think.

IAB - Ad Revenue Growth

Online advertising helps you spread your message across the globe when that is your goal. Fortunately for small businesses, it can be quite effective on a local scale as well. In fact, new research from Borrell and Clickable, indicates that locally placed search advertising in the US alone is expected to grow 30% over the next 5 years, taking it from 4.1 billion in 2008 to $5.3 billion in 2013.

That would be an average annual increase of $242 million. Still, only about half of businesses that buy search ads do so again the following year. Some think search engine advertising has been "overhyped" to small businesses, but those who aren’t finding success with it should probably consider whether or not they’re using all of the tools available to them before dismissing this advertising strategy as a failure.

Google for one is very generous with the amount of tools, resources, and advice it gives its users. For example, just a week or two ago, they shared six ways to maximize AdWords investments like:

1. Focusing ads on low prices and savings
2. Using value-related keywords
3. Making sure ad groups are targeted and relevant
4. Not wasting money on irrelevant clicks
5. Making it easy for customers to buy
6. and focusing money on high performers

focus money on high performers

Google offers tools like:

The Keyword Tool
The Search-based Keyword Tool
Google AdWords Traffic Estimator
The Google Adwords Learning Center
Google Trends
Google Insights for Search
Google Hot Trends

…not to mention Google Analytics (just to name a few). Last month, Google expanded its Search Query Performance Report for AdWords so users can see all queries that resulted in a click (in cases where users haven’t specifically blocked referrer URLs).

In terms of other resources, advertisers should be reading Google’s blogs, watching Google’s videos, and frequenting help centers and forums to stay abreast of the most current trends, features, and advice that Google shares. Trust me, there is a lot of it.

And that’s just Google. If you advertise with Yahoo, Microsoft, or whoever, there are resources out there for you as well. When it comes to keyword research, Christine Churchill of KeyRelevance has some good advice and more ideas for tools. In fact, you should watch the following three (relatively brief) clips from her and a couple others from last week’s SMX Advanced conference:

The point of all of this is to raise the question: are the businesses who are finding little success with local search ads doing everything in their power to achieve success? I have a hunch that many of them are not. As the Wall Street Journal points out while reporting on the Borrell research, many of the advertisers don’t even have websites to direct the ads to. As shocking as that may see this day and age, it’s simply the truth, and I have to tell you – landing pages are a big part of the equation too.

So the moral of the story is this:
If you’re going to use paid search to market your local business, do your homework, and use the tools that are available to you (many of which are free) to get the job done right. It’s too powerful of a channel to simply ignore, particularly in a technologically evolving world where people want to get their info quickly (in the palm of their hand in increasingly many cases). And even if you’re not ignoring it, you might as well be if you’re doing it half-heartedly.

How much success have you had with paid search as a local business? Do you utilize all of the resources available to you? Share your thoughts.

Are Local Businesses Trying Hard Enough with Paid Search?
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  • Guest

    Thanks for your interest in the Borrell report. There is friction in the local search advertising marketplace, and there are opportunities to strengthen it.

    As the WSJ underscored, “as consumers continue to search for more local businesses information online, it is inevitable that local advertisers will follow.” Locally placed search advertising in the U.S. is projected to grow 30 percent over the next five years, from $4.1 billion in 2008 to $5.3 billion in 2013, according to Borrell Associates. We believe that’s significant growth, and it could eventually be more.

    Importantly, there’s a huge opportunity to grow the entire local search advertising industry if it does three things in concert:

    1. Delivers more ROI to local businesses by allocating a greater percent of their investment into search media spend, while optimizing and scaling with better technology platforms (i.e., a departure from selling Web site clicks and a push toward performance).
    2. Does a better job of clearly delivering and communicating ROI to local businesses, including tracking results more simply and accurately.
    3. Realigns sales efforts to better manage expectations.

    Again, there is friction in the marketplace, but there also is huge opportunity, and solutions to capture it.

    Max Kalehoff
    VP- Marketing, Clickable

    • Chris Crum

      Thanks for chiming in Max. There are clearly tons of opportunities out there if advertisers utilize the resources available to them.

  • http://www.edhardy2sale.com ed hardy

    Thanks for chiming in Max

  • http://www.writtenbysumer.com Spencer Spellman

    I really think paid search should be an option after you’ve done other thing properly. Above all businesses should make sure their sites are properly optimized and make sure they’ve done everything they can to rank as high as they can. Google has made it easy for businesses to take advantage of local business search. So I think these two things are imperative. Then, businesses need to do a lot of research to make sure you’re getting a positive ROI.
    I’m a bit surprised to see that paid search is predicted to go up.

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