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2024 Local Marketing Guide (A Step by Step Approach to Success)

February 8, 2024

by John Lincoln

CEO, Ignite Visibility

Local search marketing is crucial to any successful business in today's digital age. In this article, we delve into the important strategies and techniques for optimizing your online presence and increasing visibility within your local community

Establishing a local marketing campaign that really hits the entire market you operate in can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t know the sequence to spend dollars for the highest return. However, with the right tools, experience, and strategy, it could be easier than you think.

In this article, I’ll explore what you need to know to build a robust local marketing program that will dominate your industry. 

The focus will be on local search marketing, but we will also cover other channels. Let’s dive in!

Get Into Local Service Ads

If you are unfamiliar with Local Service Ads, these are the first ads you see when you Google a business. Located at the top of the page, they are what generate the most interest from search users. People don’t realize how big an impact these ads have made. They pushed search ads down and really everything else on the page. So you need to play ball and advertise there if it's allowed in your industry

Good news, Google expanded them to over 70 new business types in March 2023, and it doesn’t look like they will stop there.

an example of a local service ad on google

With Google Local Service Ads, you only pay per lead. If it’s not a qualified lead or phone call, meaning if it's spam, you can dispute that, making it a great way to gather high-quality leads at a lower price point.

As mentioned, not every business can run Local Service Ads, because not every category has been developed. You can expect more categories to be rolled out soon. However, if you can run ads there, do it and spend as much as you can. It is a great way to get leads. 

Run Data-Based Search Engine Ads

Most people are aware of Google Search ads, as they have been one of the core strategies for driving local business growth for a decade.

In case you are new to this world, these ads are located at the top of the SERP, and they are easily recognizable thanks to the tiny bold “sponsored” or “ad” in the top left-hand corner.

an example of a search ad

If you’ve done your research and are targeting the right keywords and audiences, you can set up quite an effective and scalable marketing campaign.

The great debate is always on the following.

  1. Do you run ads on your own brand name?
  2. How much do you spend on brand and non-brand terms?
  3. Do you run ads on competitors' names?
  4. Do you run ads on broad terms such as “How To”?

From my perspective, on the local side, you want to be the leading spender in your core non-brand terms. Whatever the top 5 terms are in your local market, max those out. Don’t worry about the cost per click. Instead, focus on the quality of the conversions. You also want to include terms like “best” and “near me” in your strategy.

In regards to the other questions, you should spend on your brand, running ads on competitors' brand name search terms is up to you (really based on your level of comfort, industry, and goals), and you will generally stay away from broad terms unless there is a real pain point your customers search for that speak to a product or service you offer.

Since you can also use these types of ads to target specific audiences using first-party data, they’re perfect for building up brand awareness and cultivating a loyal customer base.

Performance Max Campaigns Is A Must For Local in 2024

With Performance Max, or pmax, ads, you can reach consumers exactly where they’re doing their research–on Google channels, including Search, Discover, Display, Gmail, Maps, Google Business Profile, and YouTube.

The goal of pmax ads is to drive traffic and make a sale quickly. To do this, you’ll need clear campaign objectives, a deep understanding of your target audience, and high-quality graphics paired with creative copy. You want to grab their attention quickly and use optimized landing pages and ad banners to convert them.

Getting your audience to the landing page from the ad is only part of the struggle. Now that they’re on your page, make it easy for them to convert. Be sure that you have a clear call to action and minimal distractions. When it comes to local marketing, your customer almost always wants a quick solution to their problem. Make it easy!

To ensure you’re getting the most out of your pmax ads, you also need to keep track of certain KPIs, depending on your campaign goals.‌

You should keep track of things like return on ad spend (ROAS), conversion rate, cost per acquisition (CPA), and other engagement metrics. That being said, by far the most important element of Performance Max success, outside of the quality of your ads and offer, is your conversion data, which the system is using to refine their spend from. This means you need to feed a quality conversion back into the system. If your conversion is someone going to a landing page vs someone who actually becomes a customer, the results are night and day.

Your conversion should be based on a quality customer. Good news, in 2024, it will get easier to do this with Google Ads Data Manager.

At the end of the day, you want Performance Max to be a notable part of your local marketing budget.

Create & Optimize Your Google Business Profile

The Google Business Profile is an essential tool for all types of businesses, especially those who are looking to improve their local search marketing strategy. The key to finding success with your Google Business Profile is being as specific as possible.

To make the most out of your Google Business Profile, set it up with unique and high-quality images, videos, and copy optimized for your main keywords. The more work and time you put into your Google Business Profile, the better.

With your Google Business Profile optimized, it will increase your visibility, which is incredibly important when targeting local search efforts. It will also help improve your user experience and build trust between you and your target audience.

To ensure that your profile is as optimized as possible, take a look at these elements and make sure they are consistent across all of your digital content, but especially on your Google Business Profile:

  • NAP - Name, address, and phone number
  • Business Categories
  • Service Areas
  • Description
  • Reviews and testimonials
  • Current posts and updates
  • Specific attributes, such as “women-led” or “wheelchair-accessible”

In addition to selecting and optimizing for each one of your services, Google now allows you to have up to 20 different service areas, expanding your reach and creating a larger presence for your business. This is a big deal! You must take advantage of it.

example of a google business profile


You can also use your Google Business Profile to solicit reviews from actual consumers and promote discounts and events.

an example of a google business profile review

You can also create posts specifically for your Google Business Profile to make it more useful for your audience, like in the example below.

an example of a Google Business profile post

When you take advantage of all of the options Google Business Profile gives you, it will add value to your profile and help to show consumers that your business is alive and well worth inviting them to stop by for a visit.

Ongoing search engine optimization for your Google Business Profile, as well as your local HTML pages should be part of your monthly strategy. I’ll talk more about HTML later, but to close out Google Business Profile optimization…

  1. Refresh your text content once a quarter
  2. Post weekly to your Google Business Profile 
  3. Add new photos and videos at least once a month
  4. Ensure you are consistently adding more local listings
  5. Make an effort to maintain your reviews

Let’s talk about Local ads and Maps. 

Test Out Google Local Ads and Google Maps

Speaking of stopping by for a visit, how well-prepared your Google Business Profile is will directly affect how you appear on Google Maps and in Google Local Ads. So, when a consumer searches for “taco place near me,” if you’re a local taco place near them with a well-designed Google Business Profile, you will be one of the first things they see on their SERP.

an example of Google Business Profile listings in Google Maps

In the example above, all the red dots are real estate agents with solid Google Business Profiles. Each of them includes contact information, a link to their website, a list of their services, multiple reviews, and more than 20 photos.

In addition to cultivating a robust Google Business Profile, pay attention to all of your other local business listings, such as Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, and other social media sites. 

These local business listings must have the same NAP (name, address, and phone number) and website hyperlink as your Google Business Profile to build authority and rankings. 

Use an online tool such as Moz Local or Yext to ensure that all of your content on each local ad and listing is the same, forming a cohesive brand that spans all your listings.

HTML Pages Should Be a Focus 

To further improve the ROI from your Google Business Profile, create location-specific HTML pages. The URL for these pages should look like this: example.com/location. Once you have your location pages established, optimize them for 3-5 of your most important keywords.

This is important for general SEO and your local ads because this HTML page will be referenced inside your Google Business Profile and your Google Maps listing.

In addition to your primary local page, you might also have sub-pages.

example.com/location
example.com/location/service-1/
example.com/location/servce-2/
Etc.

This can be a great strategy to rank for all that you do in your market. Also, you can use these same pages for paid media ads!

Make Sure Your Brand Looks Good When Searching Your Name

While your non-branded terms are important, so is your brand name. Ensure you are showing up positively on review sites, video content, and articles on other sites.

Search for these terms once a month.

“Your Brand Name”
“Your Brand Name + Reviews”

When you go down the search results list, make sure everything you see reflects how great your business is. 

Ads Outside of Google

A big downfall of many digital marketers is forgetting that there is an entire internet outside of the Google-verse. While Google clearly can send massive amounts of traffic in your direction, other search engines are still out there.

Once you’ve nailed down your strategy on Google, it’s time to start considering other platforms. Good news, you can usually advertise the same creative, copy and hit similar audiences as you expand your channel strategy.

Let’s start with Bing…

One key difference between Google and Bing is that Bing often shows information from Yelp, Facebook, and other external properties. That is all the more reason we are going to talk about those next.

After you have a robust Bing presence, turn your paid media attention toward platforms such as Yelp, YouTube, Meta (Facebook and Instagram), and Google Display Network. These platforms are important, especially for retargeting efforts.

For example, when someone visits your website, they get cookied. If you set it up properly, once they click off of your website and onto one of these other platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram, they will start seeing your ads again. You can also use the data from these cookies to serve ads based on keywords, audiences, and geographical locations to really make sure you capture the traffic intended for you.

Now this will change in 2024 to some degree, but for now, it's a great strategy. The key to the future will be building your first party data, such as email addresses for example.

We suggest retargeting a geographical area within 20-50 miles of your business. This, of course, depends on how intense and dense your geographical location is. You may want a smaller radius if you’re in a densely populated area, such as Los Angeles or New York City. However, if your area is less populated or there’s less competition, ‌expand your geographical area to capture more traffic and leads.

As your local ad strategy builds, and depending on your industry, you’ll start looking at more niche websites, such as Angi. These are great ways to drive leads to your business that are more specific.

Programmatic, TV, Radio, Sponsorships and Direct Mail 

We have covered a lot in this article, but I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t make note of Programmatic, TV, Radio, Sponsorships, and Direct Mail. I have seen local marketing programs built entirely off of these channels, and they should be part of your program.

Generally, when businesses start breaking 10 million in revenue, these are excellent channels to expand into. They are also great channels if you need to create awareness, service a general market, or have a very competitive search space. 

Why You Should Try Local Marketing in 2024

At the end of the day, you want to run Local Service Ads, Google Ads, Performance Max, optimize your Google Business Profile, collect first-party data, set up remarketing, and then expand into sites like Meta, Yelp, Angi, and more. If you do this, you will have a nice flow of leads coming into your local business.

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