As digital marketing experts, our job is to ensure that our clients are seen in the right place, by the right person, at the right time. Whether it’s a targeted ad campaign or an effective long-term organic search strategy, our teams tactically design effective approaches to add real, tangible value to our client’s businesses. With breakthroughs in new technology and methods of digital marketing, there are more tools available than ever to help spread brand awareness and boost revenue.

In June 2020, Google announced new features to one of it’s most essential advertising outlets for local businesses: Google Maps Ads. If you’re a business owner with a brick-and-mortar store, you should definitely be taking advantage of this effective form of paid, localized ads. 


What are Google Maps Ads?

One of the search engine conglomerate’s many advertising offers, Google Maps Ads is a type of paid digital marketing that promotes nearby establishments based on a person’s location. These ads appear in the Google Maps app as well as on the mobile, tablet, and desktop versions of the sites. 

Anytime a user searches for a type of establishment on Google Maps, they will receive sponsored ads at the top of the list, much like how standard PPC (pay-per-click) advertising works. Paid-for advertisements are placed at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) to increase exposure. For localized business, this is a vital tool to drive residents and travelers in your area to your store, restaurant, salon, or other type of brick-and-mortar. In fact, Search Engine Watch reported that 50 percent of people will visit a store discovered online within one day of their search.


What Do They Look Like?

In the image below, you’ll notice the familiar map pack that is shown on every search results page when performing a local search. 

On this pretty standard looking Google Maps SERP, you’ll see four businesses: one at the top with a small “AD” label and three below with no label. This is precisely how Google Maps Ads are displayed to users. It follows the same format as PPC advertising on Google and other search engines with the sponsored, or paid ads, appearing at the very top before organic suggestions. Having your business displayed at the first result on this list in Google Maps is an obvious advantage to attracting new customers. 


The Benefits of Google Maps Ads

Google Maps Ads is very effective at reaching consumers who are more likely to actually visit and buy from your business because of its localized nature. Displaying your business’s ad in map form also alerts your potential customers to the exact location of your business, which could be enticing if they notice that your business is nearby and therefore more convenient and potential competitors. 

The other obvious advantage is the fact that your business’s website, phone number, address, and other essential information is listed at the very top of the SERP, meaning people are more likely to notice and click on your company over other organic results lower on the list. 


How to Get Your Business to Appear for an Ad


Connect Google Ads Account to GMB listing

Google My Business (BMG) is a free tool you should already be using in your marketing efforts. Whenever someone searches for a type of business, nearby companies with a Business Profile (the phrase Google uses to refer to business listings) that is relevant to that category will appear at the top of the SERP (though still below any PPC sponsored ads). Linking your GMB to your Google Ads account will allow you to show location extensions in advertisements.

First, make sure that your Google Ads account and GMB have the same primary email address. If they don’t, you’ll have to grant Admin access on your Google Ads account.


Enable Location Extensions

In order to complete this step, you will go to “Ads and Extensions” on your Google Ads menu, then select “Location extension.” These location extensions will display the location of your business in that snippet of text shown on the SERP.


Target Specific Areas in Ad Campaigns

Because the purpose of Google Maps Ads is to drive business to your establishment through local SEO tactics, it’s absolutely essential to target specific cities or towns. Without this location information, your ads will not appear on the map.


Target Local Keywords

When targeting keywords with Google Maps Ads, you’ll want to prioritize both keywords that relate to your business and specific parts of your area.

For example, if you’re targeting injury law searches in Denver, then ensure that you’re bidding on keywords that include the city name in them, or even specific towns such as ‘Cherry Creek’ (a suburb of Denver). The more targeted your campaigns are, the higher the likelihood that your brand will have the opportunity to show up as a map ad.


Use a Call Tracking Number

The final step is tracking. Many advertisers make the mistake of not setting up this step, which helps to track ROI and overall effectiveness of your ads. While using a unique tracking number may not be a feasible solution for every advertiser, we recommend creating a tracking number to show with these specific ads.

Adding a tracking number is an easy process. Once you have your unique tracking number, navigate over to your Google My Business dashboard and select the “Info” option in the left hand menu. You’ll be redirected to a page where you can edit all details about your business listing. On the right hand side of the screen, you’ll notice an option to add a “Google Ads Location Extensions Phone.” This is where you’ll place this tracking number, don’t worry, it won’t have an effect on the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency for your business in Google’s eyes.


The Takeaway:

Google Maps Ads is a must-use tool for brick-and-mortar businesses trying to attract locals and visitors alike to their locations. As long as you’re targeting the right keywords and specific locations, you’ll start to reap the benefits of using Google Maps Ads. But, a successful campaign doesn’t happen overnight and needs time to reach its full potential performance, so be patient with your campaigns. To continue using this advertising feature to your advantage, you should also be optimizing keywords and location targeting on a daily basis. The team at Liftly are experts on creating these types of campaigns and strategizing in a way that will help meet your specific business goals.