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Research your local online advertising competition

Yesterday we began our discussion about local online advertising in advance of tomorrow’s webinar on Google AdWords by going over goal setting for your campaign. Just to re-cap, setting a goal for your advertising is the first and one of the most critical steps in any advertising venture since that defines your audience and what need your product or service may be fulfilling.

Once you have your goal set, the next step in setting up your local online advertising campaign is to do a little competitive research. Find out what your competitors are doing online and see if it’s working. A good way to do this is to do a Google search for your type of business. For example, if you are a locksmith in Austin, Texas, do a search for “locksmith in Austin” or something along those lines. When the search comes up, look at the ads that appear at the top and sides of the page. Here’s an example of what you might see for a search on web design.

Local Online Advertising

Your research should begin at the top because the ads at the top of the right hand column are the ads that Google thinks are the best according to their formula (more on that in the webinar). Look at how these are worded, try to pick out what the keywords are and see if you would be willing to click on the ad if you were a consumer. Look to see if the companies that are buying ads are also coming up in the natural search results, like in the first 5 spots below the paid ad section (the blue shaded section at the top). Successful local online advertising campaigns will boost the natural results for those advertisers so they should start to show up on the unpaid results once they have had a successful campaign running for awhile.

It’s also worthwhile to look at advertising on social media sites as well, just to get a different perspective. Open Facebook and look at what types of ads you are shown on the right hand side of the page. Go to LinkedIn and do the same thing. LinkedIn has been a little slower to build it’s advertising for smaller, local businesses so this may not be the best example of what’s possible or what is working, but no matter where you see any advertising online, if you are going to spend money there, take the time to see what others are doing. Not just to replicate what they are doing, but to see if you are motivated to click the link or if you are turned off by the ad. Your reaction is a good barometer of your ideal audience so pay attention to what’s out there.

You also want to get a sense of what others are doing so you can distinguish your ad. If there are a lot of web designers in your area, then how can you rise to the top in terms of creativity or uniqueness so people will click on your ad, not your competitors. This is an important aspect of online marketing so I don’t want to seem like I’m skimming over this, but I can’t really give this justice in a blog post. I’m guessing that will be a future blog topic…

Tomorrow’s post, however, will go into keyword research in a little more depth than we did yesterday. This is such a critical step in any type of online marketing and I could probably write a whole book on the subject (oh, wait, I did!), but I’ll try to keep it a reasonable length.


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