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The Portland Guide to Pay Per Click Advertising

The Portland Guide To Pay Per Click Advertising covers building high performing and deeply segmented paid search campaigns localized to the Portland, Oregon metro market.

This video is from SEMpdx’s recent Engage Conference in Portland. Todd Mintz moderated the session in which Ada Pally and I gave presentations featured in this video.

Video Transcription with Additional Explanation with Slides

This session is about origins and for me origins for PPC marketing and paid search campaigns goes back to local. I thought I’d take a deep dive into a lot of the processes and complications and considerations that we have for targeting local visitors based on their intent and their geography. I grew up in Portland, I now live in Minneapolis. I’m familiar with the area, having lived here for 20 years. But, it’s got its own quirks and I think we’ll get into them.

The Portland Guide to Pay Per Click Advertising

My name’s James Svoboda. I’m a partner at WebRanking and co-founded the Minnesota Search Engine Market Association (MnSearch).

James Svoboda at WebRanking

I’m involved with several other organizations.

‘Waterfall’ Campaigns – Segmentation that Flows

One of the aspects on how we build campaigns is we build where it had waterfalls. And there’s where you take your target segment and you break it down into layer by layer, either based on geography or keyword type and keyword usage. And I’ll show you examples of that later on but you’ll hear this term waterfalls over and over again. As represented by Multnomah Falls here.

Geo-Modified Keywords vs Non-Geo Keywords

Geo-Modified Keywords vs Non-Geo Keywords

One of the reasons that we take a multi-variation approach to local is that there are people that are locally here that use keywords like “lawyer” to find a lawyer in the area. And there are people that are here and abroad that use keywords like “Portland lawyer”. And based on different targeting options and different data providers that provide location specific information to the search providers, you have different combinations you can use to actually target and find them.

There was a study done a couple of years ago and this was on Search Engine Land that…and I’m sure these numbers have changed, but 60% of local searches, a lot of them, use location modifiers. And what’s also astounding is that a lot of people actually don’t use location modifiers.

Me personally, I use location modifiers all the time. But a lot of people don’t.

Common & Uncommon Geo Keyword Variations

Common & Uncommon Geo Keyword Variations

There’s a lot of common Geo variations. The most popular ones are city and state. And then from there, they can get broken down by different locations within the area. City names, misspellings, etc. One of the interesting ones that I’d like to point out here is sports.

I was running a campaign for a hotel in Minneapolis a few years back. And during the keyword research, we built out a Vikings and what was the stadium at the time, Metrodome, segment targeting people that were looking for Viking’s hotels, because there was significant search volume at the time. And I’m sitting at home on Wild Card Weekend, watching the game, the playoff game, and I think they were playing in Nashville. And they won the game and I had an idea at the time, “Well, why don’t I go up my bids for these Metrodome and Viking hotel keywords.

I just went in my office, jacked them up by like a dollar or two, not significantly. They consistently got between a 12% and 16% conversion rate throughout the year. For the next seven days, they had a 50% conversion rate. It was just a matter of finding the small segment, targeting it, having a reasonable landing page to send it to, and it’s just one of the many ways you can target local people based on keyword types.

Now, if any of you saw Purna earlier, she gives a great presentation on voice search and how it’s changing. And what we see for local is a lot of “near me” searches and that’s the one that you can easily identify as somebody who’s probably doing a voice search or an auto complete. And that’s really changing things because it’s “Portland dentists”, but it’s “dentists near me.” The same intent is based on where they’re at. Which you can target by different geo-targeting methods.

People In Location vs. People Searching For

People “In” Location vs. People “Searching For”


There’s two kinds of locations. You can actually target locations and you can exclude locations. And understanding the different types and how they can apply is key to using the different matches. As you can see by the map, we have a lot of negative locations throughout the country. These are all places that are either Portland, or the top one is Vancouver, where, if somebody is in Portland and they’re searching for Portland, Maine, and we’re not in Portland, Maine, we’re in Portland, Oregon, we want to exclude those. It takes just a few minutes to identify these other locations, negative amount and you can save your ad spend over time, months and years to come.

Especially with the option of “people in or searching for.” So, in this campaign, we’re only targeting Oregon and Washington. But the intent of people who are searching for information outside of our area is controlled here.

Where Am I Right Now

Where Am I Right Now?

Location targeting is not simple and it depends on the data provider that you use. The image on the left I took last week when I was in my office in Eden Prairie, it’s a suburb of Minneapolis. And I had my phone, and I had my GPS, and my location turned on. And it pulled up pretty much within a couple hundred feet of where I actually was.

Then I turned the location off and I just used my mobile data and it showed me that I was in Eden Prairie, that’s a zip code in Eden Prairie. I’m actually closer to the 212 than I am this zip code but that’s actually close. I mean, we’re within one zip code of where I actually was. And that’ll vary a lot depending on your cell phone provider.

The next one was, I’ve got Comcast in our office. I turned my WiFi on on my phone and I went through the Comcast and I did the same search again and it said that I’m in Minneapolis, which is 10 miles away from where I’m at. Which doesn’t seem like a huge deal but if you think about, if you’re trying to target Minneapolis, through various options like this, you’re reaching people outside of the area as well. Just because the data that Google’s getting isn’t precise enough yet to actually target everybody where they’re at.

A Search Engine Land article just came out last week talking about how in the last year they’ve actually gotten like 24% more (actually 23% for desktops & tablets and 34% for mobile) zip codes targeting actual impressions now than they had a year ago. I think it was Merkel that did a study on this. They’re getting better, but it’s still not perfect.

Example - Fargo vs Minneapolis

Example #1: Fargo vs Minneapolis (235 miles off)

I got a call from a client in Fargo, ND a year or so ago. And he couldn’t see his ads. And if you’ve ever had a client call you up because they can’t see their ads, it’s very important to them right then. You can’t put it on hold. They need answers. I asked him common questions, “What’s your keyword? Where are you located at? Are you on wifi?” He was on his phone, his location wasn’t turned on and it was just his data provider.

I had him do this search for “Where am I?” in Google. And it showed that he was in Minneapolis, which is where I was. And he’s 200-something miles away. But his data provider was telling Google that he was in Minneapolis. He couldn’t see the ads because we were targeting them to Fargo and North Dakota. It’s a little bit off.

Example - Minneapolis vs Chicago

Example #1: Minneapolis vs Chicago (408 miles off)

Then, after this call, I went to a colleague that I work with who also has the same cell phone provider and I asked him to do the same search. Google told him he was in Chicago. And he’s sitting next to me in Minneapolis.

Example - NYC vs Louisville

Example #3: NYC vs Louisville (737 miles off)

I’m explaining this to a colleague in New York last fall. He has AT&T as well. He went and did the search. He’s from Louisville. Google was telling him that he was in Louisville. That’s kind of a big difference, right?

And they’re getting better but just know how bad it can be. I mean, that’s pretty considerable. How much wasted ad spend are we buying clicks for and getting faulty impressions for because it’s outside of area? Now like I said, they’re getting better but there’s gonna be some issues.

Research & Targeting

One of the things we do when we’re doing research in targeting was figure out which Portland are you in?

Now, this is the most populous city named Portland in the country and in the world. But if you’re on the East Coast in New England, when you do a search you might be searching for the other one.

27 Portlands in the United States

So Many Portlands!

There are a total of 27 cities and towns in the United States named Portland. There are 15 around the rest of the world. Identifying these early using negative keywords and negative locations can help save your ad spend wasted, better conversion rates that way.

Which Vancouver, Washington or Canada

Which Vancouver?

Vancouver’s a little simpler. There’s only two that I know of. Unfortunately, Vancouver, Washington is not the most populous one. People here, when we search for Vancouver, we generally mean Washington. But you go outside of the area and most people are referring to Vancouver, Canada. For campaigns like this, we’ll use negative keywords like “Canada, BC, British Columbia, CA.” Things like that to exclude and save our ad spend on unwanted clicks.

Local Keyword Planner Research

Local Keyword Planner Research (beware of synonyms)

When we do keyword research we tend to use Google Keyword Planner. It’s got the most data. It’s getting really wonky these days. They’ve started combining synonyms that mean the same things together. In this case, I did a search for, “Portland dentists”, “dentist Portland”, and “dentist in Portland.” And they gave me Portland Dental, not exactly the same thing. If you’re doing keyword research some of these synonyms, you’re gonna want to separate them out into different ad groups so you’re not gonna get the variations and the data that you want.

The nice thing about this tool is though, you can also do general keyword research and target it to the Portland area instead of U.S. or worldwide. You can get some very specific data based on related keywords for people searching locally that are using general terms.

Main Local Keyword Variations

3 Main Local Keyword Variations

There are three main keyword variations that we start all of our local campaigns on. City keyword, keyword city, keyword in city, and you can pretty much get most of your variations that way through a Keyword Tool or Uber Suggest and things like that. This is also great for identifying negative locations that you might not have thought of. There’s a Manhattan, Kansas that most people wouldn’t think of targeting or excluding but if you’re in Manhattan, Kansas that’s very important to you. If you’re in Manhattan, New York; Manhattan, Kansas is a distant thing. You don’t really think about it. But as marketers, it helps us to understand these.

Google Search Console & Analytics Filters

Google Search Console & Analytics Filters

Another way we do local keyword researches is we’ll connect Google Search Console with Google Analytics and we connect it here and we pull the data out here because we can export it but we can always still use RegEx to identify the keyword variations that we want to take out. In this case, we’ll take out like “Port”. We just need the abbreviation, it’ll pull anything out of there with Portland in it. ” OR”, because if we just do O-R, you’re gonna get word stems for like door and things like that which apply to this but it’s not location specific. “ore”, “van”, ” wa”. We’re pulling all these data sources out and we’re putting them together because we’re making a keyword map for how we want local keywords to be and then potentially, how general keywords to be broken out in the account.

Geographical Business Issues - Travel, Legal, Income

Geographical Business Issues (Travel, Legal, Income, etc.)

One of the things that we do is some good old-fashioned pulling up a map and looking at what’s going on geography-wise. We’ve had several conversations with clients over the years that say, “Hey, I want to advertise this. But I don’t want to advertise it here. I don’t make enough doing it, advertising it.” There’s also legal, travel and other business relations. For instance, you know it you’re an attorney you have to pass the bar in what, Washington, Oregon, however many states you want to practice in. It becomes imperative that you understand whether your client can target those areas or whether you should exclude them. Highways and freeways have a great deal to do with targeting as well.

If you look at a map and you see you can go up and down I-5 and 205 and you get most places fairly easily. But if you go east and west it gets a little bit more complicated. The last time I went out to Gresham it took me forever. There’s no major way to get out there for as close as it is. The West Hills is sort of a boundary for doing business. When I was a teenager, I never went to Beaverton. That was on the other side of the hills. It just didn’t apply to me. I wasn’t gonna take the time to go through rush hour and fight all kinds of traffic getting out to see Todd. It’s just not gonna happen.

But certain businesses, especially if the business travels rather than the customers coming to you, it can apply to. But not everybody it is. And you’ll have to sit down and identify these and you can talk to your clients or people you work with and say, “Where do you want to do business?” And “What services do we want to do businesses in that area for?”

Rivers are another thing. There’s only two main bridges that go across the Colombia river into Vancouver from Portland. We’ve had clients before that say, “Hey, I don’t want contractors to go to Vancouver. It just takes too long to get there and fight traffic every day,” we exclude that out initially. These are conversations you can have with them. As well as lakes. Major lakes can play a role as well.

Income, there’s a Google setting where you can target by income, which basically targets it down to a zip code level. But you can also do research on income stats for the Portland area and you can find out that people that live on Lake Oswego, right in that area, make $195,0000, $196,000 a year on average for a household income. People out in this rural part of Boring Oregon, made about $30,000 or $40,000. Understanding your location targeting from that can give you clues on where you want to exclude or where you want to target more for.

Location Targeting - Add Relevant Areas

Location Targeting: Add Relevant Areas

We tend to take all the cities that we want to target and exclude and put most of them, if not all of them, in so that we can see the breakdown of the data in Google AdWords. Google actually has a spreadsheet with all their locations you could target in it. You can download that. You can sift through it, you can do it by state. You can do it word stemmed by like Portland to find your negative matches from other cities and things like that.

We do this so that we have data moving forward. In this example, there is Clackamas county for this client that we had almost 2,000 impressions and no clicks on. Now that could have been a data provider issue. Somebody like AT&T aggregates certain data from other areas to Clackamas. Or it could have been just the fact that this client does poorly there. Either way, it’s a clue to us to go in and identify it a little bit more and maybe do something with it. Negative it out or adjust bids.

Local Remarketing Audiences

Local Remarketing Audiences

Local Remarketing. We have a couple clients that have many locations and there becomes an issue trying to retarget to everybody when your creative is nationwide. And your audience is nationwide. You can’t do all the visitors. Even if you do all converters, for a major website, you’re still going to have messaging on a local level that’s gonna be blatant to everybody.

Google Analytics has a nice little feature where you can target people and add them to your marketing list based on their location. And some people work in Portland and live in Beaverton or live in Gresham. They may trigger into one list, which they will still be in that list, based on where they did that search or when they landed on your site then. And then they’ll move out of area.

That’s important if you can target people in a certain area it’s very important for nationwide people because then you can do combo lists and you can combine your location lists with maybe converters or people that added to the cart that didn’t convert. And maybe you want to hit them up with a messaging like, “Free shipping to Portland. Act within 24 hours,” or something like that.

Local RLSA: Bid Only and Same Bids = Insights

Local RLSA: Bid Only + Same Bids = Insights

When we create these lists, these geo-targeted remarking lists, we just put them in. We usually put the bid modifiers at zero or +1%, just a minor thing. Just so we know that they’re triggering. So that we can get some better data back on how these audiences are interacting with our search ads.

RLSA Location Audiences and Wide Targeting and General Keywords

RLSA Location Audiences + Wide Targeting + General Keywords

It’s actually a pretty good thing to do if you’re also doing competitor re-marketing campaigns. Say, for instance you’re Verizon, you want to target AT&T because they got crappy search location data they provide. And you can target things like “AT&T sucks,” or “AT&T reviews,” or “quit AT&T” and have those searchers come to your comparison page instead. Just an interesting way of being creative.

Account Structure

We take and zone campaigns.

Zoning - Expand Geos with Creative Targeting

Zoning: Expand Geo’s with Creative Targeting

This is one maybe an extreme case of it. A client, they’re in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They’re a resort. And it’s sparsely populated up there. They are surrounded by two bodies of water, two Great Lakes, one on the North, one on the South. Most of their driving traffic comes over from Wisconsin rather than Michigan because Michigan you have to go up and over and it’s kind of a headache. Most of their audiences come from there.

Since they’re a resort, they want to attract people there. And their audience drives and they generally don’t fly. It’s expensive to fly into their local airport. Last time I looked it was probably four times more than it was flying into Green Bay, renting a car and driving up. We took the type of businesses that they are, resort, they do gaming and gambling as well. They’ve got a spa. They’ve got golf courses there. We took them and we broke them down based on how likely it is for certain people to drive to get there.

People searching for a hotel or resort keywords are more likely to drive rather than somebody who wants to be in the spa. And their internal customer lists show that the zip codes that people will actually drive from for the different types of services. That gave us a clue on zoning these based on the types of businesses.

Now, just last month we added a fifth zone to this, which is sort of a hybrid between the first and the second. What we do with these different zones is we break them down by keyword stems. So that we’re targeting people based on the keywords that they’re searching for. And how likely they are to convert based on the location that they’re in. Which if they’re spa keywords, we don’t want to target just day spa type keywords to people nationwide, it’s not gonna convert for them. But if somebody types in “Day spa, Upper Peninsula, Michigan,” they’re much more likely.

We came up with these zones and modified them based on location, the different keyword types, services, and business aspects that they have. And once you start zoning campaigns and planning it out this way, it really can give you clues into how searchers in other ways can access your client’s website. And it helps to have analytics data when you can go in and look at converters for, say the golf course and the zip codes that they came in to book a reservation.

Campaigns - Geo-Modified Keywords vs Geo-Targeted

Campaigns: Geo-Modified “Keywords” vs Geo-Targeted

In premise, we have two types of campaigns that we do for local. It’s pretty standard for us. The four and the five that I just showed you is a rarity. But this is pretty standard. We do a geo-modified keyword campaign and a geo-targeted. Since targeting aspects geo-wise are done at the campaign level, you have to split them out to change your radius. The one on the left is geo-modified, which all these keywords have Portland in them. And anybody searching for the word Portland with the keyword triggers for within these larger areas since data providers can be sketchy, we widened our map.

The geo-targeted is much more specific, lawyer, keywords and things like that. And then the lawyer geo-targeted campaign, we’re using negative keywords like Portland so that we’re not triggering Portland keywords there that we want to go into our other one. Because your keyword data for keywords with the Portland, the modified ones, you’re gonna get less volume on those but they can be very, very specific. And much better for you.

Analysis - Geo-Targeted vs Geo-Modified

Analysis: Geo-Targeted vs Geo-Modified

I did an analysis last week of the last two years of all of our accounts that had these two options, the geo-modified and the geo-targeted. I pulled them out, I combined the data to the other to try to give you some context on why we do this and the results that we see. These accounts, most of them were older than two years. They weren’t new, they weren’t subject to major fluctuations. We’ve kind of gone through the rigmarole to dial them in to a really good point to where they’re stable and they’re profitable.

The geo-modified we had 47% higher click through rate on all the geo-modified campaigns. The average customer collect was actually 2% better for the geo-modified. But that’s…I threw that in just so you’re not seeing that we’re spending a whole bunch more one way or the other influencing these. The average position was pretty close, all things considered. The click conversion rate. The number of clicks that turn into a conversion was 91% higher for the geo-modified. Anybody using the word “Portland hotels, Portland lawyers,” things like that, 91% higher conversion rate for people using those than the other ones. A 116% click conversion value, 119% conversion value over cost.

When we’re making budget decisions, this really comes into play. If you’re sitting there and you’re dealing with a local business. Or especially a small local business, where their dollars are more meaningful for them than a large nationwide player, things like this help. If the account’s set up this way, you can just go in, you can adjust your bids, you can adjust your budget down. Without really affecting one or the other.

Local Waterfall Account Structure

Local “Waterfall” Account Structure

Getting back to the waterfall account structure that I was talking about earlier. We set this up through a series of positive and negative targeting locations. And positive and negative keywords. And the one on the left, Portland doors is a prime example. We have a main ad group, it’s Portland doors keywords, which is targeting anything that we haven’t yet identified in other ad groups. For instance, entry, patio, and storm are three other ad groups and segments for this client that we identified that get volume, are worth having an ad group for, and we could have special messaging for, and special landing pages that we can test.

What we’re doing is we’re water-falling the entry down from the Portland doors to the entry. Same thing with windows and then we have another one, Portland windows and doors, because a lot of people tend to search for both of them at the same time. We negatived windows and doors out of the other campaign so that they trigger down here.

The geo-modified opened up the whole Northwest, most of the Northwest. The geo-targeted, the next one, we have a Portland campaign, we’re targeting Portland people, specifically in Portland and the area but not in Washington. We’ve got different conversion rates for Washington and it’s very important for us to split that out. The Vancouver doors is very similar to the Portland doors. A wide area, very similar keywords. The Vancouver as well similar to the other Portland. And this is important because our messaging and our landing pages for people where they’re at, are tailored to where they’re at. So that we’re not cross-pollinating and we’re not sending everybody to a big Portland metro area.

Local Waterfall Variations Dictated by Volume

Local “Waterfall” Variations Dictated by Volume

Sometimes the local waterfall gets a little confusing based on the type of client that they’re in and it’s not so specific to cities. In this case, this client is a series of credit unions, they’ve got 7 branches in New Jersey. And New Jersey which I’ve never been to but from my understanding, it’s a big, sprawling suburb where there are lots of decent to small size cities that are all regionally close but there’s no one major predominant metro area for them. Other than New York which they’re not licensed in so we can’t target that.

But we found out that through the original ad groups we had that we were getting traffic for New Jersey, and NJ, and cities and counties in New Jersey, which is….people search for counties in New Jersey pretty often. This audience was different from the other ones, from the general New Jersey, regular auto loan searchers. The audiences for New Jersey, and NJ, and people that use keyword variations for these were more interested to click on a location’s link and call, rather than fill out the form that we had there which converted very well.

By identifying these and segmenting them out and water-falling them down into these specific ad groups, we were able to target exactly what they’re doing a little bit more because there’s more local intent there.


When we do ad analysis before we get into writing we go to the searches and we figure out what other people are using.

Ad Analysis - Paid vs Organic Anchors & Content Types

Ad Analysis: Paid vs Organic Anchors & Content Types

We don’t want to duplicate anybody’s work but if it’s a new client that we haven’t dealt with their industry before it’s really good to get in there and see what other people are using.

This is Portland hotels. I took this screen capture last week I believe. And the one on the left are the ads. The one on the right is the organic listings. And when we do ad analysis and research, we do the organic and the paid. We want to understand how the whole search is working for this type of audience and what’s messaging as a result.

Trip Advisor here. This is the first time I’ve seen an ad from a hotel company where the ad says “Top 10.” And if you look at the organic listings, there’s what? Three or four there that have “Top 10” so it’s a little bit more engaging. There’s probably more links to that. People probably share those top 10’s. You look at the booking ad, just below the Trip Advisor one, it’s got 140 hotels listed. I don’t need 140 hotels. I just need one, right?

It’s interesting, you can do location extensions or business data based on locations. And they’re probably doing that where they’re just plugging it in. This is an opportunity to test the two, which one is gonna work better for you. If you’re a hotel or a booking engine like this. Some, the top 10, you’re probably gonna get higher click-through rates, which is always a good thing. Mike, it might be a little bit more click-baity though, like lower conversion rates.

The nice thing about the new extended ads is that we get to test variations like this. We have more room in the headlines. The headlines make that much difference that we can test variations. When we’re doing research we’re looking to make sure that all of our local searches have a location modifier in them, an anchor. We look for the brand, to see if that’s in there and then we look for the features/benefits, the unique pieces of that because that can give us a clue into messaging that might be working for a local market that we didn’t know about yet and maybe the client didn’t know about.

Ad Analysis - Features, Benefits, and USPs

Ad Analysis: Features, Benefits, and USPs

This goes for also analyzing the messaging versus the cost standpoint. A lot of ads will be based on cost. And the orange ones in here are price point conscious ads and messaging. Whereas the blue, that’s a little bit more patient-friendly messaging. That gives us another clue on two different types of variations of ads that we can test against each other. Without creating 20 different ads, we now have clues into two different types to see what’s gonna work better for us.

Ad Analysis - Ad Extensions

Ad Analysis: Ad Extensions

Ad extensions: we always pull ad extension data to see what’s being used commonly and what people are using in the verbiage. It gives us a jump-start on writing ad extensions. Just knowing what other people have done. Plus we do not want to have ads that are exactly identical to somebody else. If you ever see ads in a local search result that are almost identical and they’re from different websites and different companies, it’s probably a big data, local advertising company that’s just mocking all these up and throwing them up. Like Reach Local I think used to do stuff like that and there are some others. Actually, I believe the top listing here might be one of those here as well.

Ad Analysis - Other Markets

Ad Analysis: Other Markets

When we’re doing local ad analysis, we also look outside of the market. Seattle’s close, maybe they’re doing different things over there. When you’re doing ad research for a specific keyword you’re only gonna get anywhere from 10 to 20 ad variations at the most. That you’ll be able to find. Going outside your market you get to see how other markets are using messaging as well. Free offer, top 20, Open Saturday. Actually, I might have pulled this screenshot on Saturday. If this ad says, “Open Saturday,” and I’m searching on Saturday, that’s a very timely ad.

We work with an emergency dentist where ads like this are very relevant to him. Because when he has patients that need dental work now, they want to know you’re open on Saturday. Overall, these ads are disappointing though, if you look at them. Portland ones are much better.

Landing Pages

When we’re dealing with landing pages, there are three main things that we try to focus on every single time.

Landing Pages - Local Match

Landing Pages: Local Match

Local match, localizing them. Having the difference between, if you’re a real estate agent and this is your website and you’re in Portland, let’s have a Craftsman style house instead of something adobe or Southwest looking.

You match what your audience is expecting. It’s going to reduce your bounce rates, increase your conversion rates. Just being localized to them.

Landing Pages - 503 and 360, even with call tracking

Landing Pages: 503 and 360 (even with call tracking)

Call tracking and phone numbers. Many of our clients get much higher results from calls than they do from web forms. Some industries it’s amazing. And we work with a call tracking provider that can provide us local numbers. If you’re doing call tracking, see if you can get local numbers from them. They don’t all do that. I’m not sure if they all do. I’ve heard other people have issues getting local numbers from their providers before but it can make a huge difference especially if your client is getting a lot of calls.

And then you can segment your numbers based on your landing page. Then you know if people are calling the 360 number, you can have a pool of those. You know those are from Vancouver and your marketing.

Landing Pages: Maps, Locations & Service Areas

Landing Pages: Maps, Locations & Service Areas

The third and main piece that we work into local and we test these, are maps and very strong suggestions of the areas we serve. Messaging really matters. This client, we started off with one landing page, we targeted Portland/Vancouver area. And then we found out that the audiences worked different. We split them up. We created a Portland and a Vancouver one. We changed the headlines. We changed a little bit of the upper copy. But, we didn’t change the maps and the location’s down here.

And then we thought, “Well, what’s our next test that we’re gonna run?” We changed the locations. Instead of listing all of them, we slimmed them down to the ones that were more relevant to them. And if you’ll notice the top ones, we had a “Get out of Jail Free card,” or an exit door “we also installed in Vancouver”. Because we had some people that we identified though who were probably working in Portland, doing searches for Portland but then they were going to Vancouver and as soon as we put this on and started testing it.

Portland PPC Takeaways



  • Assess your business issues: Is there travel required? Legal requirements? Any sort of natural obstacles are in the way? Use a map.
  • Zone your campaigns: Start planning out the different zones, services and products that you have. Create different campaigns based on the targeting options that are available.
  • Build based on volume: A lot of times we’ll build head term groups initially and then build it out over time to create that waterfall, based on the volume. And then the volume changes over time as you move from one to the other.
  • Analyze your SERPs: Both paid and local organic.
  • Localize your Landing Pages

Do these things and you should be on a good path. Thank you.

Questions & Answers

Question #1

What’s the most efficient way that you’ve found to upload location targeting to adverse campaigns? I know it gets pretty robust. They say you probably didn’t get the UI manually.

Some of those we did. Yes, one in particular we did. And then I found out about a week later you can do it through AdWords Editor. Because like I said, Google will provide you with a big list of the locations and you can just sort that by your state or zip code and things like that. But I found that out after painstakingly taking about an hour to do a lot of those.

Follow-up: Did you have luck with just uploading that and then resolve? Because I’ve tried bulk uploading and ran into, “We don’t know what this location is.”

I haven’t had issues myself but that was….Some of those are kind of extreme and we do those once a year to something like that. A lot of times we’ll also send the list to the client, get feedback, they’ll say, “Okay, test some of these.” Then we’ll put those in and we’ll go with a round two later, and we’ll expand upon it. It’s not all necessarily one time.

Question #2

I’ve heard really different things about the people’s in line location setting versus people searching for that other one. I’ve heard really different things from industry professionals. Google asks themselves about the differences between those two. Do you have an opinion on, you know, kind of the discrepancies between the two? Which one is more favorable in what situations?

I tend to go with "in location". Just based on how we break it down. The discrepancies probably come from the data providers, the internet companies that they get it from more than anything. That AT&T example is just one of the most absurd ones that I keep running into. But, like I said, Merkel did a study recently. A blog post on searching that came out last week saying that like 24, I think it was 24%, they’re getting clicks and impressions in 24% more zip codes this year than they did the same time last year. I think it was something along those lines. They are getting better. And it’s only in Google’s best interest to provide people with better data based on locations. But yeah, they’re a little sometimes.

That’s the nice thing though about adding a bunch of locations in is you get to see the data based on the location. Now one thing about that is that if you have Portland in there and you have a bunch of Portland zip codes, it’s not aggregating those zip codes into an overarching Portland location target. It doesn’t add them all up congruently. You have to pay attention to that. Sometimes we will take out those sub locations like zip codes in favor of just the city that has like four or five zip codes in it if the volume’s not there.

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