I love to work with smaller companies, moms and pops mostly, start-ups mostly, who are interested in dipping their toes into the PPC pond (ocean?) to see how it might grow their business.

They tend to want to start out small and proceed with caution which makes all the sense in the world. HOWEVER…..we now live in a PPC universe where deep pocketed big boxed companies are willing to spend literally tens of thousands of dollars a month to grab as many eyeballs and clicks as they can. Google will tell you that if your keywords are of good quality, if your ad copy is precise, if your landing page experience is engaging….then you can complete with the big boxes.

Well…maybe.

All things being equal, if your start-up is doing everything right while the big box is doing everything wrong, then even if they are outbidding you 10 to one, you can compete. Problem is, big boxes are not doing everything wrong. They are doing very little wrong.

They also want to bid as little as possible which again makes good sense but the days of pennies per click is long over. The average cost per click in Google AdWords is between $1 and $2 on the search network. The most expensive keywords in AdWords and Bing Ads cost $50 or more per click. These are generally highly competitive keywords in industries that have high customer lifetime values, like law and insurance.

So what can you do to help level the playing field?

Well – if you’re local that’s a good card to play. Make sure you sign up for a Google Business account and add the local ad extension to your PPC campaign. Location extensions show your business address, phone number, and a map marker with your ad text. On mobile, they include a link with directions to your business.

Make sure you use geotargeting to only target the area you serve. Does it make sense to advertise to someone living 10 miles from your business? If so then you can target your address and a 10 mile radius around your location. Otherwise, whatever distance makes sense for your business.

Are you running a local restaurant that specializes in breakfast and maybe closes mid-afternoon? Then you can also set it up so that your ads only appear during certain hours of the day.

Use the Search Terms Report to see which keyword searches triggered your ads. If you see that keywords from outside your target locations are triggering your ads, exclude these keywords by clicking the check box next to them, then selecting Add as a negative keyword. If you see any keywords that are not completely irrelevant but even marginally so, make them negatives.

Include regional terms in your keyword lists. For example, if you run a furnace repair company in Buffalo your search terms should include terms like “buffalo furnace repair” and “furnace repair buffalo”.

Make sure you are only getting ad impressions from inside your target location. By default, Google targets your ads not only to people within your specified target location, but also to people who are searching about your target location. To change this setting, go to Campaign Settings and click on Location options (advanced). Under the Target section, click “Edit” to open the drop-down menu, and select the second option (“People in my targeted location.”).

The more you can do make your campaign as locally targeted as possible the better quality impressions you should generate leading to better qualified traffic.