A little while ago I wrote about the benefits of local SEO for businesses who operate in a particular geographical area with a neat guide to help them make sure they’re appearing in location-based searches in SERPs. Well, now there are some updates from Google regarding the local search ads on Google Maps. If you’ve been steering clear of ads either for financial or capability reasons, now may be the time to get on board.

Deemed the next generation of local search ads, sometime in the next three months Google will be revealing new formats and functions which are designed to drive more foot traffic to your physical location. These new formats and features will include:

  • Promoted pins
  • In-store promotions
  • Customisable business pages
  • Local inventory search

The new ads will appear across all the Google Map channels; the app, mobile, desktop, and tablet, and also in SERPs when a map is shown (aka Google.com Expanded Maps Results to give it its official name) for a location related search query. Depending on the version of Maps that you’re using, different numbers of ads will be shown (one on the app and Google.com Expanded Maps Results and two for all the others) and they’ll be identified with a purple ad label.

Local ads on desktop

Local ads on mobile app

So why is Google making these changes? Well, according to Search Engine Watch there are some very compelling stats which show that if you haven’t yet integrated your marketing so that the digital world and the real world are connected, then you definitely should, and the new ad formats are Google’s answer to connecting the dots:

  • Almost one third of mobile searches are related to location
  • Location related searches have been growing 50% faster than mobile searches overall in the past year
  • More than one billion people use Maps
  • 84% of customers conduct local searches
  • Three quarters of people who search for something nearby via their mobile end up visiting a store in the same day, and 26% of those searches result in a purchase

Convinced? I know I am! So what are the new functions and features about?

Promoted Pins

In a nutshell, these are branded location pins designed to make you stand out from the crowd, to people who are either nearby or who will be walking or driving directly past your shop / restaurant / business premises. Your advert for your branded pin will also appear at the top of the search results page and can feature useful information about your business or service, including any in-store promotions you have going on.

In-store Promotions

As above, you can now add in-store promotions to location ads – which might just be the cherry on the cake for someone who might not have otherwise visited you.

Local ad and offer on mobile

Customisable Business Pages

When someone taps on a local search ad, they’ll be taken to a landing page which advertisers can now customise to include important business information – opening hours, contact information and address, directions… – as well as any in-store promotions. This page will also allow people to search your local inventory.

Local Inventory Search

Apparently up to a quarter of people avoid visiting stores in real life because they’re unsure whether you’ll actually have what they’re looking for in stock. If it’s relevant to your business, you can submit your inventory feed to Google, who will then enable the local inventory search function on your customisable business page.

So how does Google work out who to show which adverts to? Apparently this magic = query context + location + search history + interests + behaviours + time of day + demographics. Or in other words, for those au fait with PPC, it works in a similar way to their display network.

If you haven’t already (and you should have) made sure that you have implemented local SEO best practices now is the time to do so, so that when this new update rolls out, you can take full advantage of it. And for small businesses on a budget, it will work on a CPC basis, meaning you have control over your spend.

Need / want help with PPC or local advertising? Get in touch!