The Local PPC Toolkit

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Local PPC is not easy, and it’s certainly not getting easier – especially if you’re paying the bills, with rising costs per-click (anecdotally) and increasingly competitive search results pages.

If it’s getting tougher then you need to do better in order to compete. If you can work more efficiently, adapt to change quickly and implement new techniques successfully then you’re going to out-perform your competitors.

I’ve been running Local PPC and AdWords campaigns for a number of years (as well as Local SEO, which happily goes hand-in-hand with paid search), and I’ve been using some of the same tools again and again. Why? Because they work – they’re reliable, they save me time and allow client campaigns to run quicker and smoother.

It’s a horrible thing when an AdWords campaign starts running and you find a few small errors – often it’s not a case of being able to apply a “quick fix”, so it’s vital that the fundamental parts of a campaign are setup correctly.

There are lots of bid-management tools out there that can take care of things for you, but if you’re a local business (or working with local businesses) and wish to do-it-yourself, then take a look in our Toolkit:

Campaign Setup & Management

AdWords Editor

If you’re a small business (and not a marketing agency), you’ll now be thinking “what’s AdWords Editor? Is that a Google Product?” – it is. AdWords Editor is a Desktop Application that allows you to work on AdWords campaigns “offline”, before uploading any changes or adjustments you’ve made. Being able to copy and paste hundreds (and thousands) of keywords, move ads, adjust bids by % or to “meet first page bid estimate” with a couple of clicks can result in a lot of saved time. It’s possible to download stats and give yourself a good strategic overview of performance within Editor.

AdWords Editor

Key Features for Local PPC:
Copy & Paste ads across hundreds of campaigns? Check. Adjust all bids to first page estimate or increase/decrease by X%? Check.

Google Maps

“Local” means location-specific. If you’re not opening a Maps website when setting up Local PPC, then you’re missing out.

Key Features for Local PPC:
Your own geographic knowledge might be good, but without a Map you can still get lost. Enter a county name into Google Maps and it will outline the boundary, leaving you to successfully find all of those places a client meant when they said “everywhere in County X”.


Keyword Research Tools:

Everything starts with keywords. Picking the right keywords can get you off to the best possible start. You probably need a good blend of short, popular phrases and longer, less popular variations of keywords. The AdWords Keyword Planner, whilst giving you data on popularity, won’t reveal all of those, but using Google Suggest can help. Ubersuggest can take some of the manual work on for you, and give you a list of phrases suggested by Google following your keyword.

Look for patterns, such as:
“service + phone number”
“service + contact”
“service + near location”



If there’s one tool that saved me the most time over the last few years, apart from the last tool I mention in this post, it’s MergeWords. This is a simple web tool that can combine lists of words and create match modifiers such as exact or phrase to your list.


Key Features for Local PPC:
Entering a list of keywords in one column, a list of locations in another column and clicking “Merge” will give you all combinations of your “keyword + location” phrases. What might have once taken hours will only take minutes using MergeWords.

Microsoft Excel (or Google Docs)

If you don’t use a tool for manipulating lots of data, or even small batches of data, and you’re doing PPC then please start to. Excel, and Google Drive Spreadsheets, can keep you organised and efficient. There’s quite a lot you can do with simple copy and paste, but with just a little more sophistication you can do much more.


Excel Tips:
Use Tables
If you’re going to get into using Excel then start by putting things into Tables. It’s quick (CTRL+T) and can help you filter your keywords, ad groups or whatever other data you need to manipulate. It’s also super-fast when you come to use Lookups or combine data from multiple cells.

Use Conditional Formatting
Here’s a quick tip for sorting by cells that contain a certain keyword – use Conditional Formatting. It’s a simple way to highlight “any cell that contains X”. It has many other uses, but this is a good place to start.

Learn Simple Formulas:
CONCATENATE will allow you to combine data in two or more cells, or data in one cell with any text you wish to add.
MID enables you to cut certain information from another cell and use just that data somewhere else.
If you want to do super-clever things like find information in one column and match it to other data in a table, spend some time learning VLOOKUP.

A Decent Text Editor

This happens to be the most often-used tool outside of Pay per-Click work too – there are so many formatting issues when copying & pasting from various places on the web that I tend to have a text editor open as a go-between. There are text editors with a lot of features, and whilst some of the more advanced features might be incredibly useful at certain times, the single most-used feature, for me, is Find & Replace. There’s nothing groundbreaking about that – but can you imagine working without it? I can’t.


Key Features for Local PPC:
The Macros feature is very valuable.



Key Features for Local PPC:
Simple Find & Replace is very helpful – and “power users” can use Regular Expressions for even more awesome.



(Lots of) Coffee

This is perhaps the most important tool in the box. It stimulates the brain and allows me to focus on the task. I can’t put a figure on how much time Coffee has saved me over the years, but it’s probably quite a lot :)

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