Updated: Aug 12
Greetings! Greg from Brand U Media here. As a Charleston digital marketing agency, I work closely with local businesses to maximize their visibility and growth.
One question I get asked a lot - should I be using Google Ads?
Great question! In this post, I'll provide the ultimate guide on how Google Ads works, the pros/cons, and determine if it's a good fit for businesses in Charleston and the neighboring areas in the Lowcountry.
Let's dig in.
What Exactly Are Google Ads?
In simple terms, Google Ads allows businesses to show ads across Google's massive network of search results, display websites, sitelink extensions, YouTube videos, and mobile apps. Additionally, businesses can gain insights into their audience through tools like Google Analytics.
It works like this - you create text, image, or video ads for your business name's Google Ads campaign, then choose relevant keywords and settings to control when and where your ads are displayed.
For example, a Charleston plumber running a Google Ads campaign would want their ad to appear when local users search "Charleston plumber" or "drain cleaning Charleston."
The ads then show at the top or side of search results on Google ahead of the free organic listings. This gives you prime visibility exactly when people are looking for your type of business.
Of course, Google charges for this level of visibility and traffic. But the pay-per-click model means you only pay when someone actually clicks your ad, not just when it's shown.
How Do Google Ads Charges Work?
Google uses an auction-style system for determining ad campaigns placements and cost per click. Essentially, businesses bid on keywords - how much they're willing to pay for a click on their ad for a given term.
The higher your bid relative to competitors, the higher placement your ad campaigns can get on the page. Top positions tend to get more clicks. But it's not just about clicks; conversion tracking is essential to understand how those clicks translate to actual sales or leads.
However, your overall Quality Score also factors in. This looks at the relevance of your ads and landing page content. High-quality ads can rank better for less.
You can set a total daily budget so your costs stay within a set range. Advanced location settings also let you target your ads only for searches coming from specific Charleston zip codes or regions.
This ability to laser target makes Google Ads effective for local lead generation. You get your ad in front of nearby prospects ready to buy.
What Are the Benefits of Google Ads for Local Businesses?
There are many potential upsides for Charleston companies that leverage Google Ads effectively:
Increased Brand Awareness
With over 8.5+ billion Google searches per day, rankings are competitive. Google Ads helps more people discover and learn about your brand by putting you front and center. Even if they don't click, repeated visibility builds familiarity over time.
Targeted Local Exposure
You can target your ads geographically only to be triggered by searches coming from specific parts of Charleston. This means you get in front of local prospects ready to buy when they’re searching for businesses like yours. No wasted spend showing ads to people unlikely to do business with you.
Google Ads provides data like clicks, calls, leads, costs, conversions, etc, so you can see real ROI. Unlike a billboard or TV ad, you know exactly how your ads are performing. This allows you to refine and optimize efforts over time for better results.
Daily spend budgets can start small at just $10 or $20 per day. You have control to adjust your budget up or down at any point based on performance and business needs. This makes Google Ads achievable even for local small businesses or startups here in Charleston.
Easy Campaign Management
The Google Ads platform is designed to be user-friendly for creating and managing campaigns. The interface guides you through all the key settings. You don't have to be an expert to launch ads and see results. Start small and expand what works.
Of course, a digital consultancy like mine can help optimize performance through proven best practices. But nice that it's accessible for businesses at any level.
Your ads can be displayed across Google Search, YouTube, Display Network sites, mobile apps, and more. You have many options to reach users searching for your offerings or just browsing relevant sites where your audience spends time. Cast a wide net or laser-focus efforts by location and keywords based on your specific offerings, target customers, and goals.
Location Targeting for Local Ads
One of the most potent features of the Google Search Network in Google Ads for local lead generation is robust location targeting.
You can “geo-target” your ads to only be triggered by searches coming from the specific neighborhoods, cities, and regions you serve.
For instance, exclusively in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island, 29407 zip code, within 10 miles of your business, and so on.
This strategy ensures your ads and budget cater to ready-to-buy searchers right in your vicinity rather than those less likely to engage with your business.
In fact, research by BrightLocal found 78% of local mobile searches result in offline conversions. Hyper-local search ads convert!
Different Ad Campaign Types
Google offers a variety of campaign types to match your specific goals:
Help you get website traffic, calls, store visits, etc, when people search for related terms on Google. Displays text ads beside organic results. Best for capturing those actively searching.
Build brand awareness by showing image, text and video ads across the broad Google Display Network of over 2 million partner sites, YouTube videos and apps.
Engage viewers on YouTube to bring your brand to life. People watch full video ads for longer than they engage with text/images.
Feature a phone number prominently in the ad to drive calls directly from Google.
Local services campaigns
Connect service area businesses like plumbers with ready-to-hire customers searching for those services.
Pinpoint your location on the interactive map ads shown beside search results. Helps people find and get directions to your retail store.
Lots of options to be strategic based on your offerings, customers and goals. You can run multiple campaign types to accomplish different objectives under your account.
Keywords are the backbone of Google Ads, enabling you to target searches highly relevant to your target audience and specific business.
Through keyword research, identify terms and phrases that show user intent to find your products or services.
Like “Charleston catering,” “window replacement 29492”, or “Mt Pleasant painter.”
Targeting tightly aligned keywords helps drive interested traffic. Avoid broad generic terms that get low-intent traffic, as these can be considered as negative keywords.
Ongoing keyword expansion and optimization is key to improving performance over time.
Google Ads Works for All Kinds of Local Businesses
Google Ads can work for all sorts of Charleston industries and business types like:
And many more! Both small local startups and national enterprises can find success with Google Ads here in Charleston. You control your budget, so you can make it work at any size.
The average cost per click on Google Ads is $1 - $2, according to Wordstream data. Competitive but achievable depending on your margins and ability to convert visitors.
Consistent Brand Messaging
An effective approach is using Google Ads together with your website, social media, email marketing and other digital channels.
This expanded reach across multiple touchpoints makes your ads more effective through reinforcing consistent branding and messaging.
Testing & Optimization
Like any marketing, especially when managing a Google Ads account, expect a period of trial and error to get Google Ads humming. Start by A/B testing a few different ad variations within your Google Ads account to see what messaging and offers perform best.
Pay close attention to key metrics like CTR, conversions, and cost per conversion to refine targeting, bids, keywords, and ad copy over time.
Small ongoing optimizations compound to boost performance and ROI. Well-managed Google Ads campaigns can achieve upwards of 500% ROI through continual refinement and scaling of what works.
But it takes vigilance - you have to stay on top of monitoring and optimization.
Many competing local businesses still don’t leverage Google Ads or only use basic setups. By fully optimizing Google Ads, you can gain an edge over rivals relying solely on organic search.
Don’t allow competitors to take the first page unpaid! You can level the playing field and pull ahead using paid search ads.
Is Google Ads Worth It for Charleston Businesses?
So, in summary - is having a Google Ads account worth exploring for your local Charleston business?
In my professional opinion, the answer is generally yes - if approached strategically based on your specific offerings, customers, and goals.
The highly targeted visibility and traffic at the exact moment prospects are searching makes having a Google Ads account a potential game changer for competitive businesses.
That said, maximizing ROI takes commitment, savvy budgeting, constant optimization, and avoiding common mistakes. You can’t just “set and forget” a campaign.
But done right, you gain visibility that would be very difficult to achieve through organic search alone. And you can start with small budget testing.
If you’re interested in launching Google Ads or taking existing efforts to the next level, I welcome you to reach out. I’m happy to walk through my process and provide strategic insights tailored to your business at no charge.
Thanks for reading! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. Hope this overview gives you a better understanding of how targeted Google Ads could fit into your overall marketing approach here in the Charleston area.
To your success!