Running an AdWords Campaign in a Competitive Local Market


If you run a local business in a competitive market (and whose market isn’t competitive these days), it’s essential to set your AdWords campaigns up in a particular way for local online marketing.

You will need to set up a minimum of two different campaigns, and sometimes four. Why is this? Let’s look at an example for a plumber from Swindon, in the UK.

The first campaign will be set up with general keywords. Examples are:

  • Plumber
  • Local plumber
  • Plumbers
  • Emergency plumbers
  • Local plumbers
  • 24 hour plumbers

The best practice in order to get high Quality Scores, hence a cheaper Cost Per Click (CPC), is to add each of these keywords in their own ad group, with ads containing these specific keywords.

You will then set this campaign to run ONLY within the Swindon area. You can do this by navigating to Settings and under Location and Languages, selecting Location.

A map should now open. Choose the tab marked Search and enter the name of the town Swindon. Tick the box of the relevant area and Google should now show you on the map where the ads will run.

Local PPC

You now need to decide whether to run your ads only on computers, or on web-enabled mobile telephones, or both. My advice is to set up identical campaigns, one of which will run on computers only, and the second on web-enabled phones. This is to allow you to monitor the performance of each separately, and increase or decrease bids on the two different sets of devices. A mobile searcher may also be far more likely to convert, so you may wish to increase bids. You may also find less competition as many advertisers are only advertising on computers.

To enable the campaign only on Computers, in Settings go to Networks and Devices and then select Computers.

You can now choose to set up a second campaign with identical ads and keywords, instead enabling it for iPhones and other mobile devices with full Internet browsers. The fastest way to do this is by using a tool such as the AdWords Editor, copying and pasting the first campaign, and then changing the settings.

Your next campaign will be a National Campaign running across the entire country. You will add keywords such as:

  • Swindon Plumber
  • Plumber in Swindon
  • Emergency plumber in Swindon
  • 24 hour Plumber Swindon

The key here is that each keyword must include the name of the town. You can add additional detail by also adding districts, such as “Lydiard,” for example:

  • Lydiard Plumber
  • Lydiard Plumbers
  • Plumber in Lydiard

Be careful when adding districts, regions or cities that there are not identically named ones elsewhere in the country, as is often the case!

Once again, add one ad group for each keyword with at least one PPC ad containing these keywords for best performance and cheapest CPC.

The advantage of this new campaign is that it will be picked up outside of Swindon, perhaps by friends or family carrying out a search for the person needing a plumber, or perhaps for a head office seeking a local plumber for a sub-office.

Once again, adding in an additional identical campaign for just web-enabled mobile devices will be of great benefit here.

I’ve attached a screenshot showing the excellent click-through rates acquired for one client utilizing this method, varying from 5% to as high as 19.57%. 

Local AdWords

MORE: 7 Tips for Super-Effective Local PPC

About the Author

Claire Jarrett runs Marketing By Web, a UK-based specialist in PPC management and AdWords training for SMEs.

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Richard Kraneis
Mar 30, 2011

Serendipity meets Linear

Another fine article. My igoogle bookmarks are becoming overloaded with great articles from WordStream (and a few others). It's time to print out great articles and build a notebook with them (yes, just like 4th grade).

As for this article... thanks.

The importance of keywords, geography parameters, and device paramaters, and tracking seems to be the foundation of successful local campaigns.

Quick question: Rather than include a region for a campaign, I wish to exclude regions in a country for a campaign. Is that possible?

Thanks again.
Mar 30, 2011

Hi Richard Glad you enjoyed the article!  In answer to your question, you certainly can exclude regions.  You do this in exactly the same as including a region but instead select Exclude areas within selected locations.

Richard Kraneis
Mar 30, 2011

Thanks Claire.

I'm asking Elisa for your email if that's alright (via other means). Feel free to ask her for my email.


Daily Digest for March 30th | A Blog by John A. Lee
Mar 30, 2011

[...] @WordStream: NEW Post: Local PPC: Running an AdWords Campaign in a Competitive Local Market [...]

Claire Jarrett
Mar 31, 2011

Hi Richard

Do pop by our website and drop us a line if you wish!


Ross Plotkin
Apr 05, 2011


The CTR and CPC's you succeeded in obtaining are very impressive. I find, as you noted in your post, that the quality scores for these hyper-local campaigns are the difficulty. Specifically, the keyword-relevancy component of quality score.

What sort of quality score improvement did you see for the plumber from their previous campaign setup to your strategy?


Claire Jarrett
Apr 05, 2011

Hi Ross

Thanks for your comment. Actually we set it up like this from day one in a brand new account so luckily we had no low quality score issues to overcome!

Jun 05, 2012

my question is: What is the point of even doing a national campaign?

Aug 01, 2012

It's a national campaign, with localized keywords such as "plumber Chicago Illinois". There is many reasons to do this one example: my mobile phone number is based out of nyc, but I live in chicago. I have god tracking turned off so when I visit websites my ip address looks like it is coming from st Louis mo. So if I searched local plumber it would show st Louis plumbers, and the location based campaign wouldn't even work for me. It's a good way to cover all your bases and achieve Hugh quality keywords.

Jun 01, 2013

As a plumber this made perfect sense for me.  One thing I have not done on my capaigns is to add the national scope.  Also I find it better to break down or break out into a new campaign the emergency plaumber and the water heater repair / replacement keywords.  As those are very comeptitive and I can direct those particular keywords to a special page I made just for those keywords lowering my costs. 

P for plumbing
Nov 20, 2013

Hi, I'm new to SEO and is want to ask if, will it make a difference if the secondary keywords I add have the "ing"? Say for example: 24 hr plumbing? 

Rix Allison
Apr 25, 2014

Cool! Thanks for sharing this.

Jun 16, 2016

I know this is an old thread. Not sure if anyone will respond. I like the idea of the separate campaign with the local keywords.

When I do the one campaign with the general keywords like "plumber", "local plumber", do I need to do negatives for the location based [city] keywords?

The way I have it now I run one campaign per city. Only two adgroups. One with plumbing keywords and one with plumber keywords but I run the broad keywords in each like "plumber" and "plumbing". I have negative keywords at the adgroup level to keep the groups from crossing over but I'm not sure if the negatives conflict somewhat at the adgroup level.

Wondering what is best?

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