Much has been made this past week of the changes Google has planned for the upcoming year for SEMs—be it an overhaul of the AdWords platform, the long sought-after return of separate tablet & desktop bidding, and, probably most notably, an unprecedented overhaul of text ads, one that is changing the character count for the first time since the company launched AdWords nearly 16 years ago.
All of the updates to Google’s advertising products are aligned with the company’s “mobile-first” approach. Interestingly, however, as Search Engine Land notes, local searches are growing 50% faster than mobile overall.
To help advertisers reach this growing segment, Google Maps search ads are being introduced to AdWords customers. These local search ads can show in two places within Google Maps: both below the search results box, and as “pins” on the map itself.
The Google Maps search ads are not only an incredibly opportunity to drive walk-in business, but give advertisers (and Google) more incentive to push online-to-offline conversion tracking—which, if you’ll recall, Google introduced to AdWords users two years ago.
To be eligible to run on Google Maps, you will need to enable Location Extensions in your AdWords campaigns—which means that your My Business page will need to be linked (and, preferably, up-to-date). You will also need to target specific locations around your business and have geo-qualified keywords in your campaigns, in addition to keywords such as “business type near me”.