When Google AdWords stopped having ads along the right side of search results, much of the talk was how it would affect cost per clicks. Yet, the change might be more important for the effect it’s had on Local SEO.  With 4 ads now showing at the top and the Google Local Pack just below it, it’s left little room for businesses to rank for their services or products.

As you can see in the search results at the right, the number 1 ranking on Google isn't even in the top 10. The number 1 listing doesn't appear until number 14.

This only reinforces what has been evident for a while, that businesses serving local markets need to use pay per click to generate leads.

I’ve worked with businesses in a number of industries from real estate agents to carpet cleaners and junk removal companies. And in nearly every case, pay per click has been one of the best ways to get their telephones to ring consistently.

Here are a few examples of how Google AdWords can help generate leads in a way that SEO can’t.

Ads take up the first position on Google, especially on mobile.

As mentioned, the first four listings on Google are ads, so they dominate the screen when people first complete a search. The is even more evident on mobile devices where nearly the whole screen are ads. You have to scroll down to find the organic listings. Some will do that, but if they’re motivate enough, such as having a leaky roof, they’ll simply click on the ads.

Ads have features that the lower listings don’t have – Ads at the top stand out with features that tell prospects even more about your business, thanks to site links, phone numbers, addresses, and call outs. Combined all of these features can attract the attention of prospects.

Ads can be started in minutes to take advantage of current events – SEO takes time to show results so while they work for generic phrases such as leaky roof, you can’t take advantage of topical events or sales. You can change an ad to focus on a spring sale, or something that has just occurred.  Red Roof Inns began running ads near airports that only went on when a flight was cancelled and thus reached stranded passengers who suddenly needed a place to stay for the night.

You can target a small radius or a much larger area. Whether your service area is a few blocks or a 100-mile radius, with AdWords you can target all of your market area. While you might be able to rank in your entire service area, there is no guarantee of this.  With AdWords you can.

You can track your ads to see which words produce the most conversions. With SEO you can target a number of keyword phrases and while you can see which produce traffic, you can’t see which produce conversions. With pay per click you can track your campaigns and see which words convert the best. This information should also influence your SEO, as well. It should also influence your website. If a phrase isn’t converting, it might be that your site lacks crucial information that is preventing visitors from converting

You can target the competition – if you’re competing against a major franchise, you know that many people simply search for their name when they have a need. So if you’re a plumber you can target the phrase Roto Rooter with your ads and potentially poach some of their prospects. Maybe this seems slightly unethical, but it’s actually a standard practice. Type in Midas and you’ll see ads for Meineke.

You Can Control More of Your Real Estate On Google – Just as you can bid on your competitors, they can bid on your business name. If they are, then you want to bid on your own name, as well. Studies show that running ads on even pages that your site shows up on, can increase click through rates, even for your organic listings.

People aren’t typing in actual locations, but assume Google knows where they are. People are typing “in near” me more and more. Looking at the data for many of my clients I’m seeing people typing in restaurants near me or plumbers near me. The number of near me searches has doubled over the previous year and will continue to grow dramatically.

For all the advantages of Google AdWords, if you serve a specific community or communities it should be just part of your campaign. Local SEO is about reaching prospects in your market at the moment they need you the most, whether it’s through an ad, your listing on Google or Yelp, or because your website does rank.

And also keep in mind, that the advantages of AdWords only occur if you’re doing pay per click correctly. If you’re spending a lot of money on Google AdWords and not seeing the results you expect, it might be time to bring in an expert. As a Google AdWords Consultant offer a free review of campaigns and can do a quick assessment to see if I might assist your business