Tips for Localized PPC Advertising for Designers

A few months ago I published a post of tips for attracting more local clients for your web design business, and today I’d like to take a more in-depth look at one of those tips. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising can be an extremely productive and cost-effective method of generating leads for local design work.

Of course, many businesses, including design firms and freelance designers, use PPC ads to promote their business worldwide, but targeting only you local area is a slightly different approach. The major PPC programs such as Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and Microsoft Advertising all provide some simple ways for you to concentrate your advertising budget on a specific location.

Why Use PPC Ads to Attract Local Traffic?

With all the other forms of promotion and advertising available, why would you want to spend your advertising money on localized PPC ads?

1 – Low-Cost Leads

There are other ways to generate leads online, such as buying them directly from other sites that sell leads, however, and effective PPC campaign can be one of the most cost-effective ways to generate leads. Of course, you’re not guaranteed that when someone clicks on your ad they’ll suddenly fill out your contact form or give you a call, but an optimized campaign with proper tracking can give you a pretty accurate idea of how much money you will need to spend in order to get 1 lead (for example, if your stats show that you need to get 20 clicks from PPC ads to generate 1 request for information or a quote, and you’re spending $0.50 per click, your cost per lead is $10).

2 – Less Competition

PPC ads for search phrases like “web design” or “website designer” are likely to require a significant cost per click in order to get your ad near the top of the search results. However, targeting localized search phrases like “web designer in New York City” should give you much less competition, and therefore a lower cost per click and higher ad placement.

3 – Being Local Can Be An Advantage

When a potential client is deciding on which designer to hire, or even which designers to pursue for a quote, being local may be an advantage for you. Most designers are now able to work with clients just about anywhere in the world, however, there are plenty of clients who prefer some face-to-face interaction at some point throughout the process. If this is the case, being local you’ll have a major advantage over another designer who lives on another continent, or maybe even just in another state. On the other hand, if you’re not targeting local clients, other designers may have that same advantage over you.

4 – Low Expense

In the first point I mentioned that the cost per lead can be pretty low with PPC advertising, but in addition the advertising budget as a whole can be very low and still produce real results. With localized PPC it’s possible to generate several leads per month by only spending $50. Not many other types of effective advertisements will allow you this luxury. For this reason localized PPC ads are great for freelancers and small design firms that want to do some advertising, but only on a very small scale.

5 – Flexibility

PPC advertising is extremely flexible. You can easily raise or lower your budget at any time, and you can pause your ads when you don’t want them to run for a while. This can be very valuable for designers because there are probably times when you’re very busy and not in need of new clients, and there are other times where you would love to have more work. With PPC ads you can make them work with your schedule and you can create leads quickly when you need them most. Very few other types of advertising can make this claim.

Tips for Creating an Effective Local PPC Campaign:

Set Geographic Limits

There are a few things you can do to change a general PPC ad to one that targets local clients. The first thing is to specify a local region where you would like the ad to appear. The major PPC programs will allow you to set up your ad to only be shown to visitors in a certain country, state, metropolitan area, or zip code. This is very important because it will drastically cut your costs by only showing your ad in the local area that you are targeting, meaning you will not be paying for clicks that are way outside of your region.

Use Localities in Your Targeted Search Phrases

Another effective way to target local clients is to use names of states, cities or counties in the search phrases that you are targeting. I touched on this earlier when I compared the possible search terms “web design” and “website designer in New York City”. You don’t have to use names of localities in all of your targeted search phrases, in fact you probably shouldn’t, but these types of searchers are already looking for a local designer, so they can be extremely effective.

Do Some Keyword Research

With any type of PPC advertising, local or not, you’ll need to do some research to find all of the right words and phrases to target. Take some time and come up with a large list of search phrases to bid on. With a small list and just a local area being targeted, you’re likely to get very few clicks on your ads. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to help you come up with a huge list of keywords. Last year I published a post that may help, 30 Keyword Tools to Use for Your Website.

Create a Landing Page

When setting up your ad you’ll be able to determine which page on your site you want people to land on when they click. Generally, sending these people to your homepage is not the most productive approach. It will be worth your time to create a page specifically for the purpose of converting these clicks into leads. On the page you’ll want to give them a few reasons to choose your services, and you’ll also want to make it easy for them to contact you. Providing a link to your portfolio is another good idea, or you can provide some samples of your work right on the landing page itself so they don’t even need to leave the page.

When creating your landing page, remember that you are targeting local clients. Make that clear through the copy of the page, and use localities in places like the page title, headers, alt tags, etc. Some PPC programs evaluate the landing page to determine the minimum bid required. If your page is very well optimized for web design in London, and the search phrases you are targeting are very relevant to the page, your minimum cost per click is likely to be lower than it would be otherwise.

Use Keywords in the Title of the PPC Ad

Titles of ads are obviously important for drawing attention and ultimately for generating clicks, so take the time to find the most productive titles. You can set up your campaign to show all different variations of your ads and you can test to determine which headlines work the best.

Most PPC ads also show words in bold that are a part of the search phrase, so if those words are in your title they can really stand out. See the image below. I did a Google search for New York Web Design and look at how the first and third ads stand out when compared to the second one.

Google Search


One of the keys to an effective PPC campaign is monitor the results and tweaking the ad, title, or keywords to produce the best results possible. If you have a small budget you don’t need to look at your stats every single day, but make it a habit to login frequently to see how the ad is working and look for ways to improve the click-through rate (CTR) and the conversion. Most PPC programs give you so many different options for testing that you could always be changing things in one way or another. Ad testing is a much more detailed topic than I can cover in-depth here, but for more information there are a number of good articles around, such as PPC Copyrighting: The Evolution of a PPC Split Test. Google Analytics also has the ability to provide detailed tracking by setting up your campaigns and your conversion goals.

Try a Few Different Programs

When it comes to PPC, there are the leaders, like Google, Yahoo, and MSN, and then there are a bunch of 2nd tier programs as well (and some even smaller). Personally, I’ve never had good results with any other programs besides the 3 major ones, but that may not be the case for everyone. Even if you are just sticking to the big boys, you’ll probably want to try more than just one program. You may find a lower cost-per-click or a higher CTR somewhere else. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have ads running at a few different places to reach a more diverse audience.

Set a Budget

One of the things you’ll want to be sure to do is to set a budget. With most programs it can be daily, monthly, or both. Without a budget you can rack up a huge bill in no time. With a budget, your ads will not be displayed after the budget has been reached.

Get Started!

If you’re looking for ways to generate more work from local clients, take some time today to set up your PPC campaign. It’s quite simple to get started and it’s very possible to start seeing results immediately.

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