With Google’s new Local Targeting features, it is possible for a small brick and mortar business with a website to achieve relevant internet traffic from within their local area. For some time now Google has allowed for ads to be country specific. Now not only can an advertiser target specific countries and states/provinces but they can also focus on actual target cities.

Still not enough for you?

Google also offers customized local targeting. What that means is you can target ads at searchers within a defined radius from your actual physical address! By entering either your address or longitude and latitude along with a radius (minimum 20 miles/35 km’s) you can very specifically target your local area, which can open doors for small business who never though it feasible to advertise online.

How does Google know?

Google distributes ads based on two factors, a searchers query and their IP. Their algorithm examines these factors to find where the user is searching from to determine the best ads to serve up. If a user searches for pizza, Google will serve up ads relating to local pizza restaurants, but if the search string is for pizza 90210, Google will serve up ads for that zip-code, regardless of where the searcher resides.

Pros and Cons

Let’s say a small pizza restaurant wants to advertise online. Placing an ad half way across the country will be of little use. Using local targeting will focus their ad on obtainable customers. Although it is bound to become more popular then the traditional yellow pages, online searching is not yet the first stop for searchers. In most cases, advertising your restaurant in this means will not draw much traffic, however the traffic that is received will be at a low cost per click rates and the conversions are likely to be quite high, as nearly all traffic will be pre-qualified.

Let’s face it, local search of this kind will not make retailers rich, but it is a means of slightly increasing a small business’ exposure. I am sure many small businesses will benefit from this, but it will be a long time before search replaces the traditional phone books. I use the Internet on a daily basis and have yet to search for a local number online that I could easily find in the phonebook, but as online local search becomes more sophisticated and widespread there is no doubt in my mind that this is the wave of the future.