How to get your information into Google Maps (5): Local Ads

After using the information of the previous article about the Local Business Center, you discovered when searching on Google Maps you’re just one of the several hundred companies in the search results. You start wondering how this can be changed, how can you make sure people will notice your company. That’s where the local business ads feature becomes useful.

First a note. I wanted to test the Local ads before writing about it. Unfortunately I don’t have a campaign suitable for local ads at the moment. All information found in this article is from research I’ve done. When I do have a local campaign running, I’ll probably write a follow up.

What is a local business ad?

From the Google AdWords FAQ:

“Local business ads are AdWords ads associated with a specific geographical location.”

There are 2 different types of local ads:

  1. Local AdWords Ads – These are just like normal AdWords ads, but targeted geographically. These will be shown next to the search results on Google Maps as ‘sponsored links’.
  2. Local business ads – These are ads which will also be shown next to the search results, but they also includes a map component.

Local Adwords Ads

There are two places where local ads can be displayed. The first one is at the top of the Google Maps search results:

Ad displayed on top of the Google Maps search results

The maximum number of ads displayed at this location is 1.

The second location where local ads can be displayed is at the bottom of the search results:

Ads displayed on bottom of the Google Maps search results

There’s a maximum of 3 ads displayed here.

These types of ads could also show up in the normal Google search results as sponsored links. However using the same keywords on Google Maps as on the websearch doesn’t result in the same sponsored links. More about this later on in ‘When will ads be displayed’.

Local Business Ads

These kind of ads can also show up at the top or bottom of the search results, but there’s a major difference. When you click on a normal sponsored link you’ll go to a website. When you click on a local business ad you’ll get an info window on the map.

This info window displays a title (name of the company), max 2 text lines, phone number, url, address info and even an image.

The text lines and the image are the only things you can add when creating the ad, the rest of the information is the same as your business information in Google Maps.

Local business add info balloon displayed on the map

As you can see, the marker icon on the map is different from the normal search results markers. You can use your own icon when creating your Local Business ad.

Google only charges you when people click on the link to your website. You don’t have to pay when people are viewing the info balloon.

The local business ads can also show up in the normal web search results. When they do they will almost look the same as they do on Google Maps. The only differences: there’s no image included and the city of your business will also be displayed.

There are two more places where text version of local business ads may appear.

The first one is with relevant searches on the mobile version of Google Maps. Because there’s not much space on a mobile screen, the ad only contains two lines of text, so the ads are shortened. At this moment you’re not charged when people view or click on your ads on Google Maps for Mobile!

The second one is on Google SMS queries. The space in SMS messages is very limited, so the local business ads will also be shortened (Business name and contact info will always be included).

How to create?

There are a few requirements for creating local business ads:

  1. You must have a Google Maps business listing
  2. Your business must be located in United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, or Spain (others will follow).
  3. You must have an AdWords account

For a complete overview of the requirements see the Google AdWords Help Center.

If you want to create a local AdWords campaign, there’s a great lesson in the Google AdWords Learning Center: Language & Location Targeting

When will ads be displayed?

The answer to this question depends on whether you’re searching Google Maps or searching the web.

On Google Maps ads will be displayed when a user submits a search query for a specific geographical area (when there are ads for this area). For local business ads this means the businesses must be located in that area. For local AdWords ads this means there must be a geographically targeted campaign. The user’s IP address isn’t used by the algorithm to decide which ads must be displayed.

On Google’s websearch the user’s IP address is used by the algorithm. A text-only version of the local business ad will show up when the user’s IP address is located near your business. Of course the search query must also contain relevant keywords to your business ad.

If a users uses the name of a city in the query, the IP address isn’t used and ads wil be displayed that are relevant to the city the user searches for. More information about this subjects can be found in the AdWords Help Center.

If you want to test whether your ads are showing in other geographical locations you can use the adpreview tool. Read more about the parameters you can use for testing your ads.


Geographically targeted AdWords campaigns are well known, but the local business ads are relatively unknown, eg I never saw one in the Dutch version of Google Maps.

It’s a great option for companies with physical locations, eg. hotels, restaurants, car sales companies, etc.

Companies who don’t have a physical location, can use geographically targeted AdWords. This way they can still have ads running on Google Maps.

Next episode in this series will be about user (or company) generated content and Google Maps.

Eén gedachte over “How to get your information into Google Maps (5): Local Ads”

  1. Adwords is really good in driving traffic to your website. however, they are very strict right now and they would not easily approve websites that they thought have low quality content. .`

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