Google Ads Conversions for Local Business Overview

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The way we measure the success of Google Ads campaigns, and marketing in search generally, has changed over time. Maximizing traffic, or the number of visits to your website, has long been seen as the main objective and a benchmark for success. However, while traffic is obviously important, increases do not necessarily mean more actual business. Irrelevant traffic does nothing more than waste ads budget and strain hosting resources. Traffic measurement also offers little to go on in terms of adapting and improving campaigns or understanding their return on advertising investment.

The fact is, every local business wants to reach and engage the right audience. They want interested visitors motivated enough to contact them and ultimately buy what they sell – whether it's pizzas, water tank replacements, or accounting services.

Fortunately, the bidding and measurement sophistication and tools of Google Ads has advanced with time and now allows advertisers to better understand the value of visitors they pay for by monitoring their website interactions and corresponding engagement with your business. Likewise, ad initiatives and bid strategies have become more intelligent and changed the goal from that of ‘maximizing clicks’ to ‘maximizing conversions.’

What are Google Ads conversions?

Google Ads conversions are actions that are tracked on your website (defined and configured by your team) taken by visitors who have interacted with an ad. They can include things such as time on the site, the number of pages visited or certain pages visited. For e-commerce sites, conversions focus primarily on interaction with product pages, shopping carts and, of course, purchases.

For local businesses, the most valuable conversion actions to track are those that involve contacts with your business. These may include things like phone calls, submissions of contact or work estimate request forms, email link clicks, file downloads, contact page visits, etc.

Local businesses also have their own Google hosted ‘Local action’ conversions, which are recorded and shared with Google Ads. These automated conversions are specific to a business’s physical location and track interactions primarily with Google Maps. These include direction clicks, clicks on your website link or telephone number in any location-based ad, and shares of your location. Depending on the local business, estimates of numbers of store visits are included. It should be noted that local ads and conversions depend on your company creating a Google Business Profile and setting up of a ‘location extension’ in Google Ads.

How are conversions used?

With what is called the ‘maximize conversion’ bid strategy, Google uses conversion data, contextual signals, and AI to automatically set bids and target the right searches at the right time. Conversion information is gathered in relation to your ads, ad assets (such as images, callout text, telephone number), keywords, locations, etc. This is used in turn to present the ads and assets most likely to generate clicks yielding conversions for a given search query. At the same time, Google Ads managers use conversion data to help create and maintain ads, ad assets, keywords, landing pages, and conversion tracking, to enhance a campaign’s focus on conversions.

In the final analysis, it is the ability of conversions to provide a basis for better understanding return on advertising investment that may be the most useful function for local businesses.

We started by talking about traffic. It is clear that traffic and impressions remain a value of any campaign, especially in the context of finding new markets and building general awareness. However, by focusing on conversion strategies, we are able to quantify and understand the value of a campaign over a period of time.

For example, if we know how many conversions were carried out and how much was spent, we know the cost of each conversion. We also know how many interactions of each type there were. With telephone conversions we also know the area code and often phone number of the caller, time of the call, whether the call came from a mobile or desktop device, and call duration. All useful information in terms of understanding and assessing their value.

Finally, if a value can be arrived at for each type (e.g., telephone call more than 60 seconds, an e-mail) it can be added to the information provided to Google Ads as a conversion value rule. This costing provides a company increased insight into the conversion value of a campaign. If there are enough conversions, Google can also use conversion cost information to maximize the overall conversion value for an available budget with a refinement of the bidding strategy from maximize conversions, to maximize conversion value.

This has been a brief overview of Google Ads conversions for local businesses. For most, there is good reason to focus campaigns on conversion strategies and a foundation that elicits, records, and quantifies interactive actions with your website and business. Although there are still occasions where maximizing the number of clicks and general exposure is the right approach, conversions and conversion strategies take local businesses past simple awareness to tangible action and measurable value.

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