Within the past year, a new advertising product was made available by Google within their Google Places service – a new advertising platform called Google Boost. This product was tested in just 3 local markets before its official release and now allows businesses to post local ads on the Google Places and maps pages when someone searches. Just recently, Google decided to rename Boost to "AdWords Express" – a name that more closely matches the intent and value of the service for business owners.

Google AdWords Express is for Local Search Advertising

While Google's other ad platform, AdWords, is utilized by businesses to post ads alongside regular search results and via other websites (AdSense), AdWords Express is specifically engineered to help local businesses place ads in the results beside Google Places (maps) results.

Unlike AdWords, the system currently doesn't allow you to outbid competitors to be displayed and the number of categories you might be eligible to show up in is limited. When you sign up, you're prompted to choose a budget (& estimated clicks), so you get to choose which one best fits your business.

Advertisers also have the ability to send visitors directly to their website when the ad is clicked or to their individual Google Places page. Choose the option (page) that presents the best opportunity for the visitor to become a lead or customer.

Why You Should Sign-Up

Unless your business already has a 1st page ranking on the Google Maps/Places search results, this will provide you an opportunity to get exposure on the 1st page for some of your top competitive keywords.

Existing Google Places users can sign up directly via the admin dashboard – just look for the "Create Express ad" link in the Status column beside each of your individual Places listings.

Ad Features/Options:

- 70-character listing, split between two 35-character description lines just like AdWords.
- Choose either your website or your Google Places page as the destination when someone clicks the ad.
- Confirm the pre-selected category(s) that you want your ad to show up in.
- Choose a monthly budget that works for your business
– Google provides three recommended budgets, but also allows you to enter a custom budget ($50 per month minimum).
Don't Forget to Track

Just like you would with a Google AdWords or other pay-per-click marketing strategy, be sure to track the promotion so you know if it's working for your business. If you're sending the visitor directly to your own website, be sure to include a tracking URL with embedded campaign identifiers so you can see the results in your analytics program.

You should be monitoring closely the following metrics of engagement:

- Time on site
- Bounce rate
- Conversion (Lead or Sale)

Additional references:

Author's Bio: 

Cory Howell is a search engine marketing consultant for MorePro Marketing in Phoenix, AZ, with 10+ yrs of experience building, coding & optimizing websites. Follow Cory on Twitter via @chowell18 or MorePro's Search Engine Optimization blog to learn how social media, SEO and other Internet marketing strategies can help your website.