Google AdWords Express: A Review Of Google's Local Advertising Platform

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Google AdWords Express is a relatively new product / service from Google which allows small and local businesses to advertise their business in Google’s local search results quickly and effectively. It is much like Google AdWords obviously but comes with a few differences that make it easy for local businesses who are not so Internet savvy to setup a campaign without the hassle of having to do any complex research such as choosing the right keywords, setting location targets and all of that other jazz.

Google AdWords Express

Probably the most notable benefit of Google AdWords Express and the biggest difference over it and its bigger brother, Google AdWords, is that you don’t actually need a website to start advertise using AdWords Express. To use Google AdWords Express however, businesses must have a Google Places listing so that Google can use that can use that listing and information within your ad. If you do not have a Google Places listing or Google+ account, the AdWords Express platform will guide you through the process and help you to setup a listing along the way.

Below are some more key differences between Google AdWords and AdWords Express, some background in to how it works, more on the benefits and downsides of AdWords Express for local businesses and some other alternatives for those businesses looking for a balanced Online Marketing strategy. Whilst Google AdWords Express seems very easy and convenient, it may not be the best solution for all businesses. You may want to consider pairing it with another Online Marketing strategy and trying a few different avenues along the way. We’ll go into it in more detail below.

So, How Is It Different?

Google AdWords Express has a couple of differences to the main Google AdWords Advertising system. The main differences between Google AdWords and AdWords Express are that AdWords Express is purely for local businesses whereas AdWords is a much more flexible option and is much more suited to larger companies who would like more control, AdWords Express is completely automated in terms of campaign management so for those business owners who don’t have much understanding of AdWords or advertising platforms, it makes it really easy to setup and monitor and finally, you don’t actually need a website to advertise on Google AdWords Express as you can target your Google Places listing or your website which is great for those businesses who A) do not want a website or B) don’t have a website yet but would still like to advertise and market their business and leverage the traffic pulling capabilities of Google.

Google AdWords and AdWords Express Comparison

Ok, How Does It Work?

To get started, all you need to do is go to the AdWords Express setup page and follow the process. Once you have all of your basic details entered to created an account with Google, it will then take you to the actual campaign setup area where you’ll be asked to enter your title, ad text, short description, address, phone number and select whether you would like to target your Google Places page or your website. From there, you will then be asked to select a budget for your campaign and you will be ready to go.

Google will then automatically determine the best suburbs or cities to target and the best keywords for your campaign and manage your campaign completely. You don’t need to select keywords, you don’t need to select suburbs or targets, you don’t need to do a thing, just sit back and let Google do all of the work for you. Much like Google AdWords, AdWords Express will show your advertisement at the top of or to the side of the organic search results whenever someone searches for your products or services within your suburb or surrounding areas. Your listing will show the normal AdWords title, description and target URL but it will also show your address and phone number with it. Not only this, Google will also highlight your business location in the map that usually sits to the right hand side of listings with a big blue marker.

Alright, What Are The Benefits?

Google AdWords Express enables potential clients within your local area to find you and your business quickly and easily, there is no waiting for results as AdWords Express, much like the normal AdWords system take just minutes to setup and start advertising. With Express, you only need to enter a few of your basic business details and set a budget and away you go and as stated earlier, you don’t need a website to get started as you can use a Google+ or Google Places listing to advertise. There is absolutely no maintenance required as the Google Express system takes care of the keyword selection and geo targeting based on your business information and category selection.

Hmmm, What Are The Downsides?

As with any Pay Per Click system, the cost of advertising can be massive. Google AdWords is well known to be expensive and AdWords Express, whilst it’s for smaller businesses, it’s not much different unfortunately. The fact that you can’t manage the campaign much besides the overall budget is a bit of a downside too as its in Google’s best interests to ensure that you spend as much as possible so its going to show you whenever it wants, wherever it wants and you have zero control, basically. Google AdWords Express only has limited availability at the moment and only businesses within, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and those businesses in the UK and US can use the system currently which is a bit unfortunate for those businesses who fall outside of these countries.

Google Places

Well, What Are Some Other Alternatives?

Well, all in all, Google AdWords Express is a great product and allows local businesses to get some fast returns however; I wouldn’t structure your whole online marketing efforts or strategy around it. I would use it as a starting point to get your online marketing campaign moving and use it in conjunction with Local SEO and Google Places Optimisation. Start with AdWords Express to get some quick wins but also get started with some local optimisation too. This way, you only need to use the AdWords Express system for a short time and once you start getting rankings via Local SEO and Google Places, you can slowly wind down the AdWords, start putting your advertising spend elsewhere and start benefitting from the free traffic that organic search brings.

In Conclusion

Never put all of your eggs in one basket. It is always best if you structure your Online Marketing campaigns and look at the long term plan, not focus on just the quick wins. A good mix of paid advertising and organic optimisation will not only generate new leads and business opportunities quickly but it will also setup you up for long term success, sustained online growth and help to minimise advertising and marketing costs later down the track.


Alex is the founder / owner of Freshpage Web Design and has a wealth of experience across all levels of web development, including Java, SQL, HTML, CSS, PHP as well as content management systems such as Wordpress, Joomla and Magento.