Google call-only ads for restaurants and other local businesses

Google call-only ads for restaurants and other local businessesThis post is a step-by-step guide to setting up call-only ads in your Google Ads account. For obvious reasons, these click-to-call ads only appear on mobile devices that can make phone calls. And they are an awesome way to help customers find and get in touch with you, especially if you own a restaurant or another kind of local business that makes all of its money offline. You don’t even need a website!

Create a Gmail account and sign up for Google Ads

First things first: if you haven’t already got one, you will need to create a Gmail account. This only takes a couple of minutes and you really can’t go wrong if you follow Google’s instructions. Next, you will need to use your Gmail account to sign up for Google Ads.

Again, Google will guide you through the simple process of opening an account and adding your preferred payment method:

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If you don’t have a website, simply insert your Facebook or Instagram URL instead.

Okay, so now you have Google Ads. Let’s really get into it.

Keyword research with the keyword planner

When you’re signed into your Gmail account and you visit, you should see a set of symbols in the top right corner.

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Click on the wrench labeled “tools” and then on the “keyword planner” tab in the drop-down menu.

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Google will give you two options. But you’ll want to select “find new keywords” because we are starting from scratch, i.e we don’t know what keywords to target yet.

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This next part is super easy. Simply enter your website and add the most important words and phrases that you would use to describe your restaurant or local business to a customer. If you don’t have a website, try entering the website of a competitor whose offer is very similar to yours. Click “get started” and watch the magic happen!

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You will be taken to a large, confusing table. But don’t worry! We’re only interested in a handful of things here.

Make sure the numbers you are seeing are actually relevant to your restaurant or local business:

  • Adjust the area(s). In my example, Gianni’s Ristorante Italiano is in Seattle, Washington. So that’s the only area I am targeting. However, if you have multiple locations or if you deliver to different areas, include all of these.
  • Define the language(s) you are targeting. In my example, English.
  • Also, make sure you’re on Google only, not “Google and search partners.” Google does not disclose which sites exactly it works with and you don’t want your ad showing up in places that won’t benefit your business.

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Next, you want to go through the list and select the keywords that make sense for your restaurant or local business. Try to find some keywords with at least 100 searches per month. After all, there’s no point in creating ads nobody will ever see. Finally, click “download keyword ideas” and exit the keyword planner. Now is when we start building your campaign! Yay!

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Creating a campaign

Once you’re back in the original overview (where we were before all that keyword planning), click “campaigns” on the left, then click on the blue plus button to create a new campaign.

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Next, Google will ask you what type of campaign you would like to create. Select “search” and do not specify a goal. Because Google doesn’t know your business yet, it can only work with data from similar campaigns. So, at least at the beginning, you want to be in total control.

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Check the “phone calls” box, enter your business’ number, and click “continue.”

The next step can be very confusing for newbies. Google is going to warn you that you should be using search partners and the display network. However, as mentioned before, we are not interested in having our ads shown on random sites beyond our control. It’s a good idea to take all of Google’s recommendations with a grain of salt. Because Google’s primary aim is to make money for Google. Not you.

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As a restaurant or other local business owner trying to get more customers from within the area, you will want to target people who are currently where you are (and exclude people who are currently in undesirable locations, if applicable):

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If, on the other hand, your restaurant or local business depends on tourists, you will want to use Google’s recommended targeting: people currently located in OR interested in your area.

No matter what language(s) your customers speak, you can leave the language setting on “all languages” because the keywords we found and downloaded are all in the right language already. You need to pay more attention to the budget setting: go with as much as you’re comfortable spending in one day and divide that by half. Why half, you ask? Read the fine print! Google can spend up to twice your daily budget! Ouch!

You might also be wondering why you should go as high as possible. And that is because it gives you better chances of winning bids, i.e. of your ad showing rather than your competitor’s. And Google will only ever charge you as much as it takes to win: if that’s $5, then Google charges you $5. Even if your daily budget is $1,000.

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At the beginning, you’ll want to go with manual cost-per-click bidding or CPC. Again, the reason is that Google is not familiar with your business yet. Therefore, it is wise to stay in total control of how much you want to spend on each of your keywords.

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The same goes for the audience. I wouldn’t let Google cherry pick people to show your ads to. Just because a similar restaurant is achieving good results by targeting parents from affluent neighborhoods doesn’t mean the same will hold true for your business. So leave those fields blank, at least for now.

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Click “save and continue” without creating any extensions. Google will let you know that it automatically set up a call extension for you. But you can totally ignore that and move on.

Use modified broad match to reach a large but relevant audience

Time to get back to those keywords we downloaded! Give your ad group a name and add each keyword (actually each phrase) on a separate line. Write your keywords with a plus sign to use modified broad match: you will get more traffic than you would with exact match (entered as [pizza]) or phrase match (entered as “pizza”) and more targeted traffic than you would with broad match (entered simply as: pizza).

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There are a lot more things you can do here to optimize your campaign. For example, you could create an individual ad group and a unique ad for every single keyword. And you could experiment with cascading bids for different match types so that the less exact the hit, the less you pay.

But let’s keep it simple for now. Enter your “default bid,” i.e. the maximum amount you are willing to pay for one click which means one phone call.

Google will now take you to where you could create a text ad. But since we want to create a call-only ad, we will click “save and continue” and then exit back to the main overview again by clicking on the ‘x’ in the top left corner.

Create your call-only ad

It’s all downhill from here, guys. Go to “ads and extensions” in the menu on the left, click on the blue plus button to create a new ad, and select “Call-only ad.”

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In the menu that pops up, simply add your local business’ information on the left.

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You do not need to enter any websites at the bottom. When people click on a call-only ad, they will call your business. They will not be taken to a landing page, even if you enter a website.

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On the right, you’ll see exactly what your ad will look like in real time. Pretty cool, huh?

Now save your ad and add it to the ad group you created before:

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You did it! Good job.

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Your campaign is now under review. Go relax and check back in a couple of hours.