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AdWords Express Takes Pain Out of Local Online Advertising Google's latest online advertising solution promises to make setting up and managing local ads easier. Is it?

By Mikal E. Belicove

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

AdWords Express Takes Pain Out of Local Online AdvertisingGoogle released a new version of AdWords this week with the intent of making setting up and managing a local online advertising campaigns easy and stress free. And from what I've seen so far, AdWords Express is not only simple to use, but it's an ideal interface for local businesses with no prior online advertising experience.

AdWords Express is expressly for local businesses that target local customers, and it couldn't be any more barebones. You don't even have to own a brick and mortar business. All you need is a mailing address, and if you want to keep that private, AdWords Express will accommodate you. Heck, you don't even have to have a website. Just direct your AdWord clicks to a free Google Places page that Google will help you set up if your business doesn't already have one.

What AdWords Express does is figure out which online searches bring your ad up for display on a local prospect's computer or smartphone. Your ad appears on the right-hand side of the search results pages as well as in Google Maps with that distinctive red pin. Best yet, you only pay when ads are clicked.

What's important to remember is that this new offering from world's largest online advertising platform is only effective for businesses and services interested in attracting customers who live and shop in their local area (or happen to be in the area at the time of their search). So if you run a bed and breakfast in southern Vermont, AdWords Express won't work for you unless you're running a "locals only" special during the off-season.

It's also not going to work for businesses that cast a wide net with their advertising, such as lampshade manufacturers, record labels, and B2B internet start-ups. Where it's effective is with the local coffee shop, optometrists, day spas, insurance brokers and others who cater to a local client base.

AdWords Express is so much simpler to set up and manage than Google's original AdWords with its various moving parts that you have to constantly monitor and update. With AdWords Express, all you have to do is check the results you're generating. That's it. These ads not only simplify the process for local businesses interested in advertising online, they make it even easier for prospective customers to find just the information they need. A win-win proposition if I ever saw one.

Oh, and here's a quick tip: If you call Google (1-877-503-0842) and set up your account before the end of August with the assistance of a Google sales rep, you should receive $100 in free AdWords Express advertising. That way you can try the service out for a month or so to see if works for your local business.

Have you tried to use Google AdWords and thrown your hands up in the air? If so, will you give AdWords Express a try? Let us know in the comments section below.

Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. 

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