Skip to the main content.
Request a Strategy Session Call Sales at 855-762-7387
Request a Strategy Session Call Sales at 855-762-7387

6 min read

Using The Digital Ad Carve-out Method to Double Local Leads Without Increasing Budget

Using The Digital Ad Carve-out Method to Double Local Leads Without Increasing Budget

Face it. Marketers work in a budget-conscious environment. Regardless of how successful their organizations are, or how well the economy is doing, they’re always on the hook to “do more with less.” And, when economic concerns about a potential recession loom and businesses begin to critically analyze their spending habits, those budget dollars can become even tighter.

But what if these budget-challenged marketers—specifically, multi-location brands—could boost lead production at the local level without increasing their budgets?

They can: through a method we’ve developed: the digital ad carve-out method.

The big idea behind this is that organic visibility generates leads at 1/10th to 1/32nd the cost of paid search ads. Pretty simple concept. But, as they say, “the devil is in the details.” Our focus: how to maximize organic visibility at the local level without increasing your overall local marketing budget.

The first step: determining your current state, or baseline of your current local organic visibility performance across all of your locations.

Measuring the Organic Opportunity Available to You

At the outset, it’s important to quantify your existing local organic performance and identify any opportunities you may be leaving on the table.

That’s a core—and very important—question, but it’s one that a lot of marketers, even very big-brand marketers, tend to overlook. They’ve invested a lot into SEO, maybe even hired an SEO company, and they think they’ve got it covered. But what they often fail to do is step back to assess what percentage of the local organic search traffic they’re really capturing through organic search traffic.

Once we drill down into that question, we tend to see that most multi-location businesses are generally capturing between 30-50% of the organic opportunity. If you’re only capturing about half the opportunity and there’s another half you could be going after, that’s where the opportunity to reduce your costs significantly. You can reach anywhere from 10 to 32 more people for the same cost using organic versus paid. And this traffic converts at a higher rate because of the trust that consumers have with earned organic listings over paid ads.

A Focus on Your Local Search Presence

The carve-out, as the name suggests, simply allocates a small percentage of your digital ad budget to implement highly effective local SEO tactics to bolster organic visibility at the local level. New technologies built specifically for multi-location businesses allow you to localize your content for each market in an efficient and scalable way that makes you look more local to Google. As you build local relevance in each market, you are rewarded with better rankings for more combinations of keywords and geographical search terms that define your local market. As your organic visibility increases, you reach far more people for your marketing spend with organic visibility than you would for the same spend in search ads.

What we typically recommend is to analyze each of your local markets. Let’s say you’re in Indianapolis, or Austin, or Sacramento. You want to pretend like you’re a consumer in those local markets and identify 25 to 50 keywords that consumers would likely be using to search for the products or services you have to offer.

Keyword analysis

So, if you’ve an HVAC service company some of your keywords might be: AC repair, furnace repair, AC replacement, air conditioning service, etc. These are the words and phrases you’d be using if you lived in that market and were looking for these services.

The next step is to enter in these search terms and see where your site comes up relative to the competitors in that local market. Make sure that you are using a tool that spoofs your location so Google thinks you are searching from the local market you are targeting, because if you search from outside the market, your search results will be considerably different. If you’re not in the top half of the first page of search results, you’re invisible! That’s just the reality of organic search and consumer behavior.  In fact, the difference in clickthrough rate between the first and second position in search results can be as high as 25%! The difference between first and fifth position can be as high as 35%. The following chart shows a typical distribution of clicks based on your position in search results.

AdvancedWebRanking Clicks-Based-On-SERP-Rank


As you do this analysis you’ll also want to expand out into suburbs or nearby geographies in your service areas that are related to your main market. So, if you’re looking at Indianapolis, you’ll want to also explore suburbs like Carmel and Noblesville. You can also analyze how you show up within the county.

Organic search should generally be your focus. We find that traditional organic listings that appear under the “Map Pack” – where businesses appear on a map with placer icons – account for about 50% of leads and about 70% of the traffic. A lot of searches won’t even trigger the Map Pack. Even when they do, some people simply skip right to the traditional organic results.


Proximity to your physical location is another consideration, especially for Google Map Pack listings. Think of this like an antenna—as you move further and further from your actual physical location, the signal will get weaker and weaker. As it does, your business will be less likely to show up in the map pack, leaving room for your competitors to show up in those results. Traditional organic listings are less impacted by proximity to your location and tend to be more consistent across the local market.

As you improve your overall local relevance in each market, your signal strength grows and you will tend to do better further away from your location in the Map Pack, too.

Position and “Share of Voice”

How you show up in search obviously matters. The numbers drop off significantly, even from the first to the second position. Determining the clickthrough rate for the various positions that your website can be in the Google search engine results pages (SERPs) is a bit tricky because there are so many types of SERP features that Google shows depending on the type of search it is. But in general, if you show up in the top position, you can expect to get more than double the traffic of being in the second position and then it falls off quickly from there. For example, based on Advanced Web Rankings continuous study of Google SERP clickthrough rates for various types of SERPs, the first position will get anywhere from 13% to 40% of the clicks. If you’re in the second position, you’ll get anywhere from 6.5% to 13% and, in the third position, about 4% to 8%.

You can see how much of an impact it can make, then, to move from the third position to the first. Now think about the impact it would have to achieve higher rankings across a wide range of relevant search terms in each of your local markets. There’s always a lot of opportunity.

Add to that opportunity the impact of secondary markets, combined with additional keywords and phrases and you can be found for across all these geographic areas you service and you begin to get a robust picture of the total organic opportunity available to you.

In addition to organic position, if you are also showing up in the Map Pack, and using paid search, consumers may be seeing you several times on page one—that boosts what we call “share of voice.” The more a consumer sees a company showing up in different locations on a page, and through different searches, the greater the trust and credibility they’ll have for that company.   Just like impressions in advertising, the more places consumers are seeing you online the more likely they are to engage with your brand.

Organic search results are most trusted—consumers know that ads are ads. But, when you combine these different opportunities, the value can grow exponentially. When you’re getting multiple listings on page one not only are you connecting with more prospects looking for what you do in your local market, but you’re also pushing competitors down the page where they are getting less traffic.

So, this is the starting point—taking a deep dive to understand the local search opportunity for each of your locations. From there, use the digital carve-out method to allocate some of your local marketing budget to capture the high value organic opportunity without increasing your overall budget. Implement a strategy to improve your organic visibility to rank for a wider range of keywords that your prospects or customers are searching for. Our Local SEO Maturity Curve for Multi-Location Businesses ebook goes into greater detail about the steps required to increasingly boost your online presence.

Applying the Digital Carve-Out

Most multi-location businesses have some level of digital ad spend that they’re doing at the local level—and maybe they’re also augmenting their online efforts with direct mail, print advertising, or other efforts.

So, let’s say you’re spending $1000 a month at a location for your digital ad campaigns and getting a certain level of results. What we recommend is carving out a small percentage of that budget—maybe 10% to 30% at each location and putting that into a program designed to really boost local organic visibility through high quality, unique, locally relevant content.

If you’re spending $50/lead through paid digital ads, you could generate that same lead organically for about $5/lead, after local organic efforts have ramped up, usually within about 60-90 days. What you’ll see with organic is that your costs will remain the same while, over time, your organic traffic will keep climbing and climbing. Generally, we see anywhere from 100-300% growth in the first six to twelve months. And we continue to see double-, even triple-digit gains for five, six, or seven consecutive years. That’s significant.

And because your cost stays the same, the cost per lead from your organic program continues to go down. During your first year, you’ll see a significant increase in ROI from shifting that spend from paid to organic optimization—and it will keep growing.

Most importantly, it will keep growing while you’re not spending any additional budget.

We know, of course, that this isn’t a simple process—it’s complex. That’s where we come in. We can apply a turnkey approach to leverage your existing assets and add value without more work on your end. Get in touch and let’s talk about how we can apply the digital carve-out method to your local search efforts to help you achieve double, or triple, level growth in your digital marketing efforts.

The Importance of Analytics in Your Multi-Location Local Marketing Strategy

The Importance of Analytics in Your Multi-Location Local Marketing Strategy

As multi-location marketing professionals, we understand the importance of data-driven decision making. It is often said that the first step toward...

Read More
What Can Franchises Do to Improve Google Business Profile Rankings?

What Can Franchises Do to Improve Google Business Profile Rankings?

Whether you're a corporate marketer at a franchise or a local franchise owner, you know that ranking in the Google Map Pack is crucial to your...

Read More