Have you ever tried to run a smart local campaign in your Google Ads account? Maybe you’re a plumber or a dentist and just want to give your Google My Business a boost and generate some local leads. It’s a fairly new addition to Google Ads, they used to be called Express Google Ads and nobody really cared about them, ’cause they never worked.

When they merged Express with Google Ads and introduced those Smart Local Campaigns, I actually thought they were a good idea and tested them with a couple of local clients. I’ll be the first to admit, they worked quite well in the very beginning. The cost per click was much lower than in a search or call-only campaign, the engagement rate was on the level and calls were pouring in from local clients. It was such a beautiful and simple solution, the campaign would take minutes to set up if you’ve had your Google My Business account verified and linked to Google Ads, and wouldn’t require a lot of time for management and optimization.

Pretty soon things started to get worse and worse. First, the results started to decline in my existing smart campaigns, next, all of the new smart campaigns just wouldn’t generate any calls at all. There are only two mandatory campaign goals – either call your business or visit your business. 95% of my clients would use “call my business” goal, but there were no calls! The new smart campaign would generate hundreds of clicks, but no leads …

I’ve tried the local campaign for myself, www.liveppcads.com – Google Ads Freelancer – Call Now 323-682-3946, what could be easier, right? I’ve got a ton of different tracking and analytics metrics installed on my website, not usually available with my local clients. So I launched a smart local campaign to advertise my PPC advertising services in my local area in Los Angeles. Within hours I’ve spent several hundred dollars on traffic from all over the world and it was a complete and total junk or SPAM traffic. Users from India and Pakistan among other places would click on my ad and even called with 1 sec. call duration … This was clearly a waste of time and money, not a single user clicked on my ad from my actual 10-mile radius geo-targeting.

Naturally, I reached out to Google Support and after almost 2 hours of chatting they basically told me that the smart local campaigns do not have advanced location targeting, like a normal search campaign, so even if you set a radius of 10-miles around your business, you’ll still get a TON of traffic from all over the world. Now it’s not a new concept and if you check your account settings right now and it’s set to “People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations (recommended)” instead of “People in or regularly in your targeted locations” rest assured you have been paying for traffic from other countries or locations outside of your actual geo-targeting. However, it never really was such a big deal, you’d still get at least 90-95% of the traffic from the correct geo-targeting. That’s not the case with Smart Local Campaigns – somehow they manage to generate 90-90% of traffic from outside of your geo-location targeting and there’s no way to turn that off, not directly in the Google Ads account. Google told me how to do it, but it’s a complete rip-off and a horrible pain in the butt process. I don’t want to even talk about it in this article, it may raise way too many ethical questions. If you want to know how to force your smart local campaign to use “People in or regularly in your targeted locations” shoot me an email and I’ll tell you.

Overall, Google is getting greedy, once such an ethical company, today is just another internet pirate trying to screw you out of every last penny in your account without a care in the world about the cost per call, lead or conversion.

It works well for me though, ’cause these days if you don’t have someone like me with 15+ years of experience running and optimizing Google Ads campaigns, you are most definitely wasting a lot of money. This “scam” is just one example if you don’t set up, manage or optimize your campaigns properly, you’ll be paying 5x or even 10x times more than you’d ever pay someone like me to do it right and do it for you.