Google Maps ads place your local business in front of ready-to-buy customers. Learn how to set up Google Maps ads, see real-world examples, and get expert tips to ensure your campaigns are successful.

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Want to put your local business on the map (literally)? With Google Maps ads, you can promote your business listing to local customers on the website or in the mobile app.

In this guide, we’ll share real-life examples and walk through how to set up Google Maps ads to boost awareness, drive clicks, and increase foot traffic to your physical location.

What are Google Maps ads?

Google Maps ads are sponsored listings that improve visibility and accelerate conversions for local businesses. This ad type displays in the Google Maps app and website, which means it can target both desktop and mobile users.

These paid promotions are a type of pay-per-click (PPC) ad. As an advertiser, you pay when a potential customer clicks your ad. As you’ll see below, Google Maps advertising offers various options to drive clicks — including links and Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) features.

How do Google Maps ads work?

This ad type displays a few different ways. Let’s look at a few of the most common scenarios that illustrate how Google Maps works for advertisers.

Promoted pins

They can display as promoted pins when users browse an area in Google Maps. Ads show up as square pins, and many display logos that help them stand out compared to standard map pins.

Promoted pins

Above, the map shows ads for Dunkin’ and Bintelli Golf Carts – Myrtle, both feature the brands’ respective logos. When a user taps to view the pin, it displays like the ad below.

business profile information

Along with standard business profile information, customer reviews, and open hours, the sponsored listing includes an interactive ad that directs prospects to a landing page.

Promoted pins along a route

Promoted pins also display prominently when users prompt Google Maps for directions. Sponsored listings can appear along the route that the app suggests.

Promoted pins along a route

Above, the map shows promoted listings for Build-A-Bear Workshop, The Fresh Market, and Adidas Outlet Store Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach Hwy 17 Tanger Outlets along an example route. Tapping on one of these pins reveals a sponsored listing like the one below.

promoted listings

While the listing looks similar to a standard promoted pin, there’s one major difference. The listing has an “Add Stop” button to make it easy for users to include the stop on their route.

Sponsored search results

Promoted listings can also display when users look for either specific locations or business types. These paid ads appear at the top of the Google Maps search engine results for desktop and mobile searches.

Sponsored search results

Above, the search results for “supermarket near Myrtle Beach” features ads for ALDI and Publix Super Market at Village Shops at Grande Dunes. Multiple ads can appear at the top of Google Maps search results.

Step-by-step guide to set up Google Maps ads

If you’re asking yourself, “How do I advertise on Google Maps?”, then you can start setting up your first local search ad by following the steps below.

1. Configure your Google Business Profile

If your Google Business Profile is incomplete or if it doesn’t exist yet, start here. Otherwise, skip ahead and start linking your business to a Google Ads location extension.

First, create a Google Business Profile. If your business already exists in Google’s system, use the search tool to find it. Otherwise, click to add your business to Google.

Configure your Google Business Profile

Once you’ve created a profile, take steps to optimize it. In addition to your business name and location details, add data like a description and open hours.

business name and location details

If you plan to use Google Maps ads to start chats with customers, enable this feature on your profile. You can also add products to enable local inventory search tools.

2. Add a new location asset

After setting up your business page, link it to a location asset in your Google Ads account. To create a new one, open the assets dashboard in your Google Ads account. Select “Location.”

Add a new location asset

Then click the blue plus icon to create a new location asset. Note that you can choose your location or opt to advertise as an affiliate that sells products at specific locations. To advertise your business, select “Our Locations” and click “Continue.”

Our Locations

Then confirm your Business Profile Manager account is selected and click “Continue” again. Alternatively, choose “Chain Stores” to select a preexisting group of stores for multi-location PPC.

Chain Stores

3. Create a new Google Ads campaign

Next, create a new campaign to reach nearby customers. Most local advertisers use either search campaigns or Performance Max campaigns, which we’ll cover below. However, smart campaigns offers a faster, more automated setup.

Get your ads on the search network and Google Maps

When you want to target potential customers based on what they search for, create a search campaign. Choose a supported objective like “Sales” and then pick “Search” as the campaign type.


Select one or more ways to reach your goal. Here, you can combine online and offline options to target any combination of website conversions, phone calls, and store visits.

website conversions

After choosing a bid strategy, set up location-based targeting. Search ads support including and excluding states, regions, cities, and ZIP codes. If you want to reach people in the locations you target, make sure to select “Presence” instead of “Presence or Interest.”


Next, upload a keyword list for your search ad group. If you don’t yet have a list, use the URL scanner or product and service list to get ideas. To reach your ideal audience, use location-specific keywords and choose the right keyword match type.


Then build at least one search ad. Input as many headlines and descriptions as possible to optimize ad rank, increase efficiency, and improve results. Open the “More Asset Types” menu and confirm your location asset is attached to the ad.

More Asset Types

Advertise across Google properties with Performance Max

When you want to increase foot traffic to your business, Performance Max is a better choice. But if you’re new to Performance Max, it’s helpful to know how these campaigns work.

In addition to delivering to Google Maps and Google search, these campaigns also show up on the Google display network, YouTube, Gmail, and Discover. They’re helpful if you want to cast a wider net across properties while optimizing ad delivery.

To use this option, choose a supported objective like “Local Store Visits and Promotions.” Then select “Performance Max” as the campaign type.

Performance Max

From the list of conversion goals, select “Directions Request” to encourage foot traffic.

Directions Request

Then select the business listing you want to promote. You can either advertise all your business listings or focus on a group of locations in specific areas.

After choosing a bid strategy, create the ad. To achieve full optimization, add as many headlines, long headlines, and descriptions as possible. To confirm your location asset is linked correctly, open the “More Asset Types” dropdown menu and review the information.

create the ad

Remember that ad placements for Performance Max campaigns include much more than Google Maps alone. To maximize the results from your campaign, add all available elements, including images and videos. You also have the option to add other ad extensions — such as calls, promotions, or image extensions — to increase conversions.

While Performance Max campaigns don’t support keywords, they allow search themes. Add relevant themes to get your ads in front of the right customers.

search themes

You can also add audience signals to narrow your targeting. In addition to selecting demographics, you can upload first-party data or choose in-market segments.

audience signals

4. Review location asset analytics

Once you run ads in Google Maps, you can (and should) monitor the results on your asset dashboard. Google Ads reports are useful for tracking the types of clicks (e.g., directions, calls, or location details) your Google Maps ads generate. You can use this data to improve your ads and ensure each asset is driving the right outcomes.

Expert tips to optimize Google Maps ads

Take your ad performance to the next level with these expert tips for Google Maps ads.

Enhance your Google Business Profile

Google Maps ads link to your Google Business profile, so use all available opportunities to add information, upload media, and activate features.

“Upload professional photos on your business’s Google Maps listing,” suggests Luciano Bellacci, Head of Marketing at Group Online. Use editorial images that best represent the caliber and range of your products or services.”

“Photos provide prospective customers with better context about your business. Well-executed product photos will entice them to click your listing and head further down into your sales funnel.”

Fine-tune your keyword strategy

For search ads, keywords must be relevant to local searches.

“Use competitor analysis keywords to optimize your ads better. Keywords make up a big component of Google Maps advertising,” advises Meg Hellerstedt, President of Sylvane.

“Research how competitors position themselves online to their target audience by studying which specific keywords are patterned across their web content, online ads, and blog posts. Analyzing competitor keywords is a strategic and efficient tactic to climb the SEO ladder of Google Maps.”

Doing this will help you identify content gaps in your own keyword strategy and pinpoint areas where you can outdo their approach.

“Because you already know what works on your competitors and what doesn’t, you can eliminate repeating these mistakes in your own strategy,” continues Hellerstedt. “This way, it’s a more efficient system that fast-tracks the success of your ads.”

Write compelling calls-to-action

When your ads display in Google Maps, your business name and logo aren’t the only information potential customers can see. Because your ad headlines can also display directly on the map, it’s critical to make sure they’re click-worthy.

compelling calls-to-action

Above, the Sonic Drive-In promoted pin displays the headline, “New Limited Time Cheeseburger.” The ad shows the same headline, along with a relevant image and description.

Cheese burger

Above, the World Market promoted pin grabs prospects’ attention with the headline, “Save an Extra 10% Now.” The ad tells prospects how to take advantage of the deal and teases an additional offer.

Go beyond basic Google Ads tracking tools

Google Ads’ built-in asset tracking can be incredibly useful. But Google Ads shouldn’t be your only analytics platform.

“We use ConversionIQ to ensure we’re tracking all aspects of a Google Maps campaign in a granular fashion,” explains Rambod Yadegar, President of HawkSEM. “That way, we can ensure we’re seeing precisely where sales are coming from and how we can get more.

Real-life examples of Google Maps ads

Google Maps ads show a range of features and calls-to-action (CTAs), many are related to Google Business Profile settings. Let’s look at real-life examples.

Bojangles ad

Bojangles ad

Above, the Bojangles listing includes an “Order” button to prompt customers to purchase food. Customers can place an order with any service the business has linked.

Red Lobster ad

Red Lobster ad

For restaurants, food orders aren’t the only call-to-action (CTA) available. Above, the Red Lobster ad has a “Reserve” button that allows customers to book a table instantly.

Circle K ad

Circle K ad

Above, the Circle K ad features a “Call” button to encourage new customers to phone the business. The gas station’s Google Business Profile also displays the current price for fuel.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament ad

Tournament ad

Above, the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament ad prompts potential customers to view the venue’s dinner menu or purchase tickets for a show.

Lowe’s Foods of Carolina Forest ad

Carolina Forest ad

Locations that host multiple businesses often have a “Directory” button that invites customers to explore further. Above, the Lowe’s Foods of Carolina Forest ad links to a directory featuring the store’s prepared food vendors.

Grand Atlantic Ocean Resort ad

Ocean Resort ad

Hotels that advertise on Google Maps often have options to book a room instantly. Above, the Grand Atlantic Ocean Resort ad has an “Availability” option where prospects can check prices for various dates and then tap to book.

Firestone Complete Auto Care

Firestone Complete Auto Care

Ads for service-based businesses often allow customers to book appointments directly. Above, the Firestone Complete Auto Care ad features a “Book” button that links to the location’s landing page.

O’Reilly Auto Parts ad

O Rreilly Auto Parts ad

Current offers can also display on Google Maps ads. Above, the O’Reilly Auto Parts ad features a limited-time offer that customers can redeem in-store.

Best Buy ad


Google Maps ads can also drive in-store pickups. Above, the Best Buy ad encourages customers to take advantage of an offer and purchase an item for pickup at a local store.

Why should local businesses use Google Maps ads?

By placing local search ads on Google Maps, your businesses can reach marketing goals throughout the funnel. Let’s look at some of the biggest benefits of this ad type.

Boost visibility

Want your business location to capture the attention of local customers? When you run ads on Google Maps, your listing stands out and makes your location more visible.

Between promoted pins and sponsored search results, this ad type gives you multiple options to get your business in front of casual browsers and serious searchers.

Drive consideration

As the examples above show, Google Maps ads give prospects tons of information beyond just your business name. From restaurant menus and ticket prices to hotel availability and business directories, they can help potential customers get closer to making a final decision.

Connect with customers

In many cases, Google Maps ads give prospects all the information they need to make a decision. But if potential customers have questions, they can ask via ad features.

If your Google Business Profile has a phone number, it may display via a “Call” button on your ad. And if your profile has chat enabled, customers can tap to connect instantly.

Ultimate California Pizza

Above, the Ultimate California Pizza ad features a “Chat” button. Customers can choose from a list of suggested questions or type a custom question.

Build remarketing audiences

Many Google Maps CTAs — such as “Chat” or “Directions” — prompt users to take the next step without leaving the app. However, these ads can also encourage prospects to click through and visit your business’s website.

There, you can invite prospects to learn more about your business, book an appointment, or make a purchase. If you add these website visitors to remarketing audiences, you can retarget them with search ads to guide them to a first conversion or a repeat purchase.

“Google Maps ads can be highly effective if implemented correctly,” confirms Sam Yadegar, CEO of HawkSEM. “They’re a great assist for boosting traffic to your business and can generate sales. But it’s essential to have an experienced partner managing your Google Maps ads to ensure they get the desired ROI.”

Curious how to set up retargeting for Google Ads? Reach out to learn how our digital marketing team can help with local campaigns for Google Ads.

Increase conversion rates

From orders placed to tickets purchased to rooms booked, one of the biggest perks of Google Maps ads is they’re designed to drive conversions. After all, Google Maps users are typically searching for a solution to meet an immediate need.

In other words, they want to find a nearby restaurant, book a hotel in an ideal location, or get directions to a specific store or attraction. As a result, they can attract prospects with purchase intent and ultimately increase conversion rates.

“Google Maps ads have been particularly beneficial for us, considering our business heavily relies on local searches,” explains Rasa Urbonaitė, CMO at Breezit. “A real-life example that stands out is when we targeted couples looking for wedding venues in specific localities.”

“By placing our venues in Google Maps ads, we noticed a significant uptick in inquiries and visits to our website. These ads allowed us to appear right at the moment potential clients were searching for venues, making our service more visible and accessible.”

Attract foot traffic

Google Maps ads can certainly drive conversions online. But they can also use location targeting to send foot traffic to your business. Between directional prompts and in-store promotions, local businesses have excellent reasons to advertise in Google Maps.

Checklist for creating Google Maps ads

Configure and optimize your Google Business Profile

Add location assets in Google Ads

Create a search network and Google Maps campaign

Choose a conversion goal

Set location-specific audience targeting

Upload a keyword list

Build a search ad

Advertise across Google properties with Performance Max

Choose a conversion goal

Design an ad to run across Google properties

Pick search themes

Set an audience signal

Review location asset analytics

The takeaway

Google Maps ads are a powerful tool for local business promotion. In addition to driving awareness and conversions, they can also complement local SEO efforts.

Whether you plan to focus on paid ads or organic campaigns, we’re here to help. Contact HawkSEM for a free local search consultation.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation