Geo-targeting PPC

Geo-targeting & Reaching Customers on a Limited Budget

Authors: Danielle Rozga and Todd Chamberlin

Don’t overlook the benefits of adding geo-targeting to your campaigns! Beyond the simple world of search campaigns, geotargeting in AdWords & Bing is an essential tool in your advertising quiver.

What is Geo-targeting?

Geo-targeting, or location targeting, allows advertisers to specifically choose the locations in which they would like their ads to show for each individual campaign. For most advertisers, it’s not enough to simply add a location-modifier to your keyword(s), for example, “Vacation Rentals in Santa Fe New Mexico”. While this narrows down the area in which the searcher would like to see results, it doesn’t define the location of your customer base. By implementing advanced geo-targeting techniques, you can see a big improvement in Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and make efficient use of your PPC budget.

Location targeting options include:

  • City, State, Country, Region
  • DMA (Designated Market Area)
  • Congressional Districts
  • ZIP Codes
  • Radius Around a Point

How Do You Implement Geo-Targeting?

First, define who your audience is and where they are located. Run internal reports to determine where your customers are coming from, review analytics geographic data and sort it by transactions, time on site, pages per session, etc. to focus your spending on conversion-driving locations, and determine which campaigns/keywords are appropriate for specific geo-targeted audiences.  Spend some time on this – it’s important!

Once you have determined the areas you will target, head to your campaign settings and put it into action. Add your states, cities, zips, etc. If you want to exclude specific locations, that is a powerful strategy as well. If your business is located in Boulder, CO, you might want to exclude searchers in Boulder, UT from seeing your ads.

AdWords Location Targeting

AdWords Location Targeting


Bing Ads Location Targeting

Bing Ads Location Targeting


In the Settings tab, there are advanced location options settings that are important to pay attention to.  Google AdWords will opt you into the 1st, “recommended” option:

Adwords Advanced Targeting Settings
This is NOT recommended for most advanced advertisers.  This opens up your ads to people outside of your targeted areas who show “interest” in locations you have defined, meaning they could have recently visited your area or used your location in their search query.

The 2nd option, “People in my targeted location” is what we strongly recommend our clients to use, because it allows for the tightest method of control as to where ads are served. You put effort into determining where your customers are located, so why not put it to good use?

The 3rd option, “People searching for my targeted location”, is not highly-targeted and allows for any searcher who shows interest in your location to see your ads.

In Bing Ads, we also recommend choosing “People in your targeted locations”.

Bing Adcenter

In addition to the locations you want to target, if you add exclusions, you will need to adjust your settings in Google AdWords to ensure that you exclude “People in my excluded location” as opposed to the first, recommended default option.

Adwords Default Location


In Bing Ads, you can set exclusions as well, but there are not any additional advanced options for excluding areas at this time.

Enhance Geo-Targeting with Bid Adjustments

Bid adjustments by location, located in your Settings tab for each campaign, allows an advertiser to increase or decrease bids by a certain percentage in chosen locations to optimize ad positions and increase click-thru performance.

For example, consider a resort town that has a dozen or so locations where most of their visitors reside. The advertiser can identify the cities by importance and give the most significant cities a higher bid adjustment. Or, perhaps one of these locations proves to be extremely competitive. The advertiser can increase bid adjustments to gain better ad positioning.

A word of caution about bid adjustments: Monitor your data and cost-per-click (CPC) of increased bid adjustments very carefully, as it can sometimes increase your CPC unnecessarily.

So, what are you waiting for? When you think about geo-targeting, there are many creative and effective ways to be more precise and relevant without limiting your reach. It can save you from wasting your budget and increase your bottom line. Know your goals and your audience and you will be well ahead of your competitors.