The Zen of Geotargeting: Are You In or Out?

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By Don Sturgill

Why is geotargeting important?

Do you remember when we talked about writing PPC ads and how important it is for a pizzeria to consider location when placing pay-per-click ads? The company we used as an example wrote a pretty good ad – and received a high click-through rate. Unfortunately, though, the writer and account manager forgot to include any geotargeting information. Since they failed to focus their ads on any particular locality, all of the clicks came from well outside the shop’s limited delivery area – and the company LOST $1000 on PPC right off the bat.

In Complete Guide to AdWords Geotargeting & Local PPCErin Bell talks about geotargeting and how to get it set up for your campaigns. Let’s consider some takeaways from that article.

Geotargeting map

Wikipedia Creative Commons

How can you set up geotargeting?

Erin uses screenshots as a walk-through for setting up geotargeting with Google AdWords. The steps are simple and straightforward, but deciding which options to choose requires a little thinking.

Would a local pizzeria want to display ads to the entire country? A geographical region? How about only within a certain city or zip code? By using geotargeting, they could even choose to define a radial distance from the shop. That could work well for pizza delivery – but every situation is different. You need to look at your own business and determine your own objectives.

One cool function is the Locations tab, under Settings. It allows you to compare performance data for each location you are targeting. And – don’t forget – just as with using negative keywords, you want to exclude the locations you don’t want to target.

Here’s the Google video describing geotargeting:


Other tips for smart geotargeting

  1. Use Google Trends for research. You can discover the popularity of keywords according to region. North Dakotans, it turns out, search for “snow blower” a whole lot more frequently than do Floridians. Who would have thought it?
  2. Don’t substitute geotargeting for including regional terms in your list of keywords. Erin gives a bonus link to a handy tool for generating keywords for locations near you: Generate Lists for Local AdWords and Keywords
  3. Don’t substitute geotargeting for including target area words in your ad. When hungry folks search on “pizza delivery Remote, Oregon,” and your ad includes “Remote, Oregon” those words will be bolded in the results. That makes your ad stand out from the many other pizza shops targeting Remote,
  4. Don’t forget to enable extensions for your ad. Location extensions will show your address. Call extensions provide your phone number.
  5. Consider changing a certain default setting. Do you want folks who are searching about your location to see your ad, or only those who are in your targeted area? You can choose via advanced Location options.

 NOTE: One thing Erin doesn’t talk about is a teensy little problem those of us who market to folks not in a major city or metropolitan area face. For instance, I live about 200 miles from my ISP. If I search on “pizza delivery” and call one of the shops that turn up in the SERP, there is NO WAY they are going to deliver a hot pizza to my door within the hour (or ever, really). The search engines count the location of my ISP as MY location. That can pose a real problem for the pizza shop trying to keep costs down and profits up.

Geotarget or Geo-Target? Opt-in or Opt-out?

Let’s take a look at another article, one that might be able to help us be sure our geotarget hits the correct target. It also allows us to see an alternative spelling of the term. (Writers in the crowd may find that interesting.)

Ginny Marvin heads straight for deep water. In Google AdWords Geo-Targeting: Have We All Been Doing It Wrong?, Ginny recaps a presentation made by Marta Turek at SMX Advanced.

Says, Ginny, “They tested an opt-out versus the traditional opt-in approach to geo-targeting in AdWords.”

An opt-in strategy selects specific target areas and focuses on them. An opt-out strategy excludes non-target areas.

When a client wanted to target Denver, Colorado, Turek’s company removed the Adwords statewide ads and set up a targeted campaign. (This is an opt-in approach.) Consequently, their click-through rate (CTR) dropped by almost 60%. Ouch. Moreover, the cost-per-click (CPC) for the ads increased by about 30%. Double ouch.

Turek and her crew then tried a different method –  on behalf of the same client, but in a different region. They excluded direct marketing areas (DMA’s) for an opt-out approach. That earned them a 12% decrease in average CPC and a 8% upswing in the conversion rate.

Here’s the SlideShare of  that presentation by Turek:

The moral of the story

Test, test, test. Don’t assume your geotargeted ads are hitting the mark. Use targeted keywords and include them in your ad copy. Don’t forget your negatives and exclusions.Test the opt-out approach against the standard opt-in method. And be sure to share your results.

And, if you figure out how to target searches coming only from a 12-mile radius of Remote, Oregon, please spill the beans. I know a pizzeria owner who has some extra dough.

(By the way, here is a hint: mobile-only ads could be a work-around — but there are only three positions, and they are taken by generic ads from the pizza chain giants. Could I dislocate them by being the only contender with location data in my ad?)

Thank you to the kind folks in the PPC Chat G+ Community for helping to hash this topic out.

Find out more about how geotargeting can help you get better Conversion Rates. Call 888-659-2680 to get your free consultation with the Conversion Max team.

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Don Sturgill

Writer, Dreamer, Believer and Friend of Entrepreneurs, Don Sturgill is a freelance writer and the author of Roadmap to Freedom (Dream Into It), the field manual that helps entrepreneurs turn ideas into reality … fast. Don is from Bend, Oregon, PPC capital of the world. His home on the web is at

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