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Campaign Settings, Part 2: Location Targeting

You’ve loaded keywords and ads into the engines via the desktop tools and have begun to go in to the platforms and tweak the various settings we have at our disposal. Last week, we began a dive into these settings that included ad rotation, dayparting, delivery method, etc. This week, we’re focusing on a single feature of the PPC platform, location targeting—also called geo-targeting. In general, location targeting lets you pinpoint the geographic areas you would like your ads to be shown in.

How location targeting works

It varies from engine to engine, but, as with last week, we’re going to just focus on the AdWords platform right now. Some of the ways that Google qualifies a user’s location are:

The Google domain and language being used. If a user is searching Google.fr, they will be considered to be in France regardless of where that person may actually be located at the time. The user’s language setting in their browser can sometimes be factor as well.

Keyword context. If a searcher uses a recognized location keyword, it’s very possible that the person may be eligible for ads targeted in that area. Think about someone who lives in New York and is planning for at trip next week to Los Angeles. If they search for, “Los Angeles theaters” from a New York location, Google may match those users with relevant ads that are targeted to L.A. even if Los Angeles wasn’t a specified area that the advertiser had targeted.

User IP address. An IP address is a unique number assigned by internet service providers (ISPs) to each computer they’ve connected to the internet. If they know a searcher is in Chicago, that’s obviously going to be relevant to advertisers who are targeting Chicago, right?

For mobile it’s a bit more complicated for obvious reasons. You can read more about how Google location-targets to mobile devices via this Google AdWords Help Center article.

How to change your location settings in AdWords

On the AdWords Campaigns Settings screen (see last week’s article for how to get to this screen), you will get the following pop-up box if you choose to edit the Location settings:

Google allows for a variety of ways to target locations. You can:

  • Search or browse for countries, territories, regions, and cities.
  • Select a preset bundle of locations. Some of the bundles include North America, the Middle East, the Caribbean, etc.
  • Exclude areas within your selected locations. This is the reverse of the first two options basically. For example, what if you were targeting every state in the U.S. except four where your advertiser doesn’t have any locations. Choosing the U.S. and then excluding those four states is much faster than clicking on every state individually.
  • Choose a point on the map and specify a radius around it where your ads will appear. They ask for a 20 mile minimum distance.
  • Target a custom shape on the map. A very cool feature! You can upload latitudinal and longitudinal points or literally go in and click points on the map to create your own custom shape.

Here’s a picture I created of a gremlin using the custom shape tool:

HA! Okay, I’ve definitely been outed as a search geek now!

Location targeting isn’t hard to figure out, but it’s important for you truly know how to use the various engine tools to define your geotargeting and what options are available for you. Also, you need to understand why your ads will sometimes show up outside of your targeting parameters, as this will happen.

Next week, we’ll wrap up campaign settings so that we can do our final double check and then launch our campaigns.

PPC Academy is a comprehensive, one-year search advertising course from beginning to end. Starting with the basics, PPC Academy progressively explores all of the varied facets of paid search, and the tactics needed to succeed and become an advanced paid search marketer.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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