Nailing Your Geotargeting in a PPC Campaign

  • March 27, 2015

    Nailing Your Geotargeting in a PPC Campaign

    Picture this: You manage campaigns for a client that has a small chain of spas. You’ve tested your keywords and scrubbed campaigns clean. But something is still off. Why are your keywords not converting as you expected? Oh wait, there it is. You forgot to target the local market.

    Geotargeting can make or break the success of a campaign. Reviewing the settings of the campaign in advance can save time and money later on. Here are a few helpful tips to consider as you target your ads:

    Bid on Location-Based Keywords

    When building your keyword list, before you even head into the geotargeting settings, it’s smart to bid on location-based keywords. These will help emphasize your relevance in the area. They’re also how people frequently search for local terms.

    Say all of your spa client’s locations are within forty miles of one another, but in different cities. A search for “Middletown, DE spa” should show an ad for your local spa if you’ve set up geotargeting. But using the location as a keyword, as well as in your copy, adds extra relevance for the searcher. Using it as both also means it will be bolded and make your ad stand out.

    Bidding on location-based keywords comes in handy here, too:

    • Real Estate (or Real Estate agents) – Most people looking to buy a house focus on a particular city and state. For an ad to be relevant, it needs to be targeted to that area.
    • Purchasing a motorcycle (or any other recreational vehicle) – Brands often give incentives to dealerships to promote their product. Incentives have strict rules and regulations that dictate the geographic area where it’s applicable. Geotargeting helps these dealerships avoid messy incentive issues with potential customers.
    • Restaurants – Yes, sometimes we travel for food (especially if you’ve got a hankering for something). But, when you’re looking for pizza in Middletown, DE, you’ll likely search for “Pizza in Middletown, DE” not just “Pizza.”

    Prevent ‘Same Name Syndrome’

    eZanga’s located near Newark, Delaware. There’s also Newark, New Jersey, Newark, Ohio, Newark, Arkansas…see the pattern here?

    Problems pop up when targeting a common location name. One of the most common is Washington. Are you targeting Washington State or Washington, D.C.?

    Get into the habit of excluding the locations in which you don’t want your ad to appear. For example, if your business is in Springfield, Illinois, set up your geotargeting to target Springfield, Illinois. Then double check that you chose “Springfield, Illinois,” and not “Springfield, Connecticut.” But also set it up to exclude the 34 other cities named Springfield in the U.S. That’ll ensure you’re reaching residents of the right Springfield.

    Searching for a ‘Washington Podiatrist’ left me quite confused. Some results are for Washington State, but others are for Washington, D.C..

    PPC GeoTargeting Mishap with Washington

    As a paid listing, there’s a good chance someone will click your link. Imagine their frustration when they realize you’re in D.C. and not Washington State. On top of that, you just paid for a click that definitely won’t convert, unless the searcher is in the mood to travel. It’s a “no win” situation for everyone.

    Adjust Your Bids by Location

    Bid adjustments are an important part of any PPC strategy, location-based or not.

    Remember your local spa? You have several locations, but they’re not all equal. Some locations are busier, others have established clientele, and some struggle to get sales.

    Geotargeting allows you to adjust your bids by location, rather than spreading your PPC budget out equally. You can bid more in locations where you face higher PPC competition, or in locations where business is slower. Bid less in the busier locations until others aren’t struggling as much.

    As a result, your campaign’s bids may look like this:

    PPC Bid Adjustments by Location

    Bid adjustments help the campaign rank higher when it matters. And you can save your budget when it doesn’t.

    “Valid Only in the Contiguous 48 States”

    You’ll need to leave your sunscreen and parkas at home with this one. Hawaii and Alaska are no-go states for a promotion you’re running. Why pay to advertise it there?

    Like targeting “same name cities,” you can exclude areas, or whole states. This comes in handy for fine print like “valid only in the contiguous 48 states.”

    Geotargeting Very Specific Areas

    Sometimes it makes sense to target a really specific area or market. But when? Here are a few circumstances:

    • Targeting a specific metro market – A local car dealership in the Philadelphia metro area has a TV ad campaign. They want to target the same people online. Targeting a specific metro market can help them do just that.
    • Targeting a radius around a specific location – The Old New Castle spa location is struggling to get clients. Setting up a campaign targeting a 10-mile radius of this store can help.
    • Targeting a specific zip code – The only zip code for Middletown, Delaware is 19709 (yep, we’re a small town). On Small Business Saturday, the town council’s paid search campaign supports local businesses. They target the 19709 zip code so its residents see the ads. Political candidates running for election in a specific town or congressional district can enjoy zip code targeting, too.

    Message Match Your Copy

    Have you been to Philadelphia? After climbing the Art Museum steps and doing your best Rocky impression, you’re hungry. A search for “Philly cheesesteak” will help determine where to go to get your grub on.

    Notice how uses great message match on their ad? This makes the ad appear more relevant than others. The phrase “Philly Cheesesteak” tells me I’m close to my answer. If the ad just said “Cheesesteak Guide,” you might be unsure how many places in the guide were in Philadelphia.

    Philly Cheesesteak Geotargeting


    Geotargeting can have a tremendous impact on the success of your campaigns. If a campaign’s in a rut, review the geotargeting settings. Use these tips to get your campaign moving the right way.

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