Digital Insights

How to Target Local Customers with Google AdWords


Published: October 6, 2014

One of the benefits offered by the Google AdWords platform is the ability to specify exactly where you want your pay-per-click (PPC) ads to run. If your business only markets to customers within a given geographic area, it makes little sense to run your ads outside of your immediate market area.

A brick and mortar storefront business will attract most of its customers from within a given geographic range of the store. On the other hand, a service business that primarily works at the customer’s location usually has a defined service zone that serves as its primary market area.

how to use ppc campaigns for local seo

However you define the market area for your particular business, your Google AdWords campaign can be targeted to reach only those prospects that are most likely to buy from you. This ensures that your PPC budget won’t be wasted on clicks coming from people outside of your market area who are unlikely to do business with you.

How Google AdWords Geotargeting Works
The problem that many local marketers encounter with geotargeting their market is that very specific targeting may reduce the volume of searches below the minimum needed to achieve an acceptable return on investment (ROI); adding in the searchers who browse privately or who choose to limit cookies only compounds the problem.

One work-around to help improve your ROI is to change your targeting methodology. The primary methods of geotargeting include

  • Designated market area (DMA)
  • City, state, country, region
  • Radius around a designated point
  • Postal zip code
  • Location extension targeting

Google reserves the right to decide which ad will be delivered, based on search location prompts such as the physical location of the search engine user, the specific search terms being queried, and the subject domain.

An advanced setting, “People in, searching for, or viewing pages about my targeted location” allows you to include searchers who may be currently outside your market area yet still represent a qualified lead. For example, someone living in Los Angeles might be searching for a local heating contractor to make repairs on a recently purchased home in Phoenix. This would be a good lead for a Phoenix-based heating repair company even though the search is originating outside its market area.

Tips for Using Geotargeting to Improve Your AdWords Campaign
Take advantage of the exclusion option. This allows you to exclude searchers in designated areas from seeing your ad. You might want to exclude certain locations outside of your primary market area, or locations which are generating poorly converting leads.

Adjust your click rate bids by location. You can optimize your PPC campaign’s performance by adjusting your bid up or down to restrict or expand the number of searchers in a given location who will see your ad. For instance, that Phoenix-based contractor from the previous example might choose to bid a lesser amount for leads originating from Los Angeles rather than outright excluding them.

Geotargeting by keyword rather than location might make sense for businesses in certain industries. If your company’s customers usually include a geo-modifer in their search terms such as “auto repair Denver,” you might ignore geotargeting altogether in favor of a geo-modified keyword strategy.

If your business is affected by the local weather, Google allows you to set your bid based on given weather variables such as temperature, rain, and wind. A golf course might set a higher bid for warm and sunny days and a lower bid for days when rain is expected.


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