Google AdWords Series: Understanding Location Settings

As Google is strengthening the location factor in its search algorithms, location targeting remains extremely important for managing AdWords campaigns as well.

As Google is strengthening the location factor in its search algorithms, location targeting remains extremely important for managing AdWords campaigns as well.

Location targeting increases the ROI of your advertisement, by showing the ads only to the people who can be your potential customers and possibly will have a genuine interest in your product or service based on the geographical proximity.

Location targeting

You can set your target goals on the basis of

a) countries

b) areas within a country

c) radius of a location.

More advanced campaign management allows including or exclude the locations based on several additional factors:

a) enclosing locations (areas larger than your target locations)

b) related locations (e.g. having a similar name)

c) nearby locations.

Another special feature is airport targeting, that allows you to target people located in some 300 airports around the world surfing on their mobile devices while waiting for a plane.

User location identification

It is of primary importance to understand how location targeting actually functions in AdWords.

Here is a list of factors considered by Google to determine if an ad should be shown for a search term or on display network:

  • Location interest (only for the same country), this will be explained in more detail below
  • Google domain. e.g.  Google.fr or Google.de
  • IP adress
  • The location of the user in Google Profiles, if signed in
  • Google search history
  • For mobile ads, the location is additionally determined on the basis of GPS, Wi-Fi, Google’s cell ID data

By default, Google includes not just the people located in the target location, but also searching for products or services in the target location. E.g. if you are based in Berlin and look for shoe stores in Munich, ads by Munich advertisers will appear, though they might not have set Berlin as their target location.

As it has been mentioned above, this does not work between the countries, so you will not see ads by Parisian shoe stores if you are in Berlin and look for shoe stores in Paris, unless a French store specifically targets Berlin.  The only exception is if you actually get on Google.fr to conduct your search, as the domain “signals” the country you are interested in, as well as the language you want your search results to be displayed in.

However, for most campaigns advanced location options are available, which allows you to tune in your advertising by excluding either people not physically located in your target area or not searching for (search campaigns) or looking at pages about (display campaigns) your target area.

Optimizing AdWords location settings

As always in online marketing, make sure to monitor how your current location settings perform and optimize them incrementally.

The following can be done to optimize your location settings

a) find out which locations perform better than others

b) assign more budget and increase the bids for better performing locations to attract more traffic

c) write customized ads and create landing pages for your most profitable locations, and even think how you may “localize” your offer to better match the customers’ needs.

All in all, understanding how location targeting works will lead to better campaign customization and higher conversions for your ads.

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Author: Elena

I acquired a BA degree in International Business with a specialization in Marketing from Nuremberg Technical School and a parallel degree from Leeds Metropolitan University. In 2013-2014, I worked in the field of performance and conversion optimization with an IT company and then was employed in content marketing. In 2016, I went back to working with Web Analytics and gained additional experience in project management. During this time, I received an Award of Achievement in Digital Analytics from the University of British Columbia (Canada). Currently, I am employed in Online Marketing. My areas of specialization include online marketing strategy, content creation, web analytics, conversion optimization and usability.

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