Targeting Regional & Local Customers with Adwords

A lot of potential advertisers are intimidated by the possible reach of Adwords. They’re trying to grow their business at a local or regional level and don’t want to spend money for traffic coming from thousands of miles away. Luckily with a few extra steps in the campaign process you can use Adwords Geographical Targeting features to make sure you’re paying for clicks in Portland, Oregon not Portland, Maine.

When Geo-Targeting you have 3 main choices: Countries & Territories, Regions & Cities, and Customized. Countries & Territories is the setting of choice for those running national and international campaigns, but for the rest who have a specific area to target the last two are the choices to explore.

Regions & Cities

Say your sales territory is the West Coast, how do you only serve ads to web surfers in your territory? With the Regions & Cities tool you can specify whole states, major cities, groups of cities, or counties. The level of detail in this area is limited by the options allowed to you by Google and it is determined mainly by population. For example my town, San Luis Obispo, is grouped with Santa Maria and Santa Barbara. Each City is demographically and geographically distinct, but we’re a little low on people so we got smooshed together.

geo taget region

Customized Targeting

Customized Targeting allows for a much more specific targeting of prospects. You can set a radius around an address or a point on a map, you can also draw a polygon that includes the areas you want to target.

The radius settings are pretty straight forward, pick a place and decide how far away you or your customers are willing to do business from that point.

Below I’ve included screen caps of both versions, notice how impressively similar they are.

geo target address

geo target point

The Polygon setting is the most interesting setting to me personally. It allows you to capture cities that fall outside of a reasonable radius, or draw around ones that are on little to no value to you. Keep in mind that with the polygon tool you should use it with city level areas, going smaller probably won’t get you the desired results. You may have a server on the side of town you didn’t want and that’s where all of your potential clients connect to the internet.

geo taget polygon

Other Benefits…

geo taget adsSo besides saving time and money by only advertising to the areas you want to do business with, you also get a little addition to your Adwords ad that lets people know it’s locally targeted. The string of ads I posted on the right includes a mix of national, local and statewide ads. Notice the difference? Web surfers do. In our experience we’ve noticed that ads that are noticeably local get better Click Through Rates and overall response.

So What’s the Bad News?

For the most part Geo Targeting is pretty cool, but it’s not perfect. Location is determined by the location of the server not necessarily the location of the person surfing the web. Most of the time the server and the surfer are fairly close to each other, but sometimes they are really far apart which means they could be in your targeted area but not receive your ads… and sometimes Google just plain screws up. In one campaign localized to San Francisco I had one rogue click from Greece… which happens to be slightly out of my 100 mile circle. That’s the exception not the rule however.

It may be worth it, especially if you deal with tourists in your business, to consider running a national campaign that uses your keywords mixed with local city and region names to capture relevant out of town traffic and those with geographically distant servers.

Give it a Try!

So as you can see Google gives you a fair amount of control over where your ads show, and mixed with a well controlled budget you can safely test the waters and start advertising online!