It has been helpful for me, recently, to clear up the distinction between the various geo-targeting options within Google AdWords search network campaign settings. Make sure you have selected Search Network and All Features in your settings. There is location targeting, whereby you are declaring what area you would like the potential advertisee to be located in, selecting the radius or DMA of a targeted location. Then there are the advanced location targeting options. I typically use ‘People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location’ but I have been curious just how accurate and refined the differences are in the advanced targeting options. The location targeting and advanced targeting selections are two important settings that you are choosing from which distinguish the type of traffic you’ll get and how qualified they are.
After selecting the location targeting, the physical range you want to target for your keyword bidding, then, you have the option to select one of three advanced location targeting options:
- People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location
- People in my targeted location
- People searching for my targeted location
As mentioned previously, the first setting is the one that I typically use. In this situation, when there is a geo-modifier in the search query, for example, someone searching for an apartment in Houston and a location target of Houston is set, as long as the word ‘Houston’ is a part of the query, the individual searching can be from anywhere in the world, not just in Houston. This is how Google justifies showing the ad, in that a person showed interest in the specifically targeted area. In this case, I would refer to ‘Houston’ as the geo-modifier, which communicates local intent regardless of where the person is located. If in fact, I am using a keyword phrase without the geo-modifier, then it will serve within the targeted radius only. The only other occasion is if a person was recently in a targeted radius but is not currently, then it could still show without the geo-modifier in the search result. The key to remember is the geo-modified keyword as the defining difference, such as ‘dallas gocarts’ vs ‘gocarts’ as to whether your search results could end up being worldwide or just within the targeted radius.
The second and third settings are much more simple. The second setting, people in my targeted location, allows for only people in a targeted location. There are no search query exceptions for being served an ad nationwide if the targeted area is Houston or Dallas and there is no geo-modifier using those terms. The third setting, people searching for my targeted location, have to use the geo-modifier in their search result regardless of where they are located.
Google explains advanced location settings to us, but there is one situation that is not clear for my most used advanced location setting, ‘People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location’. What if a campaign has a Dallas radius location target but I’m not wanting to use the longer-tail ‘Dallas luxury apartments’ and just want to show for ‘luxury apartments’. There are certainly more searches without the geo-modifier and it would make sense that people searching for an apartment might not always think to add a geo-modifier. How good is Google at identifying a person has interest in a Dallas area apartment regardless of their location or when they don’t use the Houston geo-modifier in their search query? And the answer is, this can only be known through testing.
You can certainly create a separate campaign and target people only in my targeted location and use the luxury apartment phrase. But, this is still flawed because if Google is not considering the context of a search then someone in the Dallas area searching for a Boston luxury apartment could still be served your ad even if you were advertising a Dallas-specific luxury apartment. Instead, keep the ”People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location’ option and review the search query report more regularly to filter out specific geo-modifiers that are not associated with your location. You could run a test over a few months and compare the leads sent to the client to know which had the more noticeable impact.