Deciphering The New AdWords Geotargeting Settings

Big news this week on the AdWords front – Google just updated their location targeting settings in a drastically different way. Now, instead of only being able to target people via self-reported location or IP address, you can also choose to target them via geographic keywords in their search query.

Under “Advanced Location Options” in your campaign settings, you should now see three options:

  1. Target using either physical location or search intent – This option is the same as the default geotargeting option before the change. Choose this one if this latest change is weird and scary to you, and you want nothing to do with it.
  2. Target using physical location – With this option, Google will show your ad only to people located within your targeted area, regardless of which keywords are in the query. This is pretty straightforward if you already have experience using the old geotargeting settings. Specify a country, state, or metro area, zip code radius, or custom shape, and your ads only show in that area.
  3. Target using search intent – Here’s where it gets tricky. With this new setting, you can choose to target specific geographic areas that appear in a user’s search query, regardless of where the user is physically located. For example, if you wanted to target tourists who are looking for hotels in New York City, you could add search-intent targeting to your campaign. Then, your ads would show up to anyone searching for “new york city hotel,” “manhattan lodging,” or “cheap hotel 10001.” Plus, you would only need to bid on broad or phrase match keywords like “cheap hotel,” and not have to worry about plugging in every possible keyword combination related to the NYC metro area. This is great because you need to target tourists from all over the country, but you really only want people who are coming to one place.

You can also choose to exclude traffic based on physical location, or physical location plus search intent. In the above example, you could choose to exclude anyone looking for “brooklyn hotels” either via excluding Brooklyn from your physical ad coverage area, or telling Google to exclude the area and any search queries related to it.

This new feature will be a real time saver for anyone who has slaved over a concatenation worksheet, trying to put together every possible keyword + geographic name combination in an effort to grab as much of that geographic long-tail as you can. Now, Google is doing the heavy lifting, so you can switch on your search query targeting settings, kick back, and work on something a little less mind-numbingly tedious.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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One Response to Deciphering The New AdWords Geotargeting Settings

  1. Hi Shawn,

    This sounds like an exciting new setting for AdWords advertisers. Like you said, I guess it’s a natural move by Google to reduce the huge amounts of obscure keyword + location combinations which bloat AdWords accounts everywhere.

    Alan