16th April 2016

#AndyTalks 033 – AdWords location targeting tip

If you don’t setup your AdWords location targeting properly, Google can bleed you slowly. I’ve seen it up to 5% of clicks!

If you run a local service business, then the best converting visitors are people either looking for your brand name, or people looking for your service with a location in their search term.

If you bid on geo-modified keywords (ones containing a location) then you could get bled by Google.

Make sure you change this little hidden setting in your AdWords campaigns to stop the bleed.


One of the first things you have to do when you set up a new ad words campaign is set the location targeting.

Let’s use my favorite example of a plumber in Dublin. So you’re a plumber in Dublin and you want to get found by people looking for a plumber in Dublin.

The very first campaign I would create would be one that targets the whole of Ireland. Me personally — I would call that campaign “IP=IE” because I’m targeting the IP address of Ireland, — curly brackets — {Dublin plumber} because all the keywords in that campaign are going to be related to Dublin plumber and then I just put in round brackets at the end — (Google and Mod broad) because I’m going to target the Google search engine and exclude search partners and the display network and because all keywords within this campaign will be modified broad.

The first ad group I’ll create is going to be called “Dublin plumber” and it’s going to contain one keyword in modified broad, that keyword is going to be “+dublin +plumber”.

A modified broad keyword means that any word that has a + in front of it should be in the search term that somebody is using when they search on Google. There could be other words in the search term and the words can be in any order. It allows for close variants, so “Dublin plumbers”, if somebody typed that in we would still show. It allows for misspellings so if somebody misspelled Dublin or plumber then our ad is still eligible to show.

I lied a bit. I said this would be the first campaign I’d create, it’s not. The first campaign I would create would be to bid on the brand name of the business. For the brand name campaign I would probably still target Ireland and have in curly brackets {brand name} –whatever that is — (Google Mod Broad). Hopefully the brand name isn’t something silly like Best Dublin Plumber, because that’s just a tough brand name to defend, because people typing in that search term may be looking for the brand or they may just looking for the Dublin plumber anyway.

But here’s the important part. After I’ve created the branded campaign the first campaign I’m going to create is a geo-modified one, which means every search term that we want to appear for has to contain a location, in this case, Dublin. Dublin Plumber. Plumber Dublin. Even if someone was down in Cork and they typed in Dublin Plumber we would want our ad to show. They might be a person who has a property up in Dublin, a landlord for instance, who lives in Cork and they’re looking for a plumber for their tenant or there might be somebody who’s on holiday down in Cork at the time but their property is up in Dublin. We don’t know; we don’t really care. But, the fact that they typed in “plumber Dublin” is enough for us to want our ad to appear.

So for that first campaign, this is why we target the whole of Ireland, but we make sure that every search term contains the location, Dublin. It doesn’t matter where they are in Ireland, if they type in “Dublin plumber” we want our ad to show.

But there’s a slight problem when you set up your campaign and you set these location targeting to Ireland. That’s because our keyword is “Dublin plumber” and Google is smart enough to know that Dublin is a location. So when somebody types in “Dublin plumber” Google thinks “mmmm, I think you probably wanted your ad to show in front of them” and then they’re going to show your ad in front of them even if they’re not in Ireland. That’s a problem because there’s 9 Dublins in the US. The biggest one is a city called Dublin in Ohio and maybe there are other Dublins around the world. Now you could say Google is trying to be helpful here, personally I don’t think so; I’ll let you be the judge of that.

But to prevent this from happening you have to go into your campaign, make sure that the campaign is set to have all features, not just standard.

Create a new campaign and make it “Search network only.” By default I turn off the search partners. The next thing I do is change it from a standard campaign to one with all features. Ooops there’s a gotcha. As soon as you change from “standard” to “all features” all your other settings disappear, so turn of search partners again. Scroll down and look for “Location options advanced” — click on that.

From Target — “People in searching for or who show interest in my targeted location (recommended)” — to — “People in my targeted location” — which is Ireland by default for me.

If I scroll back up and change that back to a standard campaign we’ll see that that location setting has disappeared. So you’re going to have to change from a standard campaign to one with all features enabled and then go to Location | Options | Advanced and select the middle of those options for Target. Now when you target a search term that is geo-modified — one that has a location in it — which you should be doing, because those are the ones most likely to convert into a sale, now you’re only going to show for people in your target location that you specified to Google, in this case Ireland. We’re not going show for the 9 Dublins in the US and ones in India or wherever else there are Dublins in the world. I’ve seen this reduce unwanted clicks from outside the target location by about 5% in the past. That’s clicks that are not going to convert so that’s unwanted spend, so this is well worth doing.

Don’t forget to add negatives to that campaign. If somebody’s looking for “plumber jobs Dublin” we don’t want our ad to show if we’re a plumber in Dublin. So add standard negatives of jobs, careers, salaries, courses. “Plumber’s courses Dublin” we don’t want to appear for that. Make sure you write a good ad that has “Dublin plumber” in the headline, correct site links, call extensions and location extension if you’ve got one. I prefer to my bidding at the keyword level which means you have to set a one cent bid price at the ad group level and then go into the keywords and set your bid in… The reason being, at the keyword level you get to see some messages such as “it’s below the first page bid estimate.” Even when you see that message, take it with a pinch of salt.

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