Put Your Google Ads on the Map with Geotargeting

Today, more than ever before, marketers want to be assured that the right people are seeing their ads. Gone are the days of casting net after net of mass advertising. Because chances are, you don’t need the world to see your ads – you just need the right people to. There are many tried and true ways of going about this mission, but the tactic I’ll focus on is paid search.

For a nonprofit organization, it may not be all that surprising to see donations coming from affluent parts of the country. But did you know that you can direct your Google ads to the exact cities that have been donating the most?

This is called geotargeting, and it is an easy and strategic way to optimize your Google AdWords campaigns. If Chicago and Dallas are two of your highest converting cities, you can multiply your visibility there by enabling your ads to appear in the 1st or 2nd position on Google – even if you haven’t traditionally targeted those markets. Within a short period of time, your ads can become the very first call-to-action that residents in those cities would see in Google search results as they look to make a donation. This type of targeted advertising can go a long way in raising brand awareness and helping to identify your ideal leads.

If you’re ready to see your ads shoot up the ranks of Google, here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your foray into geotargeting:

Segment by geography.

Apply the “where your users were” setting of the location reports feature to begin segmenting the performance of your ads by geography. AdWords will start you at the country level, but once you click into a particular country, you can adjust the settings to examine a particular type of location.

Focus on states and cities.

If you go ahead and select the United States, you can dive into a state view, and go as granular as neighborhoods and universities. One best practice is to concentrate on the top 10 states and top 5 cities for each of your campaigns. This combination strikes a balanced level of detail to start with for geotargeting.

Sort by clicks.

To determine your top states and cities, opt to sort by clicks, which reveal how much traffic your ads are getting and how well they are performing. Add in an additional layer of metrics by filtering for CTR (clickthrough rate) or conversions.

Bid more on your top-performing locations.

Say the data informs you have been receiving the highest number of clicks from Los Angeles for your Brand Terms campaign over the past 3 months. You can strategically optimize your CPC (cost-per-click) bidding to capitalize on this market. One hot tip is to increase your bid by 40% for your top city, and lower this bid by 5% for each subsequent city, as shown in this illustrative example:

  1. Los Angeles:  +40% bid
  2. New York:  +35% bid
  3. Chicago:  +30% bid
  4. Washington, DC:  +25% bid
  5. San Francisco:  +20% bid

Similarly, if you are a local or regional business, you can use this bidding method to aim your advertising at the counties or towns that match your desired coverage area. Making bid adjustments for different locations can help to target your key audience and ensure that your marketing dollars are being spent on locations that are valuable to your campaign.

Experiment to see what works.

Marketing is all about testing and building on what’s working. Revisit your campaigns in a few weeks to refine the bids for your states and cities and perhaps include new ones, depending on how the rankings pan out over time. You can steadily define the reach of your paid search ads, putting real demographic data behind your ad spend. Just stick to your goals and keep testing and monitoring your campaigns. You’ll be rewarded for your diligence and start seeing results before you know it.