All About Location Targeting

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) hosts PPCChat with another great question set titled “All About Location Targeting.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Do you still create location specific campaigns or utilize bid modifiers? Or both? Why?

  • I use Location specific when situation calls for it* otherwise I’ll use bid modifiers carefully. *when client is focused on specific areas/cities or when data shows obvious need for segmenting. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Due to scaling, I tend to segment by location only for high specific location intent. – Gil Hong (@_GilHong)
  • Usually the former, rarely the latter. Why? Because, if something is different, it’s different. Needs own ads. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Depends on budget, if one location is killing it, might place in own campaign with its own budget and not share with others. – Sean Burrows (@BurrowsPPC)
  • Unless there’s a budget situation, I rely more heavily on bid adjustments. More flexible on the fly and less maintenance. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • If a B&M client has multiple locations in the same, smaller area I’ll do separate campaigns. Allows for more control. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • If there’s a need for localisation, or dimensions indicates a need for geo-based bid multipliers. – Liam Waites (@LiamWaites)
  • Generally I will use bid modifiers unless the ad copy dictates a location specific campaign (ie: specific office). If I need to use location specific copy, I’ll break out into separate locations, however, you can also use customizers. – Matt Umbro
  • We start with location bid mods and use location specific ad text if the difference in performance calls for it. – Frederick Vallaeys (@siliconvallaeys)
  • We sometimes use location specific campaigns. W/ some clients, regional campaigns perform better so gives us more budget cntrl. – Heidi Smith (@heidinksmith)
  • I’ll split out if the client needs analysis and reporting segmented by location. Makes it easier. – Michael Fleming (@SEMFlem)
  • Depends. Usually, more than 1 business location = separate campaigns, but 1 location where closer proximity matters = modifiers. – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
  • Absolutely! Always! It’s a great way to help keep the cpcs in check and better leverage the hot spots. – Jeremy Krantz (@JeremyKrantz)
  • We use loc. bid modifiers conservatively once we’ve collected enough data to warrant the bid increases / decreases. – Heidi Smith
  • I segment Campaigns by location for markets we operate in. – John Smiley (@ppclocal)
  • Location – very rarely, for local biz / branch-specific offers. Bid modifiers work with these too. – Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
  • How your industry reacts to generic terms can impact ad copy too. Different needs/mindset vary from east to west coast. – Joe Martinez
  • Both. Location targeting is imperfect. I cast a wider net for GEO+Keyword campaigns than only Geo Targeted campaigns. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
    • Good point – geo+keyword can essentially target anywhere because search intent is specific. – Matt Umbro
      • Unless it’s a city like Columbus or Springfield… as there are a thousand of those. – James Svoboda
  • Depends if the ads need to reflect local intent/interest. Also, what gets shown where isn’t 100% right/accurate. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • Time zone differences can be influencing factor on separation too. – Julie Bacchini
  • Another overlooked thing is also to use geo-targeting exclusions, which help better stretch out daily campaign budgets. – Jeremy Krantz

Q2: How should you setup your account structure when bidding on location based and non-location based keywords?

  • Check your Advanced Location Settings and negative keyword lists! – Gil Hong
  • Typically… Geo-Targeted Camp#1 (negative location keywords) Geo-KW-Modified Camp#2 Tip: Watch for “Low Volume” Keywords here. – James Svoboda
  • Exclusions are as important as negative keywords when you want to specifically target. – Julie Bacchini
  • Budget forgot, I typically don’t have any problems doing this segmentation at the ad group level. – Mark Irvine
  • Separate ad groups for geo terms at the minimum, possibly run separate campaigns as an experiment. – John Budzynski
  • Depends on account complexity. I usually keep location campaign-specific, then divide terms by ad group. – Kirk Williams
  • Usually campaign with “location” keywords, and a campaign with non-location kw’s, with the location as a neg. – Steve Gibson
  • Create different ad groups where ad copy differs / depends on locale. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Also I’d be mindful of oversegmenting by geo as you may trigger low search volume on longer tail keywords. – Gil Hong
  • Keep things as simple as possible, but segment where there’s a need (performance, USP, localisation). Bid multipliers are nice but there’s often more important priorities with a new campaign. – Liam Waites

Q3: How do you differentiate your location based copy beyond the keywords (if you do at all)?

  • City-specific ad group with city name in ad title, or use of geo customizers. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Use City Nicknames, Airport Codes, Area Codes to connect locally. Search for “city” nicknames like this. – James Svoboda
  • You can also speak to city events/happenings. – Matt Umbro
  • Use stuctured snippet ad extensions to call out neighborhoods you serve. Different cities have different slang. Soda vs. pop, Water fountain vs. bubbler, etc. – Joe Martinez
  • Don’t discount regional organization for orgs that are not super local. – Julie Bacchini
  • I’m all for customizers handling the heavy lifting here, but I’d avoid KWI. I’ve seen some horrible location ads as a result. – Andrew McCarthy (@AmccartPPC)
  • One of our university clients we use abbrev. for regional but spell out for national – higher brand recognition vs less. – Heidi Smith

Q4: What are your preferred location settings (targets, exclusions, etc)? Why?

  • We use exclusions on all campaigns because we only offer free shipping in the lower 48 states. – David Cox (@dcoxdesigns)
  • Always exclude random foreign countries, or they’ll slip through. – Timothy Jensen
  • When targeting US I always set to “located in” to avoid outside-of-US clicks. – Kirk Williams
  • For service area biz, tend to use “people interested in” option & then careful use of exclusions to not miss target ppl. – Julie Bacchini
  • Usually target only people in my desired location, but certain industries like hotels rely on people outside of focused area. – Joe Martinez
  • I love the income-targeting, especially after learning that it’s a location – not demographic – target. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • “people in my targeted location”. Forget that “searching for or show interest in my location” business. waste of budget. – Andrew McCarthy
  • Country (US) -> Regional (continental vs nationwide vs timezones) -> State -> County/DMA -> City. – James Svoboda
  • We always do “located in” as well. Also always add in all household income levels for each location. – Heidi Smith
  • Also, target zip codes AND towns to have ads match for queries with either in them. Seems nuts, but necessary. – Julie Bacchini
  • Also like to do DMAs instead of cities if applicable – still our target audience + easy to implement + more all encompassing. – Heidi Smith
  • I’m pretty flexible, but I tend to initially mirror regions doing well per GA. – Mark Irvine

Q5: When targeting countries (such as the US), do you segment by region, state, etc? Why or why not? In other words, if targeting the US, do you target all 50 states within the same campaign individually?

  • I generally include all individual locations so adjusting bid modifiers later on is easier. – Matt Umbro
    • If it might be a lever you want to adjust at some point, take the time to do in pieces at the start. – Julie Bacchini
    • We include all states for that exact reason. – Heidi Smith
  • Yes, but depends on intent of Keywords targeted. Time Zones are a consideration as well as Metros vs Rural, & Climates (N vs S). – James Svoboda
  • I do target all 50 states individually. Plus DC as a separate location. Agree it’s easier to modify locations later. – Joe Martinez
  • Yes. Performance and people and budget and copy and shipping costs are all different. In conclusion, yes. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Is there a reason for the distinction (legal, time zone, HHI, whatever)? Sure – break it out. If not, save yourself the effort. – Mark Irvine
  • As with most campaign segmentation, only if the budget and theme is restrictive/prioritized by the geo. – Gil Hong

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More PPC Chats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPC Chat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Andrew McCarthy (@AmccartPPC)
• David Cox (@dcoxdesigns)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Frederick Vallaeys (@siliconvallaeys)
• Gil Hong (@_GilHong)
• Heidi Smith (@heidinksmith)
• Jeremy Krantz (@JeremyKrantz)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• John Smiley (@ppclocal)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Liam Waites (@LiamWaites)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Michael Fleming (@SEMFlem)
• Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
• Sean Burrows (@BurrowsPPC)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

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This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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