Two ways to Geo-Target your AdWords campaign

Before I tackle this subject, I’d like to remind my readers that I am not the expert. For more accurate information on Geo-Targeting your AdWords campaign, look elsewhere. But if you’re interested in the “Let’s Translate – Making Sense Out of Internet Gobbledygook” version, read on.

Great, you’re still reading. 🙂

This all came about when I was researching the campaign of a local business here in KC. I found that if I searched for their business using a geo-modifier (usually a city name), in this case “kansas city”, I could nearly always see their Pay-per-click ad. In fact, nearly every search I tried using a keyword of one of their services combined with “kansas city” served up their ad. For awhile there, I didn’t think I would be able to improve on their campaign, as it looked like they were in great shape.

The next thing I wanted to find out was if their ad showed up without using the kansas city geo-modifier. Problem is, my computer is connected through a VPN in New York, so Google and other search engines give me New York ads if I don’t tell them I’m looking in Kansas City. So… I wheeled about three feet to my left and did a search on my home computer. What I found was that there were no ads at all for this business when I searched without using “kansas city” in my query.

This showed me that the campaign was not using location targeting. That meant that customers who looked for this business’s services, but do not tell Google to look specifically in Kansas City, are not likely see the AdWords campaign.

What was really interesting to find out was that this business sees a lot of out of town customers. They get a lot of business from Omaha, Topeka, Wichita, Springfield, Columbia, etc. In fact, they were somewhat surprised that they got so much out of town business, and had wondered why they weren’t getting more appointments from customers right in their back yard.

Here’s the thing – to reach all the customers in your target area, you need to run two campaigns, a Geo-Specific Keyword Targeted campaign and a Location Targeted campaign. Only by doing this will you be able to reach both customers who tell Google where they are looking and customers who have gotten used to Google knowing where they are.

When it comes to campaigns without geo-modifiers, Google reads the IP address of the computer that is doing the searching. If it determines that the query is for something local (pizza, a plumber, a doctor), it will serve up ads specific to that computer’s address. Try it from your computer now. Google “restaurant” and see if some of the ads aren’t from your local area. WAIT! STOP! If you are using Comcast or AOL, or are on a VPN like me, this isn’t going to work. Last I heard, Google couldn’t use IP targeting with these users. In fact, I’ve heard that IP targeting is only about 80% accurate (don’t quote me, don’t remember where I heard that). And if you’re one of these users, my guess is that you may think me full of it by now. You’ve never experienced that creepy feeling you get when an ad pops up somewhere online and says “Make friends in (your city) tonight.”