PPC – Geographic Targeting

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Adwords lets you geographically target specific locations. You can target a continent, a country, a province/state, a city, a certain part of a city, or even go as specific as a certain building! However, it’s important to keep in mind that Google determines your location by looking at your IP address. That being said, sometimes your ISP will give you an IP from Quebec even though you’re from Guelph. This is a rare occurrence that does not warrant any concern for geo targeting specific areas.


You can select geographic targets by going to the campaign settings tab and selecting “Edit” under the “Locations and Languages” heading.

“Locations and Languages” heading.

From here, you’ll have 4 different options for choosing a geographic location

choosing a geographic location

Bundles: Let’s you choose countries

Browse: Let’s you choose cities

Search: Search using cities, postal codes, etc

Custom: Point + click, draw custom shape, use coordinates, addresses, etc

Simply select what geographic targets you want your ad to appear in and Google will do the rest! No search engine marketing campaign is fully utilized without proper geographic targeting.


Relevancy is key in creating the perfect campaign. We’re going to go beyond the basic “adgroups should contain keywords that are relevant to one another and have ads that can reflect those keywords”. Let’s take relevancy to a geographic perspective!

Our SEM advertisement is restricted to a limited amount of characters which gives us minimal opportunity to grab our reader’s attention. That being said, what better way to grab a reader’s attention then something they can recognize and relate to? Since geo-targeting happens at a campaign level, multiple campaigns will be necessary for this strategy.


A flower shop (let’s call it Anton’s Floral) located in Guelph, Ontario is currently running an SEM campaign to increase traffic to their website. Here is how they are currently geo-targeting their campaign with an example of an ad they are running


Anton’s Floral wants to take advantage of its grass roots and express their devotion to the local community of Guelph (but mostly to increase their CTR). They decide to create a separate campaign that targets Guelph and its surrounding areas. However, since they will be over-lapping geo-targets with similar keywords, they will need to add exclusions to the original campaign.


Once we exclude these locations from the original campaign, let’s go ahead and target those specific areas in a new campaign. Once this is done, you can simply copy and paste the original keyword list from the original campaign into this new campaign. What you won’t be copying are the ads! We want to make brand new ads that are specifically targeted towards Guelph.


Let’s google flower shop (I’m located in Guelph) and see if any other ads speak to me as well as this one.


Well look at that… the ad that achieves 1st position is one that speaks to my location 🙂


Fanshawe College wants to run an SEM campaign to attract new students internationally and domestically. They currently have a SEM campaign geo targeting the entire world (literally) with no focus on a specific continent or country. Their target language is English which helps in narrowing down qualified traffic even if it’s on an international scale. However, the campaign is suffering from a low CTR (clicks divided by impressions) and we can tell that the majority of clicks are coming from Canada and the U.S. via analytics map overlay.

Going step by step for this process will be a blog unto itself…which is exactly what I’ll save it for!

Chris Sisco

Chris Sisco

Chris Sisco is search engine marketing specialist that works for Zero In, an internet marketing company located in Guelph, Ontario
Chris Sisco

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  • http://www.imperiousseo.com seo usa

    This is a beautiful post on ppc,but ppc brings only instant traffic to website,seo is the only source which remain for long time..

    • http://twitter.com/PPCNI Jordan McClements

      I disagree. If you make a profit on every PPC penny you spend – then why not keep spending on PPC?

  • Anonymous

    Great Post Chris. Geo targeting is a great tool for campaigns. Especially for those who are looking at localized markets as well as those who are testing their campaigns.

  • http://optimizingengine.wordpress.com/ Kiran Bista

    I agree with SEO USA. PPC is for instant traffic and not for long run but i would like to put it like this: PPC is a great tool to generate great huge traffic in one season and amaze them with your service and this huge traffic will be the loyal customer of yours. Plus, PPC are great way to boost the sales for those seasonal businesses.

  • Ryanburt

    you didn’t explain how to target by a specific building

  • http://www.website-consultancy.com Website Consultancy

    I have been using Geographic targeting for some time, and would like to add another reason for using it. When you are running campaigns for the same company with outlets throughout a country. By doing this you have no overlap in costs which is essential.

    Excellent post, and very well explained.

  • http://www.macphersonrealestate.com/ smith greal


  • http://twitter.com/PPCNI Jordan McClements

    Thanks for the article.

    Here is something I am 95% sure about – but can’t find any actual Google documentation on – and was wondering if you know the answer for sure..

    Say I want to target 2 cities with 2 different campaigns (in the same account) using a radius.

    There is a significant overlap between the 2 radii (is that the right word).

    Someone living in the ‘overlap area’ does a relevant search, with no ‘city’ keyword in the search – they should see the ad from the campaign that their IP address is closest to, yes?

    Someone living in the ‘overlap area’ does a relevant search, with a ‘city’ keyword in the search – they should see the ad from the campaign that targets that city, yes?

    Someone living in the ‘overlap area’ does a relevant search, with ‘town’ keyword in the search which is closer to one city than the other city – they should see the ad from the campaign that targets the city closest to that town, yes?

    I’ll also ask this question of Google support (but I’ll not hold my breath for a comprehensive, black and white answer)…


    • http://twitter.com/PPCNI Jordan McClements

      I was being a bit unfair to Google AdWords support they did come back fairly quickly with the following answer (in short my assumptions were right – but also that IP address is ‘usually’ used to pinpoint location – obviously with the rise of smart phones and GPS this is not always the case anymore):-

      Hello Jordan,

      Thank you for your email. I understand you want to target two different
      cities in different campaigns and are sure of some over lapping between
      these locations.

      I have gone through all the scenarios you mentioned and the answer to all
      the scenarios is “Yes”. Therefore, you are correct in all the 3

      When someone enters your keyword on Google, the AdWords system uses
      several factors to determine whether to show your ad:

      1) We consider the Google domain being used (.fr, .de, .kr, etc.).
      2) We analyze and prioritize the actual search term the user submits on
      Google to determine when to show ads targeted to a specific region or
      3) When possible, we determine the user’s general physical location based
      on their device location, which is usually based on their computer’s
      Internet Protocol (IP) address
      4) Google Search personalization: Users can personalize their Google
      search experience to only see results that are especially relevant to
      their location.