How to Use Geo-Targeting Ads for Pay Per Click Campaigns

This is part two of a four part series on performing effective PPC audits.

A fundamental understanding of how paid search works can help yield some serious returns on your investment. However, many marketers  mishandle the geo-targeting aspects of pay-per-click campaigns, or worse neglect it altogether.

The first thing I do when sitting down with clients interested in enhancing a paid search campaign  is an audit of the business' entire campaign settings. Looking strictly at the geographical region a client is targeting can tell you an awful lot about whether or not their accounts are properly set up.

Some examples of poor geo-targeting include:

  • Choosing a bunch of regions then assuming you can target each region individually at the ad group level.
  • Targeting a broad area (like the whole U.S.) then including specific regions in the keyword.
  • Targeting a broad area for a local business.

There are a multitude of ways geo-targeting can lead  to poor performance.  Below are examples of poor geo-targeting set ups and how I rebuilt campaigns to vastly improve performance.

Client A:

This client is a franchiser who has over 15 locations in the New York Tri-State area (NY, NJ & CT).  Initially they came to us for a website redesign, but after an audit of their campaign showed significant missed opportunities, they quickly agreed to have us manage their PPC efforts.

The first mistake: They were targeting all of their franchises in a single campaign and had set up a radius around each location with the assumption that having different ad groups for each region would trigger the right ads.

They were misinformed.

Notice how the search for one location triggers the wrong location:

location search



This is how the campaign was structured:

campaign settings

Ad groups:

ad groups

It was quickly apparent to me that the best way to rebuild their campaign was by targeting local franchises by location and selecting between five and 10 surrounding towns.  I then added location extensions, call extensions and site link extensions with local information about surrounding franchises.

Adjusted campaign structure.

adjusted campaign

The results have been immense for client A.  Their conversion rate is up over 20 percent, which has led to an increase in monthly conversion volume from 435 to 608. Meanwhile, their cost per conversion has dropped from $27.16 down to $10.80.  That means their paying more than 60% less per conversion than they were historically.

Client A is now spending 45 percent less per month and seeing 40 percent more sales volume, all this just from proper geo-targeting.

Pretty impressive, especially considering the result occurred within three days of us launching the campaign.

Client B: A wider campaign.

This client runs a nationwide website which offers state and type specific bonds. This means that people searching for their line of products do so by including their state, and the type of bond they need.

When I took over their campaign the issues stemmed from improper geo-targeting.  Although they run a nationwide business, their products needed to be more regionally targeted.

Before I got involved their campaign structure looked like this:

campaign structure

Adding groups at the state level:

ad groups by state

Their campaign had individual ad groups for each state, with ads that landed on their homepage.  The surety bonds campaign had ad groups for various bond types that landed on a page with a list of all various bond types.

This setup was highly inefficient. Using Google Insights for Search, I measured search volume for each bond type in each state. Coupling that data with Google's traffic estimator and keyword tool, I was able to come to various conclusions regarding a comprehensive bidding strategy.

The Solution.

I restructured their account by targeting individual states at the campaign level.  Within each campaign, I made ad groups for each bond type offered in a given state.  Their rebuilt campaign looks like this:

state campaigns

We then created dynamic template landing pages which are both state and bond type specific.  This enabled me to run ads that were both state and bond type specific, so someone searching for "Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond Florida" would be brought to the following page:

florida motor vehicle

With a landing page matching search intent and containing clear calls to action (apply online) our results were immediate.


Client B saw their conversion rate nearly double from 6.11% up to 11.81%.  More importantly, their cost per conversion dropped over 23% from $63.13 to $44.08.

Results from both Client A and Client B were gleaned from a proper SEO Audit, which enabled me to identify their issues with improper Geo-Targeting Restructuring PPC accounts with proper geo-targeting is needed for various clients to see optimal results.

14 Tips to Successful Paid Search Advertising Whitepaper

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Comments on this post

  1. Excellent and informative blog. Thanks for posting this. It’s informative and enlightening. Keep up the good work.

  2. Anthony L. said:

    I had a client with a similar typed franchise business as your example A and was having problems with targeting different regions. I took some of your advice to segment in a different manner. It yielded some immediate results. i’m going to continue to tweak to improve. Great post. Thanks, David.

  3. Pingback: Nailing Your Geotargeting in a PPC Campaign – Powermag

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