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Learn These 5 Geo-Targeting Tips

Published: May 2, 2013

Author: Ian Lopuch

tips for geo targeting
In the world of SEM, there are few topics as important as geo-targeting. Today, I wanted to revisit this awesome topic and offer some of my favorite geo-targeting tips. I hope they spark some creative ideas for your own AdWords and Bing Ads accounts!

Tip 1: Leverage Geo Targeting To Drive User Experience

In my opinion, a more customized user experience is always better than a more generic one. Geo-targeting provides an excellent framework for segmenting your customers by region. This allows you to offer customized ad copy and landing pages, hence a more targeted and relevant user experience. Make use of geo-targeting first and foremost to dazzle your customers who find you via paid search.

Tip 2: Improve Your PPC Bidding With Geo Targeting

One of my absolute favorite topics is advanced PPC bid management. When you’re managing thousands of keywords or more, there are few levers that can extract more margin than enhancements in bidding.
Does your company sell different products by geo? Do you earn different amounts per geo? Are there certain geos where you have little supply? Perhaps your product is universal but certain geos contain more power users? Regardless of the reason, it is very typical for conversion rates (and potentially revenue amounts) to vary dramatically by geo. Build this intelligence into your overall bidding strategy and the sky is the limit. Step one? Make sure you have segmented your PPC accounts by geo.
The caveats with this recommendation? The more you slice and dice your account, the fewer clicks and conversions each single keyword instance will drive, and the harder it can be to manage. This can make it a bit more tricky to accumulate statistically significant data for purposes of bidding. The solution? Keep your campaign structure simple and find ways to aggregate data per keyword (or per keyword cluster) across multiple geos, but favor the geo-specific data/attributes the most.

Tip 3: A Clever Strategy For Bidding Down Lower-Value Geos

This tip ties into the last one. Let’s assume you have a bunch of geo campaigns and then a national campaign. I always recommend this strategy since search engines cannot properly identify the geo location of all searchers. As such, you always want that national campaign to catch the unidentified traffic. This structure works especially well if you have a bunch of geos with super high-value customers (that you bid higher than your national campaign).
However, let’s say you also have some lower-value geos. You don’t make much money in those geos, but nonetheless want to show up because you do make some money at lower unit costs. These particular geos are a bit more difficult.
If a geo campaign has low bids, it’s likely your national catch-all campaign will catch that geo’s traffic instead (since the national bids will be a blend of all states and will typically be set higher than your lowest value geos). Oftentimes, this traffic gets blended in and you never even know that it’s still there losing money, in your national campaign.
The solution: Make sure to exclude low-value geos from your national campaign. That way, the low value traffic will always match to your geo-specific campaigns (which you will intentionally set at low levels).

Tip 4: Think About Ad Extensions By Geo

You will definitely want to test customized ads by geo. However, don’t stop with your headline, description, and display URL. Think about your ad extensions too!
For example, maybe you leverage call extensions for your highest-value geos, but you turn call extensions off for low-value geos. Your call center may have limited resources, so you should leverage geo-targeting to funnel the highest-value calls.
Another idea: Consider customized sitelinks by geo. These days, it’s not only about your landing page but about your entire landing page experience. Perhaps you have customized microsites by geo. Make sure to deep link to geo-specific content by sitelink.

Tip 5: Audit Your Geo Results Daily

From time to time, I have seen national campaigns cannibalize geo traffic. Even though your national campaign is bid lower, the search engine may favor that campaign for historical reasons (most national campaigns are older and have more history than newer geo specific campaigns).
The effect: Your ad may show up in a lower position and map to the incorrect landing page. The fix: bid down the national campaign or consider pausing the offending keywords within it temporarily. In the worst case, you may have to pause your national campaign and deploy a fresh copy of it. This particular issue does not happen too frequently, however I always recommend auditing your results daily, by geo for peace of mind.
So there you have it! Five of my favorite geo-targeting tips. What are your favorite ways to leverage geo-targeting?

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