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Location extensions: a troubleshooting guide

Published: April 5, 2016

Author: Heather Scott

For those of us with brick-and-mortar businesses, management of location extensions became much easier when Google provided the option to link Google My Business (GMB) to AdWords back in 2014. Now, all business locations can be managed in one place, and we no longer have to worry about manually adding new or updating locations in AdWords. Instead, we can just link to Google My Business at the account level, and voilà! Location extensions automatically show across all campaigns.
In some cases, however, it might still be best practice to choose locations at the campaign level.  For example, say you have different campaigns targeting different areas that lead to different landing pages. It would seem that your geo-targeting would have you covered, but there are a few factors that can cause a mismatch.
To check if this is happening, go to the ad extensions tab in the UI and select “location extensions” to view all that have shown for your chosen date range. If you see location extensions showing on campaigns where they shouldn’t, there are a couple of reasons this might be.
If your campaign is set to the recommended “people in,” “searching for,” or “who show interest in my targeted location,” then the source of disconnect could be due to a mismatch of user’s IP and GPS signals and browser history. Location extensions should serve when:

  1. The system determines the physical location of the user (based on IP / GPS signals) or user’s area of interest (based on the geo terms included in the query).
  2. The system serves the location extension that is closest to the user and the one that is most relevant.

So, if someone who has a recent history of searching terms related to New York, but is based in Chicago, and you have a campaign targeting New York, the Chicago-based user may be served an ad from the New York campaign, but with a Chicago ad extension.
Google suggests fixing this by changing your campaign setting to “people in my targeted location,” but if you are already limited in your targeting, this might not be a good move.  Plus, the New York extension could still show if there is a New York-related search term in the query (and we’ve also seen this happen without the geo search term, but it’s unclear why).
We also recently came across an issue where Google was serving particular people who were included within our linked GMB account and worked at a particular address, rather than the main location address on its own. This was problematic, as the names of those in the sitelinks were not necessarily related to the query.
If you have fewer than 20 locations to be targeted by a campaign, then you can easily choose which of your GMB locations you want to attach to which campaigns. Simply go to location extensions in the UI, select “campaign extension” and +Extension, along with the campaigns to which you wish to apply the extensions, choose “locations I pick,” and choose the locations from your GMB account. By scrolling over the text box to the left of each location, you can review the full extension before or after selection.
You can also set up categories and/or labels within your GMB account and choose your locations by “locations matching filter,” which is what you would need to do if the number of your locations exceeds the limit of 20.
While impressions for the nonmatching sitelink/targeted geo are typically a small percentage of the whole, it makes for a disjointed user experience for the ad to show one location and the landing page another.

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