Google Ads Location Targeting – Are You Making This Common Mistake?

google ads location targeting mapGoogle have lots of different ways that advertisers can target their campaigns to the right people. One of the ways is Google ads location targeting.

As the name suggests Google ads location targeting helps advertisers to show ads in an exact geographic location. This could be any of the following.

  • An entire country.
  • A State or county.
  • Cities, towns, villages and any other local area.
  • Post codes.
  • A specific radius around a location.

Plus they also allow you to exclude areas with the same accuracy.

The good news about this, is Google ads location targeting allows you to be extremely specific with where your ads are shown.

This type of targeting is going to be used by nearly all advertisers, but it can be particularly important for local companies using Google ads.

For example. Let’s assume we are a local plumbing company based in Leeds city center. Our goal is to target everyone in a 30 mile radius. In this case we could target the city of Leeds and areas around the city. Another option in this case would be to choose a certain radius from our businesses postcode.

Once this is set up you would assume that your targeting is correct and your ad will only be displayed in your selected area. Unfortunately this is not always the case.

The Problem With Google Ads Location Targeting

By default Google ads location targeting is set with the following instructions. “People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations (recommended)”.

This is one of the biggest problems we see when we perform account audits for potential clients. As you can see by the description Google uses you will also be targeting people who show interest in your target location.

You can see Googles full explanation of this here

To summarise and quote one of the most important parts of this page Google says the following:

 “By default, you’ll be able to reach people who are likely to be physically located in your targeted areas, as well as those who show interest in your targeted geographic areas. People can show interest through terms used in their searches, if they have recently been in a location, or through content that they view related to the location (such as pages or sites).”

This is quite a broad way of targeting, as it suggests that someone could have been in your location previously and still see your ads after leaving. An example of this could be someone visiting friends or family. When this person returns home and searches, they could see your ads based on their previous location.

They could even view content about a certain location then be shown ads related to that area.

For some businesses this might not be a problem. However if you are a local business like our example above (a plumber in Leeds), you wouldn’t want someone in London seeing ads for your service, just because they popped up the previous day to visit family.

Changing the Default Google Ads Location Targeting

This particular mistake with Google Ads location targeting is extremely common. In accounts we review it is one of the most regular wastes of money we see.

It is not uncommon for this type of targeting to be wasting 20% or more of an advertiser’s budget, without them even being aware of it.

The good news is it is a relatively easy fix. To change your location targeting in Google, simply navigate to your settings tab in Google ads. Once there select the locations dropdown.

Here you will need to select your location. This is where most people stop and it is the reason you will start seeing visits from people outside your target location.

To make sure you are only targeting people in your desired location, you will need to click on the Location options link. Once this is clicked you are given a number of options, which can be seen below.

As you can see, by default the top option under target is selected. This needs changing to the second option “people in your target area”

For the exclusion option below you can leave this at the default.

Once you have made this simple change your done. Google now knows you only want to target people who are physically located in your target location.

Google ads Location targeting Conclusion

The way you set up your Google Ads location targeting is going to vary depending on your business goals. In some instances the default might be the best option.

However if you are only interested in highly targeted traffic from one specific area, this little change can potentially save you a lot of money on wasted traffic.

Here at CPS Media we have been working as a PPC agency for around 8 years and this is still one of the biggest mistakes we see. Getting this right can easily save you a significant ammount of wasted ad spend.

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