How to Fine Tune Your International Campaigns in AdWords

You always need to exercise caution when utilizing broad match in AdWords. This almost goes without saying, but I said it anyway. The scope of queries matched to each broad match keyword has grown over the past couple of years, especially with the introduction of Google’s expanded broad match. Today, I will spin a cautionary tale about casting a wide keyword net within international waters.

First, I’ll describe what I found within one of our AdWords campaigns. Since one of our client provides international service, one of our campaigns was targeting a wide range of countries. As we were targeting a wide range of locations, the ‘All Languages’ setting was chosen as our default setting.

Overall, this international campaign worked well. Each month we generated a good number of leads with a cost-per-lead below our target CPL. However, good campaigns can always perform better. As part of our on-going optimization strategy we ran a search query report in order to find new keywords to add to our account as well as find new negative keywords to improve our traffic quality.

Upon running a search query report, we found quite a few search queries that weren’t even in English (but all of our keywords are English). Here is a short list of search queries that matched for the term “hydraulic pump repair:”

accident barrage hydrolique dans le monde
accumulator hydraulisch
accumulator rexroth
acheter vendre verin hydraulique pour fendeuse
yollu vana hidrolik
apparatuur of systemen hydraulisch druk
ñlkmhftgtgtr rexroth
bobina rexroth 12v
bomba linear de pistões axiais vickers
camion hydraulique
camper hydrolisch
groupe hydrolique
groupe idrolique
grszesio chydra?lik
havayla çal??an hidrolik
hitroli ciftarafl?silindirliftler
hydrauliek onderdelen
hydraulische steuerung
hydraulisk klippebord
hydraulisze agregat
idrolique a villeneuve de marsan
karakteristik fluida hidrolik
la pompe hyd cabire
le nom de huile de frein hidraulique
macam macam hidroulik
matériel professionnel pinc idrolique
ogloszenia hydrallik wroclaw

The reasons these queries were a problem is three fold:

  • The most important reason is that these terms were not converting into leads
  • Our ads and landing pages are not targeted to these languages
  • The point-of-contact for our client doesn’t speak these languages so communication issues could arise easily

So, why was this happening? This was happening for a few different reasons:

  • Within this campaign, our language setting was on “all languages”
  • We were targeting broad match keywords
  • We were targeting a wide range of countries in a single campaign

Remember, location targeting is set at the campaign level. When targeting an international audience you you should keep few a things in mind:

  1. When targeting a specific country, you are targeting the Google domain extension for that particular country. For example, if you’re targeting Canada, your ads will appear on However, your ads will show only for a certain user if your language settings match their user preferences.
  2. Also, your ads will appear according to IP address as well. If someone is located in Canada but they use for their search, your Canadian-targeted ads will appear here as well.
  3. The language settings are important when targeting an international audience. Each Google user sets their own default language. If no language preference is set, the default language for that specific Google domain is chosen.
  4. For example, if you target Spain but your selected language is only targeted to English, more-than-likely most your traffic is coming from users with an IP address in Spain who are using However, if you add Spanish as a targeted language, then you’ll receive traffic from as well as

And this is why we were seeing so many different languages in our search query report: we were targeting numerous countries with numerous languages. Now that’s some expanded broad match!

We are optimizing our international distribution by employing these tactics:

  • Running a geographic report in AdWords and creating campaigns for the countries that are currently generating the most leads with the lowest CPL. And we’ll eventually create campaigns for each country we want to target.
  • For now, our language setting will be English. We want to maintain a good Quality Score and displaying English ads for foreign keywords may hinder our score as the keywords aren’t in the same language as our ad or landing page.
  • Also, we’ll target phrase match as opposed to opening up the broad match flood gates.
  • Yes, Google does provide a translation tool so we could create ads in specific languages but for now, we want to have more control over our messaging. And I’m uncertain as to how accurate these Google translations are. If they’re anything like Babblefish, I’ll stay away.

In summary, casting a wide net within international waters can generate mixed results and you need to pay attention to the details. One of the most important aspects in AdWords is that you can control everything (your settings, at least) so make sure that all of your campaigns, whether they are domestic or international, are as focused as possible.