Location Targeting in Google Adwords Gets Revamped

By , President at Hanapin Marketing


According to Google, location targeting (also called geo-targeting) has lowered paid search cost-per-click (CPC) by as much as 36%. This drastic increase in performance must be why Google has announced that they are revamping how their Locations setting works within in the Adwords interface.

To make geo-targeting easier for advertisers Google has connected the location targeting feature with Google Maps. Tapping into that well of information allows the feature to be more accurate, provide location recommendations, and provide more details about locations. That’s the backend; frontend users should find that the interface has become smarter, easier, and well… more useful.

Read on to find out what these changes are and how they’ll impact you:


Instant Location Targeting Suggestions

Similar to when you type a search query into google, the targeted locations box will now instantly provide location search suggestions. This should make it easier to find relevant locations where you should be advertising. See below:


Location Targeting Changes in Google Adwords Interface


Reach Numbers by Targeted Location

Tired of guessing at which geo-target is right for you? Notice the “Reach” column in the screenshot above? Now the Location Targeting feature will display reach numbers. Because of this, you’ll know if the location(s) you are selecting are small or large. And you can modify your paid search strategy accordingly.


Increased Target Location Limits

You used to be restricted to 300 location targets. Now you can have up to 10,000 locations and 500 additional targets per campaign. It’s hard to imagine anyone capping out with such a high limit, but if you do/might, leave us a comment and let us know!


Warning for Current Location Targeting Advertisers

Polygon targeting is going away by 2012. If you use this feature, you need to get into your account and change to the new “Target a Radius” feature. Have no fear; according to Google you will be able to “selectively add locations within your radius target.” So after the time investment in re-setting things up, your account shouldn’t be any worse for wear.

The changes to the interface are now live. Jump into the settings tab on one of your campaigns, go to Locations, click edit and you’ll be on your way. And leave us a comment and tell us if you have increased an account’s performance through the use of location targeting.

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10 thoughts on “Location Targeting in Google Adwords Gets Revamped

  1. Justins

    It would be helpful if Google would allow us to target by county as well! So many small businesses operate by county, and area codes usually follow suit with counties. Any word from Google on this?

    1. Jeff AllenJeff Allen

      No word on targeting by County, sorry. The radius targeting feature gets you pretty close. You type in a city, and choose a radius (in miles) to target. I did this for a few areas I know well and was able to keep the borders pretty well aligned with the County borders. Not a lot of help if you don’t know the territory well.

  2. Anonymous

    It also says that you get a much bigger reach by targeting Belfast instead of N.Ireland. which is clearly wrong, and makes you wonder how accurate all the other estimates are..

    1. Jeff AllenJeff Allen

      I tested what you are talking about here and saw the same thing. Big time bummer. I bounced a few locations off areas I know well and they were fairly close to what I would expect to see. So not sure what percent of the time they are on/off. No matter how accurate/inaccurate they are, I would only use the Reach numbers as one factor out of many to determine to target an area. Such as; past performance in that geo-target, locations in the area, and location demo info.

  3. JulieJ

    I agree with the counties problem Justins. My PPC account needs to target an area of 80 miles from lets say Coventry.  The radius allowed me to select several big areas, but completely missed some large towns. I entered these individually and they showed up as having a high reach, so why wasn’t they included in the original list Google provided to to add in the 80 mile radius. Seems a good update to the location search, but counties would be better to target.

    1. Jeff AllenJeff Allen

      It looks like they have some refining to do. Do you feel the new changes have made it better than it was before? Or plain just missed the boat?

      1. JustinS

        The changes are definitely worse. Instead of drawing the custom shape of a county, now I have to depend on Google to accurately list all the towns within that county (which they don’t). This forces me as an advertiser to increase the size of the radius outside of the territory I want to advertise in (counties aren’t perfect circles, google). Simply put, if Google does not have the city in their database and that part of the county is a “corner” (two lines perpendicular to one another), a circle does me no good! This forces advertisers to either cut off small pieces of the service area or advertise outside of the service area. 

      2. Justins

        Also, it seems that Google doesn’t allow you to copy location settings from campaign to campaign anymore, so you have to manually redo the location settings for every campaign!

        1. Jeff AllenAnonymous

          That’s odd. I copied a campaign using the editor yesterday and it brought the geotarget settings with it. Were you using the editor or the interface?


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