Multiple accounts that I manage daily use city or state specific geo-targeting at the campaign level. While we have the option to use geo-bid modifiers across the campaign, this type of segmentation takes optimization to the next stage. Inside every paid search account manager, there is a control freak. Targeting campaigns at the city level gives us that much control over our keywords, ads, landing pages, performance and so much more!

My geo-targeted campaigns are segmented by city. For example, I have 18 identical campaigns that each target a different city within the United States and one catch all campaign that excludes all the previous locations.

While I am a realist and know this type of geo-targeting does not make sense in every account, I can think of multiple reasons to consider them thoroughly before deciding if it is right for you. To be exact, I can think of 13:

1) It Is Incredibly Easy To Set Up

Setup is extremely easy through AdWords Editor.

  • Copy and paste a campaign.
  • Change the location targeting.
  • Exclude your new geographic region from the previous campaign.

And you are done! I’d recommend updating the ads and landing pages (if necessary), but the creation takes 10 minutes tops.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 9.56.56 AM

2) My Account’s Services Vary By Location

If my services are only offered in certain locations or vary by location, geo-targeted campaigns are a no brainer. Customizing ads and keywords based on location offerings is common sense. There would be no point to advertise something that will never be available to the consumer.

3) Certain Locations Can Be Excluded To Cut Wasted Spend

There is no reason to advertise in areas where either my product or service is not available. Additionally, certain locations are not profitable locations based on the cost to advertise. Excluding these locations keeps the budget from being spent in the wrong cities or states.

4) Budget Can Be Allocated To The Best Performing Location

No location is created equal. Performance and volume is going to vary by population size and competition within the area. When campaigns are segmented by location, I can pinpoint where spend should be allocated.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 9.27.37 AM

I generally start my geo-targeted campaigns at similar budgets until performance warrants the reallocation of additional funds to other locations. Houston performs well in the account snapshot above and has been allocated over double the amount of San Francisco’s budget.

5) Tailored Ads Can Be Created To Increase Click-Thru-Rate

When campaigns are segmented by location, ads can be tailored to match the region. I’ve seen success with ad copy that directly references the city in the ads. In account below, city specific ads saw a 25% increase in click-thru-rate.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 10.41.31 AM

6) Tailored Landing Pages Can Be Created To Increase Conversion Rate

Landing pages, similar to ads, can be personalized to the specific region. The more relevant the landing page, (hopefully) the better conversion rate we’ll see. I live in Bloomington, Indiana. If I were looking for a moving service, an Indiana landing page is going to be a lot more relevant than a general moving page for the United States.

7) Keywords Are Controlled At The Location Level

Certain keywords work better in different locations. While part of this notion could be due to the mannerisms of people on the east coast to the west, it could also be as simple as max CPCs and competition.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 2.12.23 PM

The same keywords that convert in San Francisco have to be paused for high cost-per-conversion in Virginia. Having the ability to evaluate keywords at the location level gives me more control over how budget is being spent and identify areas of wasted spend. If the keyword were in the same campaign, there would be no way to bid down in Virginia without implementing it across the entire campaign. Geographical bid modifiers can only be set at the campaign level. This type of geo-targeting by campaign gives you control of keywords at the geographical level.

8) Receive More Knowledge About Your Competitors

Competitors are going to vary by region. Competition affects how much you pay to be in the same average position, the click-thru-rates of your ads, impression share and more. Knowing how to combat your competitors, specifically in one city, will only make the campaign that much stronger.

9) Stop Overbidding In Low CPC Areas

A better cost-per-click is a lower cost-per-click. Less competition means lower cost-per-click. Let’s compare the cost-per-click by location.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 10.21.34 AM

All of these campaigns have identical keywords, similar average positions (±.2) and various average cost-per-clicks. Orange County and Phoenix have less clicks and impressions than Dallas and Los Angeles, but I can expect lower cost-per-conversions in those locations.

10) Better Control Generally Means Better Performance

Because the combination of different CPCs, tailored ads and landing pages mean certain areas are going to need different optimizations to perform to goal. Bids might not need to be as high or different negatives should be added based on your search query reports.

11) It Gets Results!

Since that is all that we really care about. Detroit is my success example. Detroit was bringing in a lot of quality leads earlier this year, but wasn’t seeing a large amount of traffic. The majority of our leads were coming from the New York area.  This makes sense. NYC has 12,136% more people than Detroit.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 10.45.16 AM

Poor Detroit! Certain locations get the chance to bloom when New York City isn’t cannibalizing the daily budget. When no longer “limited by budget”, clicks grew by 71% and Detroit received a chance to bring in more quality leads.

12) Save Time With Quick And Easy Analysis

When I login into my accounts every morning, it is easy to identify what locations are struggling and which are excelling.  Yes, I have lots of campaigns, but the volume makes up for the time saved optimizing. If Houston is having a great week, more of my budget will be allocated to my Houston campaign.

13) There Is Even More Information To Report

While we talk about products, keywords and metrics all the time, location adds an additional option for reporting and discussing how to achieve goals and next steps. “You want to grow your account? Seattle has been performing really well over the last quarter.”


To be fair, city specific campaigns do not make sense for all businesses. If you sell shoes across every state in the United States, personalized landing pages and ads for Austin do not make sense. However, there are many accounts that can benefit with this location tailored approach and the control that is achieved from these types of campaigns. Checking the dimensions tab is a good way to determine if a certain campaign could benefit from separating out cities or states that stand out for performance.