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8 Best Practices For Local Businesses To Set Up Geographical Targeting

Ana Lucia Morales

10 years ago



Local businesses tend to lose their objective by deciding to reach a greater audience instead of just concentrating on what’s giving the
most profit. In my experience, I have seen several cases where this happens.

Sometimes, local businesses go over the top by targeting areas that are very far from their business location and that consequently will not drive any customers to the business.

The reality is that your ads won’t be clicked on unless they are geographically relevant to searchers.

In other words, the location of your business has to be somewhat close to your target audience.

Additionally, it’s very likely you might have products or services that will be limited to a minority of cities or neighborhoods. This is where geo-targeting comes in. According to WordStream, “Geo-targeting refers to the practice of delivering different content to a website user based on his or her geographic location”.

You can use geo-targeting to best fit the needs of your business. By advertising targeted areas, you will get the most of those clicks and customers from specific locations.

There are several ways to geo-target:

1. City:

Make sure to pick relevant cities in which you want to promote your service or product!


2. Zip code:

Target by zip code to be more specific about what areas you want to advertise in.


3. Radius:

I consider radius targeting very useful when you’re just trying to reach a further audience and there’s nothing but highways and farms next to you.


4. Bulk locations:

This is very useful when you want to target several cities, just copy and paste them and voilà, they will be added in a minute.


1. Geo-Targeted Keywords – The Key Section For Your AdWords Campaign’s Performance

It is very important for local businesses to have geo-targeted keywords simply because people tend to look for a service in their nearby location. As a business owner, you need to get into your prospects’ mindset and find out how they look for a specific query.

It’s essential to write a small list with the cities that you are going to target and make variations of it. For example, ‘local salon in virginia’ or ‘nail spa in va’, these types of searches are the most important and you must add them to your keyword list.

Make sure to include regional terms in your keyword list. I like to have an Excel spreadsheet open to brainstorm. Furthermore, having a regional terms ad group will determine the campaign’s performance moving forward.

You can either have it separated by ad groups or create one ad group and have multiple keyword variations. This will depend on your budget and target audience.


Look at how I’m using the keyword variations of the cities. For local businesses, these types of keywords will help you reach your target conversion rate.

2. Target The Correct Cities/ Neighborhood

This one big mistake you want to avoid:  If you offer a service, make sure that the cities or neighborhoods that you’re targeting are willing to go to your establishment and pay. Otherwise, you’re wasting valuable dollars that could go into other cities.

For example, if you have a towing company located in Washington metro area, it’s more likely that someone in McClean will hire a towing company nearby where they reside.

Look Into Socio-Economical Background

Always target areas according to socio-economical status. For example, if you sell high-end expensive items, try to focus on more affluent locations.

3. Zip Code Targeting

Just like geo-targeted keywords, zip code keywords are useful because they have a good search volume and cost-per-click tend to be lower than usual.

These keywords also help you isolate the cities that you want to target from those that you do not want to. Make sure that you also add them in your location settings.


Quick tip: If you want to target a zip code keyword or ad group, make sure it has a high reach by trying them out on the Keyword Planner or in your AdWords interface. However, not all of them will work since it depends on the reach.

4. Gain Powerful Insights by Looking At Cities In Google Analytics

Google Analytics will always give you the best information in real time.  Every business interest is to get more revenue and see that curve go up every single year. However, they don’t seem to consider a customer’s consumer behavior.

It is vital to consider consumers way of thinking, especially where and how they buy. You need to put yourself in a client’s way of judging products.

Next time you compare data from 2013 and 2014, make sure you take into account the client’s behavior a year ago to today.  Perhaps, last year people were buying more of a certain product because they read it in a magazine or it was out in a movie premiere, and that could be a reason why your sales spiked.

With Analytics, you can identify the cities that are bringing a higher amount of visitors and search volume to your campaign.


For this specific small business, it seems like San Francisco is where all of his traffic is coming from. If you notice 83% is a new visit, therefore the business owner should concentrate a little bit more in than area.

5. Adjust Your Bids According To The City That Is Bringing The Highest Revenue

As you start analyzing data from Google Analytics and identify where most of the calls/sales are being generated, start adjusting your bids slowly for the city or neighborhood your traffic is coming from. In the picture above, it seems like we could bid higher on San Francisco.

We do this to make sure you keep the position that you’ve already achieved. You want your ad to be showing 24 hours if possible so that customers pick you instead of your competition.


6. Write Ad Copies That Are Specific To A Location

Including target location in the ad, preferably in the title, is not only a best practice by Google, but it will increase your relevancy and Quality Score. So, if you’re not doing this already, you should start creating new ad copies now!

People living in San Francisco will more likely click on an ad that says ‘Limo Services in San Francisco’ than just ‘Affordable Limo Services’. Don’t you think?

Your overall metrics will increase. Your CTR will go up and because your ads are more targeted. Since your Quality Score increased, you will have a lower Cost Per Click. And ultimately clicks will go up because of a higher relevance.

What happens if you have an ad group like the one I created (Maid Services – Cities)? All you have to do is have a Dynamic Keyword Insertion, so that if somebody types ‘maid services in Washington’, your ad copy will dynamically change to the keyword that you have in your ad group.

Create A Landing Page For A Specific City/State

If you really want to maximize efficiency, the best thing would be to create a landing page for specific city, neighborhoods or states.

7. Create Campaigns Per Country/State/City

If you have several establishments around the state or perhaps out of state, you really want to consider creating different campaigns per state or city.

You need to consider time zone and people’s way of living, somebody from California and somebody from New York have different hours, styles and mentality. Therefore, if you have an extensive line of service, you might want to consider what specific services/products to advertise for in different areas.

If you own a salon in California, perhaps you are thinking about advertising a new line of hair products and extensions. However, a person in California would consider researching your business for a tanning service in your salon. This is when two different campaigns in two different states for the same business can be beneficial.

8. Always Enable Your Extensions And Google Places

Customers will be able to find and contact you more easily if you have your extensions enabled. Simply go to your Ad Extensions > Call Extensions


Then, you just add your business phone number. Once your Google AdWords campaign is actively running, the number will appear right next to the ad if it’s in the top three positions.


As you can see in the image above, you can use call and location extensions to make your ad more visible and user friendly for the customer.

It’s valuable to have Google Places enabled, so people can easily find your business on Google. An added benefit is that Google Places helps your SEO rankings.  Also, it’s for free and it won’t take more than five minutes to create it ;).

You can add some extra features like pictures of your business and a few description lines; these little things will make people pick you over others.

There is no doubt Geo-Targeting can help you increase your Return on Investment by being more strategic and attract the right customers for your local business. Share with us your Geo-Targeting techniques and how they have helped your business bottom line.