Off Target on Geo-Targeting

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing a number of Google AdWords Optimization Reviews.

Most of them have the common mistakes I usually see in AdWords accounts including:

  • Not separating Search from Display Networks in a campaign
  • Using too many Broad Match keywords as opposed to Exact Match (or at least Broad Match Modifier)
  • Not split testing ads
  • Not having Negative keywords in the campaign

However, in these campaigns, there’s another issue I’ve noticed that even really experienced AdWords advertisers may be missing.

It’s regarding a campaign’s Geo-targeting settings and where you ads are displayed.

Just because you select the U.S. as the region you want your ads to appear, doesn’t mean that people in other parts of the world won’t see your ads.


Well, it has to do with a setting advertisers should watch out for.

If you go to the Settings page in your campaign and go down to the Locations section, you’ll find “Location options (advanced).”







Under “Target” you’ll see you have 3 options.

The campaigns I’ve been reviewing, like most campaigns, have the default (recommended) setting selected which is “People in, searching for, or viewing pages about my targeted location”.

This option means that your ads can be shown to people outside your selected targeting area to people who “included the name of the location in their searches, viewed location-specific content, or specified the location in their search settings.”

So, let’s say you’re a financial planner in Boise with this default setting (and your location targeting is the Boise area) and someone in Seattle types “Boise financial planner” (a keyword in your Campaign) into Google. If you have the default setting in place, the person in Seattle could see your ad.

And, in that situation, using the default setting makes sense.

However, there are other situations where you don’t want this. The companies whose accounts I’ve been reviewing only do business in the U.S. So, if someone in Denmark is doing U.S. related searches or has a U.S. search/browser setting, it’s not a very relevant click/impression for these companies.

Instead, they should use the second Target option which is “People in my targeted location”. This tells Google that you only want people physically located in your targeted location to see your ads.

For most businesses, you can ignore the last option of “People searching for or viewing pages about my targeted location”. That might be relevant, however, for a hotel that wants out of towners to see their ads but not the locals.

These advanced geo-targeting settings may not be a big deal for most advertisers, but it’s worth double checking to make sure your ads are being seen by the people you really want them to be seen by.