Protecting Your Geotargeting in Google Ads

Working as a PPC manager entails dealing with frequent change from the ad platforms and adapting your approaches to setting up campaigns. As one of many recent changes, Google Ads removed the option to strictly reach people who are in your target geographic location.

Currently, you’re presented with the following three options, which are accessible by expanding Location Options when setting up geography:

According to Google, a number of factors are used in determining a user’s location, including IP address, phone GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell tower IDs. Some factors used to determine location of interest include search terms that mention a location, a person’s previous locations, website content, Google Maps searches, and a custom location setting in search.

However, questions are left unanswered around the exact science of how Google determines location targeting. For example, how often do you have to frequent a location to be considered “regularly located in” that place? Does commuting to work in another town everyday place you in that category? Does a weekly visit to a family member’s house count?

But, I Want Strict Geotargeting

So, what do you do when you don’t want people from outside your targeted region seeing ads? Perhaps a home services company is only licensed to work in certain counties, or a mortgage business has different offerings by state.

Even if you’re targeting internationally, most accounts break up campaigns by geography on some level, and also have countries that wouldn’t be relevant to reach.

Thankfully, you can still add geographic exclusions. With the changes to targeting and the lack of a pure “in my targeted location” option, I’d recommend adding exclusions for any and all regions not relevant to your campaign.

At the very least, add any countries that you’re not targeting to make sure foreign traffic doesn’t slip through. You can easily waste hundreds to thousands of dollars on unintended foreign traffic with sloppy location targeting settings.

Adding Bulk Location Exclusions

To add location exclusions in bulk, start by downloading a current list of Google Ads geo targets here. This list includes Criteria ID for locations, allowing you to ensure that you’re accurately entering the proper locations.

The process will be much less unwieldy than entering the names of locations and having to ensure Google Ads is actually matching them to the intended locations.

Open the document in Excel and filter to select the locations you want to exclude. For instance, if you’re only targeting the US and you want to quickly exclude all other countries, filter to “Country” in the “Target Type” column, and copy a list of all the Criteria IDs except the US.

Now, in Google Ads Editor, go to the “Locations, Negative” section under “Keywords and Targeting.” Click the “Make Multiple Changes” button. In the window that appears, select the campaigns for which you’d like to add the negative location targeting.

Finally, paste the IDs into a column and make sure the header “ID” is in place.

You should now see the negative locations applied to campaigns and ready to upload.

Watch Your Data!

Now, monitor your geographic reports to ensure unintended traffic doesn’t slip through. Add in any additional location exclusions as needed.

How are you dealing with the adjustments to location targeting options? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments (2)

  1. Good question! To the best of my knowledge, there’s no way to automatically target all regions that speak a particular language, apart from manually assembling the list of regions. You could use language targeting, but be aware that’s set on the basis of each individual and not by region.

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