Geo-targeting your PPC campaigns is a great way to screen out unqualified clicks and raise your clickthrough and conversion rates. But like everything, it’s a little more complex than it seems. When you choose to geo-target, you can do it in two ways: choosing specific regions, states, or radii when you set up your campaigns, or putting geo-qualified keywords (i.e. ‘electrician San Francisco’, or ‘movie theater San Jose’) into your campaigns or adgroups.
We here at ClickSweeper have tried both strategies in our PPC management experience, and we have to say that geo-targeted campaigns are considerably faster to set up and easier to maintain. Take, for example, a hair salon in Santa Cruz that only wants to advertise for local (10 mile radius) traffic with the keywords ‘hair salon’ and ‘hair stylist.’
If you geo-target your campaign during setup, it takes about ten seconds to choose a region, city, or radius. Then you can go ahead and add your keywords ‘hair salon’ and ‘hair stylist’ to your campaign. Only people within that radius will see your ad. (The only drawback we know of is that if Google has trouble recognizing the IP address of a query, it won’t show geo-targeted ads.)
On the other hand, if you choose to go the geo-qualified keywords way, you’ll end up with many more keywords: ‘hair salon Santa Cruz,’ ‘hair stylist Santa Cruz,’ ‘hair salon 95060,’ ‘hair stylist 95060,’ etc. While generating these keywords may not take a great deal of time, managing many keywords is always more time consuming than managing a few.
Additionally, we’ve noticed that using geo-qualified keywords, even in conjunction with geo-targeting, makes your ads visible to people outside the region you’re targeting. For example, if someone in New York types in, for whatever reason, “hair stylist Santa Cruz,” your ad will still show. In some cases, if you’re a realtor or a hotel manager, this could be a good thing. But for local businesses unlikely to attract anything but local business, it’s expensive and unnecessary. In some cases, geo-targeted keywords may have a slightly lower CPC, but in highly competitive local industries (such as the legal industry), the CPC can actually be quite a bit higher.
Overall, we’re going with geo-targeting campaigns on this one. But your business is unique, and you’ll want to do your own research before deciding whether — and which form of — geotargeting will work best for you.