Online Marketing Blog

Geo Target Your Way To A Higher CTR & Quality Score

Improving your CTR is now the single biggest thing you as an advertiser can do to improve your AdWords quality score and reduce your CPC. When it comes to CTR, every little helps. Today, I’m going to show you two very simply things you can do to increase your CTR and as a result, your quality score. The following can be implemented easily and immediately but as with all changes to your PPC account, make sure you test the results. If it doesn’t work for you, revert.

Google has recently announced that you can now tag  your adwords ads with your company address. These are called location extensions. However, many advertisers do NOT want their company address under their ad.  We’ll cover that in another blog post. They are also not available in many countries.

Instead, we’re going to use regional targeting to add the County, City or State of the SEARCHER to the bottom of your ad. When the person that’s performing the search sees their OWN City, State or County below their ad they not only see a word they can relate to but an ad that’s a little different to most (if not all) of the other ads on the page. This has an immediate and sometimes astonishing impact on click through rates.

Us City And State Location Targeting

To achieve this we simply need to get a little more granular with our regional targeting in AdWords. It’s really quite simple. Instead of targeting a whole country like the US or Ireland, select “target specific locations within a single country or territories” and select EVERY STATE . You could even select every metropolitan area or even every city to have THOSE show up below the ad.

Likewise, Instead of targeting the whole country of The Republic Of Ireland, select “target specific locations within a single country or territories” and select all 26 Counties in The Republic instead. If you are based in Dublin for example, using this method, a searcher from Cork would see the word “Cork” below your ad.

Us City And State Location Targeting

That’s it! Simply update/upload your campaign, wait a few minute and when someone performs a search from any location that you are now targeting, their city, metro area, State or County will show up below the ad. We have found that in 100% of cases for both us and our clients, combined with gradual CTR increases this has improved our CTR significantly. CTR being the single biggest factor that you as an advertiser can influence towards your quality score, improving CTR is a no-brainer.

Republic Of Ireland Location Targeting

While it’s not possible to auto rotate these ads in the same campaign, we had to try and replicate that for this test. We spread it out over a month (yea, low volume) alternating the days that each campaign was enabled. So each ad got the same share of days of the week, times of the day etc. The big drawback here is actual demand for the “product” on any specific day may have skewed the results slightly but I think we got a pretty accurate result that is in line with what we have seen with all our other campaigns.You will notice that the CTR is almost 100% greater and the cost is 100% less.

An increase in relevant CTR (No bounce/back rate) is an effective increase in that keywords quality score.

On the subject, to remove the location from below your ad (I have no idea why you would want to), you can target a specific geographic area using customized targeting.  Many thanks to Richard at Apogee for teaching me something new and keeping me on my toes over on the official AdWords help forum.

So there you have it. A simple, yet effective way to improve your quality score without much effort. What other ways have you found to increase the quality score of your keywords?


  1. avatar
    Keith Says:
    December 9th, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Dave, fantastic post! Now, when is your adwords book coming out!

    Reply

  2. avatar
    Dave Davis Says:
    December 9th, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Haha, thanks Keith. I wouldn’t call it fantastic, it’s just a tiny little “tip”. And a book? Pfff, it would have to be revised every week. Not a chance.

    Reply

  3. avatar
    Jordan McClements Says:
    December 9th, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Yeah – good point. The simplest ones are sometimes the best..

    Reply

  4. avatar
    Cher Says:
    December 9th, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Good stuff Dave! Maybe you can help with a quick question, we are finding that if we geo target this way, in many cases a client based in Glasgow may have an IP address located in Manchester and therefore Manchester shows under the adwords ad rather than their true location which can be detrimental. Have you seen the same? Do you know a way around this?

    Cheers!

    Reply

  5. avatar
    shiju Says:
    December 9th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    dave, although a newbie to ppc i find your posts to be quite informative..thanks n keep it coming..

    Reply

  6. avatar
    Aaron Hill Says:
    December 9th, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Nice post Dave, especially around the increased CTR and therefore quality score.

    I have been using geo-targeting for a client for over a year now, trying to target four locations in the UK. The main problem is the ip addresses “location”, one branch in Scotland shows up a Reading and other branches show up as places miles from the physical location.

    Google AdWord are of little help when asked for assistance in this area and I have just had to settle on doing the best I can with the tools available, but also recognising that I am not hitting 100% of searchers physically within the geo area.

    Reply

  7. avatar
    Richard Ball Says:
    December 9th, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks for the mention, Dave. Very glad to have you participating in the AdWords Help forum. You boost the signal-to-noise ratio.

    Reply

  8. avatar
    Edmund Lee Says:
    December 10th, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Love your insight on the Adwords game theory! Geographical targeting is sure one finely-tuned technique of marketing!

    Edmund

    Reply

  9. avatar
    zaaylo Says:
    December 10th, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Impressive !
    Thanks Dave. as Improving your CTR is not only tough enough especially when we are moving upwards our URL in web race. This is great information will surly help me to boost my clients business.

    Thanks again.

    Reply

  10. avatar
    hosting Says:
    December 12th, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Good stuff Dave! Maybe you can help with a quick question, we are finding that if we geo target this way, in many cases a client based in Glasgow may have an IP address located in Manchester and therefore Manchester shows under the adwords ad rather than their true location which can be detrimental. Have you seen the same? Do you know a way around this?

    Reply

  11. avatar
    Thomas Massaro Says:
    December 15th, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I tried this for three different campaigns I am running for three different clients and they ALL saw a reduction in traffic by almost 2/3rds. Any idea why?

    Reply

  12. avatar
    IMGuru Says:
    December 16th, 2009 at 3:53 am

    Yeah, this can prove to be an important factor, only if we are targeting some local areas rather than whole country

    Reply

  13. avatar
    Neil Says:
    December 16th, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Hi,

    I understand what you are doing here, but no matter what I do, I can’t get the dialog box that you show in your second screen shot.

    Can I be a pain and ask, how did you get to that dialog window please?

    Google Adwords help says

    Select the Campaigns tab.
    Select one or more campaigns. (If you select multiple campaigns, your changes will apply to all selected campaigns.)
    In the edit panel, click the Edit link next to Location Targeting.

    er….. there is no edit panel and certainly not one that has an edit link next to location. I have to go to settings tab in a campaign, and if I edit teh location I don’t get the dialog box you show.

    Eve

    Reply

  14. avatar
    Joe H Says:
    December 21st, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Great strategy that is not been used by most advertisers. A very rare thing indeed. Well done and thanks for sharing, I will let you know how it works for me.

    Reply

  15. avatar
    Maria Says:
    December 21st, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    As always, great info, Dave!
    Lately, though, I’ve noticed that in some cases the CTR may be lower than 1% and the QS still between 7 and 10. Do you think they are counting keyword and account performance history now?

    Reply

  16. avatar
    Zubair Mehar Says:
    December 22nd, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Good stuff Dave! Maybe you can help with a quick question, we are finding that if we geo target this way, in many cases a client based in Glasgow may have an IP address located in Manchester and therefore Manchester shows under the adwords ad rather than their true location which can be detrimental. Have you seen the same

    Reply

  17. avatar
    Dewaldt Huysamen Says:
    December 22nd, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Excellent information. When you launching your ebook?

    Reply

  18. avatar
    Kayla S Says:
    December 23rd, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    very insightful and helpful. i will definitely try localization techniques you’ve suggested. great blog overall; you just got a new fan =) thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  19. avatar
    SOLUTT Corporation Says:
    December 25th, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Good Stuff. This is great information will surely help boost CTR.

    Reply

  20. avatar
    Virgil Cook Says:
    December 26th, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Good information. I have not used much geo targeting in my PPC and this sounds like it would be a very good move for me to make and start using this method. Thank you…

    Reply

  21. avatar
    Stephen Irwin Says:
    December 27th, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks Dave great advice on Adwords game theory.

    Reply

  22. avatar
    David Dalka Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 3:44 am

    Not to rain on the parade here, but if you reduce CPC by increasing clicks, you are still maximizing Google’s revenue, not the sites revenue. How does this correlate to monetizable conversions?

    Reply

  23. avatar
    A Rezwanur Rashid Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    this is a nice post.Dave your advices are very important and helpful. It will help me a lot in my jobs

    Reply

  24. avatar
    Dave Davis Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Hi David, thanks for stopping by. The point isn’t about conversions. It is assumed that conversion optimization is either already done (can it ever be) or in the process.

    The point is about reducing the cost of your clicks (those clicks that convert no less) by improving your quality score.

    Lets say you double your quality from 5 to 10 (just an example) and lets say in this example, you half your CPC. For the same budget, you can get double the clicks.

    Weather or not they convert is really up to you. The conversion side of things is a topic for another post.

    Reply

  25. avatar
    Jess Says:
    January 4th, 2010 at 12:25 am

    fantastic dave since my website is mainly for local i will try your method

    Reply

  26. avatar
    Xemytica Says:
    January 6th, 2010 at 2:01 am

    This is great – but what if I don’t want to show my complete address? Will I get punished by Google with only country/state and no street address?

    Reply

  27. avatar
    Jay Fence from Nashville Says:
    January 8th, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Great post Dave. I’m looking forward to your next post when you cover how NOT to have your address show up at the bottom of your ads.

    Reply

  28. avatar
    Dan Perach Says:
    January 24th, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Neil, use the Google Global geospoofing addon, to preview ads local, then you will see the geotarget under the ad ;)

    Reply

  29. avatar
    Jordan McClements Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I know this is not strictly related to the post, but out of interest, do you have any idea how accurate the regional targeting is on google.ie?

    Reply

  30. avatar
    Sean Says:
    January 27th, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    very good point. Regional specific targeting ads rends to have lower quality score than national open targeting ads due to limited impressions and clicks, do you have any other strategy to overcome a low quality score on regional specific targeting ads?

    Reply

  31. avatar
    Roshan Joshi Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    makes sense if you are targeting local business else i see it as a bad idea.

    Reply

  32. avatar
    James Says:
    February 9th, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Great post… The more highly targeted, the better! If you want a solid CTR, one trick is to target Gmail from inside your AdWords account. If you create a campaign that is solely served to Gmail, you can achieve laser targeting and higher CTR.

    Reply

  33. avatar
    website designers mushroom Says:
    February 12th, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Excellent information. I have dabbled in Adwords but havent really looked into it. GEO targetting locla businesses has been turned off for webdesign companies.

    Reply

  34. avatar
    Eric Says:
    February 13th, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    I’ve been trying to improve the click through rate of my site. Do you think website optimization has anything to do with click through rate? Appreciate a response, thanks very much!

    Reply

  35. avatar
    Michael Delpierre Says:
    February 14th, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    You just brought up something I took for granted. I assumed that my city + state would show up but if I am able to use this location setting on a geo-targeted campaign then that makes alot of sense. I am going to try that out now.

    Reply

  36. avatar
    Cassidy Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Hey Dave, I understand how to target different regions, but I’m confused how to get these regions to show up below my ad (without making a new ad for each region)? Thanks!

    Reply

  37. avatar
    Dave Davis Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    @Xemytica, no, you will not get penalized.

    @Jordan, It’s pretty bad as I am sure you are aware. The closer you are to the city centroid though the better.

    @Cassidy, that’s the beauty of it. You just need to target a SINGLE campaign to multiple cities.

    Reply

  38. avatar
    Jordan McClements Says:
    March 2nd, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    I’m sure it is still better than the ‘Northern Ireland’ regional targeting in the UK (Cant get accurate figures from anyone but I reckon it is less than 50% accurate!)

    Reply

  39. avatar
    Dave Davis Says:
    March 2nd, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    I’ve heard from a few sources NI is that bad. I guess due to the small market it’s not even a huge priority for Google either :(

    Reply

  40. avatar
    Daryl James Says:
    March 3rd, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I am reading more and more about Geo Location tagging being the next big thing on the internet. It’s interesting that the mass of global marketplaces are segmenting once again.

    Reply

  41. avatar
    Jordan McClements Says:
    April 20th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I was at an official Google presentation in Castlereagh not long ago, and they guy from Google claimed that the Geo Targeting was 90-95% accurate! (and it would get even better when BT sort out the mess which means that a lot of Northern Ireland users appear to be from Scotland in the near future)
    mmmm… I remain to be convinced…
    Certainly any test I have done with the AdWords traffic estimator seems to indicate that Google’s estimate of how many poeple there are in Northern Ireland is extremely pessimistic (unless for some reason people in N.I. are *much* less likely to search for stuff on Google than people in GB)..

    Reply

  42. avatar
    Jordan McClements Says:
    May 5th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Just want to add – I have done some further testing, and if you have a campaign that targets the Republic of Ireland, and your average position is 3 or higher – then the CTR doesn’t seem to be affected much, but if your average position is lower (your ads always appear down the right hand side) then it can give a really noticeable increase.
    With regards to how it affects conversions, very early indications are (with only one campaign) that there are no negative effects.

    Reply

  43. avatar
    Jay Orban Says:
    May 7th, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Great post with nice tips Google seems to be making even more strides to make the customers Adwords experience more lucrative which is great.

    I am a firm believer in finding keywords that are very targeted that may take some research but are priced very low cost per click. Usually 9 times out of 10 you will come out way more profitable in the end.

    But your best bet is optimizing your website, or blog for the search engines so pay per click will just be a backup plan. Free traffic is always the best traffic.

    Nice read, thank you!

    Reply

  44. avatar
    Camilo Acosta Says:
    May 25th, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Dave,

    Very insightful post! I’m a firm believer in improving CTR and I’d love your feedback on my company, Root Orange. Our technology geo-splits domain names so a different business in every city can use the same vanity URL. This means businesses can use generic domains for their geo-targeted SEM campaigns to vastly improve their CTR.

    Thoughts?

    Cheers,

    Camilo Acosta
    co-President
    Root Orange

    Reply

  45. avatar
    Lily Says:
    August 9th, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    That’s a very useful post for me. But how can I get the second screet shot open in my adwords account? In my setting page, I click the edit button next to “location” and a different dialog open up, not the one similar to the second screen shot. I searched for a long time, and still couldn’t find out.

    Reply

  46. avatar
    Kavita Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Useful post, Dave. Simply best. Has your book come out?

    Reply

  47. avatar
    tiklafilmindir Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I am reading more and more about Geo Location tagging being the next big thing on the internet. It’s interesting that the mass of global marketplaces are segmenting once again.

    Reply

  48. avatar
    Internetiturundus Says:
    October 13th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks Dave great advice on Adwords game theory.

    Reply

  49. avatar
    psychobone Says:
    November 18th, 2010 at 10:18 am

    simple, but your advice work for me

    Reply

  50. avatar
    rob Says:
    December 17th, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Great post! I am just starting out in community management/marketing media and trying to learn all about Google Adwords and their quality score – resources like this article are incredibly helpful.

    Reply

  51. avatar
    Sefi Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Geo-targeting is also very useful when you are trying to make a software product available to the market for beta testing, just need to set-up a campaign in a country for your keywords, where the ad-s are cheap, your product get introduced very quickly and when the beta test seems complete then you can target markets, where actually you will be selling that product.
    In short, with geotargetting you can get cheap worldwide traffic if you are not much fussed about where the traffic is coming from.

    Reply

  52. avatar
    Eric Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Good information. I have not used much geo targeting in my PPC and this sounds like it would be a very good move for me to make and start using this method. Thank you…

    Reply

  53. avatar
    Jasa Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Great strategy that is not been used by most advertisers. A very rare thing indeed. Well done and thanks for sharing

    Reply

  54. avatar
    Finance Perth Says:
    October 7th, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Targeting keywords is quite difficult. This is a crucial one. Thanks for the tool.

    Reply

  55. avatar
    austin new homes Says:
    February 25th, 2012 at 7:45 am

    This is awesome news that geo targeting to improve adwords quality.Thanks for the news.Hope it will happen soon.

    Reply