How to optimize geotargeting.

How to Get Specific with Your Geotargeting

Geotargeting is a great tool for marketers to utilize so they can make sure their ads and campaigns are reaching relevant users to their marketed materials.

Did you know 70% of consumers are willing to share their location information if they believe they are getting something of value in return? This means the ever-growing consumer base is only going to become more receptive to targeted ads and campaigns. 

When it comes to geotargeting, there are a few ways that Google determines a user’s location. Those ways include using their IP address, their phone GPS, wi-fi, Bluetooth, and cell tower IDs. 

Other factors Google uses to pinpoint the location of interest would be utilizing search terms that mention a location, the person’s past locations, various website content, Google Maps, and the custom location setting in search.

Questions are still left unanswered in regard to the science Google uses to determine location targeting.

How often does a user need to be in a location to be considered regularly located in that place? Once a week?☝Twice a month? ✌Daily?  

If you commute to another town or city for work, are you considered “regularly located” in both the place you live and the one you work?

Or what if you visit your Grandma every week, but she lives a couple of towns over?

You Want To Have Strict Geotargeting

What happens if you don’t want people outside of your preferred location seeing your ads? ❌

For instance, you could be advertising for a nonprofit that only works in certain counties, so counties outside those regions wouldn’t benefit from those ads (and neither would you).

Or you could own a mortgage business, but have separate offering based on the state your user is in.

Maybe you’re running a clothing business that can ship internationally but only to specific countries.

Enter: ? Geographic Exclusions  ?

Considering the changes to Google Ads and the removal of the option to reach people in your target geographic location, the next best thing is to add any exclusions for each region that wouldn’t be relevant to your advertisement.

If anything, make sure to add countries that aren’t targeted to ensure foreign traffic isn’t able to see your campaign.

Poor location targeting settings = money down the drain.

You Can Add Location Exclusions

In order to add location exclusions, you’ll want to download the current list of Google Ads geo targets here.

In this list, you’ll find Criteria ID for locations, which helps make sure you’re entering the right locations.

Follow these steps to save yourself a ton of time by adding location exclusions in bulk:

  1. Open the document in Excel, then choose which locations you want to exclude. (Example: If you want to specifically target Canada, you will click the filter “country” in the “target type” column. Then, you’ll copy the list of every Criteria ID except Canada’s.)
  2. Now, go to the Google Ads editor.
  3. Go to the “Locations, Negative” section located under “Keywords and Targeting”.
  4. Click “Make Multiple Changes”.
  5. In the pop-up window, select which campaigns you’d like to add the location targeting.
  6. Paste the IDs into a column and ensure the header “ID” is in place.
  7. Double-check to make sure the negative locations are applied to the correct campaign and are ready to upload.

Related: How Geo-Targeted Ads Can Boost Conversions

Try Geo-Fencing!

Geo-fencing is ideal for smaller location targets (not an entire county, but think miles) that uses creative messages based on their audience’s location. It can also include location-based features, like a store locator.

This type of geotargeting allows a perimeter to be set around a physical location (like a fence – get it?) where the ads will be delivered.

For example, the new sandwich shop downtown might want to set a 1-3 mile perimeter around the shop and their ads will reach any user within their set radius. Or, it could set the perimeter to encompass the park and office buildings down the street for users that are looking for a quick and easy lunch. ?

If you want to take it a step further, the sandwich shop could use geo-conquesting, which is where they would target the customers around the pizza place a block away (aka their competitors).


Another thing you’ll want to do is take advantage of the specific events related to geography. Some of these events are known, like basic holidays, and others could be weather-related events.

So if there’s a hurricane headed for North Carolina, a hardware store might target customers with tools that will help prepare the buildings to hold against the storm.

Or if Memorial Day is approaching, a grocery store will use targeted ads for grills, aprons, paper plates, and cookout food. 

Geography plays a huge role in making sure you’re creating campaigns and advertisements that are relevant to the consumers you’re targeting. Users respond better to content they relate to, which means the ROI of those targeted campaigns will rise. ?

Don’t forget to monitor your geographic reports to make sure foreign traffic doesn’t see your ads. You’ll be spending extra money on ads for an audience who can’t even visit your store! Don’t be afraid to add as many location exclusions that you need!

How has the change in location targeting affected you? Drop a comment below!?

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