AdWords Location Setting Tips For Your Small Business

Location, location, location

Location settings are often overlooked after the initial campaign setup. It’s easy to set up targeting, but we forget about leveraging these settings to work for us.

There are many different ways to utilize location targeting features, but in this article, I will discuss location setting tips for the two most common types of online small businesses: e-commerce, and location-based services like plumbers, car dealerships, amusement parks–you name it.

The basics

AdWords provides us with a few different options within campaign settings from the get go.

Under Location Options (Advanced), Google sets the target by default to ‘People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location.’ I’ve found it’s best to use ‘People in my targeted location.’ This is the better option because it won’t trigger your ad if, for example, your business is a car dealership located in Detroit, and someone from Seattle searches ‘detroit auto sales’ (which could be a business name in Seattle).

AdWords also allows us to target locations in a variety of manners. We can target by country, state, city, zip code, all the way down to a physical address.

Another way to target is to use Location Groups. These allow us to use Places of interest such as airports, universities and other central commercial areas.

They also allow us to target by demographics, which lets us select the household income tier we want to target.

But enough with the basics; let’s talk about some more specific examples that might help your business improve targeting and improve account performance.


To properly leverage location settings for e-commerce businesses, you need to first think about your products and your audience. For example, if you sell swimwear and surfing apparel, most of your customers will be based in regions with–who would have guessed it–water. This doesn’t just pass the common sense test; it is also quantifiable through analytics as seen below in an example of a client who sells precisely those items.

GA state location targeting

After establishing where to target, there are still a few more decisions to be made. Do you use bid modifiers to decrease bids on non-opportune locations? Up the bid for prime locations? A combination of both?

I prefer to air on the side of more reach to start because customers can come from a wide variety of regions and until you have definitive data to back up decisions, it’s best to avoid excluding too much based on hunches.

Not everything is as cut and dried as swimwear but the same still applies. Use common sense where you can, but first and foremost, use your analytics.

For example, this client sells dresses, tops, pants, etc. We looked at the Google Analytics report by location and found which areas sell the most products.

GA state location targeting stats

After finding our best converting locations, we went in and added bid modifiers to make sure we were bidding higher in those locations.

AdWords geo bid modifier example

Location based

Location-based businesses such as amusement parks, schools, car dealerships and car repair shops have their own unique ways of targeting location. The best method we found is to use ‘Radius Targeting,’ which creates an inclusion area around the location you’re targeting. You can target specific locations too, which makes this a very accurate and powerful targeting tool.

To get more out of radius targeting it is a great idea to have a bullseye-like pattern around the target area. Below is an example of this bullseye effect:

Radius targeting example

After completing the radius targeting, you can implement bid modifiers in increasing increments starting with the lowest bid modifier at the furthest distance and working up to the largest bid modifier the closer you get to your location. Here is an example:

With this arrangement, you will bid more on the customers closest to your business location, allowing you to have a higher chance of procuring the customer.

Using location targeting and settings to our advantage is something many of us overlook. It’s easy to set it and forget it, wasting an opportunity for optimization. Keep a close eye on your settings. Are you doing everything you can to get the most out of your location targeting?

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