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PPC Best Practices: Geo Targeted Keyword Insertion

In the ever competitive world of online marketing, setting your ad apart from the competition can make the difference between attracting online traffic and not. Targeting a person’s current location in your PPC ads is a proven way of capturing your customers’ interest.  It can help distinguish your ad from the rest, by providing searchers with a stronger, more personal connection to your ad, making them feel it was them whom you were targeting. Geo-targeted keywords also work to make regional or national brands look local, helping to attract more targeted traffic to your site and improve CTR and other key metrics. In this post, I’ll explore a relatively undocumented method of inserting geo-targeted keywords into your PPC ads that’s easy and time-efficient.

There are several documented ways to incorporate a searchers’ location into ads, but these can be very labor intensive. Usually, for each area that you want to target with location in the ad text, you have to create a new Ad Group. Very quickly you could have 100s of Ad Groups, which would quickly become unmanageable. What’s more, to further discriminate between targeting people who are currently in a location vs. people searching for a location (physical location v intent), you would have to create multiple ad campaigns.

Luckily, there’s another way! There’s a seemingly undocumented feature in AdWords that allows you to bend the boundaries of intent/physical location targeting.

In some cases Google will map search queries to geo-modified keywords based on the searchers location, e.g. if somebody in London does a search for ‘taxi’ Google will map that to ‘London taxi.’ For the keyword ‘london taxi’ we can have the following situations:

Location Search Term Match
London Taxi London Yes
Manchester Taxi London Yes
Manchester Taxi No
London Taxi Yes


Using keyword insertion you can now get ‘london taxi’ into your ads dynamically. In fact, fill up your ad groups with enough geo-modified keywords and you can have ads saying ‘London Taxi’, ‘Manchester Taxi’, ‘Newcastle Taxi’, etc.

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Figure 1: ‘London Taxi’ has been inserted but only ‘Taxi’ gets bold font.

Overriding intent

Sometimes location intent can be unhelpful. For somebody searching for ‘London taxi ‘ there is a reasonable chance that they are looking into the history of London taxis. We can deal with that though. Even if you have an Ad Group negative for ‘London’ Google will still match ‘taxi’ to ‘london taxi’ within London. In fact, that’s pretty much the only search query that keyword will match.

It can’t be that easy

There is 1 caveat to this approach. It appears that this only works with ‘Geography+single keyword’. ‘london taxi’ will work but ‘london taxi cab’ won’t.

What methods do you currently employ to incorporate geo-targeted keywords into your paid ads?






About Daniel Bowtell

Prior to joining The Search Agency as an Account Executive Daniel could be found touring the world as a professional musician. He is now firmly ensconced in the world of SEM and is dedicated to delivering the best value to clients, big or small. When he's not doing that Daniel is working his way round every trendy restaurant in London.