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Geografisches Targeting
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Geographic targeting: Optimal targeting of Google Ads

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Nathaly Rüther 22/01/21

Geographic targeting allows you to target ads to specific locations and explicitly exclude others. This allows you to target your audience more precisely and increase your return on investment. We’ll show you how to reduce and control wastage with geographic targeting!


This is what awaits you:

  • What does geographic targeting mean?
  • Why you should use geographic targeting
  • What are the settings?
  • Exclude locations
  • Which is the right setting for me?

What does geographic targeting mean?

Nowadays, we are always and everywhere online with our smartphones. This also means that more and more people are searching for offers and services while on the move. As users, we expect the search to show offers that are actually available. If a user is looking for dog food in Germany, he will hardly find an ad from a provider that does not deliver to Germany helpful.

With geographic targeting, you can define in Google Ads the locations where your ads are to be broadcast and the locations where they are not. Locations can be countries, regions, cities or even certain radiuses of a selected location. Google Ads takes into account the location of the user or the users who are interested in this location, depending on the alignment method. Where exactly the difference lies, we will explain in the next sections. In general, you can add up to 1000 different locations to your Google Ads account, via bulk or select method.

Why you should use geographic targeting:

Wondering about the benefits behind it? Geographical targeting allows you to define your target group more precisely and thus avoid wastage. If you don’t deliver to certain regions, for example, it’s hardly worthwhile to place ads in these regions. If, on the other hand, you select specific locations in which your ads are to be broadcast, you will reach precisely those users who belong to your potential customers. This means that you can target your ads more effectively, which can lead to an increase in conversion rates and ultimately increase your return on investment (ROI). We therefore strongly recommend that you add suitable locations to your campaigns.

What are the settings?

Google offers various location settings, which we will explain to you below. It is important that you ask yourself at the beginning whether your potential customer is frequently or currently at a certain location or whether a pure interest in the location is sufficient. Interest would exist, for example, if someone is looking for a hotel in Paris but lives in Berlin. So he is neither frequently nor now in Paris, but is interested in a service there.

The following setting options regarding the locations are available for you to choose from:

Screenshot from Google Ads: Setting options regarding the locations
Screenshot from Google Ads – Location settings
  • Presence or interest:
    Users who are currently or regularly present or have shown interest in your target regions.
    This is Google’s default setting. Included are user locations as well as places of interest. For example, if you have selected the city of Berlin as the location and the user is currently or regularly (e.g. as a commuter) in Berlin, the ad will be displayed to him. In addition, the ad is also shown to users who show interest in the location. If the user searches for “Bakery Berlin” but is currently in Hamburg, the ad will still be displayed.

  • Presence:
    User, who are currently or regularly in your target regions
    This option does not include users who show interest in the region but are not currently or regularly there.

  • Search interest:
    User, who search for your target region
    This option includes users who have specifically mentioned your specified location in their search. If the user is in your selected location and does not include it in the search term, the ad will not be played!

Excute locations

The same is true for location exclusions. If you exclude locations, you prevent ads from being presented to users in certain target regions. This allows you to use your budget more effectively and target only users who can access your product or service. An exclusion can be useful, for example, if you do not supply a region or your service is not offered there (e.g. no shipping to Switzerland). Another example is special offers, which are available in some locations but not in others.

For the exclusions you have the choice between the following two options:

  • Presence:
    User in excluded locations
    This option does not include users who show interest in the region but are not currently or regularly there.

  • Presence or interest:
    Users who are currently or regularly in your excluded locations or have shown interest in them
    This is the default setting of Google. All users who are in the target region or have shown interest in it are excluded. So this option excludes more users than the previous one, which can be quite useful depending on the objective and campaign.

Which is the right setting for me?

So much for your options, but when is which setting the right one? This depends a lot on your objective, your offer and your budget. It’s important to assess where your target audience spends most of their time and how realistic it is that your ideal customer will convert from that location.

If a Hamburg dog salon, for example, uses the default setting “Presence and interest”, the ad will not be played out exclusively in Hamburg, but also in all other cities when “Hamburg dog salon” is searched for. But does it make sense for the dog salon in Hamburg if the ad is played out in Munich? Depending on the case, it is quite possible that the searcher will travel from Munich to Berlin in the near future and would like to have his dog groomed there.

However, you should not forget the following: Broadcasts can lead to paid clicks. So it is important to put the probability of the salon visit in relation to the budget. But even without click costs, it is questionable whether a broadcast in Munich and other locations makes sense. If users do not click on the ad (because they do not want to travel to Berlin), the click-through rate drops, which in turn can affect the quality factor. If this deteriorates, the placement of ads becomes more expensive, which also leads to additional costs.

As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, you have to weigh things up individually. We would also like to give you another important point at this point: Pay attention to the language of your ads! If you want your ads to be played in France, you should make sure that the ad text is in French and that you do not place any German ad texts.



Conclusion: Geographic targeting is an important targeting option for your Google Ads campaigns. Which setting is the right choice depends on your target group. To begin with, think about where your potential customers are and estimate how you can use your budget most effectively. Do you have questions about geographic targeting? Then don’t hesitate to contact us, we’ll be happy to help you!

Nathaly Rüther
Nathaly Rüther Working Student Digital Marketing

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