Localization is a very important strategy in AdWords, whether or not you have a storefront. Even if you do have a physical location, your online efforts may not be using the localizing features of AdWords to their fullest. The process of localizing is more than setting the “location” section of your AdWords campaign – it includes your keywords, your ad text, and the content on your website. While localizing your campaigns can be more work than standardizing, it can be rewarding both for yourself and your customers.

The Importance of Location…Even When Your Location Doesn’t Matter.

Setting the location is one of the simpler ways to localize a campaign, but there are ways to use it creatively to better target your customers. Using the location tool is often the only thing that I’ve seen advertisers do to make their campaigns “local” in AdWords. It’s still an important step, and there are a few factors to consider when choosing the location, like these:

  • 1. Does the customer have to travel to use your service?
    • If they do, decide how far they are willing to travel. Divide this section into two regions – the actual locals and the travelers.
    • If they don’t have to travel, decide where most of your customers come from – these are your locals. Expand out just a bit from there – these are your travelers.
    • Divide your locals and travelers into two different campaigns, and focus your attention on the locals.
  • 2. Where do most of your customers come from? Take advantage of the dimensions tab in AdWords. You may be surprised at what the geographic section tells you.
  • 3. Does your business depend on the person’s geographical location? (e.g. you sell winter sports equipment) The people in this area are your locals, and the rest are your travelers.

The biggest takeaway from these points is to not worry about the outliers – those you are willing to cater to, but are not going to be your best customers. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the if’s (what if there’s a guy in Pakistan that loves my shoes!), but this may create too great of a need to over-standardize because create a local campaign for each diverse section is too much work.

Your Keywords and Ad Text Are Your Storefront

Take your storefront – whether that’s your front window or landing page – and stick a bunch of signs on it that describe what you offer. If any of your keywords are not a part of this, it’s time to remove them. The more of these that are gone, the easier it will be to cater to your local users.

Like your location targeting, this is an easy place to fall into “what ifs”. If you advertise in your local paper, chances are somebody from out-of-town may have seen it and taken a trip to stop in. That doesn’t mean you should advertise in the out-of-towners paper. 80% of your business is going to come from 20% of your customers, so there will be a lot of these outliers. Therefore, about 80% of your budget for these keywords is going towards your locals – and that’s a big reason why we want the locals and the travelers divided into two campaigns.

Think of having these pieces in your ad text to help cater to your locals:


  • Reference to your city/region/state/province, etc. The smaller your targeted area is, the easier it will be.
  • Place your deals in the text. Since they see the ads more often than travelers, changes like this can motivate them to click.
  • Limit your product to your headline, and use your body for emotional appeal. You’re fighting for space with a lot of similar ads because they have all standardized their ad text. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

The Missing Piece: Your Landing Page

With all of your AdWords campaigns running, don’t forget the best part of advertising you could have – your landing page. Just like a beautiful window display, you want to make sure this page shows the best of what you have – and shows it accurately. Your content should reflect your ad text (though not necessarily verbatim). Here, show off anything that makes it clear you’re thinking about your locals, and not everybody at once. This can include:

  • An address, even if all you say is “Proudly hailing from Michigan!”
  • A local phone number
  • A reference to a local attitude or festival (e.g. reference farming if you’re targeting strongly rural areas, even if that reference is “get away from the farm!”)
  • The weather – seriously. People like to hear about it.
  • Your deals
  • Recommended products/services for that area

It’s possible to dedicate this to your front page, but I would recommended creating a whole new page that’s easy to update with changing deals or seasons. Custom landing pages are one of the best ways to avoid wasting money in pay-per-click.

Putting the Work In

Focusing your locally-targeted campaign into a truly local advertising effort can require extra work. The important aspect to remember is even if you don’t have a storefront, you still have local customers, and they need to be catered to the most. Although this focused largely on the AdWords side, never forget to take a look at all aspects of your business, from your product spread to your customer service, and determine what’s working, and what’s turning away your best customers. Reward your customers by catering to them, and they will reward you back.