3 Best Practices to Boost Paid Search Profits with Geo-Based Bid Modifiers

3 Best Practices to Boost Paid Search Profits with Geo-Based Bid Modifiers

You use many strategies in your day-to-day advertising campaigns…but what about geo targeting SEM? Put the power of paid search geo targeting to work with these 3 best practices.

Today, I’d like to discuss a really important aspect of paid search optimization – geo targeting – but before we get to that, let me ask you…do you remember 2013? There was a power outage during the Super Bowl, a meteor crashed in Russia, and CERN scientists confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson particle. However, for search engine marketers, the most important event was Google’s introduction of Enhanced Campaigns, which is becoming an increasingly crucial aspect of AdWords campaign management, especially given the 2016  announcement that it will split tablet bidding from desktop bidding.

Enhanced Campaigns added context to keywords for more-targeted – and effective – campaigns. But here we are in 2016, and not everyone is using one of the most valuable features of Enhanced Campaigns: geographic targeting using automatic bid modifiers.

Still targeting for location the old way…or not at all?

If you’re not using geo-based bid modifiers in your search engine marketing, you’re probably missing out. Research on paid search geo targeting suggests significant benefits for local search advertising – 34% of consumers who seek local information visit a store within a day; and that figure climbs to 50% for smartphone users. 

Still, if you were generating leads for a dentist office in Southern California, you probably wouldn’t want to use your campaign budget to display your ad to people in Delaware. That’s just wasted money. So maybe you decide to manually include or exclude certain locations from your campaigns either based on common sense or by looking at historical performance data.

As a geo targeting counter-example, what if instead of advertising for a Southern California dentist office, you were advertising for Southern California beach rental property during the summer? In this case, potentially interested customers might not just be limited to your neighborhood. Your property might actually be of interest to customers from different locations across America, including places with traditionally cold summers such as San Francisco, Seattle and Milwaukee. How would you know? If you’re analyzing historical data and adjusting your bids manually for new locations, you might be able to increase your conversions in new geos using a trial-and-error approach. But there is a better, more-effective and efficient way…

How can we uncover these profitable geos?

Enhanced Campaigns’ geo bid modifiers let you directly increase or decrease your geo targeting bidding for individual locations. To make the most of our campaign, we’ll want to identify locations with relatively higher efficiency – for which we’ll want higher bids – and locations with relatively lower efficiency – for which we’ll want lower bids. This will make sure we’re getting the best return on our ad spend. However, a predictive advertising management platform that automatically manages bids for granular geos can add an extra layer of intelligent automation to your campaigns by automatically locating profitable geos and bidding down on poorly-converting ones.

Do these 3 things before you enable geo-based bidding

Sound easy? It is! It’s much easier than manually trying to optimize geo-based bidding. But there are a few ground rules for search engine marketing success when it comes to geo targeting:  

1.    Combine “where” with “who” and “what”: As the owner of a trendy new set of upscale supper clubs, you’re probably not going to want to target your city’s inland senior community, and you might not even be interested in the nearby college town full of hip, but broke, university students. No, since you were diligent enough to research the region, you know the bustling city one town over, which is full of affluent young professionals age 21-34, is your prime territory. Doing your research manually will help you executed more-informed, multidimensional geo targeting. Using a modern platform with superior automation will, of course, speed up the process immensely and uncover new opportunities that human error might miss.

2.    Know where your customers are – and are not – and bid accordingly: In our above example, our club owner is probably not looking to focus geo targeting efforts on the gated senior community down the road, or on the local college town. Might the nearby suburbs, which mainly consist of small families, be of interest? Absolutely – while married couples may not go out exactly as many times as young singles, they’re still potentially relevant targets for this example. Thinking back to those search campaigns, our nightclub owner may conclude that in addition to bidding up for your city of well-heeled young professionals, it might also be a good idea to run ads at lower bid levels around suburbia for the occasional lavish birthday party or celebration. By astutely surveying the land and understanding needs in each area, businesses can continue to bring in customers by investing proportionally in higher- and lower-opportunity areas. Again, it’s a good idea to commission a smart automation platform that can optimize the right bids for the right areas – particularly one that can optimize not just for country and state, but also for city/metro-level.

3.    Consider spelling it out: This one might sound a bit obvious, but when tackling the age-old challenge of keywords, consider including the name of your city/locale in your keywords ad groups. Your potential customers often search for your products and services by city – and including city names in your keyword mix will offer you an additional layer of specificity and relevance for positive searches. The best automation platforms will not just target potential searches by city, but will also help qualify your campaigns’ geo targeting by automatically identifying areas that are either strong performers or underperformers.

Raising the performance bar even higher

Geo-based bidding is one way you can take advantage of Enhanced Campaigns to improve performance, but it’s far from the only one. At QuanticMind, we know that sometimes the best performance comes from identifying the complex relationships between many contextual attributes including device, time-of-day, network, weather and more. For more information on how modern platforms combine smart automation with important modifiers like geo targeting, please take a look at our eBook, “7 Big Reasons You Need a Predictive Paid Search Management Platform.”

Andrew Park

Andrew Park is a content marketing manager at QuanticMind. A UC Berkeley graduate and lifelong Bay Area resident, Andrew has done tours of duty in editorial, PR and marketing, and now works with the QuanticMind team to communicate the importance of data science and machine learning in digital advertising.