Demystifying Local Search Campaign Setups – By Karen Varecka

by Colleen on November 10, 2010

As local search queries increase online and on mobile devices, it’s important to know how to target your marketing dollars effectively and efficiently.

Luckily, search engines give you multiple ways to target your audience based on geography. I recommend focusing on four campaign types specific to local search, based on your targeting tactics and search terms: Geo Modified, Internet Protocol (IP) Targeted, Zip Codes and Neighborhoods.

Geo Modified campaigns incorporate a geographic modifier in the search query (ex. florists in Baltimore). You’ll want to target these keywords nationally, so your ad will appear for someone outside the indicated market looking for your company’s services. A perfect example of this would be someone in Chicago looking for a florist to deliver to their grandmother in Baltimore.

IP Targeted campaigns target a user based on their IP address. You can select a city, state, metropolitan area or zip code via your campaign’s location settings. The terms in IP campaigns should be both generic and geo modified. There is a chance that geo modified terms within both IP and Geo Modified campaigns will compete against each other, but this will guarantee coverage and allow you to bid differently.

The rationale is that a user with a Baltimore IP address, who’s looking for “florists in Baltimore” will be more relevant to your business; therefore allowing you to bid more aggressively than in your Geo Modified campaigns. One important thing to note: IP targeting’s accuracy is not guaranteed. The engines cannot differentiate between someone whose IP address is being proxied (such as a VPN (virtual private network) connection or a proxy server) vs. someone who is physically located in the defined area. In these instances your ad may appear outside your defined area, but volume should be low.

Zip Code searches are not as common, but they are increasing as searchers become savvier, meaning there isn’t a lot of competition here… yet. They’re similar to geo modified terms; however, a zip code is used to define the location. An example of these terms would be “florists in 21230”.

Neighborhood searches such as “florists in Federal Hill” are also important to include, since engines cannot map neighborhoods back to a city.

When it comes to bidding you need to consider which segment is most relevant to your business, your business’ regional sales goals and what campaign type drives the best performance. Whatever you do, make sure your ad copy is tailored to your ad group’s theme.

When ad copy is specific to the user’s search query, the user is more inclined to click. This will yield a higher CTR (click through rate) and quality score and in turn will lower your CPCs (cost per click).

Karen is an account manager at, and is the founder of The Marketing Click, an online marketing consulting firm.

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