When it comes to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, it’s easy to feel like the world is your oyster. After all, with a few clicks, you can market your business to anyone, anywhere.

In fact, most PPC platforms almost encourage this, with default location setting for the United States or the entire world.

But advertiser beware, the fact that you can target the whole world doesn’t mean that you should.

This is especially true for local businesses.

If you’re a lawyer, dentist, plumber, restaurant owner or any other local business owner, targeting specific locations (aka, “geotargeting”) is one of the most important settings in your PPC account.

As obvious as this sounds, I’ve seen countless businesses that have wasted enormous amounts of money. They spend full budgets on clicks from people who simply live too far away from a business to ever become a paying customer.

In this article, I’m going to teach you how to avoid this wasted ad spend by making the most of your geotargeting settings. Let’s get started!


Picking Your Geotargeting Area

To really get the most out of your geotargeting settings, you have to understand where your customers are coming from.

For example, a dental office in a big city might want clients from a subdivision on the other side of the city, but how many people are going to drive 30-40 minutes through traffic to try a new dentist?

In reality, most people won’t drive more than 8 miles or 10 minutes to visit a new dentist. So it doesn’t make sense to run ads outside of an 8-mile radius of a dental clinic.

You might not be a dental office, but if you’re a local business, your customer base likely falls within a specific radius of your location. There’s a good chance you already have a good sense for how big that radius is. However, if you don’t, start paying attention to where your customers come from.

Once you know how far customers are willing to drive to get to your business, you know what sort of geotargeting you need to set up in your PPC campaigns.

It’s a simple concept, but you’d be surprised how many businesses never figure this out. They either forget to adjust their location settings or run ads in locations where they want to get customers, not where their customers actually come from.


Setting Up Geotargeting

Now that we’ve discussed how to figure out where to target, it’s time to talk about how to target that area effectively.

Since most local advertisers use Google AdWords and/or Facebook Ads, I’ll cover how to set up location targeting on both of those platforms. These principles apply to most PPC platforms, however. So if you’re using the PPC platforms on LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, or somewhere else, the same ideas should still apply.

Geotargeting in Google Adwords

In Google AdWords, you set up geotargeting at the campaign level. To double-check your location settings, click on a campaign in Google AdWords and then click “Settings” in the left-hand sidebar.


As I mentioned before, AdWords’s basic settings aren’t a great fit for most local advertisers. To fix things, click “Enter another location” and click “Advanced search”.

This will bring up the following options:


Here, you can enter states, counties, cities, zip codes. To get even more specific, switch from “Location” to “Radius”. Then you can type in the name of your business or your mailing address and specific a certain radius around that location.


Depending on what area you decided you want to target, you may want to target specific locations like your city or zip code or a radius around your location.

In general, I recommend radius targeting for most local businesses, but it depends on your customers and how they behave.


Geotargeting in Facebook Ads

Geotargeting works almost the exact same way on Facebook (and, by extension, Instagram).

One significant difference between the two platforms is the fact that you target locations on Facebook at the ad group level, not the campaign level.

Location targeting is part of your audience targeting:


In some ways, Facebook’s targeting options are even better than what you get with Google AdWords.

In addition to targeting people who are actually in a certain location, Facebook allows you to target people who live in that location, were recently in that location or who are traveling in that location.


Similar to Google AdWords, you can target by countries, regions, states, counties, cities and zip codes. You can also target by the name of a location (airports, malls, etc.) or drop a pin on a specific location and target an area around it.


Like AdWords, targeting a location this way gives you the option to target a specified radius around that location. Only people who meet your other targeting criteria and are inside that radius will see your ads.

Lastly—and similar to AdWords—you can either choose to target a specific area or exclude it from your targeting.


Altogether, this wealth of geotargeting options gives you all the tools you need to target potential customers—and only potential customers—with your PPC ads.



Whether you’re running PPC ads on Google, Facebook or somewhere else, geotargeting is a must for local businesses.

Without it, you’ll end up paying for clicks from hundreds or thousands of people who have no chance of becoming paying customers. With it, your ads will be hyper-targeted and hyper-relevant to your intended audience.

It takes some extra work to figure out your ideal marketing area and set up geotargeting. But in the long run, getting this simple setting right can have a massive effect on your PPC campaigns.