With Google Ads you can target people in your market at the moment they’re actively searching for your products or services. It’s what sets Google apart from other popular advertising such as Facebook.

Facebook has great targeting options, from a person’s location to their interests and family status.

Yet, for all good data they have, they don’t know the mindset of the person when they’re on their site. They’re on there to look at the status of their friends, family or businesses they follow. There might be a chance they’re interested in your product or service, but its not the main thing on their mind.

Google Ads is especially effective if you only serve a specific region. No need to target everyone in the United States if you only serve a single city or even a few states.

Learn how to target your best prospects with Google AdWords
Target your best prospects with Google Ads

It's estimated that 46% of all searches on Google have a local intent.

If someone is typing in plumber near me or Italian restaurants on Google, then they’re most likely looking for a repair person or a place to eat out at in that area. If you’re in that area you want to be found.

With Google Ads, and Bing Ads, as well, you can target people either down the street or prospects thousands of miles away who will soon be in your area and planning their visit.

Yet, for many businesses, there are only specific people in their market that are an ideal fit. It might be people of a certain income level or an age group. There are ways to even further narrow your targeting options.

Here are some ways in which you can create Google Ads campaigns that only those relevant to your local business will see, no matter where they’re logging in.

Location Targeting

Target Cities, States, Counties, Countries, and Zip Codes You can get as granular as you want with your campaign. So that only people in very specific locations are shown your ads.

Location settings in Google AdWords
Target by city, state, zip code, county or country.

Some locations also might have more value than others so even if you're targeting an entire state, you might want to target specific locations inside the market. This way you can bid higher for certain locations over others or at least see how many searches are from certain locations.

Google Ads allows bid adjustments to specif locations in a campaign
Increase or decrease bids for specific locations in Google Ads

Radius targeting. To target the people who are just typing in single words like restauIncrease or decrease bids for specific locations in Google Adsrants or hotels in your area, then run ads that only those in your service area can see. Have a radius for your ads that incorporates the area you serve.

For some businesses, this might only be a couple of miles, but for others that offer something unique, it could be significantly larger. The size of the radius should be determined by how far you’re willing to travel to service people or how far they’re willing to visit your location.

For example, if you’re a dentist do you want a 20-mile radius of your clinic if people can find dentists closer to where they live. Unless there is something specific that will motivate them to make a longer trip, shorten your radius.

One issue that some businesses face is that their radius might cover areas they don’t serve, such as an adjacent state. Then just add the community or states you don’t serve to the campaign and block them.

DMA Regions. One of the more recent targeting options is Nielsen DMA’s. These are for businesses that want to target metro areas and might also be running television commercials. This way all their ads target the same group.


Demographics Google doesn’t have as much data on people as Facebook does, but it has quite a bit. In your campaign, you can exclude or bid higher on specific groups.

Excluding certain groups in demographics won’t cover all the people doing searches, but it still can eliminate a lot. Typically, I see that it’s about 40% of the searchers that they have data on. So even if you’re not excluding everyone that’s not your ideal demographic it’s still a significant amount.

Google has data on a number of searches that you can use in your campaigns.
Google seems to have data on about 40% of their searchers.

You can exclude people of a certain gender, age or household income. For example, if you target a younger demographic than exclude people 55 or older from seeing your ads.

When it comes to income you might want to exclude people in the lower 50%. Or maybe that is who you want to target and instead exclude higher income levels.

Google Ads allows businesses to target specific income levels.
Target people by their income level.

You can also bid higher for certain groups in these demographics as well.

You can increase or decrease certain age groups or block them completely
You can increase or decrease your bids on certain age groups

You can exclude or bid higher on demographics at the campaign or the ad group level.


Location determines where your ads show. Keywords determine when your ads appear.

If you’re targeting prospects inside in a community, you don’t need to worry about adding the locations name to the keyword phrase. If you’re an Italian restaurant in San Diego, then targeting Italian restaurants is the same as San Diego Italian restaurants.

Most people now target phrases that include near me. The use of these phrases has increased dramatically over the last couple of years. These are phrases you might want to consider bidding higher on.

Keywords can also help to ensure you’re targeting more relevant prospects. If your ideal client is higher income, then don’t target phrases that include the words cheap or affordable. Use words like luxury or stylish.

If you are targeting multiple locations in then have a general category, but also have different ad groups for each location. If someone does type in San Diego Italian restaurant, they see the ad related to San Diego.

Keyword match types also help to tighten your campaign. Broad match can result in more impressions, but it lacks the control over the other types. If your budget is limited, then focus on more specific phrases that show prospects are further along in the buying process.

Run a national campaign that incorporates your city into all search terms. If someone types in just the word restaurant in New York City, they’re probably looking for something nearby. If they type in Chicago and restaurant it means they’re planning something for when they travel.

If your business isn’t something a traveler is looking for, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use geographic modifiers. For example, someone in New York City could be looking for a dentist in Chicago, not for themselves, but perhaps for a relative there.

Negative Keywords Adding phrases to your negative keyword lists will help to tighten your campaigns. Adding cheap or affordable to your negative keyword lists will prevent phrases containing these words from showing.

Use negative keywords to eliminate the wrong locations. If you’re running a national campaign related to your local services, then be aware that there might be communities in other states with the same name. There are 37 Greenville’s in the United States, 2 in California alone. If you’re a restaurant in Greenville Illinois, you don’t want your ad being clicked on by people in the other 36 Greenville’s.

In fact, with most local campaigns I add all the states not served and their abbreviations. Take care not to all abbreviations, however. For example, Indiana is abbreviated as In and this could inadvertently block several relevant phrases. This way if someone in your market is searching for products or services in another area, they won’t see your ads.

Link Google My Business to Your Google Ads

Use location extensions. This is one of the best ways to alert a prospect as to where you’re at. If you have multiple locations, then Google will try to show the location nearest to where they’re located. To set this up is to link your Google Ads account with your Google My Business page.

Ad Copy

Ad copy is where you address your prospects so speak to them directly about what problem brought them to search for your products or services.

Yet, not everyone that is exposed to your ad might be your best candidate. We’ve mentioned that you might want to target a certain demographic. You can use your ad to get this point across. That your product is cheap or affordable. Or maybe it's expensive.

Use your ad to turn away those that might not fit into your ideal persona.

You might want to include your price in your ad to dissuade those who can’t afford your products or services from clicking on your ad.

Incorporate landmarks in your ads. Another way people search, particularly tourists unfamiliar with an area, is to use nearby landmarks in their search terms and ad text. For example, someone might type in restaurants near Wrigley Field or hotels in the Broadway district.

Incorporate landmarks into your ads to make them stand out and to provide context
Landmarks help people identify your location


This is a relatively new feature to search in Google Ads, but it’s a potential game-changer.

Audiences were first created for display campaigns. You could target people who had an interest in a subject such as travel.

One audience they introduced was custom intent. These are people who they believe are actively looking for something, such as home buying or car buying.

You can now add custom intent audiences to your search campaign. At first, you might want to add them as observation. This means if some of the people who click on your ad are already in one of these groups you’ll know. You can then see if these groups convert better, which is often the case.

Use in market audiences to target people that Google finds are in the market for specific products, services
In Market Audiences are people that are in the market for products or services

In Market Audiences are people that are in the market for products or services

If you're seeing better results with the prospects who are in the custom intent audience, then you might want to target them. Then the only people who see your ad are people who use your keywords and are in this audience.

Target or observe in market audiences or affinity audiences
You can target or observe audiences in your campaign

The implication is that these are people known to be actively searching for your products or services and thus a better fit.

The beauty of pay per click is that you can target prospects for your business while they are on their laptop in their home, on their mobile phone as they arrive at the airport, or on their tablet as they research their trip. Just make sure you’ve set your campaign right so you’re not missing out on prospects or reaching the wrong market.

If you’re struggling with your campaign and not reaching your ideal prospects than get in touch with me. As a Google Ads Consultant, I’ll help you develop campaigns that will target your best prospects and improve your ROI.