For many businesses that only offer a service or product in a restricted area, it can be a very good idea to use location-targeting in AdWords. This can help save money and increase return-on-investment (ROI) by only showing their ads to the target audience that are most likely to convert.

For example if you are restaurant in a particular county, then it would be very expensive to advertise to the entire world and is a lot less likely that someone in Scotland is going to travel all the way to Essex, for example, for a meal.

Therefore, it is much more sensible to add location-specific settings to this type of AdWords campaign in order to only show the ads to people searching within a chosen radius of the business, or to people that specify in their search that they are looking for that product / service within the chosen area.

Due to customer feedback, Google has now advanced its location settings to allow advertisers to target or exclude users based on their physical location or location of interest.

For instance, if a wedding venue in Essex decided to advertise on AdWords and restrict their ads to only show within a 30 mile radius of the venue then someone searching for “wedding venue”, that was based in Essex, could see the ad. But also someone outside that target area that specified that they were looking for a “wedding venue in Essex” would also see the ad.

Google now allows advertisers to set a “using physical location” only setting, which means that if someone based in Scotland were to search for “wedding venue Essex” then they would not see the ad. Similarly if someone in Essex was searching for “wedding venue Scotland” they would not see the ad, even if this was a chosen keyword in the campaign.

These new settings can also be used to “exclude by physical location and search intent”. This setting could be useful if an advertiser wanted to offer a promotion to one area and exclude another.

For example, a wedding venue may want to promote different costs for accommodation to people outside their area in order to encourage them to travel further, but not offer that promotion to people in the immediate area and could therefore exclude it.

The fly in the ointment is, of course, that any location based targeting that is offered is based on an IP lookup, which isn’t always reliable. It is great that Google is making it easier to manage geographic searches, but you should be aware that it isn’t 100% reliable.