Understanding PPC- Why are people who aren’t in my area seeing my ads?

by Jun 24, 2020Blog, PPC

We all want more qualified leads, but to get them you need qualified traffic. Building up your presence organically on search engines like Google takes time, and your property might not have the social following you need to start generating the good word. By far the fastest solution to gaining traffic comes in the form of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. The problem is, while PPC is good at driving large amounts of people to your website, sometimes quantity doesn’t always mean quality. What’s to stop someone from who doesn’t live in the area from seeing your ad? Should you be concerned about this? Let’s talk about the best way to narrow your audience to ensure your PPC campaign is getting you seen be qualified individuals.   

Enter location targeting.

How it works 

If there’s one thing that you need to know about location targeting it’s that it’s a whole lot smarter than it sounds. Platforms like Google and Facebook know that 69% of Americans shop online, and online shopping can be done from anywhere. That’s why when you set a location for your PPC campaign you aren’t limited to only people within the boundaries you’ve set. Your campaign’s location options may be defined by city limits or using a radius around a given address. Your ad, however, isn’t truly limited to the confines of those physical areas. This results in some confusion from marketers that don’t yet know about all the capabilities of Google and Facebook ads.

We often hear, “Why are people from out of state still seeing my ads even though the location is set to a small radius around my business?” 

Simply put, Google and Facebook are smart enough to know who lives in, is interested in, or is actively searching in your area. Meaning your ads will be shown to qualified leads just about anywhere in the world. 

This strategy is called geotargeting, and it applies to more than just online retail shopping. Any type of business can use it, including apartments. It serves as a crucial tool in capturing a significant portion of the market. Even though your business is physically limited to one spot doesn’t mean your property’s brand awareness stops there. 

We know that people move across cities, states, countries, and even the world.  In 2019 15% of people looking to move in the US were moving out of state. That’s up from 10% in 2018.  If you’re not properly utilizing location targeting in your campaigns then you’re missing out on the ability to focus your efforts on these people interested in your area and your property. 

Here’s the catch: it’s not a perfect science. Just because someone has searched for the city you’re in doesn’t mean they’re looking to move there. Consider further narrowing your audience using a secondary targeting method, like keywords on Google or interests on Facebook. Using these in conjunction with geotargeting creates a powerful marketing tool to pinpoint the most qualified leads for your property anywhere in the world.  You can learn more about how to measure the success of your PPC ads in our blog “How to Get the Most of Your Marketing Reports.

Restrictions and Limitations

Recently Google has announced some changes to their location targeting methods that could impact the effectiveness of geotargeting. These changes are made in an effort to erase unlawful discrimination regarding housing, employment, and credit. 

Google is simply trying to adhere to Fair Housing, using similar restrictions that Facebook has already implemented. While targeting by attributes such as gender and age are clear violations of Fair Housing, the use of ZIP codes isn’t so cut and dry. Unfortunately, some advertisers attempt to cherry-pick ZIP codes to exclude areas more densely populated with people of a certain race or family status in an attempt to get around Fair Housing using a gray area. 

Removing ZIP codes from the equation still leaves multiple types of geotargeting. Primarily radius targeting, a simple and effective way to identify your target location. 

Geotargeting, coupled with keyword marketing tools,  gives your brand the power to be seen by both people who have no idea it exists and those that need a reminder, making it the perfect tool to generate traffic and more importantly generate qualified leads. 


Have questions about how to properly target your PPC ads? Drop us a line. We’re here to help.