Have you ever used Google to search for something with the search term “near me”? 

If the answer is yes, chances are you’ve encountered location targeting in one of its forms. Location targeting is generally considered to be a tool for raising awareness about a specific physical location (a garden centre, for example), but it can be used for so much more and in so many different ways. 

In this blog, I’ll go into detail about location stacking and how this form of location targeting can be used to tailor ad campaigns based on the Google searcher’s whereabouts, allow the campaigning brand to direct budget according to searcher location, and give an example of this technique in action.

Location Targeting With Google Ads 

Location targeting is one of the most important methods of reaching the right audience with your pay-per-click campaign. While some campaigns are suited towards wide targeting, for example, the whole of the UK, others benefit from being a lot more detailed in their targeting. This is especially important for companies with bricks and mortar stores or offering local services because customers need to know where to find you as this forms a key part of purchase decision making. 

It’s also important to consider how your targeting will change depending on what stage of the customer journey your customers are in. Do you want to target customers lower down the funnel who are ready to buy now, or will you be targeting upper-funnel customers who are still considering their options? Taking the customer journey into consideration is a key part of location marketing because customers aren’t going to be ready to convert if you target them at the wrong time. If you’re selling something of high value or/and that customers are likely to repeat purchase then the conversion time is going to take a lot longer than if you were selling a lower value, one time purchase product. 

Let’s say you run a DIY store in Central London and you are running a Google Search campaign targeting users searching for your products in the local area. Here you could utilise Google’s radius targeting and set your ads to show whenever someone searches for your services within a 5km radius of your salon. This means you are not wasting money by showing your ads to someone 15km away that would most likely find a more local store to them, and you can focus your budget on people nearby to your salon who are more likely to visit your shop. Additionally, by advertising when they specifically search for your services you’re more likely to achieve a conversion as specific search terms suggest the customer has already done their market research and they’re now ready to buy. More generalised search terms suggest that the customer doesn’t exactly know what they’re looking for so they’re conducting research to compare their options. 

This is a perfectly good way of setting up your campaign, you are reaching the right audience, at the right time, with the right message. But what if you want to take this one step further? Let's imagine there are several other DIY stores nearby and you want to make sure that you are as competitive as possible when people are searching even closer to your store? This is where location stacking, and utilising Google’s advanced bid adjustment tool can work in your favour. 

What Is Location Stacking?

With Google, you have the option to layer your location targeting. You can set up several different radiuses around your salon, all layered on top of each other. For this example, we will use 1km, 2km, 3km, 4km and 5km radiuses using Google’s radius targeting around your physical address. With this set-up, you have what looks like a target board, with the bullseye being your location, and the rings moving out in 1km segments so that you can vary how you appear to different people depending on your location and theirs. This is ideal because the location is a key element of purchase decision making meaning how we target potential customers in different locations can make all the difference when it comes to the customer journey. 


Those users searching in the 1km band are likely to be the more valuable, local customers who are most likely to be interested in your services and convert, as they are so close to your location. Generally speaking, the less distance a user is from you, the more likely they are to become a customer due to ease of access. As you move out, these users are still valuable, but their likelihood of visiting and making a purchase reduces with each km they are from your storefront. This comes down to issues with consumer confidence, if they’re a user who hasn’t visited you before then their confidence is going to be lower, especially if you operate in a location that isn’t particularly nearby because there is a lack of familiarity with both to your brand and potentially your location. This ambiguity of how much value nearby vs far away customers will bring to your business is where Google’s Advanced Bid Adjustment tool comes in.



Starting with the outermost ring, decide how much you are willing to pay for a click. Let’s say £1 is your chosen maximum cost per click. Then think about how much more you would be willing to spend for a click from a user less than a km away from your location. It would not be unreasonable to be happy to spend double on that click, so you would set up an advanced bid adjustment of +100% for this location. This would mean that Google will take your £1 cost per click bid, and increase that by 100% making it now a £2 bid. You can then work your way out and reduce this bid adjustment as you get further out so you may set the 2km location at +75%, the 3km radius at +50% and the 4km radius at +25%.



What you have essentially told Google, is that the closer the user is to your location, the more you are willing to spend for that click, with a bid of £1 for users 5km away, rising in increments up to £2 for users within a km of your salon.


Does Location Stacking Work On A Wider Scale?

This method can also work on a much wider scale. Let’s say you have a service you want to advertise in London. You might decide that the more central area of London is more valuable to your business, but you still want to show to users a little further out. Here you could stack both London, and Greater London on top of each other, giving London an increased bid adjustment or reducing the bid adjustment for Greater London.

Going Even Wider

Let’s say you run not just a single DIY store, but a nationwide chain of stores. You want to target the whole of the UK, but those users close to the locations of your stores are far more valuable than those further out. You could set your widest targeting the UK as a whole, then add a radius around each of your locations with a bid adjustment. This would mean anyone searching for your products in the UK has a chance of seeing your ads, but you are telling Google you are willing to spend that little bit more to show your ads to those close to a store and more likely to visit.

There is no limit to how wide or narrow you can make your targeting. You can have radiuses from just 1km up to 500 miles around a location, so there is a huge deal of flexibility to make location stacking and advanced bid adjustments work for your campaign. This method can even be used the other way, by stacking locations and reducing your bid using a negative bid adjustment for areas that you don’t want to bid on as heavily but don’t want to exclude completely.

Caution: Double Check Your Radius!

One thing to consider when using any type of radius targeting is to make sure your radiuses don’t fall into areas you do not want to show your ads. An example of this would be if you were in the South East of England and you set a wide radius, it could fall across the channel into France. If this is the case, you can leave this radius as it is, and exclude the unwanted locations. So in the example above, the radius around Dover overlaps the border with France, so by excluding France we can keep the radius the same to cover the area of England we want to cover, but our ads will not be shown in the area of France that it reaches. This way you save wasting budget by targeting customers who are unlikely to convert. 

Real World Use

When we implemented this strategy for a film studio in East London, we saw their online enquiries increase by 112.5% over the space of three months. The conversion rate for this goal rose by 330% to the highest rate ever seen in the account in the same three-month period. This success was so great that we introduced it to 2 more clients who saw very similar growth and improvement in their conversion data. 

Key Takeaways

So we’ve introduced you to Google Ads’ useful and intuitive approach to location targeting, and how you can use this to your advantage by varying your advertising approach for different customer segments depending on their location. We also covered the importance of doing this to ensure you target every customer in different locations appropriately because nearby customers behave differently to those closer away due to varying purchase confidence levels.

One final word of caution for using Google’s radius targeting though: always double-check the radius map before setting any campaign to go live to ensure that you’re targeting the right locations. The last thing you want is to be targeting customers in Dover and attracting business in Calais! 

Need any help or advice on your Google Ads campaign? Our team is more than happy to help! Get in touch today. 


Have a project you would like to discuss?