Geotargeting & SEM: A How-To Guide on Spending Less & Getting More
Geotargeting & SEM: A How-To Guide on Spending Less & Getting More
August 18, 2022
I am a Digital Marketing and SEO specialist. However, it is not always the case for everyone. This article will explain the basics of geotargeting and search engine advertising and answer the age old question “How does it affect my vacation rental company?”. I hope you find the information you need to use geotargeting in your pay-per click (PPC) strategy with ease & confidence.
What is the difference between SEO & SEM?
Search engine marketing is also known as SEM. This is the use of paid advertisements in Google Ads and Microsoft Ads to market your site and appear higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). You pay money for ads and bid on keywords that are related to your brand. SEM can also be used to describe “anything” to get found on search engines, such as SEO.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It focuses on optimizing landing pages of websites with keywords and other ranking factors to improve their chances of appearing higher in search engine results. SEM combined with SEO is a smart strategy for getting your brand in front the right audience, especially if the website is new or in a highly competitive market.
Here’s an example of a SERP with Paid Ads or Organic Results.
What is geotargeting?
Geotargeting is not to be confused by its sister geofencing. It is not as difficult as it sounds. Geotargeting can be used to enhance your campaigns by targeting people who have been in a particular location with other targetable variables such as demographics and behaviors. Geofencing does not target everyone in a specific area. Geotargeting is used to target specific areas. However, geofencing can be used to push property management ads at a weekend event hosted by a local competitor. (I’m sure none of you would do that. Geofencing can also be used to refer to using a Bluetooth beacon. When someone appears in a specific area, such as your business’s, they receive a notification on their phone.
It doesn’t matter if you call it a potato, potatoe, or whatever you call it, location-based targeting should be used in all PPC campaigns in the vacation rental industry. This is especially true if you live in a popular area. You should focus your efforts on states and cities that have high conversion rates, and are known for being in your market. This is the best way for you to maximize your budget, especially if it’s a small one. If you don’t use geotargeting when running ads on Google, you are likely wasting your money. Make sure you look at which cities or states convert best, and not just those who are looking. People are curious. Bookers are committed.
Why Geographical Data Matters and Regional Dialects
Geotargeted pay per click campaigns are a powerful tool in your digital marketing arsenal. Geotargeting areas with a history of converting bookers into lookers will help you maximize your PPC budget. Depending on your product, you can also adjust your ad copy so it matches the terminology of the geographic location you are targeting.
We’ve seen that people use different words to describe their VR experience in the US. This is something we have noticed over the years of PPC work in this industry. For example, “lodging” is the most searched term for a mountain destination. “Vacation rentals” is the most searched for for a beach destination. To use geotargeting effectively, make sure you have ads that target all possible searches.
You can increase your conversion rates by updating your ad copy to match your target region’s terminology, whether it’s “beachfront”, “oceanfront”, “cabin”, or “cottage”.
Your SEM strategy will be greatly enhanced if you understand which geographic areas have the highest revenue and adapt your ad copy accordingly.
Can We Still Trust Data Despite All These Privacy Updates?
We noticed an increase in site visits from almost all our clients coming to New York City in June 2022. It wasn’t just a few, but a whole bunch of people.
Our team started discussing theories about a giant lizard revolt that forced all New Yorkers into seeking shelter in 5-star luxury vacation rentals. We realized something was more sinister than Godzilla and began to search the internet for answers.
Nothing came up.
It wasn’t just New York. It was Chicago Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver – all major cities in all major times zones, depending on where the client’s feeder markets are located. It was like a mass exodus. The plot thickened because we did what we love best: making movie references and analyzing the data.
iPhone users were the only ones who fled these cities. It was iPhone users who had just upgraded to the 15.5 iOS update. The data was not adding up, unless we are living in a movie from 2000 about cell phones attacking.
A little bit of tracking history
We discovered an interesting and pertinent article titled All Google’s Roads Lead to Kansas, which was published February 22, 2006. This article did not provide the solution to our current problem but it did provide valuable information that is relevant to today’s discussion.
All Google’s Roads Lead To Kansas, or Coffeyville as it is more precisely, the geographical phenomenon where Google Analytics can’t locate your IP address, they put you in the middle of the country, which is Coffeyville.
Why is this important?
This article will explain how Google tracks your location using third-party providers. Coffeyville’s mystery is likely due to incorrect source data. This is not necessarily a blocked IP address that would appear as (not set), but rather a miscommunication between Google, its third-party provider, and Google.
After confirming that Godzilla wasn’t terrorizing New York City’s citizens, we confirmed that you can turn off your location services completely and activate your iCloud public relay before visiting a website. This will allow you to see your geographic location and IP address pinging from New York and Chicago in Google Analytics, regardless of where you are located.
What does it all signify?
As most digital marketers know by now, the answer I give today is likely to be outdated tomorrow. The latest news on geotargeting and search engine optimization is bittersweet. Apple released a new update for iPhone users that has had a significant impact on geolocation in Google Analytics. According to Oberlo’s study, 53% of website visitors use mobile devices. This privacy update will have a significant impact on how we review geographic data in Google Analytics.
Apple introduced iOS 14 in June 2020. This required apps to ask permission to track user activity. We now have the New York mass exodus. Apple has released a new privacy update 15.5 that affects all iOS users who use Safari. The latest privacy update from Apple regarding apps’ privacy tracking is great in that it gives the user more control over their online activity. However, for digital marketers, it poses huge problems with the data. Because of the lack of accuracy in the data, geotargeting is made much more difficult by Apple’s privacy update.
Why is this important?
A mobile device accounts for 65% of all traffic to a vacation rental website. The Apple iPhone is the most popular mobile device. We found that between 20-25% of website traffic is “geomasked”, which can lead to data skew.
One way to fix the Analytics location inaccuracy is to create a filter to exclude major cities from specific views. These cities are visited by many travelers each year. Therefore, you should not remove targeting these areas from your Google Ads strategy.
The solution? The solution? You should focus on those locations that have a large conversion-focused audience.
This inaccurate geolocation data can have serious consequences for digital marketing teams and business owners.
It’s worth doing some digging if you have noticed a sudden spike in traffic. Add some parameters, isolate variables, and run an experiment. It doesn’t matter how accurate your data may be, it shouldn’t be taken as gospel. You must analyze the data with a trained eye in order to spot anomalies.
I could go on about the politics of Apple’s recent update regarding its relationship with Google, Facebook, and other companies, but that’s for another day.
It’s easy to launch an online store, but it’s difficult to gain authority in Google. It takes trust, loyalty, transparency, and transparency from your brand. I believe the latest Apple update is a positive for iOS users. It gives them more control over how their data is used.
I believe that many brands who spend money on SEM marketing their products have a stake and are offering a product they value enough to make an investment in it. I want to see those ads. With the exception of Godzilla tracking me, I plan on sharing my data with certain apps to improve my shopping experience.
As a true crime podcast fan, I am happy to have more control over the data being shared from my smartphone. I urge Google to work with third-party location providers to resolve these issues as a Digital Marketer. These untrackable locations could be displayed as (not set), which would allow SEM professionals and business owners to properly use a geotargeting strategy. This would allow them to accurately target viable locations, rather than a popular metro area or sweet farm in Kansas.
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