Insurance Marketing HQ

Use SEM to Reach your Geographically Relevant Audience

Posted on Mar 20, 2013

PPC mapOne of the best aspects of search engine marketing (SEM, or Pay-Per-Click) is the notion that we can use it as a tool to target very specific audiences.  We can do that in a number of ways, including:

  • Keyword targeting (use this to reach only those searching for “auto insurance”)
  • Day-part targeting (use this to show ads in search results only during your business hours)
  • Ad Copy targeting (tailor your ads to speak to a specific user behavior, such as those who are looking to buy insurance, and not those who are looking for insurance jobs)
  • Geographic targeting (also known as “location targeting”)

Geographic targeting is the notion that, within an SEM campaign, you are reaching out to an audience that is qualified via their physical location.  If you are the owner of an insurance agency that is licensed to sell policies in Wisconsin, it stands to reason that the only geographically-relevant audience are those search engine users within the Wisconsin state boundary.  Any pay-per-click traffic that arrives at your agency’s web site from California, for example, is likely to be a mismatch for both your agency and the visitor (why would I want to research an agency that is ineligible to sell me insurance?).

The result?  A visitor to your web site that not only has no relevance to your agency’s offering, but also has counted against your pay-per-click budget.

On the other hand, reaching the right audience geographically can be a big benefit to your SEM campaign. Search engine users (especially in the insurance landscape) greatly value search results that show local businesses. Often we hear from agency partners who have a competitive edge over the carrier conglomerates with their customer base simply because they are local – there is a sense of comfort for insurance shoppers that they can physically visit their agent in times of need.

So – how do we use SEM to target this very geographically-qualified audience? Here are two ways to do that:

Tell your SEM campaign where it can/cannot show your ads

Your SEM team is should be adept at discussing and executing the right location-based strategy for your pay-per-click campaign. Whether you want to target an entire state, specific cities, or even a specific mileage radius, your SEM campaign should be built to reflect the geo-targeting that is customized for your agency. Your SEM team will tell Google not only where to show your ads, but just as importantly, where not to show your ads.

Use location-based keyword searches

Another method to target those searching for geographically-specific information is to target those terms in our keyword list. Launching your SEM campaign with the settings listed above will make sure that your ads aren’t shown outside of a target location, but what if your Wisconsin insurance agency wants to be sure that your ads appear at the top of search results for those queries that include a geographic qualifier, such as milwaukee insurance, fon du lac auto insurance, and insurance in Oshkosh, wi? To ensure that you put your ad front and center when these search terms are used, your team should build these terms (and any close iteration) into your campaign through extensive keyword research.

Keyword targeting in conjunction with location-based settings is a great way to reach the audience that will drive search engine traffic that is most valuable for your agency, and is just one of the facets of search engine marketing can reach the right audience for you.

About the Author: David Osowa is the Director of SEM at Astonish. Contact him at for more information on location-based targeting via search engine marketing.

Leave a Reply