6 Ways to Reach the Right Audiences with Google Ads Targeting

I know, I know, you’ve heard this before:

– Have an ideal client

– Make a customer avatar

– Focus on your target audience

But are you actually following this advice?

For every single communication, are you asking: who, exactly, are we targeting– and more importantly, why?

Google holds approximately 83% of the global search engine market share, reaching way over 2 billion people worldwide each month.

A lot of these searches come from people wanting to buy something, giving you many chances to show ads on the search engine.

Data shows that Google’s search engine handles more than 105,000 search requests every second. Most of these searches come from people wanting to make purchases, creating many chances to advertise on the search engine.

But you can’t attract every Internet user. The smart move is to focus on users who are most likely to buy your products. To do that, you need to be good at search ad targeting.

Having a clear, targeted audience should be part of every organization’s strategy. So let’s talk about the why, what and how of reaching the right audience with the right message.

What Is Search Targeting?

Search targeting means narrowing down the people who might buy from you when they use a search engine.

Once you know who could be interested, you can make ads that speak to them and encourage them to click and buy your stuff.

Since Google is the go-to for more than 83.49% of all internet searches worldwide, most businesses focus there. You can make the most of Google’s big user group and special targeting features by figuring out how to make and improve Google Ads.

Why Is Search Targeting So Important?

Google Ads can cost a lot, so make sure you’re getting good results for your money. Your ads need to bring in as many customers as possible.

Trying to please everyone won’t work. You should focus on internet users who are most likely to find your product or service useful. Otherwise, your search advertising won’t be effective.

That’s what search targeting is all about. After doing enough research on consumers, you can describe your customers based on their age, interests, and other factors.

Certainly! Here’s a simplified version of your content:

You can make ads for search engines that reach the people you want and make them want to click. If your ads match your brand, products, or services, you’ll see a lot of success. But remember, search targeting is always changing.

Industries change, what people want changes, new competitors come in, and search engines change how they work. To keep up with all these changes, you need to always make your search targeting better.

The Role of Keywords in Targeting

Keywords are the words or phrases your audience looks up on Google and other search engines. If you understand what terms they use, you can adjust your Google ads to match their searches.

This way, your ad can show up in more searches, helping you get the most out of your ad budget. Plus, your ads will be more fitting for the searcher, increasing the chances they’ll click and make a purchase.

SEO is all about natural results, meaning you don’t pay for ad placement. The main focus is on the relevance and quality of the content. Google uses powerful algorithms, which look at various factors, like words on a page, to provide users with the most fitting results.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is like a game where being relevant is crucial, but you have to shell out money for every click.

So, it’s vital to start by choosing the right words people might search for and then create ads and pages that match those words. Often, this means putting the chosen words in the ads and page headings.

Ads (specifically aimed at SEM keywords) will pop up at the very top of Google results for most words people search for.

How to Target the Best Keywords in Your Google Ads Campaigns

Creating a successful campaign isn’t as simple as picking random keywords and hoping for clients. It’s crucial to understand what your target audience wants and the words they use when searching for similar products.

1. Brainstorm Your Keywords

Starting your keyword journey? Here are four types to spark your brainstorm:

  • Generic keywords: These are words that relate to the things or services you sell, like “products for exercising.”
  • Related keywords: These are words that may not be exactly about your business but address a similar topic. For instance, if you sell health products, a similar word could be “lifting weights.”
  • Branded keywords: These are words that talk about your company.
  • Competitor keywords: These are words that talk about other businesses like yours. They might be similar to named words, but they use the name of your competition instead of yours.

After you’ve made a list of words for those categories, there are many ways to add more to it:

  • Study your audience: Ask them questions, check out forums, look at social media, and other ways can help you understand their problems and solutions.
  • Using Google: Search each word on Google one by one. Pay attention to the suggestions that pop up while typing, the questions people also asked, and the related searches.
  • Modifiers and synonyms: Think about other words related to your main ones, like location, age, and cost. Also, think about words that mean the same thing. People who love fitness online might search for things like “protein boosts” and “exercise helpers.”

2. Use Keyword Research Tools to Expand Your List

To better explore your keyword research, use tools like Google’s free keyword planner or SEMrush. These tools help you find words you might not have thought about before.

They show many different words and related terms, along with data on how often people search for them. Make a list of these words in a spreadsheet or on paper. Aim for words that lots of people search for, but not many websites use.

These are often longer, more specific phrases called “long-tail keywords.” They might not be searched for as much, but they’re very relevant, increasing the chances people will click on your content.

3. Spy on the Competition if Possible

Looking at different brands gives you a better understanding of the competition. Tools you pay for, such as Ahrefs or SEMrush, can also show you the keywords used in Google Ads by these brands.

You can even type your keywords into Google and check out the ads that pop up.

Pay attention to the keywords that have the most ads; usually, it means people searching are almost ready to make a purchase. But, it’s important not to copy exactly what your competitors are doing.

Some brands might not be using Google Ads. Compare your competitors’ actions with the rest of your analysis.

4. Evaluate Each Keyword’s Search Intent

The reason someone searches for something online is what we call the search intent of a keyword. For instance, if someone starts their search with “how to,” they probably want information, like a step-by-step guide for doing something.

On the flip side, if they type “near me,” it means they’re likely ready to go to a business or make a purchase.

Google uses a tool called “Quality Score” to figure out how well your ads match what people are searching for.

This tool looks at how often people click on your ads, how long they stay on your web pages, and a few other things. It’s not just about bidding a lot; you also need to understand what users are looking for with each keyword.

5. Narrow and Organize Your List

By now, you should have a long list of words people search for. Now, it’s time to get rid of the less important ones. You might not need many of the short words that people often search for. Instead, concentrate on the longer, more relevant words people use.

6. Use Stag Ad Groups and Negative Keywords to Only Target the Right Searchers

Ad groups are sets of ads with similar goals. When the words in these sets trigger, you determine your bid to make the ad show up in a search.

Single Theme Ad Groups are made by grouping your keywords based on specific themes to create very focused ad groups. You don’t need to budget for and manage each term separately, as you would with a Single term Ad Group structure.

STAGs can also improve impressions, making automated bidding techniques more practical, and your ability to test different ad text more effective. Think of negative keywords as well. 

  • If using manual bidding
    • Having an audience with a 0% bid mod set to observation will not affect how your ad is shown (IE will just gather performance data on folks that fall into that audience)
    • Having an audience with any other type of bid mod on observation will affect how your ad is shown
      • EX. if you are bidding $1 on a keyword but have a -90% bid mod, then your bid for folks that fall into that audience will be $0.10
      • Note: this is not taking into account other bid mods you might have like demographic or day parting adjustments
  • If using automated bidding
    • Having any bid mod other than -100% will not affect how your ad is shown. Google will ignore it and let the algorithm try to return conversions at the parameters you put in, regardless of audience bid mods
    • Having a bid mod of -100% will block your ad from being shown to this audience completely.

These help you filter out individuals who are looking for information related to your keywords but are not relevant. Using these will help you avoid wasting money on irrelevant searchers.

Responsive Search Ads

Google’s responsive search ads let you create lots of headlines and descriptions. These are then tested automatically. These tests figure out which combinations work the best. This helps your ad to match what potential customers are searching for:

Business experts know how vital it is to compare and test various campaigns. Even if you have to make more ads to test them, it’s worth it to find out which campaigns resonate with your audience. Google also sees this as crucial.

Audience Targeting

Audience targeting is a strategy in Google search that helps you choose exactly who gets to see your ads. You can use it for Search, Google Display, YouTube, and Hotel ads.

Each audience is like a group of people with similar interests, demographics, search habits, and more, estimated by Google.

You can enhance your keyword plan by using audience targeting. This lets you display your ads only to specific people looking for your keywords.

This way, you can fine-tune your search targeting and make the most of your Google ad budget. Going back to the supplements example, if one of your keywords is “workout supplements for men,” but you’re really aiming at guys looking to get fit for the summer rather than professional athletes, Google’s custom audiences can assist.

They add another layer of targeting, helping you filter out the athletes and concentrate on your actual target audience.

Affinity Audiences

Affinity marketing is about reaching out to people based on what they like and do. Google checks what users have been looking at online to find those who share similar interests. You get to choose from different interest options. Then, your ads will only show up for people who are already into what you offer.

Detailed Demographics

You can target customers by considering their age, whether they’re male or female, if they’re parents, or their family income, using detailed demographics. For instance, if you’re interested in reaching women between 30 and 40 years old, demographics can help you filter out people who aren’t in that age group.


Customers who are currently interested in buying something can boost your sales significantly. The tool for targeting those in the market helps you find these customers by focusing on individuals with recent buying interest.

Your Data Segments (Previously RLSA — Remarketing Lists for Search Ads)

People who have visited your website or checked out your offers might get a different marketing message.

Your Data Segments, previously known as Remarketing, help you aim at people who have already interacted with your business on a computer or mobile. This lets you create timely ads when your brand is still on their minds.

Some data segments include:

  1. People who’ve checked out your website or app.
  2. Folks who shared info with you.
  3. Those who share common interests with your customers.

Final Thoughts

Every day, billions of people search for information. To get your share of attention, you have to adjust and keep improving your search strategy. Learning each type of search strategy might take a while and resources at first. Also, Google might change how its search ads work, so it’s important to stay updated.

Christopher Smith
Author: Christopher Smith

SEO and linkbuilding expert. More than 7 years of work in the field of website search engine optimization, specialist in backlink promotion. Head of linkbuilding products at GREAT Guest Posts, a global linkbuilding platform. He regularly participates in SEO conferences and also hosts webinars dedicated to website optimization, working with various marketing tools, strategies and trends of backlink promotion.

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