Geotargeting - possibilities and limits

In this article you will learn what geotargeting is all about, how it works, what possibilities it offers and where the limits are. We'll also tell you how you can make the most of geotargeting.


Targeting is part of online marketing and describes the exact addressing of the desired target group. Geotargeting (also known as geolocation) provides you with a tool that allows you to display advertising that matches the region of the target group in your advertising campaign. Thus, through geotargeting, personalized displays individually tailored to a location, offer many opportunities to increase your conversion rate. Potential new customers or existing customers are offered a better user experience with topics, offers, etc. that are relevant to him. This is important because the more general the advertising, the less the user feels addressed.

What is geotargeting?

Geotargeting uses geographical data (geodata) to determine the location of the visitor, which is why it is also known as geolocation. It is an intelligent online marketing method to promote regionally relevant content, make the visitor's stay more pleasant and literally pick him up where he is. Geotargeting enables the use of ride services such as MyTaxi or Uber. It makes a website appear in the correct language for that region without the user's choice of language, it allows the targeting of ads of local stores that are near the user and much more. Geotargeting virtually limits the Internet regionally, since, for example, a bakery that only has stores in Lüneburg will not get many new customers from users in Munich. The scattering losses are therefore minimized by geotargeting with a view to the catchment area of the advertising. Google and Facebook have perfected the use of geotargeting and show users who have activated their location all the services in their immediate vicinity. In this way, the user can find the nearest gas station, restaurant, supermarket, hairdresser or post office.

Searching for a bakery in Fulda: How does geotargeting work?

Geotargeting uses the user's IP address, GPS data, WLAN, databases and algorithms to locate the user. Since location-based data offers many advantages for the user of a PC, tablet or smartphone, it is hidden or deactivated in very few cases. The convenience of personalized offers and services on the web is too great. By using geotargeting to know exactly where your potential new customer is at the moment, you can show him content that is exclusively relevant to his region. A price in euros is irrelevant for Swiss users and vice versa. The geodata collected about the user is combined in a "geointelligence" to create a movement profile that is relevant for remarketing and other online advertising measures. The user's location is linked to algorithms that apply only to their region. Example: If he is in Fulda, then show ads for the bakery branch Fulda. This is also how the different prices for travel providers come about, since, for example, the customer from Switzerland is willing to pay more for the flight from Munich to London than the customer from Germany.

What data does geotargeting use?

As soon as the user unmasked uses a smartphone, tablet or computer and is connected to the Internet, his local determination is possible through his geodata. If he is "masked" on the move, an approximate localization can still be made via his search command, for example, if he is looking for an online marketing agency in Hamburg. Geotargeting uses algorithms and the following data, among others, for the determination:

IP address
On desktop computers, the location is determined based on the IP address. However, the accuracy is limited to the city and not the exact location.

Databases (IPTC/XMP)
Databases and metadata in images and videos can also be used for location.

When using HTML5, the browser used will indicate to the user that you want to track them and they must agree to this in order for you to get an accurate location.

GPS and Wi-Fi data

If the user is on the move with a smartphone or tablet, his GPS data or the WLAN network used can be used for tracking. If GPS is deactivated and he is also not in a WLAN network, the location can be determined using his phone signal.

What can a company use geotargeting for?

Geotargeting is also used for local search engine optimization. In particular, when Internet sites work with different versions for the respective locations, this makes sense. If the user enters a search query, the correct version of the desired website opens automatically. Furthermore, geotargeting has a positive effect when a search query is entered that consists, for example, of a keyword plus a place name, one of the federal states, a location or the like. In order for the search query to achieve a good ranking, it is also recommended that it be entered into Google Maps.

The most important thing of geotargeting is the opportunities it offers you and your business or brand. So, what can geotargeting do for you? Here we have compiled the most important five uses of geotargeting in online marketing for you.

Geotargeting and prices

Based on the determined geotargeting data, it is possible for you to automatically display prices to the user in their currency. You can also display different prices depending on the user's region. For example, if you have an offer that only applies to one city, perhaps because you are celebrating a new opening there, it will only be displayed in this catchment area, while users in other regions will be shown the normal prices.

Geotargeting and delivery costs and areas

With geotargeting, you can show users right away the delivery times and costs they would incur in their country, or tell them if your business doesn't deliver to their country. Restaurants and other businesses that offer delivery services can use this tool to ensure that the offer is only displayed within the delivery area. With GPS tracking, some providers allow users to see live on a map when their delivery will arrive. The probable delivery time can also be displayed to the user.

Geotargeting and relevant reviews

If the user sees a product in their store, but the first 10 customer reviews are in English or French, for example, it's of little use to them. With geotargeting, you can also ensure that the reviews and customer testimonials from his region or at least from his country are displayed to him in the local language.

Geotargeting and languages

If your visitor is to be greeted and your offer displayed in his language immediately, geotargeting is essential. However, if customer service is not possible in his language afterwards, you should provide a hint about this.

Geotargeting and store locator

If your company has several branches, it makes sense to display the closest one to the user by integrating geotargeting here. You should therefore create a subdomain with landing page for each branch that offers the user relevant content.

Geotargeting and landing pages

What works well in Germany does not necessarily apply in Spain. With the help of geotargeting, you can adapt the landing pages visually and in terms of content to the preferences of the inhabitants of the regions. For example, while Germans prefer to travel south in winter, Spaniards may be more interested in ski trips. If country-specific dialects are also taken into account, such as "Heuer" for "this year" in Austria, this improves the user experience many times over. With IP redirects, you can direct users to the right landing page according to their current location.

What does geotargeting do for SEO?

In the area of local SEO, wastage can be minimized. The landing pages can be optimized for regional and local keyword combinations and thus rank better in the target area.

How do you rank better with geotargeting?

One possibility is very specific entries on, for example, Google Maps, Yelp, Apple Maps and business directories. The text (content) should provide all the necessary information and be provided with regional or local keywords and references.

How do you use geointelligence in campaign analytics?

Advertisements personalized through geotargeting can be analyzed at any time for their success in ROI and conversions in order to re-optimize online marketing campaigns accordingly. Pay-per-click campaigns can be measured for relevance and success.

When are the limits of geotargeting reached?

This form of online marketing only works if it is possible to determine the exact location of the user. However, in many cases this is not possible, for example, if the user disguises his IP with a proxy server or VPN, if he uses the World Wide Web and does not allow location. Since this comes at a great loss of convenience, as search results from Google Maps, Yelp or Apple Maps, for example, do not include local hits, most users forgo this anonymity.

Why is geotargeting useful?

Conversions play a major role in successful online marketing. You achieve these by having as many prospects as possible click on the ad. Geotargeting directs the ads regionally and thus addresses exactly the desired target group, so that the conversions increase significantly due to the increasing interest of the users in the advertising. This interest, in turn, usually contributes to users becoming interested in your products and services and eventually buying them. This in turn means that you can generate significantly more new customers and increase your company's sales.

Klaus Wegener