Audience targeting is one of the most useful features in Google AdWords, an online advertising service that displays ads within the Google network to web users. Audience targeting allows you to ensure that you are reaching a relevant audience and allows for greater accuracy when choosing who sees your ads. With AdWords, it’s easy to target an audience with tailored ads to engage those users to come back to your website and convert.

On an average, it takes a user six website visits to convert to being a customer, so it is important to connect with your users and bring them back to your website at the exact moment that they are ready to become a customer.

When looking at audience targeting, most advertisers rely on just two primary options:

  • Showing remarketing ads across the display network
  • Boosting their search bids for their target audiences

The main issue with both these options is that they do not increase your query coverage for your audience members. This makes it easy for some prospective audience members to slip through your fingers and ultimately convert on another website. 

In these cases, there are more advanced audience targeting techniques beyond these two common options that are very useful in expanding your search coverage.

In this article, we look at three ways to increase your search reach with audience targeting. All of these techniques rely on using a specific setting inside of AdWords. Therefore, it is best to begin by examining the setting and then move onto the techniques. 


When you add an audience, you must also make a choice on how you are using this new audience.

If you use “targeting,” then only that specific target audience can trigger your keywords and see your ads. If you use “observation,” then anyone can see your ads. However, you can adjust your bids for an audience.

Your objective is to expand the reach for your audience; therefore, all of these methods should utilize the “targeting” setting when you add an audience to your ad group.

New Keywords

There are many keywords that advertisers do not use, as they are too broad. For instance, if you are a flower delivery company, you might not be bidding on words, such as:

  • Roses
  • Bouquets
  • Lily flowers

When we look at the volume of searches and the suggested bids we see that “flower delivery” is $5.78, “roses” is much lower at $1.50 and “lily flowers” is much cheaper at only $0.85.

The reason for these different bid values is that when someone types in “flower delivery,” they are actively looking for a company that will deliver flowers for them. When someone searches for “roses,” it is not clear if they want roses delivered, pictures of roses or instructions on how to grow them. Since the term does not have a clear commercial intent, fewer advertisers bid on the word (hence the competition is low). Those who do bid on broad terms have much lower bids than the more specific terms.

Now, consider this scenario: A user searches for “flower delivery,” a term that you are using in your advertising sees your ad and clicks on it. This user then comes to your website and looks around, but eventually, leaves without buying anything.

The next day, this person searches for “roses.”  As this word is not overly commercial, you don’t show an ad for this word and the user goes to a different website to find their information. 

If you think more about this scenario, this could very easily be a user who is now looking for rose flower delivery. Since this user has searched for “flower delivery” yesterday, this term should prompt you to show an ad that talks about rose flower delivery. 

In these scenarios, you wouldn’t want to just buy the terms “rose” or “lily,” as they are too general. However, if you know that the user was just searching for “flower delivery”, then you know that it would be useful to show an ad when the same user searches for these terms. It is important to reconsider broad terms in the context of other related specific search terms.

It is quite easy to start advertising for these types of examples by following these steps:

  • Create an audience of all users or all interested users.
  • Use the AdWords keyword tool and look for general terms that you have previously. ignored because the terms were too broad.
  • Organize these terms into ad groups. 
  • Add your audience with “targeting” options to these ad groups.

With very little effort, you can now expand your keyword coverage for users who have been to your website previously and bring them back to finish becoming a converted customer. 

Broader Match Types

While adding new keywords is useful, that involves the task of finding new terms that you are not using right now. There are other tactics you could use. For instance, you might already have terms that are converting users based on narrow match types, such as phrase or exact. However, you have not been using those terms in broad or modified broad because those match types are too general for you.

Consider the flower delivery example again. In an exact match search, this term receives 18 million impressions a month. In broad match, this term shows more than 78 million times.

Broad match is often not the answer for many advertisers, as it can be too general and show for a large variety of terms. However, when you know something about the user, suddenly those increased impressions can be quite useful.

In these cases, you only want to show these additional impressions to users who have displayed a favorable intent in the past. To accomplish this is quite simple:

  • Examine your top exact match and phrase match queries.
  • Create new ad groups for these terms and add them in broad or modified broad match.
  • Add your audience with “targeting” options to these ad groups.

This simple exercise can help increase your search impressions for your most valued audiences for already converting terms.

Dynamic Search Ads

If doing a lot of keyword research and examining is too difficult, or you just want to ensure that you have as much coverage as possible, then you can also leverage dynamic search ads (DSAs).

With DSAs, you tell Google what parts of your website to include for an ad. Google then uses their organic web crawl technology to find out what terms are used across your website. When a search query matches a page of your website, then Google will show a dynamic search ad to the user.

You can easily create DSAs from categories or URLs. 

Using DSAs is an easy way of increasing your website coverage. If you don’t want to leverage DSAs for all queries, but only previous visitors, then you can create a DSA, add your audience with the “targeting” only setting and now you will have expanded coverage for returning users.


Usually, it takes a total of six visits before a user converts on a website. In order to better reach and retain your desired target audience, there are several advanced techniques that you can use. Implement these simple steps from this article and increase your user reach.

1. The first time a user visits your website, you can group them into an audience so that you can continue using audience targeting methods to reach the user. 

2. Then, to ensure that you are reaching the user as they continue to search, you should increase your overall search query coverage.

3. Finally, the best ways to increase the coverage for this user group is to use these three advanced audience targeting tactics: add new keywords, utilize broader match types and employ DSAs.

None of these techniques are difficult to accomplish. They will, however, help ensure that when a user is ready to convert, they can find your ad and become your next customer.

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