Nick Rennard
By Nick Rennard | SEM, SEO | July 6, 2015

Topic Targeting with Google AdWords


Every business has a customer demographic. There are certain types of people that businesses will target specifically with their advertisements. Qualities such as sex, age, interests, hobbies, or any other variable can classify people as being likely potential customers for a company’s products or services. For example, a company that sells feminine hygiene products is significantly more interested in targeting women than men. However, a company that sells prostate pharmaceuticals will have their sights set on men above the age of 40 as their primary target.


Applications to the Google Display Network

The Google display network is renowned for generating massive quantities of traffic. Lots of traffic is good, but how we know how relevant or interested this traffic is in our products/services? Many people shy away from these types of campaigns since they tend to hemorrhage money if they aren’t managed properly. Today I will be reviewing one of my favorite forms of targeting on the Google display network, topic targeting.

Topic targeting on the Google display network allows you to focus your ads on the people that are likely to be potential customers. It allows your ads to appear on pages that have content related to pre-set categories that you can select in the set-up process. For example, let’s pretend you run a business that builds custom raised garden beds for people in their back yards. You’d absolutely want to be showing up on for topics like ‘Home & Garden’ or ‘Gardening & Landscaping.’ Inversely, you’d also want to make sure that you’re not showing up for other topics like ‘Real Estate’ or ‘Astronomy.’ Those types of customers are significantly less likely to be interested in your products. By using topic targeting, you can make sure that your display campaigns are targeting the most relevant demographics for your industry.


How to Apply Topic Targeting to a Display Campaign

  • Log into the AdWords browser interface and select the appropriate display campaign.
  • Click the Display Network tab.
  • Click the Topics tab.
  • Click the big red +Targeting button.
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  • Select the ad group you are interested in and click the Add Targeting drop-down box. Select Topics.
  • Here you will see a list of topics that you can choose from. You can select them manually, but it’s faster to copy and paste them using the topic codes. You can find a full list of all of the topic codes here. To add topics using the codes, simply select the Add Topics Using Codes link, and copy and paste all relevant codes and click Add. This will add everything at once rather than having to click them individually.
  • Once you are finished, make sure you click Save.

Many people fear the display network due to horror stories about spending tons of money with no results. The truth is, the display network is just as useful of a tool as the search network, but people are less educated about how to use it. One you know how to wield these tools effectively, then all of them have potential to reap profits for your business. Topic targeting is one of my favorite ways to turn the performance is a display campaign around. Next blog I will discuss another effective type of targeting: remarketing lists.

Happy Advertising!

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