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By Susan Waldes, Account Director

One of my lead-gen clients has a form that allows users to select their country. So I set all of our targeting to United States-only and expected to see data saying 100% of the users are coming from the U.S. Simple, right?

You’d think. But for the last month, the client has seen about 15% of the domestic Google leads select their country as non-U.S. locations. This was spread across search and content campaigns and various ads and targets, and the leads were coming from various countries. I quadruple-checked to make sure all our targeting was set to United States-only and set to “people in my target location.”

Since that checked out, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. So I engaged our Google rep. Snippets from the answer I got:

“When we don’t have enough information to map an IP address range to a particular country, we default the location to the US.”

“The tech team is working on a long-term fix but for now the only potential workaround is to switch from targeting the US as a country to the individual states.” 

Checking my geo reports showed that the international leads in question aligned pretty closely with what Google reports as in the United States but with an “Unspecified” state.

So, bottom line is that if you are using a full U.S. footprint, you are probably getting some non-U.S. traffic. Switch your targeting to all 50 states (and DC) instead. I implemented this solution, and the international leads have stopped.

I still have a couple of questions outstanding with Google on this:

1. Is this true for all countries or only the U.S.? Does the language of the page content or search phrase create a country assumption when Google can’t collect the IP address?

2. Is this new? I can think of a couple scenarios in the past where I think I would have noticed this. I suspect this is a consequence of the recent switch to being able to select actual location vs. intent.

Anybody know the answers to these? Post them in the comments! But first, go change your geo settings!

Susan Waldes, Account Director