"When geo-targeting ads by a client's country, what is the best practice for language targeting?"
As a general rule of thumb, your ad should be in the same language as the SERP the searcher is looking at.
Let's say you target Korea, to use an example. If you are just beginning, then it would be best to geotarget Korea and also target the Korean language. Although many Koreans read/speak English, it' s jarring to see an English ad when the rest of the SERP is in Korean. It makes it stand out, but in the wrong way. Usually they decide that the company is clueless and "doesn' t understand Koreans". I've had many discussions with Koreans on this very topic. The same also applies to Chinese, and especially to Japanese.
If you wanted to be more accurate and do a really thorough job in the market, you could do the following (though it's more work and for some markets isn't worth it):
- Geotarget Korea (or whatever country you are looking at)
- Create a KeyWord list. Separate out the keywords that are the same in English and Korean ( i.e. " Samsung") from the pure Korean words.
- Anything that is pure Korean, target Korean language only.
- Anything that could be both (and would result in a SERP with both English and Korean in it) you would use as two different groups – one targeting English with English ads, and one targeting Korean with Korean ads.
Some other observations:
- A single English word ("Samsung" ) could be equally in either language, but multiple English words "Samsung office in Seoul " is usually (though not always) an indication that the target language should be English. This also works the other way – one English word in a Korean phrase is probably Korean.
- If in doubt, use the official national language of whatever country you are in, or the most common language of the region if there is more than one. For example, in Canada, you would default to English for western Canada and French for Quebec, unless someone indicates that they are looking for a language specific Keyword.
- Due to the different character sets between Asian languages and English, this might seem more complicated than it needs to be (you are normally safe in assuming any keyword written in Chinese characters has a preference for Chinese ads, for example) but as a best practice it 's a good idea to language target as well as geotarget, especially when you begin to work with multiple languages that share characters (English/Spanish/French or Chinese/Japanese/Korean).
Practical Final Answer: Start off with Korean language ads geotargeted to Korea and the Korean language keywords, including the dual-language Korean list. See how that goes. If it goes badly, you are unlikely to fix it by adding English to the mix , and it will just complicate things.
If it does well, then add the dual-language English list to the mix. In this case, you would just create a second campaign, but this one geotargetting Korea but only the English language , then use the dual-language English words. In this case, Google (for example) would not treat that as a duplicate, but would trigger the English ads for searchers that had indicated a preference for English, and Korean for those who indicated a preference for Korean.
This type of system is especially useful when you have products and numbers involved – for example, the "SGH-L760 " from Samsung is the same search term in any language – Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese, etc. You simply can' t just geotarget it – you have to also target the language in order to trigger the correct ad.
I hope that helps,