Targeting Bilingual & Spanish-Speaking Audiences in AdWords: The Why & How


Targetting Spanish AdWords

As digital marketers, we are always under the gun to drive more qualified searchers to our website. This can be a challenging job, especially once a PPC account is well-optimized.

So what do you do when your performance starts to plateau? Look for missed opportunities. Hands down, the most common area of missed opportunity I see in US-based accounts is not advertising to the bilingual, Hispanic community.

Spanish Language Advertising AdWords

Why You Can’t Afford to Neglect the Spanish Language Market

The numbers speak for themselves. According to the 2010 census, there are 53 million Hispanics living in the United States, which comes to 17% of our total population. Not only that, but this group is projected to continue growing at a rapid rate. As you devise your digital marketing strategy, this is an important factor to keep in mind. While all US-based advertisers should consider this audience, it is particularly critical to those targeting a younger audience (the median age across Hispanic communities in the US is 27.6) or regions with particularly large Latino communities.

Ok, so you didn’t ace Spanish 101? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be fluent in order to expand your advertising to this ever-growing market. Remember, Google bases language targeting on a user’s interface language. Users can edit this setting to ensure Google provides results in their selected language. For example, if a Spanish speaker who lives in the US sets his interface settings to Spanish, he will only see Spanish results, even if he is searching on AdWords will only display your ads if your language targeting matches a searchers’ interface language.

Here’s the key—according to Google, over 30% of online media consumption in the United States is conducted by searchers who use both Spanish and English interchangeably. These bilingual searchers tend to be a huge area of missed opportunity for US-based advertisers. If the primary language used in their households is Spanish, their browser settings are likely to be set to Spanish. However, they are also likely to conduct many searchers in English—therein lies the problem. If a business’s language targeting is set to English only, its ads will not show to this audience.

Make This Easy Change to Your AdWords Campaigns NOW!

If your business is located in an area with a large Spanish-speaking population and your targeting is set to English-only, cancel whatever you have planned for the next ten minutes. Yes, this will be quick! All you have to do is identify your English-only campaigns and adjust your language targeting to include Spanish. Boom—you just expanded your PPC audience in a matter of a few clicks.

I know it sounds like we’re taking the easy route out by simply tweaking the settings and neglecting to build campaigns in Spanish. However, in some cases, the easy route is truly the best route. If your website doesn’t translate seamlessly or your sales/services aren’t offered in Spanish, you probably don’t want to risk advertising to a Spanish-only audience. While Spanish campaigns may help you to expand your impressions, it is not likely that you would see a proportional uptick in conversions.

Google recently shared results from a case study in which they applied this strategy.

Language Targeting in AdWords

As you can see, the benefits of the adjustments are clear. Not only did this advertiser experience an increase in click volume, they also found lower CPCs for the Spanish-speaking audience.

I highly recommend adjusting your strategy to include the Spanish-speaking population sooner rather than later. At this time, Latinos control $1 trillion in spending power in the US. This number is expected to grow 42% by 2017. It is critical to adapt your paid search campaigns before you miss out on great potential!

Buena suerte!



Randall Magwood
Sep 27, 2013

I think it's a good idea to target spanish speaking audiences. Didn't know Google Adwords had the capabilities to do this. The most I thought was just targeting by certain countries. But this has definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities.

Sep 30, 2013

Happy to hear we've taught you something new!  Looking forward to hearing how it works for you, Randall!

Sep 27, 2013

what if you already target the Hispanics with an exact copy of your website in Spanish and have campaigns set to Spanish only with all Spanish ads already in place? Would you still recommend setting the spanish setting along with the English in the English only campaigns?

Sep 30, 2013

Hi Maria-- Good question! I would actually still set both campaigns to target English and Spanish.  This helps you to incorporate a bilingual audience whose browser settings may not reflect the language that they are searching in.  Hope that helps!

Ashot Aleksanyan
Sep 29, 2013

Hello,You are saying I quote "OK, so you didn’t ace Spanish 101? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be fluent in order to expand your advertising to this ever-growing market." If you are not fluent in Spanish how you are going to work with Spanish keywords? You can't just translate using a dictionary, can you? You have to feel the language and you have to know the Spanish market as well.

Steve Cameron
Sep 30, 2013

I work in a bilingual environment with many of my local clients - Spanish/English.In general I spliut by language - so I have a versions of the website in both languages and run separate campaigns for each language with keywords and ads in that language.However, what I have found is that the Spanish speaker will often use English search terms - and this is more significant for some sectors than others - which means that if English keywords are not included in the Spanish camapign ads will not be triggered. I often tend to include a set of my core keywords in English in my Spanish keyword list for this reason.But in this case I tend to still run my ads in Spanish and take the visitor to the Spanish site. On the other hand, where a client wants to run a camapign in a language they neither speak nor have a website for - I often recommend against. I have a real estate client who currently wants to advertise to the Russian market - but they don't have a Russian website and if a Russian calls them on the phone thety cannot speak to them - I see little point!

Oct 23, 2013


Thanks for your great information. Please keep posting.


Daniel Hoyos
Jun 02, 2015

Erin- Where did you get this stat? "over 30% of online media consumption in the United States is conducted by searchers who use both Spanish and English interchangeably." That's great news for us but it seems really high. Can you please help with the source. is it available straight from google somewhere on the web?

Mar 01, 2016

At this time, is there any reporting on Google Adwords that breaks down how many clicks and impressions came from people with their interface set to Spanish vs. those with it set to English? Analytics reporting is helpful when broken down by language, but it doesn't help at all for impressions and understanding how much traffic comes from each language.

Simon Matthews
Jan 18, 2017

Hi Erin,

A few questions. I am a little unclear on how this study caused an increase in clicks. It's 1.55K vs just 88.1 clicks. Can you explain please?

Also, will this work if my website is in English and I just want to add a Google translator? Or will it hurt me to have Spanish adwords for an English website (in heavily populated Spanish community)?


May 03, 2017

Excellent information. I was searching for language targeting in Adwords. Finally found this.

Thank you very much.

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