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  • Writer's pictureKristiana - Founder & PPC Manager

The 9 Most Common Google Ads Mistakes And Their Easy Fixes

Google Ads can be an extremely effective way to acquire high quality traffic, generate leads and sales and convert website visitors into customers. The excellent range of targeting features, user experience customization, and automation options Google Ads offer is just one of the reasons why the PPC platform has become crucial to all businesses.

However, sometimes Google's best features can turn into pitfalls if not used properly. Whether it's automation gone wrong or human error due to lack of knowledge, certain mistakes can cost businesses their entire PPC budget and result in loss of quality traffic and valuable conversions. As a specialist pay per click agency which has worked with tens of accounts, at The PPC Agency we noticed certain patterns in client-created ad accounts we take control of. This post will cover the 9 most common google ads mistakes we regularly find in client accounts and their easy fixes.

Lack of proper keyword match type use. In recent years google has updated the way it's keyword match types function several times, resulting in some confusion amongst business owners and even digital marketing professionals. Different match types suit different objectives, with each keyword match type having it's pros and cons.

Broad match: ads may show on searches that are related to your keyword, which can include searches that don’t contain the keyword terms. [According to Google] This helps you attract more visitors to your website, spend less time building keyword lists, and focus your spending on keywords that work.

Pros of using broad match include reaching potential clients at the top of the sales funnel, while they research relevant topics. Broad match search keywords can help you identify new, relevant and high-quality search terms which can be added to your account. However, using broad match in most cases means getting low quality traffic and wasting a significant chunk of your advertising budget.

Phrase match: Ads may show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. The meaning of the keyword can be implied, and user searches can be a more specific form of the meaning. Phrase match is more flexible than exact match, but is more targeted than the default broad match option. With phrase match, you can reach more customers, while still showing your ads to those customers who are most likely searching for your product or service.

Pros of using phrase match keyword include reaching users who have high purchase intent, while still advertising for relevant terms in your niche. Phrase match is one of the most used keyword match types and is beneficial to most accounts with any PPC budget. The downside of phrase match is that there is still a good chance advertisers could waste their budget on low-intent search terms, if a good negative keywords list is not being used.

Exact match: Ads may show on searches that are the same meaning or same intent as the keyword. Of the three keyword matching options, exact match gives you the most control over who sees your ad.

The best part about using exact match is that this match type gives you ultimate control over the terms that trigger your ads. The downside of exact match keywords is that for larger accounts, advertisers would need to spend more time managing the account and with a smaller keywords list, they could miss out on plenty of potential traffic and conversions.

The fix for paid accounts: use the match type that best suits your budget and campaign objective. Regardless of your goals and budget, make sure your account has a great negative keywords list, to help you sculpt the traffic you receive, no matter what keyword match types trigger your ads.

The fix for Google Ads Grants accounts: this one is a bit trickier, since there is a $2 bid limit on grant accounts. Unlike paid accounts, NGOs would want to spend as much as possible. Add as many relevant keywords as possible, in all match types. This will help you make the most of your ads grant and reach an optimal number of impressions and clicks.

To make managing your keywords and account easier, split the match types into individual ad groups based around intent or into single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). Regularly go through your search terms report filter the irrelevant terms and add them to your negative keywords lists.

Broken Tracking & Incorrect attribution models. This is one of the most common Google Ads mistakes we find across all accounts. One of the best features and most important aspects of digital advertising is tracking. Any campaign without conversion tracking and Analytics means wasting enormous amounts on irrelevant terms, losing out on potential customers and losing traffic to your competitors.

The Fix: make sure your Google Ads and Analytics accounts are linked, audiences are shared and your conversion tracking works. Revise all conversions and make sure that you're using data-driven attribution models, instead of last click.

Wrong Geographical settings. Geo targeting can be one of Google Ads' worst pitfalls. In most cases we see business owners advertising to users 'interested in' their location. This results in ad spend being wasted across the globe, often in countries where there are no potential clients, such as India and across Africa. The fix: check your campaign settings and make sure you are targeting 'people in or regularly in' your targeted location.

Not using search audiences and demographic bid adjustment . Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), custom intent audiences and auto-generated audiences can help advertisers adjust their Google Ads bids across not only display but also search and shopping campaigns, based on the audience segment the user falls into. For instance, you can easily exclude users who have already submitted a lead from clicking your search ads again. You might want to do this to prevent click fraud and cut budget waste. You can also choose to bid higher on audiences who visited your website but didn't convert, so your ads appear higher when they continue their research on Google. Search audiences and demographic bid adjustments are also useful for filtering out the people who are just researching versus the people who actually shop. A good example of products that need demographic bid adjustments is diamond engagement rings. While females and the main wearers and often browse diamond engagement rings, males are (usually) the ones who make the purchase.

The fix: add different relevant audiences into the audience section within your search and shopping campaigns and adjust bids for different demographics, based on their performance. You can also choose to exclude certain groups, such as converters or users aged +65.

Optimising your account too little or too much. Google Ads and other PPC platforms are definitely not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. They require regular optimisations, tweaks and for best results, experiments with ad copy or landing pages. While the majority of advertisers don't leave their accounts unattended for weeks, they could be guilty of overoptimization and making frequent and unnecessary changes, while neglecting aspects of their marketing that require their attention, such as company branding and landing pages. Some of the 9 most common google ads mistakes include changing the bidding strategy too often or generally using the incorrect one for the account, removing ads and keywords that have very little data to determine whether they are successful or not or generally jumping to conclusions too quickly.

In digital advertising, data is precious and just like you wouldn't want it to be lost to broken tracking, you wouldn't want to dilute it by spreading keyword and audience performance across multiple campaigns and ad groups with each getting very low amounts of engagement over a short period of time.

Making adjustments based on small sample sizes, removing keywords before checking the search terms reports and other campaign factors, overusing bid modifiers, reducing cost based on a day's worth of data and cutting spend when things are going well are just some examples of overoptimization that hurt your account's performance.

The Fix: before making any changes, make sure there is enough data to draw the right conclusions and that the aspect you're about to edit is the one causing the problem.

Incorrectly using GDN. While the Google Display Network is great for increasing brand awareness, establishing brand presence and remarketing, it is most certainly a waste of ad spend if you're hoping to acquire low-cost, high quality conversions at high volume. The Fix: Don't rely exclusively on Display ads for driving high quality traffic and conversions. Combine them with other campaign types and other advertising platforms.

Paying no attention to the landing page. This one is one of the biggest Google Ads mistakes businesses make, it can cost them a significant amount in higher CPCs and even more in lost revenue. A good, UX-friendly and fast website is a must, but so are custom landing pages for difference audiences, products and search terms. When determining your CPC, Google also looks at keyword quality score, website user engagement, bounce rate and page relevance.

Users are simply looking for the product or service they searched for and if the page seems irrelevant at a glance, they will bounce off and visit the next advertiser.

The Fix: Luckily, Google offers an excellent, free solution to help advertisers with landing page variation testing and optimising their websites, Google Optimize. It is integrated with your Google Analytics account, so you can quickly and easily create landing page variations for different audiences and easily monitor and understand performance data and which variant converts better. Google Optimize allows webmasters to easily experiment with any part of the landing page, from CTA colours to web copy and images. Of course, depending on your business and objectives, there are other ways to enhance user experience and improve conversion rates. For instance, lead generation campaigns and websites can greatly benefit from dynamic location or keyword insertion within the website's headlines and copy.

Not making the most of ad features and ad extensions. Not all advertisers make the most of their ad space, potentially missing out on clicks and valuable website traffic. Features like dynamic keyword and dynamic location extensions; countdown timers, responsive ads and IF function are there to help you make the most of your Google Ads search campaigns.

Ad extensions are another way to add extra value to your search ads and highlight your business' unique selling points, showcase prices and product types, get users to submit leads or easily call your business.

We would recommend avoiding call extensions, unless absolutely necessary - in our experience most click extensions don't actually result in calls and taking the users to a landing page first results in higher lead volume and better lead quality.

The Fix: Use all relevant ad extensions, utilise dynamic keyword insertion and monitor their performance.

Having too little or too much control over your campaigns. Smart campaigns, auto-applying Google's suggestions and automation in general could potentially hurt your account, drain your PPC budget and lead to poor results.

While you can't possibly have 'too much' control over how your Google Ads campaign serve, advertisers can certainly limit the campaigns' exposure and results by trying to control every aspect of advertising, using conservative budgets and overengineering their campaigns.

The Fix: Don't allow Google to take full control of your PPC campaigns. Switch off the suggestions auto-apply, switch your account into 'expert mode' and ditch the smart search campaigns.

Allow enough spend and data for the Google algorithm to learn what your website and campaigns are all about. Remove some bid modifiers, expand your targeting and expand your keyword list and match types if you're not getting the estimated traffic Keyword Planner has predicted. Tried all of the above but still haven't seen the results you hoped for? Send us a message and tell us more about your business and performance, we will be happy to help.

1 Comment

Gary Moultry
Gary Moultry
Mar 20, 2023

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