A paid-search account should run like a well-oiled, finely-tuned machine. A machine that efficiently and precisely hits the right targets and sidesteps everything irrelevant.

Most so-called mistakes people make are fewer mistakes and more oversights or wasteful strategies – so the items I’ve chosen for this list are focused on matters of efficiency.

The objective of paid-search campaigns is to generate conversions by targeting relevant audiences with relevant ads.

Simply speaking, the more relevant the ads, keywords, and landing pages to the search term, the better the quality score.

The better the quality score? The lower you’ll have to pay for clicks!

Let’s look at the top ways people break this simple rule…

The Most Common Google Ads Paid-Search Mistakes

#1 Lumping different search intentions into the same ad group

A good way of being inefficient is by running ad groups containing not only multiple products but multiple synonyms for said products.

The resulting ad impressions will be less relevant to more people, lowering CTR and CRV and upping CPC. For example, if you put “apple juice” and “orange juice” together in a ‘juice’ ad group, the ad you run may not resonate with both keywords’ search audiences, as the copy would have to cater to both.

Arrange your keywords into SKAGs (Single Keyword Ad Groups) and include an exact, phrase, and broad match modifier variation.

Give each ad group a tailored ad that includes the keyword in the title.

#2 Not using keywords in ad copy

A sure-fire way to get low ad relevance is by omitting the keyword from the ad copy.

This tactic will lead to a comparably lower CTR and lower quality score. The ads won’t resonate well with the user, either. Also, bear in mind that the users’ search terms which match your copy will appear in bold in the search results screen – which means higher visibility.

Not using the keyword in the ad-copy will negate most of the benefits in using SKAGs.

#3 Broad keyword bidding

Using standard broad keywords will bring in a manner of irrelevant traffic: For example: the broad match keyword ‘student apartments’ could potentially be triggered any search term that contains a synonym/related word for either ‘student’ or ‘apartments’, i.e. “school dinners” “holiday homes” “home schooled” “home improvement tutorials” etc, you get the picture.

At best, irrelevant searches will lower CTR and quality score, at worst they will cost you a fortune in clicks. You’d be better off flushing or burning this media spend than using it on bad traffic.

#4 Forgetting a call to action

How can you expect the user to act if you don’t tell them what the action is? A user is more likely to click on the ad next to yours if it includes a clear way forward and yours doesn’t. Book Now! Get A Quote! Buy Now! Help guide the user in their next step or suggest a course of action that could help them fulfil their requirements. When doing this, don’t forget to utilise some of the most powerful marketing words.

A punchy, pithy CTA can only be beneficial to your ads.

#5 Running incomplete keyword lists

Why only expose your campaign to a fraction of the available traffic?

Coverage is everything.

Create a keyword list that covers all relevant search terms. This means including anything that someone could type into a search engine that could, within reason, lead to that user converting on your site. All your services, related services, competitors, queries, and in all match types (barring standard broad).

This strategy will do 99% of broad matches work, but it will do it efficiently and will sidestep most of the irrelevant traffic.

#6 Running without negative keywords

I’ve seen irrelevant search terms rack up thousands of bad clicks on a neglected account. Unless you’re using Exact match only, then you’ll need to keep a close eye on the search terms triggering your ads. When it comes to launching new keywords, take some time to anticipate irrelevant searches and add them to your negatives list.

This will help save spend and quality score from the get-go.

#7 Target CPA max bid

Target CPA gives Google a great opportunity to charge you extortionate amounts for clicks. Remember to set a max bid in the target CPA settings, or you could wind up with more than a few incredibly expensive clicks.

Don’t trust the robots.

#8 Dynamic search ads

DSA has the potential to bring in heaps of irrelevant traffic.

If you must use DSA, remember to pay close attention to negatives. Combine Dynamic search ads with a target CPA strategy with no bid limit if you really want to lose some money!

#9 Not bidding on brand names

A large chunk of traffic is for brand names rather than services.

Bid on your competitors. Redirect their traffic. Profit…

PPC Mistakes - brand bidding

Remember to bid on your brand names also, because someone else will probably do the same to you. The top four ads plus Google’s featured snippet section leaves no room for even the top organic result – so not bidding could have a devastating impact on your traffic.

#10 Not sending users to the most relevant page on your website

If you’re sending your “cat food” searchers to your main cat supplies page while you have a dedicated cat food page, then the Google crawler isn’t going to determine your landing page as relevant as it could be. You’ll lose quality-score points with this strategy, which is fine if you also want higher CPCs.

#11 Not bothering with proper tracking

Some people don’t use tracking, or just give up trying to get it to work.

Other’s install multiple instances of the same tag which leads to multiple counting of the same conversion. Which strategy is worse?

#12 Running just one ad

Testing ad-copy is a fascinating process and one of the most enjoyable elements of paid search. Running one ad will tell you nothing past how well that ad is performing. Copy that ad, change the headline, test it against the original.

Constantly tweak, rewrite, test and repeat.

And when you do test, do it in a way that allows you to keep track of how individual elements are performing against each other.

#13 Lack of extensions

An anaemic ad doesn’t inspire confidence in users. They may not even bother looking at 30/90 text ad when it shows up next to an all singing, all dancing ad with all the available extensions firing.

Give Google all the ammunition you can.

Sitelinks, callouts, structured snippets, reviews, promotion, price, location, etc, and now headline 3 and description 2. They’ll chop and change the elements and find the best CTR arrangement.

Larger ads, higher visibility, higher CTR.

PPC Mistakes - Lack of extensions

There we have it, thirteen horrible paid-search mistakes. Thanks for reading and good luck in steering clear of these bad practices!


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