There is no doubt today in 2022 that Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) can be an incredibly effective lead and sales generation tool. The Google Ads platform offers a myriad of options and customisations that allow you to target your specific prospective audience, this means it’s so easy to make simple Google Ads mistakes.
When a business gets this right, they can experience a huge ROI (Return on Investment) and in some cases more leads and sales than they can manage, a good problem to have!
However we often hear business owners complaining about some Google Ads campaign they once run, where they blew a heap of money and got no return. They usually blame Google Ads (some even denounce it as a scam). The truth is that even if they used a Pay Per Click agency or often even just their web designer to setup a campaign – the issue is not with Google Ads, invariably the problem is poor setup and configuration of the Ad campaign.
Read on to learn more about the common Google Ads mistakes that can be made on your campaign and how you can rectify those mistakes to create an efficient and effective Google Ads campaign that really gets those leads incoming.
Common Google Ads mistakes:
Even if you’re getting some results from your Google Ads campaigns, there are likely still issues with your campaign. Even if the campaign was setup perfectly in the beginning, Google’s algorithm changes and updates regularly and new features are added which can effect how your Ads perform.. So, what may have worked for you few years back, may not work for you now. You have to keep the Google Ads campaigns updated and flawless to ensure better results.
Here are 10 of the most common mistakes that people make when it comes to Google Ads campaign.
1. Mistake of Relying on the Default Google Ads Wizard
Google has some great keyword and traffic estimator tools in it’s Ads platform. It also does a good job at some initial suggestions when you setup your campaign. However there are 2 reasons simply using the setup wizard will end up costing you money.
Firstly a tool is only as good as the information it’s given. If you provide limited information you’ll get a broad leaky campaign that’ll waste your budget.
Here’s a couple of quick examples:
You’re a builder who does kitchen and bathroom renovations. However if you only list that you are a builder or carpenter, you’ll waste budget when your ads are shown to people wanting full home builds or extensions. It happens…
A hair salon does high end “do’s” for their predominantly female clients. On setting up their ads account a “hair salon” may sound perfect, until you waste budget on blokes simply wanting the equivalent of Just Cuts…
Second even if you provide detailed information, you still need to customize and target the campaign. A key mistake we still see daily is the lack of location targeting.
For example, back to our builder friend, and even though he sorted his keywords out perfectly, the ad is not targeted to his local area. As a result his ads display nationally giving him leads he cannot use from the other side of the country…
2. The Mistake of Poor Keyword Research
We’ve already touched on keywords, so let me tell you that one of the major mistakes that people often make is – poor or sloppy research on keywords. Keywords play an exceptionally crucial role in your Ads campaign. If you are not researching keywords thoroughly, then you are making a mistake of setting up either a broad campaign that will waste your budget or one that misses out on specific keywords that will drive you leads..
You cannot simply use the keywords that you believe people will search for (or that you would search for as an expert in the field). Therefore, it’s extremely important for you to utilize the Google Ads keyword planner and research tools to find out all the relevant keywords for your campaign. This will provide you with evidence on what your potential customers are searching for and search volumes for those terms.
To highlight this point, we frequently audit Google Ads accounts and business owner’s assure us they have the right keywords, but often when we check traffic volume they are using the wrong term or terms. Perhaps it’s jargon that they are familiar with, but not their customers.In some cases a change from the singular to plural (or vice versa) makes a huge difference to their campaign. Either they (or their search agency) did poor keyword research, or times have changed.
3. The Mistake of Not Using Negative Keywords
We’ll stay on the topic of keywords, but this time focus on the ones we don’t want to use. Negative keywords can help you to exclude the search terms from your ad campaigns. It will help you in focusing on the keywords that actually matter to your potential customers. Again the majority of clients accounts we audit neglect to configure negative keywords – and we have seen upwards of 75%, that’s three quarters of a client’s budget totally wasted because of this sloppy mistake.
Example: We audited a mining pump company’s Google Ads campaign recently, they have a huge Ads budget. We found that they were wasting over half of their budget on user clicks for searches like: “aquarium pumps, foot pumps, car pumps, bike pumps” you get the idea… Amusingly there were also clicks on their Ads because they had been shown for certain less endowed users who were looking for (being discrete here) male ‘enhancement’ pumps…
You also need to balance the use of negative keywords, overuse can cut down on the effectiveness of otherwise desirable search terms..
The negative keywords list should be reviewed regularly and terms added to (and maybe sometimes removed) depending on what terms users are searching for and importantly are clicking on…
4. The Mistake of Poorly Written Google Ads
Another common Google Ads mistake to avoid are poorly written ads. If you don’t spend the time to write the Ad copy (using within reason all the fields and options available), . So it’s important that you invest your time to research properly what will resonate with your audience.
The mistake of relying on one Ad is discussed later in this article, but it goes without saying that it’s important for testing to have multiple ads working for you at the same time in your campaign. One message may interest some users, but everyone thinks differently and are inspired by different messages, certainly not just one…
For this, you need to include some of the crucial factors that are needed to make the Ads more informative and beneficial. Using locations, sitelinks and many more other useful variations in the content can actually help you in creating an effective Google Ads copy. You can hire a professional Google Ads copy writer to get the best result for your business.
5. The Mistake of Not Using Ad Extensions
Ad extensions allow you to add further information in your Google Ad to help users. Using these ad extensions can be one of the best ways to increase the clicks on your Ads. One of the best extensions that you can add is – sitelink extensions. This extension can help to show you different links associated with your website. This is useful as it can help send your potential customers to relevant pages that are interested in. You can also the callout extensions that can help your customers show the unique selling points of your business. Other extensions that cold be used include – message extensions, snippet extensions, price extensions and location extensions. When your ad takes up more real estate, your CTRs can go higher.
Do you use ad extensions in your Google Ads? If not, then your campaign may not be as effective as it could be. These extensions are a necessary part of your ad that can make it even more interesting and attractive to the customers. If you properly optimize your Google Ads with the ad extensions, then you can drive some more quality traffic to your website. You can leverage or harness the power of these ad extensions to get better results.
6. Not Testing the Bid Strategies
Very simply put, when you advertise on Google Ads you make a bid on the upper limit you’ll pay for a user to click on your Ad and Google then works out where to position your Ad based on that bid.
That’s the simple explanation, of course the reality is much more complex. Again you can let Google manage your Bid spend and for a short term this is recommended to build data, long term you’ll likely end up wasting budget.
It can be quite overwhelming and exhausting for you to find the perfect or most effective strategy for your campaign. However, you must test some of these strategies, in order to find out the most effective and suitable strategy for your Google Ads.
You can have a better control on the bids – but again this isn’t for everyone – when you have a manual CPC (Cost per Click) strategy.
If you plan on testing out one campaign for one or two weeks only, then you it’s likely best to choose enhanced CPC. With the help of these bid strategies, Google will allow you to get most of the clicks on your ads at the best possible price. This can help you to maximize your investment by reaching the ROI effectively. So, you have to make sure that you are testing different bidding strategies for finding the best one. Remember that there is no bidding option available that is best for everyone.
7. The Mistake of Creating Just a Single Ad Variation
Another very common Google Ads mistake that people make when creating Google Ads is creating just one ad variation. If you are creating only one ad for each ad group or just one ad with a single variation, then you need to change it. To supercharge your Google Ads campaign start creating many ad variations in a single ad group in order to boost or enhance your conversion rate. This will also help you in maximizing the cost.
Even though you might be using a similar description or headline, you need to invest the time to create multiple ad variations. This will help you to test each of them to find which converts the best with your audience. When you identify the dominant, performing ad(s), you’ve hit the jackpot. Now, you can focus on creating different variations of those performing ads. After that you can keep on split testing to find a more effective ad strategy.
Aim for at least 2 or 3 (or more) ad copies for every ad group.
Arguably there are two main types of advertisers on Google Ads. One who targets and focuses on smaller areas, like a town, region or city. Another advertiser is targeting state-wide or even national locations.
There are a variety of reasons for this, but not targeting the right geolocations for your business is one of the simplest items to fix, yet we see examples everyday where business owners (or their agencies) have overlooked this important setting and are totally wasting their budget.
For instance if you have a local business, such as a cafe or a restaurant, then it is likely that you will run ads that target your locality otherwise if you targeted the state or left Google Ads at the default National setting, your local café in Melbourne would be viewed (and clickable) by users in Perth, Darwin or Cairns – who have no intention of giving you custom, they’ve simply helped waste your budget.
However that same café may be in a satellite region nearby a capital where there are many weekender tourists who visit. So perhaps in this case them may specifically target the City with a special campaign and to good effect. This tactic can also work well for tourist attractions surrounding a capital city.
Otherwise you may be a large company or even a service based business that is promoted nationally. Even then you may over time with ongoing Google Ads reports, split campaigns into regions and spend more or less budget (perhaps even excluding unproductive areas). This is supercharging your campaign and maximizing your budget and Return on Investment.
9. The Mistake of Not Measuring Conversions
A massive Google Ads mistake that is made with many campaigns is failing to track conversions. This is pretty much inexcusable… Without conversion tracking you cannot say exactly how much it costs per lead and per sale from the Ad campaign. Also, you cannot find out which keyword(s) are helping you to drive better leads and sales. It’s critically important for you to track and then optimize ad campaigns for conversions. As a result you will boost the ROI and ultimately bring more money to your business.
Some of the examples of the conversion action can actually depend on the services or products that you sell. These may include:
- A Sale from your Online Store
- A Phone Call (trackable)
- Online Booking or Reservation
- Online Enquiry (via Contact Form)
- Downloading of digital asset (such as: App or Lead Magnet PDF)
- Newsletter signup
10. Display Network & Search Network Default Targeting Options
Another option you have with Google Ads is to create Ads that display on other websites. Some examples of Google search partners include banner ads in newspapers and online magazines, test ads displayed in websites etc.. This can be a very successful medium for your display ads and retargeting campaigns, however again some configuration is needed to the campaign is working for you, not wasting your budget.
Based on your targeting options, Google will make sure to place the ads on the relevant websites so that you can get better leads and traffic. But if you simply select default settings then Google may not show your ad to the people who are looking for it. For example your business may be a mechanic but the ads may be showing on a beauty website, likely not the most effective place… We also see a lot of budget wasted as Google places these ads on their platforms such as YouTube or Google Playstore (App Store). Both can be effective platforms, however definitely not for everyone.
We said 10 Common Mistakes, but we lied, here’s a bonus one:
11. The Mistake of Not Analysing Your Competitor
Know thy enemy said ancient Chinese General Sun Tzu. This has general application for any business of course, however it is true that you must know who you are competing against when creating an ad. Put yourself in the position of your customers and then see which ads you like the most. Really think from the customer’s perspective. In such cases, you will have to learn more about your competitors. You have to know more about their ads, their landing pages etc. Can you make an anonymous enquiry to a private email? See how they respond to enquiries, how quick? With what? How personal?
You can compare their ads with yours to find out what they have that you don’t have in your ad campaign. You can scan their ad copy to learn more perhaps about what you’ve missed and apply those strategies in your copy (if it’s relevant). You can also test your newly improved ad copy and create some new relevant landing pages and then test those against the old pages you had. Testing these can help you in improving your conversion rate by providing more leads.
These are the top 10 11 most common mistakes in our experience that we see businesses tend to make with Google Ads. In most cases these mistakes – even one of them – ends up costing a business thousands of dollars in wasted budget.
Even worse we find many digital agencies – supposed Google Ads experts – behind these Ad campaigns which means either then do not possess the expertise to run these campaigns or they are doing as little as possible on your account and collecting your money. This situation is even worse with a small web design company, where they do not have the budget themselves to hire a dedicated Search Engine Marketing (SEM) consultant.
We hope that highlighting these tips provides you with greater awareness of key Google Ads mistakes and what to look for. Don’t get bamboozled by technical jargon and buzzwords by some agency that promises the world.
When we audit a Google Ads account we look for these issues and many, many more technical misconfigurations that are so often made that cost you money and cost you leads. And when we manage a Google Ads account for a client, we provide full open reporting and hold ourselves accountable for the results.