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Common Google Ads Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Are you running paid ads on Google for your business? It can be a great way to reach your target audience when they’re looking for what you provide on the search results page.

But, it can also be a great way to set a lot of money on fire without getting anything out of it if you’re making some of the common mistakes we see so often.

Google Adwords (also known as PPC or pay per click) is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools available, allowing businesses to reach highly targeted audiences and drive conversions. However, running a successful Google Ads campaign is not as simple as creating an ad and letting it run. There are numerous pitfalls and mistakes that can lead to wasted ad spend, low returns, and overall campaign underperformance. Avoiding these common Google Ads mistakes is crucial for maximizing your return on investment (ROI) and achieving your marketing goals.

Improper Keyword Research

Keyword research is the foundation of any successful Google Ads campaign. Targeting the wrong keywords, or failing to thoroughly research relevant keywords, can result in your ads being shown to the wrong audience, leading to low click-through rates (CTRs) and conversions. Obviously, the goal of your campaign is to match keywords to relevant customer searches Consequences of improper keyword research include wasted ad spend, poor quality traffic, and missed opportunities.

To avoid this mistake, follow best practices for thorough keyword research:

  • Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs to identify relevant keywords.
  • Analyze search intent behind keywords to ensure relevance.
  • Research your competitors’ targeted keywords.
  • Continuously expand and refine your keyword lists.

Poorly Written Ad Copy

Your ad copy is the first impression potential customers have of your business, so it needs to be compelling and attention-grabbing. Poorly written ad copy that lacks clarity, a strong value proposition, or a clear call-to-action (CTA) can lead to low CTRs, even if you’re targeting the right keywords.

Common pitfalls in ad copy include:

  • Vague or misleading messaging
  • Weak or non-existent CTAs
  • Failure to highlight unique selling propositions

To craft effective ad copy, follow these best practices:

  • Use attention-grabbing headlines and descriptions
  • Highlight your unique value proposition
  • Include a clear and compelling CTA
  • Speak directly to your target audience’s pain points and desires
  • Split test different ad variations to optimize performance

Incorrect Campaign Structure

A well-organized campaign structure is essential for efficient management, accurate data analysis, and optimal performance. Common structural issues include overlapping ad groups, single keyword ad groups (SKAGs), and a lack of granular control over targeting and budgeting.

To set up an efficient campaign structure, follow these guidelines:

  • Group tightly-themed keywords into separate ad groups
  • Use SKAGs for highly commercial keywords
  • Leverage campaign priorities and budgets based on performance
  • Organize campaigns by product/service lines or geographic locations
  • Review and adjust structure regularly based on performance data

Not Using Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are an often overlooked but crucial component of successful Google Ads campaigns. Failing to implement negative keywords can result in your ads being triggered by irrelevant searches, wasting valuable ad spend. No one wants to spend money where there’s zero chance of a conversion.

The consequences of not using negative keywords include:

  • Ads shown for unrelated queries driving unqualified traffic
  • Wasted ad spend on clicks that will never convert
  • Poor quality scores and higher costs per click
  • Skewed conversion data from irrelevant traffic

Even with thorough keyword research, there will always be some searches that are not a good fit for your products or services. Negative keywords allow you to proactively filter out this unwanted traffic.

To leverage negative keywords effectively, follow these best practices:

  • Mine search query reports for negative keyword opportunities
  • Use negative keyword tools to generate relevant suggestions
  • Implement negative keywords at the campaign and ad group level
  • Build out negative keyword lists covering product/service exclusions
  • Monitor and expand negative lists consistently
  • Leverage negative keyword insertion to block close variants

Google’s recommendations sources like the ad suggestions tool can also provide negative keyword ideas to exclude.

Negative keywords are an easy, free way to dramatically improve campaign relevance and reduce wasted spend. Don’t let unwanted traffic drain your budget – implement comprehensive negative lists today!

Lack of Conversion Tracking

Without proper conversion tracking set up, you’ll have no way to accurately measure the success of your campaigns or calculate your true ROI. This can lead to misguided optimization efforts and wasted ad spend.

Common issues with conversion tracking include:

  • Failure to set up conversion tracking at all
  • Improper implementation leading to inaccurate data
  • Tracking the wrong conversions (e.g. site visits instead of sales)

To set up effective conversion tracking, follow these steps:

  • Define your conversion goals (sales, leads, sign-ups, etc.)
  • Install the appropriate conversion tracking code
  • Test conversion tracking to ensure accurate data
  • Import conversion data into Google Ads for optimization
  • Set up conversion value tracking for ROI calculations

Ignoring Remarketing Opportunities

Remarketing campaigns allow you to re-engage website visitors who didn’t convert initially. Neglecting remarketing means missing out on a powerful tool for improving conversion rates and ROI.

Common mistakes with remarketing include:

  • Improper audience targeting (too broad or too narrow)
  • Irrelevant or poorly timed messaging
  • Static ad copy instead of dynamically updated messaging

To create effective remarketing campaigns:

  • Define targeted remarketing audiences (e.g. abandoned carts, specific page visits)
  • Use dynamic ad copy and extensions to increase relevance
  • Implement frequency capping to avoid ad fatigue
  • Test messaging sequences for optimal impact
  • Leverage audience data for improved personalization

Ignoring Quality Score Factors

Quality Score is one of the most important factors in Google Ads, impacting your actual cost per click and determining how prominently your ads are displayed. A low Quality Score leads to higher costs and poorer positioning.

Quality Score is determined by factors like:

  • Historical click-through rate
  • Landing page experience
  • Ad relevance
  • Geographic performance

Consequences of ignoring Quality Score include:

  • Higher costs per conversion due to inflated CPCs
  • Ads shown less frequently than competitors
  • Stagnant or diminishing returns over time

To maintain a high Quality Score and maximize performance, follow these best practices:

  • Craft compelling, highly relevant ad copy
  • Build an optimized, conversion-focused landing page
  • Organize campaigns into tightly-themed ad groups
  • Regularly purge underperforming keywords/ads
  • Leverage ad extensions to improve ad relevance

Quality Score is weighted for every auction, so even small improvements can significantly boost your ROI. Make it a priority!

Not Using Ad Extensions

Ad extensions provide more real estate for your ads, increasing visibility and enhancing with additional value offerings. Yet many advertisers fail to leverage this free opportunity for more compelling ads.

Common ad extension types include:

  • Sitelink extensions
  • Callout extensions
  • Structured snippet extensions
  • Call extensions
  • Location extensions

Consequences of not using ad extensions include:

  • Ads look less enticing compared to competitor ads
  • Missing opportunities to highlight unique value propositions
  • Lower click-through and conversion rates

To build more eye-catching, informative ads through extensions:

  • Research and implement all relevant extension types
  • Customize and refine extensions regularly
  • Monitor performance and adjust weaker extensions
  • Leverage automated extension types like dynamic extensions

Extensions improve visibility, add value, and boost CTR – the perfect compliment to compelling ad copy.

Unrealistic Budget or Bidding Strategy

Achieving ideal Google Ads performance requires strategic budget allocation and intelligent bidding strategies. Common mistakes include underfunding campaigns, overbidding, or using the wrong bidding strategy.

Bidding too low leads to:

  • Ads rarely showing due to low ad ranks
  • Missing out on valuable traffic opportunities

Overbidding on the other hand means:

  • Unsustainably high costs per conversion
  • Potentially unprofitable campaigns

Utilizing the wrong bidding strategy is also a costly mistake, leading to misaligned cost and conversion goals.

To set up a realistic, profitable bidding and budgeting approach:

  • Research average costs per click in your industry
  • Start with maximum delivery to gain data, then optimize
  • Leverage smarter automated bid strategies like Target CPA
  • Adjust budgets up/down based on real performance data
  • Set clear goals for allowable cost per conversion

With the right bidding strategy and budget, you can be laser-focused on generating qualified traffic at a profitable cost. Google’s automated tools can aid in getting the most bang for your buck.

Don’t fall victim to unrealistic or poorly planned bidding – find the smart strategy for your goals!

Insufficient Ad Testing and Optimization

Even a well-structured campaign with great ad copy will eventually go stale without continuous testing and optimization. Failing to test new ads, bid strategies, audiences and other variables means missing opportunities for improved performance.

Pitfalls in ad testing include:

  • Failing to test new elements regularly
  • Drawing conclusions too quickly from limited data
  • Testing too many variables at once, muddying the results

Best practices include:

  • Always be running A/B or multivariate tests
  • Establish testing protocols and minimum data requirements
  • Test one variable at a time when possible
  • Leverage advanced testing features like Google’s Experiments
  • Be patient and let tests run long enough to generate significant data

Not Running Your Ads to a Landing Page

A common mistake many businesses make with Google Ads is sending click traffic directly to their homepage or another existing website page, rather than a dedicated landing page. This can severely hamper conversion rates and waste ad spend.

The pitfalls of not using landing pages include:

  • Lack of message match between ad and page content
  • Too many distractions and navigation options on other web pages
  • No clear call-to-action or conversion funnel
  • Difficulty tracking ad performance accurately

Without a focused, relevant landing page experience, much of your hard work in crafting compelling ads is wasted. Even if users click on your ad, they are likely to quickly bounce from an inadequate non-landing page.

To avoid this mistake and maximize your conversion potential, follow landing page best practices:

  • Create dedicated landing pages for each ad campaign/offer
  • Design pages with a single focus – the conversion goal
  • Use consistent messaging that matches your ad copy
  • Remove exit links and minimize navigation menus
  • Include a prominent call-to-action tailored to the offer
  • Optimize pages for mobile user experience
  • Run A/B tests to improve landing page conversion rates

Quality landing page platforms like Unbounce make it easy to rapidly build high-converting pages tailored to your campaigns. The small added effort is well worth the increased conversions and ROI.

Don’t let your Google Ads traffic leak out by sending it to pages not built for conversion! Use dedicated, optimized landing pages to turn clicks into customers.

Final Thoughts

Avoiding these seven common Google Ads mistakes can be the difference between a struggling campaign and an outstanding, high-ROI marketing success. From thorough keyword research to a sound campaign structure, compelling ads, effective negative keywords, conversion tracking, remarketing opportunities and continuous optimization – following PPC best practices is essential.

By implementing the strategies and tips outlined here, you can steer clear of wasteful ad spend, unqualified traffic, missed opportunities and poor performance. Stay vigilant, keep testing, and never stop optimizing, and you’ll be on your way to Google Ads mastery.

Are you making any of these crucial mistakes with your Google Ads campaigns? Make It Loud can perform a comprehensive audit and help get your PPC marketing strategy on the right track. Call us today if you need help with your campaign at 678.325.4007.

Cliff Tillery, MBA is the Chief Operating Officer and SEO Director at Make It Loud which is a digital marketing firm located outside of Atlanta Georgia. More than 14 years ago, he started search engine optimization at this award-winning agency and has taught digital marketing skills to business owners at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, and other groups.

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CliffTillery COO
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