Google is the world’s primary search engine with approximately 3.5 billion searches conducted every single day. Some of those searches are for your business, and Google Ads gives you the opportunity to be there when a user is looking for what it is you do. As a result, Google Ads can be an extremely valuable advertising tool in assisting small businesses in developing a brand presence. However, it isn’t an intuitive or easy tool to use. There is so much information out there about Google Ads that sometimes you can hardly know where to begin.
From beginners to advanced managers, we have seen many people make mistakes on Google Ads that cost them money. It’s a competitive world out there; it’s more important than ever to ensure your Google Ads account is set up for success. That’s why we are sharing three of the most common Google Ads mistakes that we see on a regular basis, why these mistakes end up being costly and how you can avoid them in your ad account.
1. Not Having Conversion Tracking
The first mistake we see that businesses make is not having conversion tracking installed. Conversion tracking allows you to record when users take certain actions on your site after they’ve clicked an ad. You can use conversion tracking to track purchases, contact form completions, phone calls, and other actions that users take on your site that represent value for your business.
Why is it costly?
Not having conversion tracking installed is like driving without headlights on at night – you can’t really see where you’re going. A potential customer will become virtually invisible to your Google Ad account after they have clicked on your ad. You will know how many people have seen your ad and how many have clicked on it, but you won’t know if that click had any specific value associated with it. Businesses can end up spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on clicks that are going nowhere, and they would never have any idea!
Advertisers can fix this by properly installing conversion tracking on your site. This requires some knowledge of how the back end of your site works and what you want to track. Alternatively, you can pay an expert to set this up for you, to ensure that your set up meets best practices.
2. Keyword Mismanagement
Mismanaging keywords is not only a big mistake but a common one. There are three primary keyword mistakes that people make within their Google Ads accounts: keyword stuffing, using the wrong match types, and not using negative keywords.
Many people will do keyword research, see all the terms that apply to their business, and put all of them in the Google Ads account in one long list. This is what we call ‘keyword stuffing’ and has no place in a Google Ads account. Other times, people will take the list of keywords they’re targeting in SEO and apply it to their Google Ads campaign. This is also a mistake.
Ad groups in Google Ads should have no more than 20 keywords each as a best practice. This is because Google Ads is like running a relay race – you need your keywords to match your ad copy to match your landing page in order to have high-quality ads. Keyword stuffing sets your ad group up for a low Quality Score.
Using the Wrong Match Types
In Google Ads, one keyword can match hundreds of different searches. Using match types – broad, broad match modified, phrase, and exact – helps to tell Google how closely matched you want your keywords to be to what is being searched. Google has a helpful article on what the match types are and how to use them. One of the primary mistakes we see is an account full of broad match keywords, which removes the opportunity for a narrow match.
Not Using Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are keywords that you don’t want your ads to show up for. This can result in massive amounts of wasted ad spend, especially combined with keyword stuffing and incorrect match types.
For example, if you are a shoe repair person and you have the word ‘shoe repair’ in your account without a match type associated, you can show up for terms like ‘shoes for sale’ or ‘shoe store’ or ‘buy shoes online’. If you aren’t using negative keywords to manage what you don’t want to show up for, you are wasting valuable ad spend on clicks that have absolutely nothing to do with your business.
Why is costly?
Each mistake is costly for its own reason. Say you have an account with 1,000 keywords and a budget of $10 per day (this isn’t a common scenario but provides a good way to understand these concepts). If each keyword was to take an equal share of the budget, you’re giving each keyword a budget of one cent per day. Google Ads will wait until it has built up enough budget to use on a keyword match and then decide which keyword is most relevant to spend it on. With so many keywords to choose from, it’s highly likely Google will not choose the most relevant match. This will result in a low intent visit that just wasted your money.
If you aren’t managing your match types, you could be spending money on close variants of your keywords that actually have nothing to do with your business. For example, if you sell prom dresses, and you didn’t use your match types properly, you could show up for the search term ‘summer dresses’.
Finally, if you don’t manage your negative keyword lists, you could be showing up for completely irrelevant terms without even realizing it. So when you’re selling those prom dresses, if you haven’t excluded the word ‘venue’ you could be showing up for things like “best prom venues” which won’t drive your business forward at all.
3. Setting & Forgetting
There is a misconception that a Google Ads account is something that you can set, forget, and leave to run on its own. This is not a recommended best practice. Leaving an Ads account automated to run on its own means that you aren’t taking time to monitor keywords with low click-through rates, keywords with really high costs, irrelevant search queries, and more. It’s impossible to set up an Ads account perfectly the first time around, even if you’re a Google Ads expert. There are so many variables out of our control, such as user behaviour and the competitive landscape, that consistent monitoring is important.
Why is it costly?
It is impossible to predict users search behaviour and to anticipate the competitive landscape. Leaving an account as is over time could result in a reduction in performance and irrelevant ad spend that could’ve been prevented with a little bit of time and care put into your account.
The Bottom Line:
Managing a successful Google Ads account takes a lot of effort and time. Understanding is needed around campaign structure, keywords, and the insights gained through your conversion tracking. You need to keep up with the basics: watching for high-cost keywords, low click-through rates, and the keywords that are driving your best performance. These are only a few of the mistakes we see in new ad accounts, and we hope that now you know to look for them!
Feeling overwhelmed? We understand. Managing a Google Ads account can feel like a full-time job in and of itself, and you have so many other things to do.