Over the past, we’ve seen our fair share of AdWords accounts and campaigns. Time and time again we see the same mistakes cropping up, resulting in wasted budget and poor return on investment. We’d love to save you the trouble of committing these grievous errors, and instead see you achieve resounding success with your AdWords campaigns.

1. Overusing broad keyword match.

In essence, when you select broad match, you’re handing over total control of your keyword selection to Google. Google will show your ads for ‘relevant’ keyword searches, including synonyms, misspellings, singular/plural forms, etc.

The problem is that what Google thinks is ‘relevant’ or ‘related’ may not be quite what you have in mind. For instance, if you sell coffee pots and your ad is triggered whenever someone searches for tea pots, you likely wouldn’t find the term highly ‘relevant’.

While broad match will ensure your ad gets lots of impressions, your click-through and conversion rates are likely to be lower. Focus instead on using phrase or exact match; these may result in fewer impressions, but ultimately will pay off in the form of higher CTR’s and conversion rates.

2. Using a common landing page for all your ads.

Using a general web page like a product category page or worse, your homepage, may end up costing you a lot more than you anticipated! While you’ll be paying for the clicks, these visitors are unlikely to convert.

Your landing page should be unique to your ad, which not only results in higher conversion rates and improved quality scores, but it provides a better customer experience.

3. Focusing on click-through rate rather than conversions.

I know, it’s awesome seeing those high click-through rates.

But the problem is that high CTR’s do NOT necessarily equal high conversion rates. For instance, if you’re sending your traffic to your homepage (see #2), your traffic is unlikely to convert. So now you’re paying for the click, and getting nothing in return.

In this case, high CTR = money out the window.

Focus instead on creating unique, compelling landing pages with strong calls to action. While it will take some additional work at the front end, it will quickly pay for itself as your see your conversion rates skyrocket.

4. Using AdWords default settings.

There are a number of default settings that you’ll want to avoid. It’s a common newbie mistake to leave the default settings ‘as is’, assuming that Google’s got it all under control.

Some of the default settings to watch out for include:

  • Broad match (see #1).
  • Devices: Want the exact same ad to show for PC’s, laptops and smartphones? Nope, didn’t think so.
  • Search and display network: By default, your ad will be shown on both the search and display network. And as we know, each network requires its own secret sauce.
  • Geo-targeting: If you’re a local business, you likely only want to target customers in your area. By default, your ad will show to searchers across the country.

5. Setting up too few ad groups.

By only having a few ad groups, each group is likely to have tons of keywords. Kind of hard to track your results this way!

Instead, set up as many ad groups as you need to in order to keep only closely-related keywords together. This will allow you to accurately match your ad copy to your keyword, landing page, and of course, buyer intent.

Remember, there is nothing wrong in having 1 or 2 keywords in an ad group!

6. Not matching keywords with buyer intent.

People use different keywords depending on what stage of the buying cycle they’re in.

For instance, if you’re looking to buy lotion to cure Athlete’s Foot, you’ll likely type something like ‘lotion for Athlete’s Foot’. At this point, your intent is likely to want to learn what lotions are available. If you were to type in ‘Lamisil Australia’, your intent is likely that you want to buy Lamisil.

Remember to speak to this intent in your ad copy and landing page; otherwise you may be paying for wasted clicks.

7. Not using negative keywords.

Negative keywords give you the ability to decide exactly who isn’t going to see your ad.

Particularly if you’re using broad match, negative keywords are imperative for qualifying your clicks (qualifying clicks = only paying for highly relevant traffic).

For instance, if you sell iPhones, you may want to do negative keywords matches for terms related to ‘apples’; not everyone who searches for apples is looking for technology!

By adding ‘red delicious’, ‘Fuji’ and Braeburn’ to your list of negative keywords, you can be assured those health nuts won’t be seeing your ad.

8. Giving up on campaigns before testing.

When your campaign is bleeding money, it’s easy to just give up on the entire campaign. The problem is, you may be this close to succeeding…but now you’ll never know.

Before you give up on a campaign, give it a fair shot by testing and tweaking it, trying different keywords, different landing pages, and varying combinations of both.

9. Not using conversion tracking.

You’d be surprised how often this happens! How can you possibly know if you’re failing or succeeding unless you’re properly tracking your campaigns?

Effective conversion tracking is easy to set up, and can make a world of difference to your campaign’s success. By linking your Google Analytics account to your AdWords account, you can track exactly how well all aspects of your campaigns are performing.

10. Assuming the #1 position is the best.

It’s great to be #1. But at what cost?

Sometimes you may find that being in the 2nd or 3rd position (or even 5th or 6th) results in a greater ROI than paying top dollar to be in the top position.

Don’t get hung up on being #1, no matter the cost. Particularly if you’re on a limited budget, a lower position may actually provide a great return with less risk.

Have I caught you on any of these mistakes? Any that I’ve missed that have really gotten you? Let me know below!

By Philip Shaw


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