“Measure twice, cut once” is a mantra most people follow because they failed to measure and cut incorrectly at one point or another. In fact, science tells us that our brains are wired to learn from our mistakes: when you recognize that you make a mistake, it “flips a switch” in your mind that helps you avoid making the same one again. But we’re also wired to learn from the mistakes of others. We’re here to help you avoid future digital marketing missteps (or possibly correct present ones!) by sharing these Google Ads mistakes to avoid.
What is Google Ads? It might be one of the most important parts of a digital marketing campaign! Mistake #0 could be “not using Google Ads.” This service allows advertisers to bid to display brief listings on the Search Engine Results Page, or SERP for short. If you enter a search query, you’ll see these ads on the page, often near the top and always marked with the word AD. As search engine users are more likely to click the first three results on the SERP, using Google Ads to get there right away can give you an advantage.
Using Google Ads properly is all about keyword research and good targeting techniques. There’s an art to it. In fact, you shouldn’t necessarily expect your ad campaigns to be perfect right off the bat. Sometimes trial and error is the only way to find the most effective keywords or other options to make your ads successful. But there are some things you can do to set campaigns up for success. With that in mind, here are
10 Google Ads mistakes to avoid:
1. Not tracking conversions
Don’t get us wrong, each of these points is important… but tracking your results just might be the most important one of all. Conversion tracking gives you a way to measure specific interactions users have with your site, typically in the form of transactions, form submissions, and phone calls. Without a form of tracking, you’re running your campaign blindfolded, one of the biggest Google Ads mistakes you can make.
By setting up conversion tracking, you can see how well each of your campaigns is performing in terms of sales or leads. Using that information, you can revise your campaign as needed to boost performance. Tracking your results is an imperative step in any digital marketing campaign – and when it comes to tracking Google Ads, it can both save you time and money and boost your campaigns’ effectiveness!
2. Targeting keywords that don’t convert
Just because a keyword seems like it should be relevant, doesn’t mean it actually is. Thorough keyword research is one of the first big steps in setting up a Google Ads campaign. It can help you in many other aspects of your digital marketing campaigns as well.
But when you’re selecting keywords for each of your Google ads, choose carefully! Do research beforehand to determine whether the keywords you plan to use are actually being searched for often. Use your conversion tracking to see how each keyword has actually performed, too. Continually innovate your keyword strategy as you find new, high-performing keywords and phase out ones that don’t do so hot.
3. Using too many keywords
There’s a key to keywords: quality over quantity! It may seem like sound reasoning to use as many keywords, and variations of those keywords, as possible to make sure your ad is seen. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Too many keywords can get in the way of a good message match. What does that mean? Message match occurs when the search term matches with the ad. Google then makes the search terms within the ad bold, which in turn makes a user more likely to click the ad.
If you use too many keywords, your ads may not show up for the right search terms and it can be harder to achieve a message match. Fewer, targeted keywords that perfectly fit the ad are more likely to land an ad in a relevant results page – and generate clicks!
4. Not using negative keywords
Listing keywords that you don’t want to rank for may sound counterintuitive, but there’s a good reason to do it! Negative keywords help you better target specific queries by eliminating irrelevant ones. Say you sell guitars, for example. Your parlor specializes in selling acoustic guitars to twangy folk artists, coffee shop crooners, and wannabe country stars. You might list electric as a negative keyword. This way your brand won’t rank in queries made by punk rockers or metal heads looking for an axe with which to shred.
5. Choosing the wrong keyword match type
Keyword match types determine the kinds of searches in which your ads will show up. Choosing the right one is essential to running a well-targeted campaign. But each is suited for different situations. Here’s how they work:
Broad match: This option shows your ad when any words in your keyphrase are included in a query, no matter the order. Unfortunately, your ads can show up in irrelevant searches with this option – making your ad costs pile up.
Modified broad match: By selecting this option, you’ll begin to limit the queries in which your ads show up. Your ad will be displayed only when a query contains specific words that you define, but it’s not as limiting as the next two options.
Phrase match: Like modified broad match, your ads show up under this option only when specific words are included in a query. However, it’s more restricting in the query must contain your entire keyphrase in order, although more words may be included before or after it.
Exact match: This is the most restrictive option, only showing your ads when queries perfectly match your keyphrase. However, it does allow some wriggle room in the form of plurals and other variations of words in your keyphrase.
6. Not including enough ads in each ad group
Ads groups are another way to hone in on your target audience. Using several ad groups, each with a different, specific audience, ensures that you’re making the best use of your ads. But each group needs to be filled with enough ads to be functional.
Why? It’s all about optimization. If you use a single ad and that ad isn’t effective, it may seem like the whole target is a bust. However, if you use a few ads (we recommend between three and five), you can track the performance of each one. This way, you can eliminate ineffective ads and ensure that the group is always rotating strong messaging in front of potential customers.
7. Not adjusting bids by location
Know where your customers are! By targeting users in the regions in which you do business, you’ll reach more potential customers. Not targeting locations, or targeting the wrong locations, means your ads will show up for searchers who won’t find your brand relevant.
For example, if you’re doing business in Chicago, you should adjust your bids for Chicagoland locations. If you cast your net too wide and target Cleveland, for example, your ad will show up for searchers who probably don’t want to drive eight hours for your services. Exceptions exist, of course. Simply look at the User Location report to make sure you’re targeting relevant locations with customers that can be converted.
Working with location in your ad campaigns goes hand in hand with local SEO. Learn more in our guide to local SEO here!
8. Not trying new versions of ads each month
Stale ads = stale bread. Advertising is a field that thrives on continual evolution, so innovate, innovate, innovate!
By adjusting and updating your ads every month, you can keep your marketing fresh. You can also tailor the ads to specific monthly events, if it’s applicable to the specific campaign. Monthly updates to your ads also give you the opportunity to reevaluate and revise your ads based on their performance.
9. Enabling the Google search partner network (even when it doesn’t lead to conversions)
What is the Google search network? It’s a list of sites that have partnered with Google to show ads. These sites include YouTube and other Google domains, as well as hundreds of non-Google sites. This sounds well and good, but it can be problematic for your Google Ads campaign.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Google search partners. However, search partners often perform poorly, which translates into wasted ad spend. If search partners are enabled in your Ads campaign, monitor their performance closely. If they’re not doing well, simply disable them to eliminate a drain on your ad budget.
10. Not creating audiences for retargeting
What does “audience retargeting” mean? While it’s worthwhile to try to draw new customers to your site, you should also focus on those who have visited your site before. An audience retargeting list is designed to display ads to users who have been on your site before and are familiar with your brand. This can help you turn a bounce into a conversion and one-time visitors into repeat customers.
Mistakes are a part of improvement. We’ve listed Google Ads mistakes to avoid here, but remember that many parts of a digital marketing campaign aren’t set in stone. Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty and experiment to build an effective Google Ads campaign. Use these tips as guidelines to get started or revamp your existing efforts and you’ll be well on your way to a high-converting campaign. Have you learned from any Google Ads mistakes personally? Share your experience in the comments below!