Top 10 Google AdWords Mistakes to Avoid
An ad campaign not properly configured may be shown to the wrong shoppers. Or, a campaign that isn't compelling enough may simply get lost among the competition. Regardless of the mistake, the end result can be spending a lot of money to get very little return on investment. Fortunately, most of the mistakes made by business owners and online marketers are easily preventable.
Read on to see the top 10 errors to avoid when setting up new campaigns in AdWords.
1. Targeting Search and Display
When setting up new campaigns, Google urges advertisers to run their ads on both the Search and Display networks. Google's reasoning for this is to put your ad in front of as many eyes as possible.
Don't do it.
People interact differently with each network. Ads on the Search Network are presented to relevant customers who are searching for your product, while display ads appear on relevant blogs and websites to people who are likely not even shopping.
Rather than run single campaigns on both networks, you're far better off creating separate search and display campaigns. Then you can optimize each campaign for different target audiences.
2. Wrong Keyword Match Types
Always start your campaigns with exact- and phrase-match keywords. It's tempting to start with broad-match keywords, which are more likely to drive higher volumes of traffic to your ads. However, the traffic from broad-match searches is less likely to be relevant to whatever it is you're selling, meaning you'll end up paying for visitors who don't convert.
Also, your ads will get higher clickthrough rates by using exact- and phrase-match keywords, and higher CTRs means better quality scores. And that can result in cheaper costs per click!
3. Missing Negative Keywords
Negative keywords let you block your ads from being shown when searches include certain words.
Why is this useful?
Imagine that you're using AdWords to attract new customers to your auto mechanic shop. Unless you set "school" as a negative keyword, then your ad may be shown to scores of people who are searching for "auto mechanic schools." This can sink your CTR, lower your quality scores and ultimately bring lots of non-converting traffic to your site. Always set negative keywords to preemptively exclude non-converting visitors.
4. Not Segmenting by Devices
Newly created campaigns in AdWords default to showing ads on all devices. This might seem advantageous in terms of sheer traffic volume, but people tend to behave differently online depending on whether they're using desktop PCs, tablets or smartphones. Also, some landing pages aren't designed to display or function properly on mobile devices, which can cause obvious problems.
The safe bet here is creating separate ads and landing pages for desktop and mobile users. Then, you can optimize your campaigns to get the best conversions from each type of traffic. And if your website isn't mobile friendly, then you're better off blocking mobile traffic completely.
5. Targeting the Wrong Keywords
The goal of online advertising is to get your ad seen by people who are most likely to become customers. To this end, inexperienced advertisers often load their ad groups with keywords when creating campaigns in AdWords. But what they should be doing is only using keywords that are more often associated with people looking to make purchases.
The key here is determining the commercial intent of certain keywords. For example, if your business sells running shoes, then the keyword term "best running shoe for trails" is less likely to generate sales than the term "Merrell trail running shoe deals."
When creating new campaigns, limit your keyword selection to buyer-oriented keyword terms. Later, you can experiment with research-intent keywords.
6. Missing Keywords in Ad Copy
The wording of any ads you create should always include your most high-volume keyword terms. When people search for that keyword in Google and see your ad, the keyword term in your ad copy will be bolded, which draws the eye and increases clickthrough rates. As stated earlier, higher clickthrough rates lead to better quality scores and cheaper costs.
If you have several keywords that get lots of traffic, then try splitting your keywords into different ad groups with optimized ad copy for each one. And don't hesitate to experiment with new ads and ad groups when you discover new keywords that convert at a high rate.
7. Landing Page Is Not Congruent
You'd better deliver on your promises, and you'd better be clear on your delivery. If a Web user clicks an ad promising a fantastic deal, but then that deal is nowhere to be found on your landing page, you'll lose that customer's sale.
It's not enough to simply make sure your ads reflect your most current discounts and incentives; you must also send visitors to the most appropriate pages of your website. If your ad promises free shipping, make sure to send visitors to a landing page with either information or a prominently placed link about your free shipping offer.
A good rule of thumb is to create different ad groups for each type of incentive you'd like to highlight, which allows you to optimize different ads and ensure congruence with their landing pages.
8. No Compelling Offer
Do you feel like you're doing everything right, but your ad still isn't getting any traction? Sometimes the simple truth is your ads just aren't as interesting as your competitors' ads.
Try searching for some of your best keywords in Google and check out ads you'll be up against — this gives you an instant advantage when writing your ad copy. Consider how highlighting certain prices, deals or product benefits might make your ads more compelling.
9. Missing Ad Extensions
Ad extensions reward top advertisers by displaying their ads with locator maps, site maps, phone numbers, addresses and more. Research shows that ad extensions increase clickthrough rates (cheaper costs) while giving visitors additional options for interacting with your site.
That said, too many advertisers completely ignore extensions. This is a huge mistake. Always create all appropriate extensions when creating new campaigns.
10. No Conversion Tracking
Knowing how to create effective campaigns is just the first step of being successful in AdWords. Once campaigns are up and running, you must be able to optimize them, and that requires getting performance data.
Activating AdWords Conversion Tracking and Google Analytics is essential for determining the value being delivered by your various campaigns. These tracking systems let you see where your traffic comes from and how it tends to convert on various pages of your website. With this information, you'll know which ads are keepers and which ones need rethinking.
In Conclusion ...
It's tempting to create new ads and campaigns with the goal of attracting as many visitors as possible; and as you build and grow your campaigns, it pays to sometimes cast a wider net to see how you might reach new, viable customers.
That said, the biggest mistake new advertisers make is to think too big, too fast. Most of the above mistakes are easily avoidable by building new campaigns to focus on Web users who are most likely to be shoppers.
Want more Google AdWords tips and advice? I put together an AdWords checklist to help you get your campaigns set up for success. Click here to get my Google AdWords checklist.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.