9 PPC Mistakes That Impact Success (And How To Avoid Them)

PPC Mistakes

I’ve seen countless examples of this over the years. The worst offenders are usually accounts managed by people who clearly have no clue about search terms and negative keywords.

They throw branded queries into negative keyword campaigns and report them as huge successes, even though the true ROAS for actual negative search queries might be a measly 10-20%. Or, they use broad match negative keywords that bring in a bizarre array of…interesting search terms.

I’ve also encountered accounts with abysmal ad copy. Last year, I audited an account for a major national brand and discovered they were running the same generic ad copy in the outdated 2-headline-1-description ETA format across the entire account. On top of that, there were minimal to no changes in the campaign’s history.

I worked at an agency first job out of college. I was the only Google ads manager there (tiny agency). Had a great client who sold vehicles with a great return on Google. I spent probably an hour a day every day optimizing his campaigns.

I leave the agency and ~6 months later I get a message from the client, saying they want to hire me to run their account again. I log in and check the change history, not a single change in the past 6 months. I checked the agency website and they didn’t even hire a new Google ads manager when I quit. It should be considered stealing to charge a management fee and then not do the work.

Still working for this client to this day. And my old boss found out about it and called to blast me for ‘stealing his client and destroying $10k+ in yearly revenue from the agency.’

Common Mistake #1: Setting & Forgetting

Launching a campaign is just the first hurdle. You’ve poured in effort on keyword research, crafted compelling ad copy, built high-converting landing pages, and set up meticulous tracking – the heavy lifting, right? Wrong! Optimization is the real journey, a continuous climb towards peak performance.

The good news? Optimization possibilities are endless! Here are 3 key areas to tackle once your campaign is live:

Daily Monitoring:

Running Google Ads is like tending a garden: regular attention yields the sweetest fruits (conversions)! Daily checkups are key to spotting potential weeds (issues) before they choke your campaign’s growth. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Costly Clicks: A sudden spike in Cost Per Click (CPC) could indicate irrelevant keywords or search terms. Time to investigate!
  • Click Crickets: Low Click-Through Rates (CTR) might mean your ads aren’t grabbing attention. Rethink headlines and ad copy for a magnetic touch.
  • Conversion Conundrum: Campaigns not converting? Analyze landing pages and keywords to ensure a smooth journey from click to customer.
  • Click Flood: A surge in clicks can be exciting, but if they’re not converting, it’s like watering weeds. Refine targeting to attract the right audience.
  • Word Salad: Irrelevant search terms? Time to prune your keyword list! Focus on relevant, high-intent searches for laser-targeted reach.
  • Keyword Klunkers: Non-converting keywords are empty calories for your budget. Swap them out for winners that drive conversions.

Campaign Performance Optimization:

  1. Segregate high-converting keywords: Group top performers into dedicated ad groups. This boosts their Click-Through Rate (CTR) by ensuring the most relevant ad shows for each search.
  2. Craft fresh ad copy: Experiment with new variations through A/B testing. Discover what resonates best with your audience and refine your messaging for maximum impact.
  3. Leverage negative keywords: Implement relevant negatives in your ad groups. This fine-tunes targeting, prevents irrelevant impressions, and ensures your budget reaches the right eyes.

With consistent data analysis, you can implement these actions daily or weekly, progressively elevating your campaign’s effectiveness.

Campaign Strategy & Scaling:

While you don’t want to stifle potential gems with premature tweaks, non-performers shouldn’t drain your budget either. Here’s how to optimize for sustained growth:

1. Mine the Data Nuggets: As your monthly budget grows, so does your data harvest. Analyze what’s resonating and what’s falling flat. This rich intel lets you identify winning keywords for expansion and pinpoint underdogs for either strategic adjustments or retirement.

2. Campaign Cloning: Don’t reinvent the wheel! Leverage your best-performing campaigns as launching pads for new ventures. Replicate their structure, keywords, and bidding strategies, then tailor them to specific audience segments or product lines. This data-backed approach fuels faster growth.

3. Beyond Search: The Google Ads ecosystem offers a buffet of campaign types. Dip your toes into Display Network placements to expand your reach, or experiment with Shopping Ads for product-centric businesses. These avenues can unlock hidden customer pools.

4. Bidding Bonanza: Don’t settle for one-size-fits-all bidding. Explore flexible options like Target CPA or Target ROAS to ensure your bids align with your business goals. Remember, the right bid can maximize conversions while staying within budget.

Common Mistake #2: Not Using Negative Keywords

Don’t confuse “keywords” with “search terms”! Keywords are what you target in Google Ads, but searches rarely consist of just those exact words. Most are “long-tail,” meaning they include variations of your keywords.

Bid on “Blue Widgets”? Great! But someone searching for “get rid of old blue widgets” isn’t your buyer.

Avoid wasted ad spend by adding irrelevant terms to your negative keyword list before launch. This “pre-optimization” step tells Google which searches to skip, saving you money and boosting ad relevance.

Tools like our free keyword research tool and AnswerThePublic help uncover those potential negatives. Use them early, save cash, and watch your campaigns thrive!

Common Mistake #3: Not Using The Search Term Report

Gone are the days of broad keywords dominating search. Today, savvy online searchers wield long-tail phrases, often leaving advertisers wondering: am I reaching the right audience? And more importantly, am I wasting money on irrelevant clicks?

That’s where the Google Ads Search Term Report steps in, acting as your window into the real world of user queries triggering your ads. This treasure trove reveals the exact phrases people type, shedding light on both golden opportunities and hidden costs.

While such clicks might inflate your stats, they’re unlikely to convert. This report empowers you to banish these money-draining terms, ensuring your budget reaches qualified leads.

But the benefits go beyond weeding out misfires. The report unlocks a goldmine of insights. You can identify unexpected high-performing keywords, forming the foundation for laser-focused ad groups and landing pages. This granular understanding of your audience’s language and intent allows you to craft ad copy that resonates deeply, driving clicks that convert.

Common Mistake #4: Sub-Optimal Bidding Strategies

Is your ad campaign throwing money down the digital drain? Automated bidding, Google’s default setting, lets them optimize bids for their profits, not necessarily yours. Don’t let the algorithm call the shots! In just 5-10 minutes, you can reclaim control and potentially save hundreds (even thousands!) by switching to manual bidding.

Here’s how:

  1. Login to Google Ads
  2. Click your campaign
  3. Click “Settings” on the left
  4. Locate the “Bidding” section
  5. Change “Bidding Strategy” to manual

Common Mistake #5: Using Too Many Keywords Per Ad Group

Cramming too many keywords into one ad group dilutes your ad’s focus, making it less relevant to specific searches. Think of it like throwing a bunch of ingredients into a pot without worrying about harmonious flavors – you’ll end up with a bland dish.

Imagine you’re selling blue widgets. Grouping keywords like “blue widgets reviews,” “high-quality blue widgets,” and “durable blue widgets” under one ad won’t resonate with each searcher’s unique intent. A reviewer might be looking for pros and cons, while someone seeking quality might be comparing brands. This laser-sharp approach increases click-through rates and leads to a more satisfying experience for both you and your audience.

Common Mistake #6: Not Using Landing Pages

Clicking your ad shouldn’t send users down a conversion rabbit hole. Too often, traffic gets dumped on generic homepages, mismatched with expectations, and overwhelmed by distractions.

This conversion-killing combo leads to skyrocketing costs and abysmal results.

Enter the landing page, your laser-focused conversion champion! By eliminating distractions and tailoring the experience to the ad, landing pages dramatically improve conversion rates.

Building one isn’t rocket science anymore – tools like ClickFunnels and Instapage empower anyone to craft these targeted pages.

Remember the golden rules:

  • Match the ad: Seamless continuity keeps users engaged and on track.
  • Single action: One clear call to action minimizes confusion and maximizes conversions.
  • Simplicity is key: Ditch the fancy, embrace the focused. Clean design equals higher engagement.

Curious about your landing page’s performance? Tools like SEO Checker Tool can help you optimize for specific keywords and ensure your conversion machine is firing on all cylinders.

Common Mistake #7: Keyword, Ad, & Landing Page Consistency

The secret sauce lies in consistency between your keywords, ads, and landing pages. Neglect this crucial element, and you’re setting yourself up for ad abandonment and dwindling profits.

Avoid these conversion-killing missteps by asking yourself three key questions:

  1. Do my keywords reflect the intent of my offering? (Misaligned keywords = wasted clicks!)
  2. Are my ad headlines and descriptions bursting with those juicy keywords? (Relevancy is king!)
  3. Does my landing page echo the language and keywords from my ads? (Think of a seamless user experience!)

If you answered “no” to any of these, it’s time for a quick tune-up! Aligning your messaging across these elements is the magic bullet for boosting click-through rates, slashing costs, and transforming your campaign from flop to financial fiesta. Trust me, you’ll be amazed by the power of consistency!

Common Mistake #8: Ad accounts is a restrictive Target CPA

Having audited hundreds of brand google ad accounts, one of the most common and naive campaign optimization mistakes I have noticed across several ad accounts is a restrictive Target CPA(much lower than their existing avg. CPA) or daily budget set lower than target CPA.

While the intention here might be to reduce cost of acquisition but they actually end up not being able to spend at all and hence no customer acquisition.

Common Mistake #9: Not testing different ad variations

Build, learn, test, optimize, and repeat is the mantra I live by in marketing. Testing is a constant in PPC and it is how we learn and improve our performance over time. There are always areas to improve upon even if it’s slightly which is where A/B tests come into play.

Record all tests and report on wins/losses. All learnings are highly relevant to long term success in PPC. 

Final Thoughts

Best advice I can give (and believe me I’ve messed up a lot and felt like shit A LOT) is to make a list of all the mistakes you’ve made. And then turn that list of mistakes into a checklist. Now every time you add a keyword or build a campaign, you’ll have a QA list based on your most likely mistakes.

Get in the habit of going through that checklist every time you build something out. The best thing to do is accept your mistake and move on with the goal of doing better.

Christopher Smith
Author: Christopher Smith

SEO and linkbuilding expert. More than 7 years of work in the field of website search engine optimization, specialist in backlink promotion. Head of linkbuilding products at GREAT Guest Posts, a global linkbuilding platform. He regularly participates in SEO conferences and also hosts webinars dedicated to website optimization, working with various marketing tools, strategies and trends of backlink promotion.

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