last Updated 19 May 2020

5 Common Google Ads Mistakes That Could Be Costing You a Fortune

Google Ads – Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform – has undergone a lot of changes and enhancements since it was launched, including a change of name.

However, the basic principles of the system are the same now as they were in October 2000 when AdWords (as it used to be called) was launched.

In a nutshell, Google Ads works like this. You write an ad for your business, choose keywords that determine what sort of searches your ad will appear for on Google, and say how much you are willing to pay each time someone is directed to your website as a result of clicking on your ad.

It’s pretty easy to set up your first Google Ads campaign. But it’s also very easy to do it in a way that will put more money into Google’s pockets than yours. Here are five of the most common mistakes that are made by both new and not-so-new Google Ads advertisers.

1. Picking the wrong kind of keywords

It's a common misconception that the more keywords you have, the better. Through its "helpful" keyword suggestions that regularly pop up in your account, Google actually encourages you to keep adding more and more keywords.

But, often, the first thing I have to do when someone asks me to fix their Google Ads account is to remove lots of their keywords. Why? Because they are the kind of keywords which don’t show what's known as "buyer intent".

Here's an example. Imagine your business provides cleaning services to industrial and commercial kitchens. One of the services you want to advertise is kitchen steam cleaning. So you might decide to bid on keywords such as:

  •               Kitchen steam cleaning
  •               Kitchen steam cleaning company
  •               How to steam clean a kitchen

The first of these keywords is ambiguous in terms of whether or not it shows buyer intent. Someone who searches for kitchen steam cleaning may want to hire a company like yours to do it for them, or they may be looking for tips on how to do it themselves.

By contrast, someone who searches for kitchen steam cleaning company is showing far more buyer intent – i.e. they are much more likely to be looking to pay someone to clean the kitchen for them.

And the final keyword in the above list is likely to be the least effective because people who do “how to” type searches are generally looking for advice on how to do a job themselves.

So if you want to reduce your Google Ads costs and improve return on investment, it’s a good idea to trim your keyword list and take out any keywords that don’t show strong buyer intent.

2. Using broad match

Many people assume that if you bid on a particular keyword – for example iphone screen repair – your ad will only be displayed if someone searches on Google for that exact phrase. However, by default, Google uses something known as broad match to determine whether or not your keyword is close enough to the user’s search term to permit your ad to be shown.

Therefore, the reality is that if you were to bid on that iPhone screen repair keyword using the default setting, your ad could also appear for lots of irrelevant searches from people looking for things like: iPhone reviews, iPhone cases, second hand iPhones, and screen protectors for iPhones.

The way to control this is to stop using broad match and use exact match, phrase match, and broad match modifier keywords instead. 

3. Not having enough ads

You might think that you can get away with just having one ad that appears whenever one of your keywords is triggered. But a successful Google Ads campaign relies on your ad always being highly relevant to what the user searched for. There’s no way that a single ad can be highly relevant to every one of your keywords, especially if you sell multiple products or services. So you need to have multiple ads and use ad groups to associate each ad with a small group of keywords that are highly relevant to that ad. 

4. Keeping Display Select enabled

Google has two networks within Google Ads. The one most people are familiar with is the Search Network where ads are displayed above and below Google’s search results. But they also have the Display Network where your ads can appear on all sorts of different websites across the internet.

The Display Network involves pushing ads at people while they are browsing other sites. Therefore, the quality of traffic you’ll get from these display ads is usually much lower than you’ll get from the Search Network where your ads are appearing in front of people who are actively searching for the type of products/services you sell.

By default, Google will set your Google Ads campaign to Search Network with Display Select (SNDS). This means your ads will appear on both networks.

A much better strategy is to change this setting to Search Network Only, which will increase the quality of your traffic. If you later decide you want to experiment with display ads you should do this via a dedicated Display Network Only campaign. That way you keep your two different types of traffic separate from one another and it becomes easier to analyse your results, adjust bids, etc.

5. Not using ad extensions

Ad extensions is a collective term for various types of additional information that can be displayed underneath or alongside your standard Google Ads advert. These ad extensions allow you to include things like your street address, your phone number, your key USPs, or a list of your main services as extra lines of ad text.

By using ad extensions you are able to give searchers extra information about your business, and this may encourage them to click your ad. Ad extensions also make your ad physically larger and more prominent which, again, increases the chances of it being clicked.

There’s no extra charge for using ad extensions so if you haven’t enabled them in your Google Ads campaigns you should go and do so right away.

About the author 

David Miles

As a digital marketing consultant, author and trainer, I specialise in helping businesses in the financial services sector use the internet to get more enquiries and increase profits.

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