last Updated 11 August 2023

4 Google Ads Traps You Need To Avoid When Creating a New Campaign

I’ve often said that Google makes it very easy for pretty much anyone to set up a Google Ads campaign but that they also make it very easy for you to set it up in a way which will put more money into Google’s pocket than it does into yours.

This is because Google has laid a number of traps for inexperienced advertisers. 

You see, when you set up a Google Ads campaign for the first time, you’ll be presented with several default options and helpful-sounding recommendations which sound like they’re going to save you time and make life easier for you. But, in most cases, what these default settings and suggestions will actually do is cost you more money by steering you down a path where you have less control over what your ads say, who gets to see them, and what you pay per click.

In this article I’m going to highlight four of the questionable recommendations and default settings which Google will present you with during the Google Ads campaign setup process, and I'll explain what you should do differently and why.

1. Don't choose a Google Ads campaign goal

When you start creating a new Google Ads Campaign one of the first things you’ll see is this:

creating a google ads campaign - 4 Google Ads Traps You Need To Avoid When Creating a New Campaign

Sounds nice and helpful, doesn’t it? And if you’re using Google Ads as a mortgage broker or financial adviser, or if you're advertising for any other kind of service-based business, you’ll probably be tempted to select “Leads”. Similarly, if you are an ecommerce business, it will seem obvious that you should plump for “Sales” from that list.

But what you need to do instead - regardless of the type of business you’ve got - is to select the final option (create a campaign without a goal’s guidance) because that will allow you to have full control over all the campaign settings.

If you choose one of the other options then Google will create a campaign with a number of the settings preconfigured and you won’t have the ability to change them.

2. Don't use Google Ads automated bidding

Google will default to using an automated bidding option where it will set your bids for you automatically at whatever level it thinks will get you the most conversions. 

creating a google ads campaign - 4 Google Ads Traps You Need To Avoid When Creating a New Campaign

But there are two problems with this:

  • It doesn’t take into account what your acceptable/affordable cost per conversion is
  • With a brand new campaign, Google has no data so there is nothing for it’s machine learning algorithms to work with when it comes to deciding how much it should bid and which keywords are most likely to generate conversions

Therefore you should click the link for selecting a bid strategy directly (the one that says it's not recommended!) and then switch the bid strategy to Manual CPC bidding without Enhanced CPC. That way you'll be in full control of how much you spend as a maximum for each click.

creating a google ads campaign - 4 Google Ads Traps You Need To Avoid When Creating a New Campaign

3. Opt out of the Google Display Networks

Google has two networks where your ads can appear. The one you’re probably most familiar with is the Search Network - where ads appear at the top and bottom of the Google search results page. And that’s where you’re most likely going to want your ads to appear.

But Google also has the Display Network which is where ads appear on third party websites. Although display advertising can be effective, it’s very different from search advertising. Display ads tend to have lower costs per click but bring lower quality traffic. So if you are going to run display ads you ought to keep them in a separate campaign with its own budget.

By default, though, Google will create a campaign where your ads run on both the search and display networks. To avoid this, you need to untick the “Include Google Display Network” option when you get to this section of the campaign setup:

creating a google ads campaign - 4 Google Ads Traps You Need To Avoid When Creating a New Campaign

4. Don't use Responsive Search Ads

If you’ve watched any of my videos or read any of my guides to setting up a Google Ads campaign then you’ll know that I always talk about an ad having three headlines and two lines of description. And that’s because, for many years, this was the only type of ad you could create in a Google Ads search network campaign. 

The official name for these ads is Expanded Text Ads. And if you’re wondering why they’re called expanded, it’s because these ads originally only had one headline and one description line.

But then, a few years ago, Google introduced Responsive Search Ads.

With Responsive Search Ads, you give Google a selection of headlines and a selection of descriptions and, each time your ad is shown, Google will mix and match different combinations of headlines and descriptions. 

creating a google ads campaign - 4 Google Ads Traps You Need To Avoid When Creating a New Campaign

The idea behind this is that Google will eventually learn which combinations of different headlines and descriptions work best and get you the most clicks. And then it will use those combinations more often. 

This may sound good, but it means you lose a lot of control over what your ads will say. And in nearly every test I’ve carried out, I’ve found that manually created Expanded Text Ads have outperformed the automatically generated Responsive Search Ads.

If you do decide to go down the responsive route, you’ll need to try to make sure that your ads will make sense regardless of what combination of headlines and descriptions Google chooses. But with so many headlines and descriptions to choose from, the number of combinations you need to check can become vast.

This is a particular problem if, like a lot of my clients, you work in financial services. Often you’ll find that your compliance department wants you to keep a record of every advert that you run. But how can you do that if the ads are being written on-the-fly by Google instead of by you?

So, my advice is to create a Responsive Search Ad as part of the initial campaign setup and then delete it and replace it with two or more Expanded Text Ads.

To create an Expanded Text Ad, go to the relevant ad group in your campaign, navigate to the Ads section and then click the + button. You’ll have to select Responsive Search Ad to begin with:

creating a google ads campaign - 4 Google Ads Traps You Need To Avoid When Creating a New Campaign

But then, on the next screen click the link to switch back to text ads:

creating a google ads campaign - 4 Google Ads Traps You Need To Avoid When Creating a New Campaign

If you want some tips on how to write good ads, I've got a free guide called Top 10 Tips for Writing Better Google Ads which you can download from the free resources page.

Next time you create a Google Ads campaign from scratch, make sure you change these four settings from their defaults. And if you have any existing campaigns which are not performing as well as you’d like, go back and check them and see if you need to amend any of these settings or create some Expanded Text Ads.

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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