last Updated 23 August 2022

How Google Steals Your Money Without You Realising

Imagine you’ve just spent a few hours cleaning and tidying your house. Everything’s been put away neatly, the hoovering’s been done, there are no dirty plates left in the kitchen - the place is perfect.

Now imagine how you’d feel if someone came in an hour or so later, tramped across the living room in their muddy shoes, pulled things off your shelves, dropped food on the floor, and basically undid all your hard work.

Obviously if, like me, you’re the proud owner of a couple of teenagers then this won’t require any great powers of imagination!

But even if you don’t have kids, I bet you’d be pretty hacked off if every time you got something neat and tidy and looking the way you wanted it, someone came in and rearranged everything behind your back.

And that’s exactly what can happen with your Google Ads account if you’re not careful.

In fact, it happened to me only the other day. But before I tell you about that, I need to give you some background...

A Google Ads success story

About 18 months ago, I set up a Google Ads campaign for an IFA called Alan who wanted to generate more mortgage leads.

Alan had never used Google Ads before and this was a bit of a proof-of-concept for him so, rather than sign him up to my usual kind of monthly retainer package, I agreed to do a one-off project where I created a landing page, built the PPC campaign, and then managed and optimised it for the first two months to get everything properly bedded in.

Everything went well and by the end of the project the campaign was bringing in a couple of decent leads a day at a cost of about £25 to £30 per lead. And Alan was converting about 1 in 6 of them into business.

So far, so good…

I asked Alan if he wanted me to carry on optimising and maintaining the campaign for him on an on-going basis but he said he reckoned he could do it himself rather than "waste money" on paying someone else to do it for him.

A wallet clamped shut

Google Ads recommendations

Last month, Alan got back in touch with me to say that the PPC campaign had gone off the boil. He was now getting fewer leads and quite a few of the enquiries he was getting were from people who wanted to talk to their bank to make a complaint or raise a query about their existing mortgage!

“Have you changed anything since I last looked at the account?” I asked Alan.

“Yes,” he replied, “We had a call from someone at Google a few weeks ago. They were very helpful and made some suggestions and got us to change some things that they said would mean we got more leads and made better use of our budget.”

At this point, my alarm bells started ringing.

You see, nine times out of ten, these “helpful” calls from Google are actually designed to get you to spend more money than you need. And that’s what had happened in Alan’s case too.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Alan ended up paying me to go into the account and fix all the problems that the Google rep had caused.

Stopping Google Ads automated recommendations

Two days after I’d done this work, I logged back into Alan’s Google Ads account to check the results. To my surprise and horror I found that several of my fixes had been undone again!

That’s when I realised that one of the things the Google rep had got Alan to do during that oh-so-helpful call was to turn on the setting that allows Google’s software to automatically apply its own recommended changes to the account without so much as a by-your-leave.

The good news is that I’ve now disabled that feature in Alan’s account and his ads are performing well again.

But this story highlights two things:


Be careful who you take Google Ads recommendations from

You should be very wary about accepting recommendations made by Google - whether those recommendations are given over the phone by a human or whether they’re the ones that pop up on the Google Ads dashboard all the time.

You and Google have different goals - you want to generate as many leads as possible from your existing ad budget whereas they just want you to keep increasing your ad spend.

And so the changes Google recommends are often not going to be in your best interests.


Keep checking and optimising your Google Ads

Whether you do it yourself or pay someone else to do it for you, it’s important to keep maintaining, checking and optimising your Google Ads campaigns - both to keep yourself one step ahead of your competitors and to make sure Google isn’t sabotaging things in the background.

google ads recommendations - How Google Steals Your Money Without You Realising

If you think something might have gone wrong with your Google Ads campaigns since you first set them up and you’d like someone to take a look at them for you, let me know

And if you want some free training on how to set Google Ads up correctly, click here.

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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