Digital Marketing

Stop Making Google Richer! Seven Common Google Ads Mistakes… and How to Fix Them

November 2019
Che Stevenson

The late Dr Sigmund Freud once said “There are no mistakes”. He was mistaken about that.

Fact is, there *are* such thing as mistakes, and we make them all the time. When it comes to running Google Ads campaigns, there’s a whole bunch of mistakes that trip people up on a regular basis. We’ve identified seven of the most common, and what you can do to fix them.

Mistake # 1: Advertising on irrelevant search terms

One of the most common mistakes people make is to show their Google Ads on search terms that aren’t relevant to their business. These can be close variants of your ideal search terms, or completely unrelated searches that happen to contain one or more of your target terms.

Why it’s important

Hear that? It’s the sound of your money flushing down the toilet. Google Ads operates on a Pay Per Click (PPC) platform, so every click costs you money. If people are clicking on your ads when they’re looking for something else, it will quickly burn through your budget. This, of course, is great for Google (ka-ching!) – but not so good for you.

How to fix it

It’s a common problem, but it’s an easy one to fix. All you need to do is regularly review the search terms your ads are showing on, and add any irrelevant search terms to your block list. Minimise the use of broad match keywords, and use exact match, phrase match and modified broad match instead. Refine, refine and refine some more.

Mistake # 2: Using Google Ads Express

Google Ads Express is super easy to use, because its very nature is simple. It’s designed to get you to spend more and spread your net wider, and it doesn’t give you the fine-tuned controls you need. Lots of people start out on Google Ads Express because of this simplicity, and because it’s heavily promoted by (surprise!) Google.

Why it’s important

Successful Google Ads campaigns need fine-tuned targeting and carefully crafted content, so simple tools just don’t cut it. It’s like trying to use an IKEA allen key to construct an antique mahogany sideboard. Broad, unfocused campaigns are for those with deep pockets, because they only deliver significant results with significant scale.

There tends to be a lot of wastage and inefficiency too (sort of like TV and radio, come to think of it). Google's recommendations in Express typically encourage you to add more keywords and increase your budget (surprise, again!) rather than honing your focus and tightening your budget for the most effective combinations of keywords and ads. 

How to fix it

This is not so easy to fix. You’ll need to rebuild your campaign in Google Ads and teach yourself how to use the advanced tools. This will take time and effort, so your other option is to hire someone to do it; an expert who is skilled with the tools and knows how to construct a solid campaign, with no wastage. DIY often = false economy.

Mistake # 3: Not tracking conversions

Another big mistake is to not set up conversion tracking in order to measure the outcomes of your campaigns. Conversion tracking tells you exactly what search terms and ads are generating the best results, and measures things like sales, leads, phone calls, visits to important pages, link clicks and downloads. 

Conversion tracking is vital to campaign success.

Why it’s important

“You can only manage what you measure” - ancient Google proverb. 

If you aren’t measuring outcomes, how do you know whether it’s working? Google Ads is a Pay Per Click (PPC) platform, but most business owners want conversions - measurable business outcomes derived from website traffic. Conversions aren’t always sales, but they are always measurable, and can determine the level of benefit.

How to fix it

We’re going to get a little bit technical here – stay with us.

Basic conversion tracking involves adding a tracking code to a location that represents a conversion (eg a final checkout page, a “thank you” page after a download), and assigning an arbitrary value to the conversion. This can be enhanced with dynamic values and tracking of on-page actions such as link clicks.

Advanced conversion tracking – to be completely honest – requires a certain level of technical skill and access to the backend of your website. The friendly services of a competent web developer will probably be one of your best resources here. The ideal tools for this set up are Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.

Mistake # 4: Inaccurate location targeting

This might seem like something from “The Adventures of Captain Obvious”, but one of the most common mistakes on Google Ads is inaccurate location targeting. This means targeting users who are outside of your service area, or who are less likely to convert due to proximity. Seems simple, yes? But it happens all the time.

Why it’s important

Location targeting has a direct impact on conversion rates, and ultimately the overall profitability of your campaign. You might be targeting too wide an area, and find that those who are further from your location are much less likely to convert into genuine business opportunities. Sometimes it’s better to cast a smaller net.

How to fix it

You’ll need to review and update the target location settings in your campaign. Remember that you can target countries, states, cities, towns, individual postcodes or even a radius around a set location. You can also choose whether to target people living in the location, visiting the location or searching for the location.

Mistake # 5: Set and forget

Right, so you’ve finally set up your Google Ads campaign. Pat yourself on the back, pour yourself a glass of wine and tick it off your “to do” list. Phew. But, starting a Google Ads campaign and leaving it to run without any improvement or refinement is one of the worst things you can possibly do (well, there are worse things, but you get what I’m saying…)

Why it’s important

The phrase “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is insanity” could have been invented for Google Ads. Most campaigns benefit significantly from refinement; it’s almost always the case that some of your target keywords, ads and audiences will not work as well as others, so changes can improve results.

How to fix it

Just because you *can* set and forget Google Ads, doesn’t mean that you *should*. Review your ad campaign at least monthly and tweak search terms, ad copy, bid levels etc It sounds like a lot of work – and it is – but regular refinement can double or even triple your outcomes. It’s common for Google Ads campaigns to be flat-out failures on launch, but with the right attention they can become the backbone of your business.

*pause for brief humblebrag* Over an 18-month period we tripled the outcomes achieved from our client Hidrive's Google Ads campaign, helping the business build a platform for significant expansion over the last few years. All thanks to regular refinement.

Make sure that search terms are relevant to customer intent.

Mistake # 6: Advertising on low intent search terms

If – hypothetically speaking – I’m selling web design services, users who are searching for “DIY website design” are probably not looking to hire a web designer (unless they try to DIY and totally fail at it – we eventually see a lot of those sort of clients, but I digress). Another mistake is including search terms that are relevant to your business, but not reflective of a high level of user intent to purchase from or transact with your business.

Why it’s important

Let’s say that you are selling boiled lollies. You might show your ads on terms like 'best boiled lollies', 'boiled lollies online', 'boiled lollies suppliers', 'boiled lollies recipes', 'boiled lollies memes'. The last two are far less intent-oriented than the first three and will lead to lower conversion rates and a less successful campaign.

How to fix it

Your high intent keywords probably won't be as clear-cut as this example, but you need to look for search terms that indicate the user is interested in purchasing or engaging with your business. Cut out any keywords that are less relevant and you will see much improved results from your visitors.

Mistake # 7: Poor quality landing pages

So, you’ve got someone to click through on your Google Ads? Mission accomplished! Show me the money! *dusts hands* We’re obviously done here.

But we’re not... Another big mistake people make is linking their Google Ads campaign to pages on their website that are not very relevant to the search terms, and do not contain strong conversion hooks.

Why it’s important

There are a few issues. Low quality landing pages will increase your ad cost because Google Ads ranks your landing pages, and will promote or demote your ad depending on the score – effectively increasing your cost per click for low quality landing pages. And low quality landing pages won’t engage or convert - meaning poor overall results.

Let’s say you are converting 2% visitors to a sales lead, at a Cost Per Click (CPC) of $5. This means it costs you $250 to 'buy a lead' (we call this cost per conversion). Now, if you improve your website landing page and increase that conversion rate by just 1% to 3%, you are bringing your cost per conversion to $167 - a saving of $83 per lead. 

To put another way, your $1000 per month campaign just went from getting you four leads to six. That’s a 50% increase in leads from a 1% change in landing page performance. We find that landing page performance is by far the most underestimated element of Google Ads campaign optimisation.

How to fix it

You’ll need a quality landing page for each major search term group in your campaign, with content tailored to those search terms. This will give you a better landing page score and reduce your cost per click. This is an artform, and achieving the best results involves making multiple versions of your landing pages and testing extensively.

So, what makes a high quality landing page? To create a high-converting landing page you’ll need a well designed page that loads fast, is mobile optimised, has attractive imagery, succinct information and a clear call to action. Remember those failed DIY website attempts I mentioned earlier? This is also probably best left to the experts.

What happens when you get it right? We improved one client's Google Ads results by 250%

Adroit Conveyancing came to us after a shaky start with a DIY Google Express campaign to launch their new business - remember mistake #2? They knew it had potential but were frustrated by some of the limitations we talked about earlier.

We took over their campaign using the full Google Ads platform and within five months we had increased the number of clients they received through their campaign by 250%. From 14 clients in May 2019, they were up to 35 new clients per month by October.

To this day, the majority of their new business comes via Google Ads – find out more about our successful campaign here.

Need more help with Google Ads? 

If this all sounds exhausting, we totally get it – you’re running your own business, not a digital marketing agency. If you could use some help managing your Google Ads account, we'd love to work with you to build a campaign that gets results. 

We’re based in Bendigo and are happy to catch up for a chat over coffee.

(03) 5444 0030

Bendigo Victoria 3550

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