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7 Google Ads Mistakes That Are Squishing Your Success

7 Google Ads Mistakes That Are Squishing Your Success

7 Google Ads Mistakes That Are Squishing Your Success

The Google Ads platform offers several ways to customize your campaigns to attract customers. For many people, having so many options is the only way to ensure that all activities are focused on the right goals. But so many details can be overwhelming, which can lead to bugs or sub-optimal strategies.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the most common mistakes I see in Google Ads and help you get the information you need to correct them.

7 Google Ads mistakes to avoid

Here are the seven Google Ads mistakes I’ll cover in this article:  

  • Incorrect usage (or no conversion action)
  • Pair Smart Bidding with wrong goals
  • Automatically apply suggestions
  • Use only broad match keywords
  • Ignore negative keywords
  • No ad copy testing strategy
  • Your campaign has insufficient funds

Mistake #1: Using the wrong (or not using) conversion action

We all run campaigns in Google Ads for one reason: to help our business (or cause, etc.) get more sales and/or attention.

Conversion tracking enables us to measure those desired outcomes by using pixels to track the actions users take on our website. But I think the description of this conversion will confuse some people.

While driving traffic to your website may be your desired outcome, that doesn’t mean every pageview should be a conversion. These metrics can be easily tracked using existing metrics, such as clicks in Google Ads or pageviews in Google Analytics.

Instead, conversion actions should be viewed as those higher-value actions someone can take, such as filling out a form or making a purchase.

Many times I see accounts filled with pageview conversion actions and hundreds of “conversions” without actually seeing any sales.

Be more specific about your conversion action. Choose only those goals that move your business forward, so you’ll know your campaigns are being optimized for the right actions.

Mistake #2: Pairing Smart Bidding with the wrong goals

To exacerbate the problem of counting page views as conversions in Google Ads, I often see these accounts using Smart Bidding strategies focused on “conversions.” Did you see the problem here?

Google offers several different types of Smart Bidding strategies that can help you achieve your goals. I wrote a post about it a few months ago that can help you understand the pros and cons of each Google Ads Smart Bidding strategy if you want to check it out.

However, when you combine conversion-focused automated bidding with accounts that mistakenly use pageviews as conversions, you get a very effective account that is very effective at getting users to click on your ads (spending your money) and visit your website, but that’s about it.

On the other hand, there are some limitations when it comes to automated bidding and conversion optimization.

Google claims its system is smart enough to know what kind of conversions you want and optimize it without much investment – but as someone who’s been in the industry for over 10 years, I’m still hesitant about Whether to hand over the keys to the kingdom.

If you average between 7 and 10 conversions per week, or more than 1 per day, conversion-focused automated bidding (such as Maximize Conversions, Maximum Conversion Value, or CPA) may be a good option for you.

If your volume falls below this value, you may want to test several different bid strategies and see how each strategy performs. I would start with “Maximize Conversions” but would be willing to move to “Maximize Clicks” or “Enhanced CPC” and do regular bid reviews to focus on performance.

Mistake #3: Applying suggestions automatically

Over the past few years, Google Ads has made recommendations directly within the platform in an attempt to help advertisers optimize their campaigns.

While some suggestions are useful to help you achieve your goals, it’s worth noting that most are based on “best practices” for various accounts and don’t necessarily take into account your specific account goals.

While I like to always review the suggestions given, I don’t hand over control to Google and allow them to automatically apply their suggestions to my account.

The following is a list of actions that can be applied automatically:

That’s…Google can make a lot of changes on your behalf without asking you. But only if you opt-in to these automatic changes.

I highly recommend turning off these autosuggestions, but setting the frequency of logging into your Google Ads account each month to specifically see the suggestions Google has to offer. You can ignore anything that doesn’t make sense to you, and then review and apply what makes sense to you. But either way, you’ll be the one in the driver’s seat, not Google.

You can learn more about the pros and cons of Google Ads auto-app suggestions in my post.

Mistake #4: Using only broad match keywords

Google Ads offers three keyword match types: exact match, phrase match, and broad match. While the names may not be as closely related to their exact application as they once were, the broad match type is still the broadest.

This means that it will make your ad eligible to show and therefore be eligible for user clicks, rather than full or phrase queries.

While broad match keywords can be valuable in some situations, they are best used in a limited number of situations.

The broad match might work for you when:

Your account is producing good results, but you’re having trouble scaling with exact and phrase terms.  

Your conversions are high and you can take advantage of Smart Bidding’s broad match.  

You’re using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and focusing on a known set of users.

While this list isn’t exhaustive, it illustrates one thing: if you don’t focus on broad match keywords in one way (with strong past performance, lots of conversion data, or audience), these match types can indeed run and match queries for you There are no business matching queries. This brings us to the next error.

Mistake #5: Not adding negative keywords

No matter which matches the type you use for your keywords, you’re likely to match queries that aren’t right for your business. You can tell Google that you don’t want your ad to show for these searches by adding negative keywords.

A simple example to illustrate. You’re selling t-shirts, and someone searches for “free t-shirts.” If your t-shirts aren’t free (I hope they aren’t), you may want to add “free” as a negative keyword to your campaign so your ad doesn’t show to people searching for free items.

I often see accounts with zero negative keywords added. This is already a misstep, but when combined with running only on broad match keywords, you can end up spending a lot of money on terms that have zero chance of converting very quickly.

Start by adding more obvious negative keywords, then use the Search terms in the Google Ads report to view search queries in your Google Ads account by clicking Keywords and then Search terms in the left navigation.

There, you can start adding entire search terms or parts of them to your account as negative keywords.

Mistake #6: Not having an ad copy testing strategy

Our ad copy is a short pitch — a lot less than we want to say about our product, but the format is designed to be digested quickly. It also ensures that all advertisers have the same opportunity to make an impact.

With everything we might want to add to our ad copy, we can come up with many different ad variations. Responsive Search Ads help here because they allow you to add potentially different titles and descriptions to test in conjunction with each other.

But at a high level, some variants may focus on our quality craftsmanship, others may focus on how our prices beat our competitors, and others may focus more on the benefits you get from choosing our solutions. With all these options, it can be hard to choose where to go.

This is part of the problem.

Many of the accounts I log in to for the first time have one of the following two Google Ads replication errors:  

There is one ad per ad group, which means only one message will be sent to the user.  

Have five or more variations active in the same ad group (I’ve seen as many as 20), segmenting traffic among a large number of options.

Both have their pitfalls, but the solution is to run ad tests on your account regularly.

Here’s an easy-to-follow rhythm to help you roll out a proper testing strategy and keep your account moving forward:

There are 2-4 valid ad variations in each ad group.

Let them compete against each other for a while until each has a lot of data. (This varies by account, but a month is a good rule of thumb).  

Pause low-performing variants and write new ones to replace them, each time making sure that 2-4 variants are active in the ad group.

As you test more variations, you’ll discover what works and what doesn’t for your account. Maybe some messages work for some keywords but not others. Just follow a basic ad testing strategy and you can gather a lot of information.

Mistake #7: Underfunding Your Campaign

My last tip will feel like I’m just telling you to spend more, which may be the case for some of you. For everyone else, I want you to consolidate your campaign structure or setup to make sure you get at least some insight and performance from the money you spend.

I’ve come across many accounts where this is the case: Average CPC is over $10, the account has many high-quality keywords, and all focus is good, but the daily budget is spread out over 5-10 In campaigns, each campaign is only $5 per day. Not even enough to cover one key.

When you don’t have a high enough daily budget, Google won’t get the performance you need to justify your investment.

If you’re cash-strapped and have a very low budget, there are plenty of ways to save money in Google Ads while being opinionated. You can also use WordStream’s free Google Ads Grader to make sure you don’t give up money that could be put to better use.

If you’ve followed all the advice in other posts, it might be time to prioritize your account. Choose the campaign or keyword set you think is performing best, close all other campaigns, and transfer all budgets to that group.

Let it run for a while and evaluate the performance. If you see results, go ahead. If not, pause the group and move on to the next one.

Avoid these Google Ads mistakes and succeed

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the Google Ads platform. While all the levers are great for those who spend their day job with administrative activities, it can be difficult for those who need to make a lot of other business decisions to keep up.

Hopefully, this list of common mistakes will help you quickly identify any low-hanging fruit you can pick out for your account and help ensure your funds have the most impact.

To recap, here are the Google Ads mistakes to avoid:  

  • Incorrect usage (or no conversion action)
  • Pair Smart Bidding with wrong goals
  • Automatically apply suggestions
  • Use only broad match keywords
  • Ignore negative keywords
  • No ad copy testing strategy
  • Your campaign has insufficient funds

Here’s how to avoid them:

  • Set conversion actions to only reference those actions that have a particular impact on your goals, such as purchases and signups, and pageviews.
  • Be careful when using Smart Bidding
  • Take time out regularly to review and manually apply Google’s recommendations to see what works for you.
  • Use mix match types and use broad match only in specific and intentional situations.
  • Maintain a list of negative keywords.
  • Test your ad copy regularly with 2-4 valid variations in each ad group.
  • Allocate enough budget for each campaign so that Google can make your investment worthwhile.

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