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10 extremely costly AdWords mistakes you need to avoid at all costs

Author's avatar By Robert Allen 23 Jan, 2017
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Make sure you don't fall foul of these common but expensive AdWords mistakes

When it’s used correctly, Google AdWords can be a fantastic way to drive relevant visitors to your website and generate new enquiries or online sales for your business. AdWords works well for all sorts of products/services and you don’t need a huge budget to get started. Plus, it’s quick and simple to set up a basic AdWords campaign even if you’ve never done it before.

And that’s where the problems start. Yes, it is very easy for a beginner to set up and run their own AdWords account, but if you just accept all the default settings and don’t take the time to properly understand all the finer points of how AdWords works, you’ll end up spending a lot and getting very little return on your advertising budget.

Here we provide a list of the top 10 most costly Adwords mistakes we most frequently find marketers guilty of.

1. Choosing the wrong keywords

If you bid on the wrong keywords, you’ll waste money driving the wrong kind of visitors to your website – the kind of people who have little interest in the products or services you sell. Visits from more specific searches tend to have higher conversation rates, so bidding on lots of non-specific keywords will mean your wasting far more money than you would if you properly researched the highest converting keywords.

2. Using the wrong match types

If you don’t specify anything different, all your keywords will be set to broad match by default. With broad match your ads will potentially appear for any search that Google thinks is related to your keyword – even if the relationship is very weak. This can lead to a lot of your ad spend being wasted.

3. Not using the search terms report

Negative keywords are a way of telling Google that if a searcher includes one of those negative keywords in their search query then you do not want your ad to appear. This means you can filter out the kind of visitors that are of no interest to you and avoid wasting money driving them to your website. Too many businesses aren't using this feature and are thus wasting a lot of their PPC spend.

4. Not understanding Quality Score

A lot of people (including some who have been using AdWords for a while) think that the position of your ad on the search results page is determined purely by how much you bid, and that the more you bid the higher up you’ll appear. But in reality, your position on the page is heavily dependent on something called Quality Score (QS). You need to understand what this is and how to improve it if you want your AdWords spend to be used as effectively as possible. We detail how to do this in our new guide on costly Adwords mistakes.

5. Setting up AdWords and then walking away

Even the most perfectly configured account will need optimising and adjusting in the light of the real-world data that your campaigns will be gathering on an ongoing basis. You can find out how to keep it in tune by reading our new guide to costly AdWords mistakes.

6. Having poor quality ads

There are lots of ways you can make your ads more eye catching and more engaging. Doing this will increase your CTR and hence improve your QS, which means you pay a lower cost per click. Our new guide on Adwords mistakes details examples of things you can do to your ads to make them more clickable.

7. Having a poor account structure

If you simply follow the default options and put all your keywords and ads into one Ad Group you won’t get a good degree of control over a whole number of factors that can affect the effectiveness of your AdWords spend. You need to develop a properly thought out account structure using Ad groups if you're to get the most ROI possible.

8. Not measuring phone calls

Tracking conversions in the form of online purchases or enquiry form submissions is pretty easy, either with AdWords itself or by coupling it with Google Analytics. But for many businesses (particularly service-based ones) a lot of the enquiries or sales will happen over the phone. These conversions via the phone are just as important as online ones but, by default, you won’t get any data about them in your AdWords reports. This then means you loose out on one of the most important metrics for judging AdWords ROI. With incompete data you're far more likely to make bad, ill-informed decisions about future budget allocations.

9. Not optimising Mobile separately

By gathering data across the whole customer journey you can properly assess the true conversion rate of mobile visitors (those browsing on mobile but converting on desktop) and plan your bids accordingly. If you don't do this you will either be loosing business because your not bidding highly enough for mobile users and loosing them to competitors, or be loosing money because your bidding too highly for mobile users less likely to convert.

10. Not keeping up to date with new features

Google is forever releasing new features for AdWords – some of them very useful and others less so! It’s important you keep abreast of these changes and enhancements because, if you don’t, it gives your competitors a chance to get one step ahead of you. To find out more about new Adwords features, read our new guide to AdWords mistakes. Unlike this post, it details how to prevent each mistake and gives real word examples to illustrate how critical it is to avoid these common and costly mistakes.

Author's avatar

By Robert Allen

Rob Allen is Marketing Manager for Numiko, a digital agency that design and build websites for purpose driven organisations, such as the Science Museum Group, Cancer Research UK, University of London and the Electoral Commission. Rob was blog editor at Smart Insights from 2015-2017. You can follow Rob on LinkedIn.

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