Biggest Mistakes Everyone Makes With PPC (And How To Avoid Them)


Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is one of the quickest ways of getting relevant traffic to your website and getting ROI from your marketing spend.

If you get it right.

If you get it wrong, your Google Ads account can quickly become an exercise in watching your marketing budget disappear.

Managing a PPC campaign isn’t as complicated as many people think it is.

But there is a lot of work that needs to go into the initial phases of a campaign to make sure you’re targeting the right people with the right messages.

Having managed more than our PPC campaigns and helped clients turn around failing efforts, we’ve seen most of the mistakes people make.

So here are the most common, along with our advice for how to avoid them.


Making Big Changes With Small Data

For sure one of the biggest mistakes people make with PPC, is they set everything up and then throw their budget at the first phase of campaigns.

This is an easy way to fail fast.

Before you go big on PPC spend, you need to start small so you can gather some data about what is working and, more importantly, what isn’t.

The worst thing you can do for a fresh account is start making changes with no data to go off.

Give your account some time to generate clicks and tell you what to do next.

The more data you generate, the more you are going to have an idea of what works and what doesn’t.


Campaign A has generated 10 clicks and 1 conversion for the cost of £11.

Campaign B has generated 25 clicks but 0 conversions for the cost of £29.

You know that Campaign A is your main focus because you’re getting conversions for less spend.

Campaign B needs some work because, while it’s getting clicks, it’s lacking in conversions.

You would only know to make changes from looking at results.


Unsuitable Match Types

Match types are at the centre of your targeting.

If you didn’t already know, there are four match types used in PPC:

  • Broad Match
  • Broad Match Modifier
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match

As the terms suggest, the match type helps you work out how narrow or broad a particular search will match to a keyword in your campaign.

You need to make sure that you’re fully aware of each type.

Trying to use match types for your keywords without knowing the suitability of each one is a good way to drive irrelevant traffic to your website and waste your daily budget.


If your business buys and sells cars, a keyword you may include could be ‘Car Dealership’. 

Let’s say this phrase has a lot of search volume and you decide to include it in your account as a broad match modifier (+car +dealership).

You could be looking at generating clicks for terms such as: ‘do I have to sell my car through a dealership?’ or ‘dealership for bikes not cars’.

You are ultimately bringing in a lot of irrelevant traffic by using a broad match type for a small phrase with a lot of search volume.

Tip: As a rule of thumb, any phrase over 2 words long should mainly use broad match modifier (exact match is okay in some cases). Any phrases 2 words or below, use phrase match and exact match.


Disregarding A Negative Keyword List

When you generate a search term completely irrelevant to your business, you want to make sure the term never costs you money again.

The way to do this is by implementing a Negative Keyword List.

A Negative Keyword List is effectively a register of any phrases or words you do not want your ads to show up for.

Unfortunately, some people will not always take notice of this tool.

That’s a mistake because a Negative Keyword List is a great way to streamline your search terms to be more and more relevant as time goes on.


You run a car dealership.

Your keyword is “car dealership” on a phrase match.

But you generate a click through for the search term: ‘how many car dealerships in the North West’.

Adding “how many” to your negative list will help make sure you don’t show up for a general question like this again.


Lack of Ad Scheduling

Despite what you might think, having your Google ads displaying 24/7 is a bad thing.

What’s so bad about it?

Your ads can show at times when people may click them, but are less likely to convert to a customer.

Letting this happen could potentially mean your daily budget running out by 11am.

Make sure you implement a schedule for each campaign that puts your ads in front of the right people at times when they’re more likely to engage with them.

For instance, have your ads start to show an hour before your business opens and have them finish sometime in the late evening.


Conversion Tracking Set-Up Inaccurately

The whole point of Google Ads is to get and keep track of conversions.

If you’re not tracking anything, you don’t know what is or isn’t working.

So you don’t know what changes you need to make.

It can be a real pain when conversion tracking is not set up properly.

Ensuring you have set up conversion actions on your website, tested them and then pulled them through to your Google Ads is the finishing touch for a fresh account.

It needs to be done properly.

Pro Tip:

We recommend Google Tag Manager for quick and effective tracking when it comes to making sure you know where all your quality conversions come from.


No Incentives in Ad Copy

Your ad copy tells us the name of your company, includes your keyword and has a call to action.


But where’s the hook?

You’ll be surprised how many people do not include Unique Selling Points in their ads.

The main thing to remember is that your competitors are going to be mentioning everything that makes them stand out.

If you want to compete, you need to do the same!


Always have your Unique Selling Point in the sub-heading. That way your main headline can include your keyword and your third headline can act as the call to action.


Inaccurate Location Targeting

If you’re a small company in Cambridge that only does (and wants to do) business locally, you really don’t want your ads being visible in the USA?

A lot of people slip up with their location targeting by going after people in the wrong area.

When setting up a campaign, make sure your ads are targeted to people who live in your chosen locations.

Pro Tip:

If you set up location targeting for a large area (e.g. a region or country) break your targeting down into metropolitan cities or towns – it’s great for when you need to make bid adjustments.


Disregarding Quality Scores

Seen something called “quality score” for one of your keywords?

Noticed that it’s 2/10?

You need to fix it. Fast.

Having a low quality score basically means your keyword is going to cost you more money than a keyword with a high quality score.

When you notice a quality score lower than five, there’s a couple of things to look at:

  • Is your ad relevant enough to people’s needs?
  • Is your landing page of a good standard?
  • What is your expected click-through-rate?

Look into these areas, make improvements, earn a higher quality score and then you’ll be giving your keyword the best chance of performing to a high standard.


Increasing Bid Adjustments Too Much

You’ve noticed your main campaign is getting a lot of conversions for a low cost per conversion.

The logical action is to make a bid adjustment of +40% to maximise on this, right?


When you up your bid adjustments by a big percentage, you risk wasting your daily budget quickly.

Any bid adjustments should be increased gradually, and only when there’s data to justify it.

Pro Tip:

Start with a small +10% for areas performing well, and gradually increase if everything continues to move in the right direction.


Having A Low-Quality Website

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is an important point.

To make PPC advertising work effectively, your website needs to be of a good standard.

Simple layouts, easy navigation and professional themes will go a long way.

If your website isn’t user-friendly and makes it hard for people to find what they’re looking for, they’ll just leave and go somewhere else.

Pro Tip:

Don’t just cater your website to desktop users, make sure it is easy to use on mobile.

Remember, ads show up on all different devices.


There is a lot to talk about when it comes to PPC advertising in terms of how to make it work and keep your account at a high standard of performance. Got questions? Want to talk to the experts? Contact our PPC team today for enquiries either by emailing or calling 01744 747474.

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