13 mistakes that will wreck your Google Ad campaign


A Google Ad campaign can drive high converting visitors to your website quickly if you set it up quickly.

Much quicker than relying on content creation and organic traffic alone.

But just as a high optimised, researched and well executed Google Ad campaign can get your online business firing quickly, a poor campaign can rip through your ad budget and leave you poor, without an increase in customers just as quickly.

In truth, relying solely on one type of content marketing for your clicks and leads isn’t going to get you the results you want.

Even in the older days of traditional marketing, you needed to have a combination of everything going for you to get the best results in the short and long term.

This means making the most of your Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media.

But when it comes to Google Ads, or any digital advertising, extra care needs to be taken to make sure you’re getting the results for your investment.

Read on and we’ll tell you the most common mistakes we see people make with their Google Ad campaign planning, and give you some useful tips to stop you making the same mistakes.


Not focusing on the right keywords

Just like with SEO and content marketing, you need to focus on keywords that your customers are using to search for products or information.

Using these keywords in your ads ensures they get placed in front of the right people.

As you get more data from your campaigns, and see which keywords are driving traffic and conversions, and which aren’t, you can start to add to your “negative keyword” list, which will exclude your ads from people making those keyword searches.

If you’re focusing on the wrong keywords, you could end up driving more traffic without getting conversions, or just missing out on new traffic altogether because your ads are appearing in front of the wrong people.


Not focusing on keyword matches

There are three keyword matches you need to know when setting up your Google Ad campaign.

  • Broad match: Here your ads will appear in any search that includes your keywords, whatever order those keywords appear in the search phrase. Using broad match, you can generate more clicks because your ads will appear in front of a bigger audience. But they don’t take into account how ready the user is to buy something, so you might not see an increase in conversions.
  • Phrase match: This type of match means your ads will appear for people who search your keywords, in the same order you use them, no matter the enquiry. So ads for “best men’s shoes” will also appear for searches like “where to buy best men’s shoes”.
  • Exact match: Now your ads will only appear when searches use the exact keyword that you’re targeting in your Google ads. Your ads will not appear in any broader searches, even if the keywords are used in the same order.

The reason you need to get these right in your ads, is because the likelihood of converting a user rises or falls based on the type of match.

Broad matches, because they are more general, will typically generate more clicks through to your landing page, but fewer conversions because it doesn’t take into account where the user is in their buyer journey.

Exact matches, because they’re so specific, generate fewer clicks, but because they appear to people further down the buyer journey, they are more likely to generate conversions and, ultimately, more money from your campaign.

The key is finding the right balance.


Not using negative keywords

While you want to put time into making sure your Google ads show up for the right keywords, you also want to ensure that they don’t show up for irrelevant searches.

Why, after all, would you want your ads to show up for people who have no interest in clicking them?

All you’re doing is increasing your ad spend, with no chance of seeing a return.

For instance, if you’re selling a service, you won’t want it to show up for any searches when users are looking for a free service.

So adding free to your negative keyword list means you wont show up for these searches.

Start a list of your target keywords, and then record the corresponding negative keywords that are similar to this, that you don’t want to show up for.

As you generate more data for your ads, you can then adjust your negative keyword list accordingly to get towards a better ad spending level and improve your click through and conversion rates.


Poor quality adverts

While the delivery system of adverts might have changed from the older days of Mad Men and Madison Avenue, the ultimate principle still applies.

Your ads should be impactful, memorable and convince users to take action.

Whether it’s making a purchase, booking onto a webinar or downloading a piece of lead generation content, if your ads don’t convince someone to do what you want them to do, then they aren’t working.


Not considering costs

Increasing revenue while reducing costs is an aim of any business.

And this should be the same when it comes to using Google Ads.

Unlike traditional advertising, when you spend a set amount for a certain sized ad, you can actually start to reduce your ad spend over time while increasing revenue generated, once you’ve started to produce data.

As you start to get information back from your ads (like number of clicks and number of conversions etc), you can then start to calculate your ‘cost per click’, and cost per conversion.

This will then help you work out how much you need to spend on Google ads to meet the revenue goals you’ve set yourself.

Over time this could help reduce the amount you spend on ads.

Also, make sure you consider your daily budget.

Not setting a spend budget is a sure fire way to burn through your money quickly, and end up with a hefty Google Ad receipt, with very little to show with it.


Not accounting for experiments

Your Google Ads will take time to perfect.

And the only way you’re going to do that, is to experiment with your ads over time.

Realistically the first stage of your Google Ads campaign, is going to be figuring out what kinds of ads work, what messages don’t work and what people respond to.

Too many people neglect this and if they don’t see instant results, they turn their campaigns off and never touch them again.

Instead, you could focus on using the initial data you get to assess the success of your ads, figure out what is and isn’t working and improve your ads.

In the long run you’ll see much better results by doing this.


Not bidding on your own brand name

There are two main types of search on Google.

Brand search – when you’re looking for a specific brand

Non-brand search – when you’re not looking for a specific brand, but are looking for a product or service the brand sells.

When it comes to Google ads, you definitely want to appear top of search when someone searches for your brand name.

So you should bid on your brand name so it’s what people find when they look for you.

Over time, you can also add to this by building up organic search authority through SEO and content marketing.

This will improve your non-brand search results, as well as those branded results.

In a best case scenario, eventually you’ll find your business appearing in the top for both the paid ad results and organic search.

Plus, there’s also an element of protecting your brand by bidding on it.

That’s because you could find your competitors bidding on your brand name, so that they appear in search when users are looking for you.

And this does happen.


Not knowing customer lifetime value

A customer’s lifetime value is the amount of money you’ll make during the entire period that customer is with you.

This is particularly important if you’re in a service based industry, but is relevant to every business because it will help you figure out the ROI of your advertising.

You should look at your advertising costs across three stages of your marketing:

  • Cost per visitor to your website
  • Cost per lead
  • Cost per customer

You can work this out by dividing your Google Ad spend by number of visitors you drive from your ads (cost per visitor).

So if you spend £100 on Google Ads and generate 50 web visitors, that’s £2 per visitor.

Then based on the percentage of those visitors who convert into a lead, and then from a lead into a customer, you can work out your cost to acquire a new customer.

Then you can compare this to the total value you’ll get from your customer – and this will tell you if you’re spending the right amount on your advertising, if you could afford to invest more, or if you’re spending too much and need to find cheaper alternatives.


Focusing too much on appearing top for every search

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that to succeed with Google Ads, you should appear top for every search a user makes.

And this makes sense for brand searches.

If someone is searching for you specifically, you definitely want to appear first.

But being top doesn’t always generate the best results.

And in some cases it can be detrimental to your wider marketing budget.

The thing to remember with Google Ads, is that it works on a bidding system, and that if you have bigger competitors, with a bigger budget, they can always just outspend you.

So, you should focus instead on creating quality ads, and getting them placed in the best position to generate quality clicks and conversions.

Quality score, is a key attribute that will determine where your ad appears, along with your bid.

If you and your competitor bids the same, you’ll appear higher based on ad quality.

Other times, when you simply can’t outspend your competitor’s ad budget, focus on creating better quality ads, and bidding enough to get them appearing in the top 5 positions.

You won’t have to spend as much, and you’ll still generate quality clicks.


Only using one ad per ad group

An ad group is a set of defined ads that target a similar topic.

So, for instance, you could have an ad group focused on running shoes, with a couple of ads associated with that group.

One mistake people make, is only having one ad per group.

This is a mistake, because you’re not getting any data back from your campaigns that will help you improve them over time.

If you only have one advert, first you will end up flooding the same people with the same advert all the time – which isn’t good.

Secondly, you can’t do any testing and get data to help improve your ads as you move forward.

If you have multiple ads in an ad group, you can vary the messaging you give to particular people.

But you can also test ad variations to see if particular styles, themes and messages work better than others.

Using this data, you can focus your messaging and produce better ads.


Being too generic with your ads

What is the thing that makes you stand out?

What are the things you can help people with?

What tangible successes have your campaigns seen?

What questions do your customers ask when they call you?

This is all information that can help you create better advertising copy.

How many times have you seen an ad that says “we’re the best X company, call us”.

There’s no compelling reason, no benefit.

Just a generic claim.

These ads don’t work as well as targeted messages that give people a reason to call you.

For example: “Want to increase Google Ad revenue by 70%? Get in touch”.

This has a tangible benefit to the user if they click your ad.


Not having a Call to Action

A Call to Action (CTA) is just the thing you want the user to do after seeing your ad, or any of your content.

It seems simple, but many don’t include these.

People who read things on the internet, including adverts, aren’t thinking what they should do next, they’re looking at content and then looking to move on.

If your content doesn’t have a CTA they’ll take no further action (or be less likely to) and you’ll miss out on a potential customer.

Just be really clear with your CTA.

Tell your audience exactly what you want them to do.


Not using extensions

Extensions on Google Ads are the extra information that appear with the ad.

This is information like your company’s address, or contact number, or opening hours information, or additional links.

The point is, use all the extensions.

They might not all appear in the same ad, but they add additional information and can help your ads stand out.


So that’s a quick guide to the common mistakes people make with Google Ads and hopefully some useful tips for how you can avoid them.

If you want help with Google Ads or PPC management, get in touch with us today.



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