5 Common mistakes with Google Search Ads

When taking over a new client’s Google Ads account, it is not uncommon to find suboptimal configurations that negatively affect the account’s performance and result in wasted money. Here are some of the most frequently observed issues.

Mistake #1: Negative keywords are not being used properly

Properly using negative keywords is essential for optimizing your Google Ads campaigns and ensuring your ads reach the most relevant audience.

Failing to research and update negative keyword lists can result in your ads showing up for irrelevant searches. Stay proactive in analyzing search terms, reviewing your ad performance, and adding new negative keywords as necessary.

Using broad negative keywords instead of specific ones can exclude a large number of potential customers who may have been interested in your products or services.

Not using match types for negative keywords, for example no exact match negatives added to phrase/broad match campaigns or ad groups

Google Ads provides search term reports that show the actual search queries triggering your ads. You must analyze these reports regularly to identify new negative keywords & utilize them to prevent irrelevant searches from triggering your ads. Pay attention to these reports to identify irrelevant terms and add them to your negative keyword list.

Mistake #2: Too much traffic is being pushed to the homepage

We all know the importance of delivering a personalized and relevant user experience. By optimizing your landing pages, targeting specific audiences, and utilizing ad extensions and customizers effectively, you can guide users to the most appropriate pages on your website and maximize the chances of conversions.

Directing all traffic to the homepage without considering specific landing pages can result in a poor user experience.

Irrelevant ads can attract visitors who are not genuinely interested in your offerings. It’s important to ensure that your ad text, keywords, and targeting align closely with the landing page content. Sending irrelevant traffic to the homepage may lead to a lack of engagement and conversions.

A poorly structured campaign with limited ad groups and lack of keyword organization can lead to traffic being funneled to the homepage as a default option. Take the time to structure your campaigns and ad groups based on specific themes or product categories, allowing for more targeted landing page experiences.

Mistake #3: Little to no ad testing has occurred

By testing different ad variations, monitoring performance, and implementing data-driven optimizations, you can continuously improve your ads’ performance, increase CTR, and achieve better conversion rates.

Running only one ad variation without testing alternative versions limits your ability to optimize and improve your ad performance. A single ad may only resonate with some audiences or effectively convey your message. It’s essential to test multiple ad variations to identify what works best for your target audience.

Ad copy plays a vital role in attracting users’ attention and encouraging them to click. Failing to optimize ad copy, include relevant keywords, and value propositions means missing out on opportunities to improve click-through rates (CTR) and overall ad performance.

Ads should be relevant to the keywords, ad groups, and landing pages they are associated with. Neglecting to test and optimize ad relevance can result in low Quality Scores and reduced ad performance. Ensure your ad copy aligns closely with the keywords and landing pages to maximize relevance and improve ad quality.

There are several best practices to follow when conducting ad tests, such as running tests for an adequate duration, using statistically significant sample sizes, and implementing changes based on data-driven insights. Ignoring these best practices can lead to inaccurate conclusions and ineffective optimizations.

Mistake #4: Search campaigns have display network targeting enabled

Among campaign setup best practices is to create separate campaigns for search and display networks, each with their own specific targeting, ad creative, and optimization strategies. By doing so, you can have better control over your campaigns, align with the specific intent of each network, and allocate budgets more effectively. However, it is not uncommon to find both networks mixed up, which has several side effects:

Mistake #5: Campaign Structure

A well-structured campaign allows for better control, optimization, and analysis. Regularly monitoring campaign performance, making data-driven decisions, and refining account structure ensures it aligns with campaign goals and drives successful outcomes.

We frequently find out that the campaign structure is either excessively granular (20+ campaigns) OR overly simplistic (pMax + brand search are the only 2 campaigns running). Below are some reasons why this is far from being optimal.

A. Excessively granular campaign structure

Creating too many campaigns with extremely granular targeting can lead to complexity and difficulty in managing and optimizing them effectively. It can become overwhelming to handle numerous campaigns, resulting in inefficiencies and wasted time.

Having too many campaigns can lead to fragmented data and make it challenging to analyze overall campaign performance. It becomes difficult to gain a holistic view of your advertising efforts, hindering strategic decision-making.

Dividing your budget across a large number of campaigns can be tricky, especially if some campaigns require higher investment than others. It becomes challenging to prioritize and allocate budget effectively to maximize return on ad spend.

B. Overly simplistic campaign structure

Having an overly simplistic campaign structure with only a few campaigns may limit your ability to target specific audiences or ad groups effectively. It becomes challenging to tailor ad messaging and targeting based on different products, services, or audience segments.

A simplified campaign structure may not provide enough control to optimize and fine-tune targeting, bidding, and ad creative at a granular level. This can result in missed opportunities to improve campaign performance and reach specific goals.

With a simplistic campaign structure, it can be difficult to track performance accurately and attribute conversions or other key metrics to specific products, services, or target audiences. This lack of visibility can hinder effective optimization and decision-making.

Drop us a line and have our team audit your account and make sure you get the maximum ad performance!

Are you making any of these mistakes?

Author avatar
Thomas Charisis
Thomas has worked in digital marketing for 11 years in client, agency and client-side roles. Former Senior Growth Marketing Strategist at Ladder (Publicis, UK), Thomas now spearheads Digital Strategy at Massion. Technology & data science enthusiast, Thomas has recently acquired an MSc in Data Analysis & Decision Making.

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