Being into search marketing, I work with AdWords accounts and campaigns for more than 50% of my time. I first task I perform for any business that needs AdWords setup and management is to audit the existing campaigns if they have any. This gives me a fair idea of what’s lacking and what I can do make the new campaign a success.
While doing this, I have encountered many mistakes that even experienced advertisers make, that hurt their campaigns and spend way too much than they should. I have listed a few mistakes that I find in most of the AdWords accounts. Since most of AdWords campaigns are search, a few of the points mentioned may only apply to search advertising.
1. Not Using Conversion Tracking
More than 60% of AdWords accounts that I audit don’t have conversion tracking set up or don’t have it properly configured. I have lost count of times when I have seen accounts that have spent thousands of dollars and have a huge data that isn’t of much use hence sales/leads can’t be attributed to any keywords or ads. Hence sales or leads, calls from ads and calls from phone numbers in your website need to be tracked and properly attributed.
2. Not Selecting the Right Campaign Type
Always select the correct campaign type for your advertising goal. If you are looking for direct response campaign (ie., you need sales and leads), go for Search Campaign only. If you have additional budget to play around, use “Search campaign with display select”, and analyze the performance after a week. For branding goal, go for Display Campaign or video campaign. Always test the performance of search partners. Showing ads on these search partner websites, more often than not fulfill your branding goal, not your direct response goal.
I have seen advertisers with direct response goals using search network with display select and losing thousands of dollars before realizing that most of their budget has been spent on display and search partner sites.
3. Using all Keywords in Broad Match
I’m just amazed to see how much Google earns when a ton of advertisers use this approach. It works for some advertisers who keep a close eye on the search terms and have a heavy negative keyword list. But for most of the advertisers this strategy is a big no-no especially when you work on tight budgets.
4. Having Loosely Themed Ad Groups
It is very easy and tempting to add a lot of keywords in a single ad group. Actually, the AdWords interface makes this very easy to do so. But this is an unhealthy approach and can reduce the overall health of your AdWords account. This reduces the expected CTR and ad relevance which directly impacts your quality score and ad rank.
Have only a very few (max of 10) highly related keywords in each ad group so that you can write highly targeted ads which gets a very good CTR.
5. Not Having a Brand Campaign
Many advertisers choose not to bid on their own brand name keywords. They argue that it’s a waste of money as they are ranking organically anyway. But having brand campaign is definitely a good strategy. Let me explain why.
- These brand name keywords have the lowest CPC. I have seen CPCs as low as 5 cents.
- Most of these convert like crazy. As they already know your brand, chance of making the sale or getting a lead is very very high.
- Don’t let your competitors bid for your brand terms. If you don’t bid for yours, it makes things a lot easier for them.
- You have complete control on the sitelinks and other extensions shown which you don’t in organic search results.
- Your brand gets a lot of space above the fold in the search results page. This vastly improves the click through rate.
- If you have a few negative review around the 6 – 8 Google search results, those will be pushed to page 2!
Still not convinced? Have a look at the below screenshot of a brand campaign for one of my clients.
Spend: A$2430 | Revenue: A$96174
6. Not Making Use of all Relevant Ad Extensions
Many advertisers chose to ignore this important factor while setting up their AdWords campaigns, for reasons I can never understand. These ad extensions aren’t difficult to set up either. In addition to providing more relevant information about your product and services, these also increase the CTR, thereby increasing the quality score of your keywords.
In the above search result, Instapage has used sitelinks, call outs and structured snippets. NEVER ignore ad extensions.
7. Set and Forget
Once you start getting good results from Google AdWords, it is easy for many to overlook the most important aspect of optimizing the campaigns often backed up by data. There is always room for improvement and your competitors are constantly innovating. So should you!
8. Not making any bid adjustments
Always make changes to your campaign backed up with data. Periodically analyze the performance segmented by device, location, hour of the day, day of the week and keyword performance.
9. Not Making Effective Use of AdWords Editor and Excel
If you’re serious in setting up effective AdWords campaigns, these 2 tools are a must. You can’t create and optimize campaigns in bulk without the use of these 2 tools. Start learning and using them. I can’t stress enough how important this is.
10. Sending AdWords Traffic to Home Page
“Why not let people see everything we have to offer rather than sending them to an individual product/category/sales page” – this is a question a lot of clients ask. This might work for other advertising platforms, but it most probably won’t for Google AdWords campaigns. People searching in Google are looking precisely for a product/solution and they need to be served with what they ask for immediately. If not, they will bounce back. Always send traffic to a specific landing page or category page or product page.
11. Not Using Negative Keywords
When you push a campaign live, you need to have a few negative keywords at least. You will definitely come across these when you research for keywords. And there are a few terms which are negative to almost any business and campaign. Add all these terms as negatives before you start the campaign.
Once the campaign starts gettings click, keep a close watch on the search terms. There will definitely be irrelevant search terms (Google receives 500 million NEW search queries every day!!). Carefully go through them and add the irrelevant ones as negatives. If there are a lot of search terms to manually weed, prioritize them by analyzing the ones that have got more than 2 or 3 clicks (whatever that makes the data size not too hard to manually analyze).
These are the most common mistakes that I stumble upon very often. There are definitely more. Hope this answer will help at least a few advertisers not to make these mistakes. Thanks for reading!
Have something to add to this list? Let me know in the comments.