15 Common Mistakes Companies Make With Google Ads and How to Fix Them

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 15 Common Mistakes Companies Make With Google Ads and How to Fix Them

Google Ads beginners and experts alike often make some very common mistakes when they put together their campaigns. Google Ads is a great way to increase your website’s traffic and, if all goes well, to convert those visitors into customers.

However, this is only true if your campaigns are built correctly from the ground up. If you make a few mistakes, no matter how minor they may be, you can throw off your entire campaign and end up wasting more money that you might think. Here are 15 of these common mistakes and what you can do to avoid making them.

1 – Using the Wrong Keywords

Using the wrong keywords will completely derail your Google Ads campaign. If you’re not using keywords with commercial value, you’re not targeting the right people. The potential customers you target with the wrong keywords may have little or no interest in the product you’re offering, while those who are likely to become your customers won’t see your ads because they are using search terms that don’t match up with the keywords you are using.

Too Broad

If you’re a florist, using the keyword “flowers” is so broad that you’ll be in competition not only with every florist, but also with gardening and artificial flower websites. You may get some hits, but your conversions will likely be low since you’ll be getting some irrelevant traffic.

Too Narrow

If you use keywords that are so specific that no one would actually use them to search, your site traffic will also take a hit. For example, a florist who uses the scientific names of flowers as keywords, such as “Antirrhinum Majus” instead of the common name “snapdragon,” will be seeing some pretty low traffic levels.

How do you fix this problem? Look at what you’re offering and create a list of terms you would use to find those products or services.

You can also make use of the Keyword Planner tool (you must be logged in) that is built into Google Google Ads to generate a list of keywords that will more likely target your customers. Other various tools and methods to find relevant commercial terms are found below:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Google Autocomplete
  • Google Analytics -> Acquisition -> Campaigns -> Organic Keywords
  • Google Search Console -> Search Traffic -> Search Analytics
  • Google Related Searches
  • SEMRush
  • SpyFu

Keyword research is inevitable. There is plenty of information out there about how to do it. I don’t want to deviate from the main topic so I will just say this: start with keyword research and use the tools and methods in the list above. This is the foundation of your Google Ads account and will contribute greatly to the success of your Google Ads campaigns.

2 – Not Using the Right Keyword Matches

If you are only using broad match terms, you’re less likely to be reaching your prospects. Broad Match is the default keyword match in Google Ads. Your ads are matched up with searches that match your keyword phrases with no regard to the order of the words used, and with an additional word either before, after, or between the words in your term. This also means that your ad is being matched up with queries that use variations and synonyms of your keywords.

Although you get a larger amount of traffic, your ad is being broadcast to an audience that may not need what you’re offering.

The solution is to simply start with Phrase Match and go broader to either Broad Match Modifier or regular Broad as needed. You can also narrow your reach to Exact Match. Visit the Google explanation page below to learn about the different match types:


3 – Not Grouping Keywords Correctly

Google Ads allows you to create groups for different keywords. Your goal is to be as relevant as possible by showing specific ads to people based on what they searched for.  If you don’t group your keywords properly, you will end up with traffic at your site that has very little chance of converting, and your campaign will suffer.

Rather than having all of your keywords together or in large groups, create specific ad groups and campaigns for certain types of products. If you’re a clothing store, you might have a campaign for women’s clothing, and then create specific ad groups for blouses, skirts, and dresses. Another campaign may focus on men’s accessories, and include specific ad groups for ties, belts, pocket squares, and hats.

The advantages of building your account with a proper hierarchy are controlled and   relevant campaigns, as well as an increase in effectiveness and performance.

An example of an improper hierarchy would be a campaign for cookie dough with ad groups for chocolate chip, cookie recipes, peanut butter, no-bake cookies, and lemon bar recipes. This campaign should be separated into separate campaigns for cookie dough types (with ad groups for chocolate chip, peanut butter, no-bake cookies, and other cookie types); cookie recipes; and lemon bars.

4 – Failing to Use Negative Keywords

Negative keywords indicate when you do NOT want your ad to be triggered. For example, the florist might include “silk” as a negative keyword if he or she only sells real flowers. Consequently, the ad would not appear if someone searched for “silk roses.”

Consider Questions as Negative Keywords

In some cases, you may want to make question words into negative keywords. If you run a florist shop, a user searching for “how to grow roses” would not be looking to purchase roses. Making “how” a negative keyword would reduce the amount of money you spend on irrelevant searches received at your site.

Consider Locations as Negative Keywords

If you know there is another business with a name very similar to yours, you may want make the location of that business a negative keyword. Another reason to use a location as a negative keyword is when you are targeting a specific group of customers, and do not want your ad to be accessed by those who live in other markets.

For example, if you are selling college football merchandise for Ohio State University, you may have “OSU” as a keyword. However, this will cause your ad to be accessed by searches for Oklahoma State University as well. Negating “Oklahoma” as a keyword will focus your ad on the correct market.

5 – Not Following Landing Page Best Practices

A major mistake made by novice Google Ads users is to route all traffic from their ads directly to their homepage. Although the homepage is a great introduction to a website, it’s usually not the best landing page for those who access your website from a targeted ad.

For your Google Ads campaigns, you must create a dedicated landing page(s). This page  has one purpose: to convert visitors and do this effectively. This means that the page should be tailored to appeal to the visitors who access it via a specific ad. The ad and the landing page should be created together in order for them to complement each other. Every AdWords campaign you create must have a specific objective, and the landing page is a tool to achieve this objective. You may want a different landing page for every keyword group.

Below are the elements of a landing page and the current best practices for each:

  • Headline – The headline should be concise, compelling, and should specifically state what the content of the page relates to.
  • Persuasive Subheadline – The subheadline should expand upon the headline and give the reader a reason to remain on the page.
  • Addressing a pain point(s) / solving a problem – The landing page should address a specific problem or issue relevant to the reader and present a solution  that is directly related to the Call-to-Action.
  • Something about Pleasure (the end result) – Learn what makes your audience happy and focus your copy and images around that. Focus on the reader by writing in second person and including images of happy people.
  • Call-to-Action – This element should be clearly visible when scanning the page and should use words that catch the viewer’s eye like “new” or “free.” A call-to-action button should stand out from the rest of the website and should be located above the fold (users should not have to scroll to find it).
  • Copy – Landing page copy should be relevant, provide value preposition, and be somewhat persuasive. It should be consistent with the text used in the ad campaign and include keywords found in the ad group.
  • Visual Elements – Visual elements must relate to the headline and the copy, and compliment the site design.
  • Color Choice – The color of website text should make it easy to read in the background. Visual elements should use complementary colors that are not harsh or jarring. The call-to-action button should be in a color that stands out and grabs the viewer’s attention. Orange or yellow is often used to draw attention.
  • One Way Forward – Landing pages should offer visitors only one way forward: the link to your call to action. They do not need other navigation options.
  • Trust and Authority (testimonials and/or authority icons) – Use real testimonials to build trust with the prospective customer, and place authority icons from partners, endorsements, etc. in areas where the reader will clearly see them.

6 – Forgetting to Turn on Ad Rotation

AdWords defaults your ad rotation setting to “optimize for clicks,” which might sound good, but actually isn’t as helpful as you might think. Rather than leaving this option on the default setting, explore some of the other ad rotation options. Letting Google Ads optimize for clicks means that it will look at what your ads have done before, and pick the option that provided you with the best clicks. Tests have shown that Google Ads generally selects the ad group that was used first rather than analyzing and updating to reflect visitor behavior.

The campaigns that get the most clicks may not necessarily result in the most conversions. As with many settings in Google Ads, the only real way to tell which option works best for your campaign is to experiment and track results.

7 – Not Knowing Your Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)

A customer’s lifetime value (LTV) is the amount of money you can expect to make from that customer during the entire period of time they shop with you. Some customers are recurring, while others may make a one-time purchase and never buy anything else from you.

How does this relate to Google Ads? You need to know your customer LTV in order to know if you’re actually making money. If a customer has a LTV of $500 and your average cost to make one conversion is $100, then you could say that you’re making $400 per conversion. Of course, you have other expenses per customer than just your Google Ads campaign, but this is one way of quantifying your marketing.

On the other hand, if the LTV of a customer is a one-time purchase of $10 and your cost per acquisition is $15 (assuming $1 per click), then you’re losing $5. In other words, for every customer who does convert, there are 14 more who are visiting your landing page and then leaving. This will eventually drain your budget unless you do something to improve your conversions or lower your costs.

How To Calculate Customer Lifetime Value

Source: KissMetrics

8 – Failing to Do Split A/B Testing and Campaign Tweaks

Split A/B testing involves comparing two versions of the same webpage to determine which has the higher conversation rate. In most cases, version A and version B are almost identical, but there are a few things that differ between them. A/B testing can be compared in some ways to a visit to the optometrist. As you’re looking through their device that contains multiple lenses of varying power, you’re asked if A or B gives you clearer vision. You then compare that lens to lens C, and so on. In the end, you have the lens that gives you the best vision.

While these differences may seem very small, they can have a huge effect on the number of conversions the page has. That’s why webmasters are almost always making small changes in their pages and testing those changes to decide whether or not they should become permanent. The reason, as with most business decisions, comes down to revenue. Gaining even a few percentage points in your conversion rate can indicate a savings of hundreds of dollars.

A/B testing can involve changing many different parts of your website. The headline, sub-headline, links, images, paragraph text, button text, the buttons themselves, and anything else that may appear on a webpage can be added, removed, or changed as part of A/B testing.

As you conduct this testing, you’ll also need to tweak your Google Ads campaign so that it corresponds with the webpage version you are testing. Otherwise, your statistics will be incorrect and you won’t be able to truly evaluate your potential website changes.

There are a number of different A/B testing tools you can use to help determine which version of your website results in higher conversions. Here are a few of these tools:

  • Optimizely
  • Visual Website Optimizer
  • Unbounce
  • VWO
  • Adobe Target

9 – Lack of Ad Extensions

Ad extensions help you improve your conversions without actually investing any more money in your campaign. Although each extension brings something different to the table, they all increase the real estate of the ad. Ad extensions you can integrate into your ads are customer ratings, seller ratings, dynamic snippets, a call button, a location, callouts, and more.

10 – Poorly Written Ads

You need to design ads that draw readers in and make them want to know more. Most importantly, the ad must provide readers with a clear call to action. That’s a lot for a few words to do, but it can be done. Having others read your ads, and getting feedback from them before the ads go live, can help ensure that your ads are well-written and make sense to a wide variety of people.

11 – Forgetting mobile users

Businesses can no longer ignore mobile users. Mobile users may search on the same internet, but they do it in a different way. You must tailor your Google Ads campaigns to meet these users’ needs and wants. For example, due to the smaller space available on smartphones, your ads need to be mobile-specific. Smaller images, less text, and a much clearer “call to action” are all vital parts of a mobile ad.

Another thing to consider is that mobile users often use much shorter search parameters. This means you’ll need to consider short tail keywords rather than the longer keyword phrases you may use for customers who are searching on their desktops or laptops.

12 – Not Bidding on Your Own Brand

Bidding on your own brand helps to promote your company, which is always a good thing. In addition, it helps to prevent competitors from using your brand name to drive traffic to their websites, thus stealing potential customers.

The biggest benefit of bidding on your own brand is an immediate increase in the account click through rate (CTR). If your CTR goes up, the cost per click (CPC) goes down, and your overall account performance improves. Furthermore, the CPC of almost all brands is always lower than when bidding on non-brand terms. That being said, bidding on your own brand is affordable and helps to improve your Google Ads success metrics.

There are a few situations in which you may not want to bid on your brand, such as when you have a limited budget. However, in almost every case, bidding on your brand is a good idea.

13 – Not Testing the Optimal Ad Position

The optimal ad position is another area in which new Google Ads users often make an incorrect assumption, namely that being the number one ad in a search result is always the best option. Ranking first or second is great if your goal is to improve your branding and brand recognition. However, if you’re aiming to get serious visitors who will convert, being the third or fourth ad shown could be even better.

How can you tell what your optimal ad position is? You find this out by testing different positions to see which one provides you with the best results. You can do this by changing your cost per click bid. Start at Google’s lowest suggested rank and see how you do. If you think you can do better, then gradually increase what you’re willing to pay per click until you start to see a diminishing return.

14 – Not Using Ad Scheduling

New Google Ads users often assume that their ad should run constantly so that it can always be directing people to the business website. There are a few reasons why you might want to use Ad Scheduling to limit when your ad appears.

  1. If you need a live person to assist visitors on your website, these visitors may not always be able to speak to someone in your office. Certain hours of the day perform better than others. Not allowing ads to show during low CTR hours and hours with a relatively low amount of conversions will improve the overall campaign performance.
  2. Limiting your ad campaign’s hours can help you better use your limited budget. By limiting the appearance of your ad to your business hours or, in some cases, to a period after standard business hours, you know your ad is going to be viewed by a large number of people. However, if it’s running at 2 a.m., few people will probably even see your ad, let alone call your office.

15 – Setting it and Forgetting it

All of your ad campaigns need to be monitored and adjusted on a regular basis. If you find that you’re getting increasing returns, you may be able to reduce the frequency of your visit maintenance. However, it’s always recommended that you check your Google Analytics and Google Ads campaign information on a weekly basis just in case something shifts.

To maximize your return on investment, you need to work on your Google Ads campaign(s) continuously. As mentioned above, doing A/B testing on a regular basis, and making tweaks as needed, is an ongoing process. It’s never truly done. Even the best Google Ads campaigns may need to be adjusted due to changes in Google, your niche, or  your products and services.


These mistakes can be costly if you do not fix them. They will eat into your budget and reduce the number of your visitors and conversions. In many cases, these errors are easy to fix, so there is no reason to allow them to remain. By taking advantage of this information, you can increase the efficiency of your Google Ads campaign and make better use of your budget.

Check your campaigns and see if you have made any of these 15 mistakes. Fortunately, even if you find several of them, they can be fixed fairly quickly, and you can get your Google Ads campaigns back on track.