Each person and brand will have their own approach to setting up and managing their Google Ads campaigns. After all, the best approach can sometimes be determined by the sector they are in and the overriding goals they are trying to achieve. That said, there are a handful of mistakes we find brands making again and again. From the incorrect use of match types to the dependence on automation, these blunders should be avoided whatever your sector or goals.

If not avoided, these Google Ads mistakes will result in unsustainable waste and a lack of performance. Therefore, causing a brand to pause their campaigns and consider their effort to have been a resounding failure prematurely. But each of these mistakes are easy to avoid and overcome, whether you are entirely new to Google Ads or are familiar with its capabilities. To prevent this, we wanted to shed light on these mistakes so that you are able to avoid them yourself.

1. Misusing Keyword Match Types

Google Search campaigns are great because they allow you to control which keywords trigger your ads. But the amount of wastage you experience and optimisation you will need to perform is determined by the keyword match types you choose to use.

When setting up your campaigns, the default match type is ‘broad match’. Unfortunately, this is typically the most wasteful and relies on you adding a lot of negative keywords. This is as your ad will show when a search query contains any of the words contained within your target keyword.

If you were targeting the keyword ‘men’s socks’, someone searching for ‘men’s underwear’ could see your ad. This is as the search query included at least one of the words within in your target keyword and may result in irrelevant people clicking on your ads.

When setting up your campaigns, try to use a mixture of broad match modified, phrase match, and perhaps even exact match keywords. Whilst irrelevant terms will still slip through the net, you have will far more control over when your ads show.

2. Overlooking Search Terms

The Search Terms Report reveals which queries resulted in your ads being shown and clicked on. It is, therefore, a vital tool for identifying highly performing search queries as well as those that are draining your budget.

When viewing this report, you will find several metrics that indicate whether the search term is good or bad for your campaign. This includes the overall number of impressions and clicks it gained as well as the average cost per click and conversion rate.

You can quickly add any search terms to your negative keywords, which will stop your ad from appearing for them in the future. You can also see which of your target keywords caused your ad to show for particular terms, allowing you to identify too broader keywords.

To view the Search Terms Report for a campaign, just choose ‘Keywords’ from the left menu and then select ‘Search Terms’. You will be met by a table containing most of the terms that your ads showed for, which can be easily exported and should be regularly checked.

3. Forgetting Negative Keywords Lists

Negative keywords allow you to prevent unwanted impressions and clicks within your Google Ads campaigns. Meaning that they are essential if you are to ensure that your ads only reach the most relevant people to your brand.

Whilst you can add negative keywords to individual campaigns, you are also able to add them to several campaigns at once. This is done with a negative keyword list, which minimises wastage throughout existing campaigns and makes it easy to add negative keywords to new campaigns.

There are a variety of keywords that you may want to exclude from all campaigns. Examples include reference terms (i.e. definition, example, diagram), research terms (i.e. tutorial, guide, book) and career terms (i.e. jobs, career, salary).

To create a negative keyword list, simply select ‘Tools & Settings’ from the top menu before choosing ‘Negative Keyword Lists’ within the Shared Library section. When viewing a particular list, you are also able to easily apply it to your campaigns.

4. Targeting Locations of Interest

When creating your Google Ads campaigns, you will be asked to select the locations you want to target. By default, Google will show your ads to ‘people in, searching for, or who show interest in your targeted location’.

Unknowingly to most brands, you also have the option to only target ‘people in my targeted location’. This will prevent your ad being shown to people who simply show an interest in a location but instead ensure it is only shown to those physically in that location.

Failure to change this setting could result in your budget being used to reach those who you are unable to provide a service or ship a product to. Of course, you must ensure that you are targeting the appropriate countries, regions, and cities too.

If you are creating new campaigns, just choose ‘Location Options’ within the Targeting and Audiences step of the set-up. If you want to change the targeting on an existing campaign, then select ‘Settings’ from the left menu before selecting the ‘Location Options’ within the Location section.

5. Becoming Reliant on Automation

Google Ads is packed full of intelligent machine learning that aims to automate your bid adjustments, campaign schedules, ad copy and more. In many scenarios, this automation can save you a lot of time and help you squeeze additional performance from your campaigns.

Because of this, many brands will utilise this automation on all their campaigns from launch. But as machine learning relies on historic data to make decisions, the automation is rarely suitable for new Google Ads accounts.

You should also avoid using some forms of automation on campaigns that are limited by budget. Automated bidding strategies are particularly ineffective on such campaigns, as an ample budget is necessary to experiment with and determine the impact of different signals on performance.

If you are creating a new Google Ads account or have a campaign that is limited by budget, we recommend initially using the Enhanced CPC bidding strategy. This allows you to set a maximum bid whilst allowing Google to adjust your bid if a user seems more or less likely to convert.

Key Takeaways

  • Ensure you have a clear understanding of Keyword Match Types before setting up your campaigns. This is the primary cause of wastage within Google Ads, especially if you have used the default ‘broad match’ option.
  • Regularly view the Search Terms Report for your enabled campaigns. This will help you identify valuable keywords as well as those wasting your budget, the latter of which should be added as negative keywords.
  • Utilise Negative Keyword Lists to stop your ads from showing for irrelevant keywords across several campaigns. This will speed up the optimisation process and potentially prevent waste across your entire Google Ads account.
  • Avoid using the default location targeting option when setting up your campaigns. This will prevent your ads being shown to individuals outside of your target locations who you are unable to provide a service or ship a product too.
  • Don’t use automation within new Google Ads accounts or campaigns that are limited by budget. This is as machine learning must have historic data and ample budget to experiment to have a positive impact on performance.

For more advice on Google Ads and to make a success of your Pay Per Click Advertising, view our full selection of PPC tips. Alternatively, get in touch with our Digital Strategists if your brand needs one-to-one support today.