The most common Google Ads issues – and why they need to be fixed ASAP

Google Ads is an incredibly powerful advertising platform. It’s praised by clients and digital marketing agencies alike for its ability to bring almost-immediate exposure to businesses online (at a cost, of course).

Over the years, we’ve achieved incredible results from running Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns with the world’s best-known search engine. Not only can we help companies reach a wider audience by targeting highly specific demographics with carefully crafted ads, we can also use the performance data within Google Ads to continually optimise and refine our clients’ campaigns for the best possible return on investment.

PPC advertising is an effective way of raising awareness of any product or service. There’s no doubt about that.

But it’s certainly not easy.

Because Google Ads is a complicated system. There are so many features and functions for you to explore – and stumbling blocks that could have a significant impact on your account’s potential.

In fact, you can often unknowingly derail your own PPC campaigns by making some or all of the common mistakes listed below.

Lack of conversion tracking

If you haven’t set up your conversions correctly, you’ll be missing out on the exact data that makes Google Ads such a Godsend.

It’s the only way you’ll be able to see how many of your hard-earned clicks are actually resulting in leads or sales.

You can tell Google which user actions you want to define as conversions. You might want Google to count a conversion as an online sale, a completed contact form or a call that originated as a result of online activity; or, in other cases, you may want to track email sign-ups and whitepaper downloads.

A conversion is often logged by Google when a user visits what’s called a completion page. This is usually the ‘Order Confirmation’ page that appears once a customer has placed an order, or the ‘Thank You’ page that reassures the user their enquiry has been sent successfully. Each completion page will contain a snippet of HTML that ‘tells’ Google what the source of the conversion is. You can even assign values to each conversion type that indicates how much that action is worth to your business.

You can also use call tracking scripts to monitor phone conversions. This is particularly handy if you regularly close leads in this way. If you want to learn more we have written a post dedicated to the many benefits of call tracking.

Overly complicated account structures

A Google Ads account is organised into three layers: the account itself, the associated campaigns, and the ad groups. You’ll see the best results if you structure each layer in a way that’s both clear and logical.

Dumping multiple keywords into a single campaign and working with theme-less ad groups will ultimately leave you grappling with a terrible click through rate (CTR). This can have a negative impact on your quality score, which will affect where your ads will rank, how often they will be seen, and how much you eventually pay per click.

At Multi Layer Media, we’re fierce advocates of single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). By using SKAGs, you can segment your campaigns in a more granular way – and you can make sure the user is met with an ad that matches their search query. This also helps increase your quality score as your ads will be considered more relevant by Google, which in turn can reduce the amount you pay per click on your ad and increase your ad rank.

Broad match keyword targeting

There are four main keyword match types in Google Ads: broad match, +broad +match +modifier, “phrase match” and [exact match].

The broad match setting (which is the default option) instructs Google to display your ad whenever a user searches for a certain phrase – or any variation of it that the algorithm deems to be relevant.

Sounds great, right? Google does a lot of the hard work for you, and you get to reach the biggest possible audience. But what if Google thinks a related keyword is relevant, and your users don’t? What if you then start appearing for searches that are not going to drive the right kind of traffic to your landing page? Your conversions will start to drop off, and you’ll spend a lot of cash on exposure you don’t want or need. We’ve seen it happen before, and there’s no guarantee it won’t happen to you if your account isn’t managed correctly.

Here’s an example. You’re an online retailer looking to sell more large, red handbags. You set up a campaign targeting the keyword “red handbags” – but you leave it on a broad match setting. Google will happily show your ads for this search term, but it will also allow them to appear for keyword variations like “small red handbags” and “women’s red clutch bags” – neither of which are relevant to the product you’re actually promoting.

If you want to take back control of your budget and make sure you’re only generating qualified traffic, always begin a campaign by targeting [exact match] or “phrase match” keywords.

(The +broad +match +modifier feature can help you keep a handle on which variations your ad appears for. But that’s a topic for another post.)

Neglected negative keyword lists

If there are certain search terms that you don’t want to target, you can exclude them from your campaign using a negative keyword list.

Google Ads’ negative keyword list function is an incredibly useful tool for PPC marketers – but it is often overlooked by business owners who don’t have the time to find, then implement, search terms that might be putting their ads in front of an uninterested audience.

There will always be the odd keyword that slips through the net – but the key is to be constantly optimising your account to avoid unnecessary click wastage. Ideally, you need to be monitoring and adding to your negative keyword list on a daily basis. It’s especially important if you have decided to experiment with “phrase match” or broad match keyword targeting settings, as explained above.

You can use the in-account search terms reports for inspiration. These will tell you exactly what keywords your ads have been showing for – and you’ll be able to quickly spot which phrases aren’t a good fit.

Poor landing pages

Did you know that even the most optimised Google Ads account setup will fail to convert user interest into new business if your landing pages aren’t up to scratch?

Getting people to your site is only half the battle. Once they’ve arrived, they need to be hooked in by your header, captivated by your copy and thoroughly impressed by your imagery.

There’s no single formula for creating the ideal landing page. Its design and content will be heavily influenced by your target market, what they will be expecting to see from you, and what action you want them to complete. However, as a general rule, you need to make sure the page loads quickly, the navigation is intuitive, and there are no usability issues that will irritate and frustrate your users (and encourage them to close down the tab and head elsewhere). Fast abandonment leads to a higher bounce rate – and that in itself can hinder your campaign progress.

The best landing pages often contain large, prominent calls to actions (CTAs), such as phone numbers and email addresses, and feature a contact form above the fold to encourage interactions from the moment the user lands. We advise against using your homepage as a campaign landing page, because it’s unlikely that the content will be specific to the user’s targeted keyword search.

No ongoing account management

This is the biggie.

You can’t spend hours setting up your SKAGs, refining your keyword targeting strategy, nurturing your negative keyword lists and perfecting your landing pages, only to abandon the account entirely once it’s up and running.

Not only will you run the risk of overspending in underperforming areas, you’ll also be failing to make the most of the powerful data that Google Ads can provide.

You can use the insightful information in your account to signpost your PPC strategy. You can optimise your account to ensure your ads are appearing to the right users, for the right keyword searches, at the right time of day – according to the data you’ve collected on their browsing habits. And crucially, you can make sure you allocate your spend to the parts of your campaign that are performing well – and pull back from those that are not.

Do any of these Google Ads account issues sound familiar? If so, it’s time to take action. If you’d rather not handle the ins and outs of your PPC campaign yourself, you can ask our specialist Google Ads managers to take to the reins. Just drop us a message to discuss your needs.

Posted By
Aaron Suleyman