The paid search consultants at Multi Layer Media have been setting up and managing successful campaigns with Google Ads for many years.
Our PPC managers are well-versed in the do’s and don’ts of advertising with the world’s most influential search platform. But unfortunately, the same can’t be said for many business owners and marketers who are new to the paid search space.
Our team often come across the same rookie errors when they are analysing client accounts. While it’s expected that most webmasters will make mistakes when they’re just starting to get to grips with Google Ads, the problem is, these blunders can end up costing their businesses an awful lot of money in a very short space of time if they’re not spotted quickly.
Here, we’re going to talk you through five of the most common Google Ads mistakes we see when we’re carrying out account audits for our clients – and how you can avoid making them yourself, in your own campaigns.
Initial success with Google Ads comes from a strong understanding of how an account should be organised.
There are typically three ‘levels’ to any account: campaigns, ad groups, and keywords.
Let’s say, for example, you run a builder’s merchants with surplus stock of a certain type of roof tile, and you want to use Google Ads to start promoting this particular product. In this instance, you would:
Set up an overarching campaign titled ‘Roof Tiles’, to keep things simple.
Set up an ad group within this campaign that focuses purely on a specific product category. Let’s go with concrete tiles.
Specify the keywords that you want to target within this ad group, including terms based on product names, style types and technical specifications.
It’s always best to develop your ad groups according to distinct themes or topics. Trying to pile too many different concepts into one group will make it difficult to test your campaigns and optimise their performance, not to mention leave you with a lacklustre click through rate (CTR).
If you’re looking to generate lots of exposure, it might seem logical to get your ads to show on both of Google’s core platforms: the Search Network, and the Display Network.
The Search Network is, as its name suggests, a group of search-related websites and apps that show ads on behalf of paying customers like you. It includes Google.com (and its other regional variants). The Display Network, on the other hand, is a wider network of more than 2 million websites with their own online communities that display Google’s ads according to specific targeting criteria.
There are certainly benefits to running Search Network and Display Network campaigns side by side, but it’s important to remember that these platforms target different audiences and provide access to potential customers at different stages of the buying cycle. For these reasons, they should be set up as separate campaigns, with separate subsets of data that can be monitored and optimised according to different metrics.
Grouping together your Search Network and Display Network campaigns will make it difficult to determine how well each network is performing. Without clear performance data, you won’t know where to place your resources for the best return on investment. So, our advice is, separate the two from each other wherever possible, and be sure to disable the ‘Search and Display Select’ setting.
Google Ads gives you the opportunity to generate unprecedented exposure for your business. Excited by all the possibilities, you might be tempted to target every single key phrase that is loosely related to your product or service in the name of putting your ad in front of as many people as possible. However, taking this approach can (and undoubtedly will!) lead to wasted clicks and eye-wateringly high click costs.
Our advice is to use a mix of longer-tail, less competitive phrases that closely match your proposition, along with some broader keywords with higher search volumes that will help you reach a slightly wider audience.
The key to finding the right combination of keywords is research. There are plenty of keyword analysis tools out there that can help you determine which words and phrases you should be using. Google’s Keyword Planner is a popular source of keyword data, while other third party tools like SEMRush, Moz and Ahrefs are just as useful and easy to use.
Generally, we would suggest targeting no more than 5 to 10 keywords with any given ad group. You can refine your targeting strategy even further by using single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) and tailoring your ads to capture interest from one single word or phrase.
We covered Google’s Quality Score (QS) in a previous post, but in summary, this metric is used to decide where you rank in the paid search listings, and ultimately how much you can expect to pay for your ads.
Over time, Google will paint a picture of your ad’s success using past performance data – and if it sees that certain ads, keywords or even landing pages have performed better than others, it will assign them a higher Quality Score.
If you’re not taking steps to improve your Quality Score, you’ll struggle to achieve those coveted top positions, and you’ll probably end up paying much more for your exposure than your search-savvy competitors.
Creating ad groups that include a small list of highly targeted keywords will help to boost your score, as doing this will enable you to develop ads that are totally relevant to these words and phrases, and therefore stand a higher chance of getting those all-important clicks. (When it comes to boosting your QS, SKAGs are your friend, too!).
Let’s look outside the Google Ads account itself for a moment and discuss the important role that your ad group’s landing page can play in the conversion process.
Your landing page – aka, the place you send the user once they have clicked on your ad – is the deal clincher. It’s the place where your potential customers should:
Learn more about what you have to offer
Gain confidence in your expertise and credibility
Find more information on how to register their interest or make a purchase
If your landing page is badly designed, difficult to follow and packed full of inconsistent and poorly written messaging, it’s not going to appeal to your audience. In fact, it will probably turn off your potential customers to the point where they abandon their journey completely, resulting in frustration and a wasted click. This is even more likely to happen if the content on the page doesn’t reflect the copy that’s in your ads.
You can’t achieve your conversion goals with a mediocre landing page. It’s that simple. You need to follow best practices to create something that not only connects with its readers, but that is structured in a way that gently encourages them to complete your desired action.
And you shouldn’t expect your original attempt at crafting the perfect destination page to be spot-on, either. You should always prepare to make changes to your page elements to see whether slight tweaks could improve engagement levels even further. (This is not something you have to do manually; tools like Google Optimize make it easy to carry out quick split testing experiments and track your results).
For extra insights into constructing effective landing pages, check out some more blunders that are likely to be hindering your website’s performance, along with our take on what truly makes a great landing page.
Worried that some of these simple errors could be hindering your campaign performance in Google Ads? Arrange a FREE audit now. Our PPC team will go through your account with a fine-tooth comb to identify areas that could be improved and suggest easy yet effective ways to improve your conversion rate.