Recently, Alex Cohen from Click Equations reached out to me to take part in a 5-part Q&A series about Google text ad optimization, which can be found here. Responding to these questions got me thinking – What are some other common mistakes to avoid when using Google AdWords? Sure there are a lot, as AdWords is a complex system and is always changing to boot. But I believe these six mistakes should be avoided at all costs:
Neglecting your ongoing account optimization
Seems obvious, but a lot of folks get their account all set up and then forget about it completely. This is what we like to call the “set it and forget it” mentality. It is absolutely critical to not do this, as what will typically happen is your account will spiral out of control. Maybe there’s a rogue display network placement that is spending all your budget without bringing quality traffic and conversions to your site. Maybe your keyword bids that were once good are now way too low and your average position is such that your ads aren’t showing. Maybe the Google Search Partners are sucking hard. Maybe your credit card changed and you aren’t even running ads. Point is, if you aren’t keeping track, something will go horribly wrong with your account in time. Be warned … Ok that’s the end of my ominous rant.
Not using conversion tracking
So, you’re driving traffic to your website. What do you want users to do after clicking on your site? Please, please, please don’t tell me you just want to bring “traffic”. That’s what I like to call wasting your money. Surely there is some funnel you want users to find and ultimately click. It can be buying products, signing up for email newsletters, filling out forms, downloading assets (behind forms), or the like. But you need to get conversion tracking in place to be able to monitor how many users are performing the desired action. Conversion metrics are the gold mine for PPC.
Grouping too many keywords into ad groups
I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been guilty of this before. Sometimes you want to get the new ad group up and running ASAP, but keep these ad groups as granular as possible. I have ad groups with one keyword in it. Why, you ask? Think of how targeted you can make your ad, which will improve your CTR, which will raise your quality score, which will make the keyword less expensive, which makes everyone happy.
Forgetting about landing pages
Ever search for something in particular, click on a PPC and and get taken to the home page of the site? Usually not super helpful. What you want to do is take users to a highly relevant landing page. I’ve got clients where we have 15+ specific PPC landing pages. I’m sure there are clients with many, many more. Are you an e-commerce site? At least take users to the product page of the product they are searching for. It is a pain sometimes to get tons of PPC specific landing pages dialed in, but it is worth it. As I’ve said, ads really just compel users to click. Landing pages take that user expectation and ideally, funnel users to a conversion. Therefore, I cannot stress how important landing pages are.
Leaving ad serving at optimized instead of rotate
By default, Google thinks it knows more than you. Which is probably right. But in this case, you’ll want to set your ad serving to rotate. Otherwise, you won’t get to do real A/B ad testing.
Neglecting negative keywords
Good way to save some money. You can do a little work when first setting up your accounts by thinking of similar terms that might show your ad that simply aren’t relevant. You can also see what actual searches your ads are showing for by clicking the “See search terms” button in the “Keywords” tab. You can then sort by spend and see which terms are bringing in traffic without converting. There are a lot of useful blog posts on the Internet about negative keywords if you’d like more detailed information.
Any of you readers have any other common mistakes to avoid with AdWords? I’d love to hear them.