Here’s 5 of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen in Google Ad accounts that you can learn from.


Google Ads – Stop making these 5 expensive mistakes

After 2 years, 10 million dollars, thousands of conversions and sales, and endless blog posts that show how we nailed it and crushed our client’s competitors (most of the time!), it’s time to go in a different direction and reveal the biggest mistakes we’ve seen & corrected with Google Ads so you can avoid these yourself.

Looking back at our work, we’re pretty happy with the overall results. We’ve worked for several hundred businesses in different segments, but always managed to build a successful PPC strategy that got our clients excellent results. But of course, things aren’t always perfect when we start with a client, and we’ve corrected our fair share of budget-burning mistakes along the way.

Keep reading to learn the biggest mistakes you too might be making with Google ads, and how to avoid them.

1. Using way too many keywords at once

The very first thing you always do when starting a search campaign is proper keyword research. We won’t go on and on about why and how to conduct keyword research, because that’s a subject for a post of its own. What we will share with you is the biggest mistake we see made with keywords.

We see far too many types of keywords being used for marketing a single product. Using too many keywords also means having too many ad groups, writing too many ads, and optimizing too many landing pages, which was very time consuming, and mainly distracts the business owner or marketing manager from the keywords that were really important.

Give up quantity, take up quality! Focus on the keywords that are truly right for you giving them all your time and attention and you’ll be able to really optimize them. Doing that will cut your CPA on Google in half, and enabled you to allocate your entire budget over to the right campaigns and keywords.

So what we’re trying to say here is to focus on the highly relevant keywords, and put your efforts into “winning” them. All of our small business & competitive industry Adwords management adopt this practice.

2. Giving Display Network (GDN) too much time and money

There are so many good things to say about the Google display network. There are endless ways to use it and optimize it. There are so many different targeting methods and ad sizes and types to get creative with. You can have your ads appear almost anywhere across the web and reach millions of people. But honestly, if you’re dealing with a smaller marketing budget it can be extremely hard to get the GDN to work well for targeting a cold audience, especially compared to other display channels such as Facebook or LinkedIn.

You’re far better off giving up on trying to reach a cold audience with the Google display network, and simply use it for retargeting only. It works like magic. You’ll have more time and budget to invest in all the other channels and it helps to improve the overall results of the entire user acquisition efforts.

3. Using SKAGs right from the beginning

We’re a massive supporter of SKAGs (single keyword ad groups). Using SKAGs allows you to create extremely accurate ads and landing pages that perfectly matched the search terms. As you probably already know, the higher the relevancy is, the higher the CTR and conversion rates will be, and the same goes for the quality score, which means you pay less for each click, which leads to a lower CPA, and we can go on and on about it…

So, by now you might ask yourself if we’re such a big fan of SKAGs, why do we think it is wrong to use them? Well, the answer to that is quite simple. The mistake is how we see them used.

We see clients using SKAGs too early, without having any prior data.

Using SKAGs right from the beginning makes a mess of accounts. We see too many ad groups with too many types of keywords and too many landing pages. It is almost impossible to optimize and get to the point that we really know which keywords a client needs to use, and how they should really write ads and design landing pages.

To summarize – without having data, you’re most likely throwing away marketing budget and a lot of my time on the wrong keywords.

We do think that SKAGs can be a good strategy, but not for everyone. It really depends on the budget you have, and the size of the team managing your account. In most cases, when we are engaged by our clients, the business owner is the marketing team in the company doing everything from A to Z. Handling a SKAG campaign with the little time they have and zero data is just too much for them to handle, and I can honestly say they chose the wrong strategy for themselves.

What would we do differently?

We would start off with a simpler campaign structure and have ad groups containing a bunch of keywords with the same intent. Once we had enough data, we would separate the top keywords in terms of volume and effectiveness, and create ad groups that contained only them with all three match types, with highly relevant ads and landing pages.

4. Campaigns using too few landing pages

This one is the complete opposite of the last mistake. In the past, there was a time that we would put most of our focus on grouping my keywords the right way, writing the best ads we could to improve click-through rates, obsessively optimizing bids, and cleaning up search term reports by adding negative keywords. But all of that didn’t really matter, because there wasn’t the right amount of attention to landing pages.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s not that we see clients accounts sending all their traffic to the site’s home page (the b-i-g-g-e-s-t mistake any digital marketer could ever make!). It’s just that they didn’t have enough landing pages to completely answer what the users were searching for.

What do we do differently?

Without overdoing it (as with SKAGs), we make sure to create a designated landing page for every set of keywords in the account that answer the same user intent. It’s really not much of a hassle and leads to better Quality Scores and conversion rates. We offer landing pages for all our PPC clients.

5. Clients didn’t always use the full power of ad extensions

Google ad extensions can be super powerful. They allow you to get more space on the Google search results page, add more valuable data to your ad copy, make people directly call you on their mobile phones, send users to different pages of your site, show users reviews and more.

There are a lot of reasons to use them and leverage their full power in your search campaigns. Google allows us to use them in so many ways, analyse their results and help us optimize them, so why not? Well, that’s a question we keep asking potential clients!

The biggest mistake with ad extensions we see is simply not using them enough.

It’s not that clients didn’t use them, it’s just that they didn’t use them at their full power. As you probably know, you can use extensions at a campaign level or ad group level and match them to what your ad group is about.

So what do we do differently?

Well, obviously, we simply add more extensions (all of them truth be told!). If there was already a site link extension we would add more and test them out. If the campaigns were mobile-enabled, we would add a call extension allowing a click to call straight from the ad. We would use callout extensions to highlight the benefits our clients offer, and… well, you get the point. We use everything Google has to offer.

Final thoughts

As mentioned above, everybody makes a few mistakes along the way. We don’t think there are many other professions out there that are more dependent on testing, trying, and getting it wrong sometimes.

But that’s not a problem. Regardless of all the mistakes, we listed above, we mostly turned these mistakes into actionable issues for our clients and got killer results and amazing ROI. We hope you’ll learn from the mistakes that we’ve identified exist in accounts and that this post will help you avoid making them in the first place.