When used effectively, Google Adwords can be extremely profitable to your business. Unfortunately, there are often mistakes that end up costing your business and leaving you extremely unsatisfied with your ROI from Google Adwords.

1. Using Too Much Broad Match

When choosing your keyword targeting, Adwords gives you four different options for how you can target each specific keyword. These match types are exact, phrase, modified broad, and broad match. Each of these match types serve a purpose depending on the structure and goal of your campaign, but the one match type I try to stay clear of as much as possible is broad match. Here is a statement from Google about why using broad match in your keyword targeting is beneficial:

google-adwords“When you use broad match, your ads automatically run on relevant variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren’t in your keyword lists. This helps you attract more visitors to your website, spend less time building keyword lists, and focus your spending on keywords that work.”

Initially, this sounds great. You get to spend less time building complex keyword lists, and you are able to bring in more traffic to your website. This is all fine and dandy except for the fact that a sizable portion of this “additional” traffic you are bringing in may not even be in the market for your product or service at all. A prime example of this is an Adwords campaign I took over for a company that sells products related to horse jumping and dressage. They had been bidding on the keyword “horse jumps for sale” using broad match. When I dove into the search terms that were triggering this keyword I noticed there were many search terms where it was obvious people were looking for something other than the products this company sold. Some of these examples were: “horse jumping simulator”, “horse games for girls”, “girl horse for sale”, “toy bouncing house”, “3d horse games”, and the list just kept on going. This company had been wasting money for months on end, simply because they put too much faith in broad match.

So how should you go about combating this? I am a big fan of using the modified broad match type. This still gives Google some flexibility so you don’t have to spend days of your life building exhaustive keyword lists, but it still gives you enough control to eliminate the irrelevant searches.

2. Not Tracking Conversions

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One of my favorite things about Google Adwords is how well you are able to track the effectiveness of this advertising method. Which is why you may be shocked to learn that not tracking conversions is the most common Google Adwords mistake I see. You would be amazed at how many companies are spending thousands of dollars a month using Google Adwords, without tracking what benefit they are getting from that traffic. Are they buying products? Are they filling out the ‘Contact Us’ form? Are they requesting a free demo? Without proper conversion tracking your guess is as good as mine. Tracking what the users do on your site after clicking on your ad, is key in determining if Google Adwords is profitable for your business.
Not only is this an essential step to determining overall ROI of the campaign, but it also gives you insights into which keywords or ads are performing best for you. With conversion tracking in place you are able to see which keywords are bringing in visitors that convert, as well as, which ads have the highest chance of bringing in a converting user. You may learn that people who are searching for “maids in salt lake city” are much less likely to convert than people who are searching for “cleaning service in salt lake city” or that your ad mentioning Free Shipping is bringing in more converting users than your ad talking about Quality Guarantee. The goal of Google Adwords is to bring in converting users for the lowest price, but if you don’t know which users are converting, how will you ever achieve this goal?

3. Using Poor Landing Pages

The homepage of your website looks great. No really, it does. However, it may not be the best page to send your Adwords traffic to. When evaluating a landing page I look at three criteria; is it relevant to the search of the visitor, does it provide enough information to answer their question or solve their need, and does it have a prominent call to action? If your homepage is built to do this, then I encourage you to use this as your landing page, but in many instances this won’t be the case. This is especially true with a company that has different categories of their product or service.

If you are an eCommerce clothing store that is bringing in traffic for people searching for men’s shirts, men’s hats, and men’s pants, then I implore you to send that traffic to those relevant category pages rather than the home page. If there’s one thing I have learned throughout my time of being a digital marketer, it is that people on the internet are inherently lazy. When they click on result for their search term, they want the answer to be in front of them immediately. They do not want to have to click into the category page, regardless of how easy you think it is to navigate there. If someone clicks on your ad and is sent to a page that doesn’t solve their need, they will more than likely click on the back button and try a different listing. This is a wasted click that costs you money.

Sending traffic to the most relevant landing page possible in relation to the what they are searching for is key to Adwords success.

4. Not Using Proper Location Targeting

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There is no easier way to waste money on Adwords than to show your ads to people who are outside of your serviceable location. If you are an online store that only ships within the USA or a local business who only operates in a particular city, then location targeting is a must. Adwords makes it easy to target either a particular location or a radius around a particular location.

Ensure that all of your campaigns are only targeting the locations that make sense for your business. You can also double check that this is the case by going into Google Analytics. If you segment out only traffic coming in from Google Adwords, and look at where these users are coming from, you will quickly be able to tell how effective or accurate your location targeting is.

5. Not Using Enough Negative Keywords

In Google Adwords, negative keywords are your friend. Hell, they may even be your lover. Adding negative keyword lists allows you to filter out traffic that may fit your keyword targeting but doesn’t fit your target demographic. In other words, they save you money. For instance, people search online for many products or services using the word “free”. If you do not offer a free option for users, then this may be a great opportunity for a negative keyword.
When building out campaigns, think about what keywords may trigger your ads that you want to block out. Do you not sell used items? Are your products specific to either men or women? These are examples of things to think about when building your initial keyword list. Once you have your campaign built out, the negative keywords don’t stop there. I routinely examine the Search Terms Report looking for search terms that don’t fit my target customer. If there is a word or phrase that you routinely see that makes these users not your ideal customer, simply add that word or phrase to your negative keyword list. The more you build out this list the less irrelevant traffic you will be paying for, saving your money for the customers that matter.

6. You’re Trying To Be #1

talladega-nights-the-ballad-of-ricky-bobby-5052bda01243bRicky Bobby from Talladega Nights lives his life by the phrase, “if you ain’t first, yer last.” This may be true in some instances, but definitely not when it comes to Google Adwords. Being the top position may be a great confidence booster, but it doesn’t always mean you are getting the best ROI out of your Adwords campaign. For many highly competitive markets, paying for the #1 spot means you are shelling out some serious cash. Many times you will be able to get enough clicks to exhaust your budget by routinely being in the #2 or #3 spot. This means you are getting clicks at a cheaper cost than the #1 spot. There have also been studies done to show that conversion rate does not vary with ad position.

Too many people keep raising their bid price until they see that average position hit 1.0, which is a great way to overpay for your clicks. I like to keep my average position somewhere between 1.8 – 2.5 to ensure that I am not being buried at the bottom of the page but I am also not overpaying for my clicks.