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Google Ads Mistakes That Cost You Money

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CoreyinMN

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They are everywhere...

When you search for information on Google Ads you see TONS of success stories.

Warm and fuzzy tales of how a local brick and mortar or cutting-edge start-up put a dollar into the Google Machine and started getting 10 times that out of it.

And it was soooo easy.

All they did was place some"key " words into a box, mention how great their business is and BOOM, another diamond for the wife and a round of drinks for their pals at the Country Club.

But what you don't see, unless you dig, is how many businesses lose a crap ton of money and have nothing to show for it except a high-interest credit card bill and very large pit in their stomach.

Well, dig no more.

In this series of threads, you are going to discover the top mistakes new and/or experienced Google Ads marketers make. Mistakes that cost them, their clients and you, if don't read this, piles of money.

Time To Stop The Madness!

My goal is to share these mistakes in order to help you and all our fellow profit conscience Fastlaners who are using Google Ads.

Plus, it would be cool to jumpstart a discussion and get some of the other Google Ads peeps to pipe in. That will keep me honest, correct me if I'm wrong and help you and I learn all we can (pssst... @andy_black, @eliquid, and any other AdWords expert who wants to jump in).

Who Should Read This

It would be easy to say these tips are for beginners but my experience has shown me that there are a few other groups that should be reading this too.

They are:
  • Google Ads Beginners. In case you missed it in the last sentence.
  • Some Certified Google Partners*. The fox told you how to watch the hen house and now it's time for an intervention.
  • Business Owners / Marketing Managers with employees or hired guns running their campaigns. Wouldn't it be nice to poke your head into your account, look around with trained eyes and ask some questions?
* Side note: I roll my eyes every time I see "must be Google Certified" when I am sifting through jobs on freelance websites. I can't count all the times I've audited and/or taken over an account, that was burning through money, only to find out from a stressed-out client that it was managed by someone who's certified. Nothing wrong with being certified or wanting to work with someone who's certified. Just don't make it your top criteria for hiring and trusting someone with your money.
Who The Hell Are You?

Fair question.

I learned about these mistakes via my 10+ years of experience using Google Ads and 4+ as a full-time PPC consultant. I’ve found these mistakes via a combination of making them myself, consuming geeky amounts of Google Ads info and seeing clients, newbies and even "certified" AdWords pro's make them. I've audited, fixed and taken over MANY jacked up accounts in dozens of industries.

Ok, with that out of the way...

Here is a quick list of the top Google Ads mistakes:
  1. Not tracking conversions
  2. Not separating display and search ads
  3. Blindly making changes suggested by Google Reps
  4. Including search partners
  5. Using too many keywords
  6. Not using negatives
  7. Only running one variation
  8. Running too many ad variations
  9. Sending traffic to a horrible landing page
  10. [stay tuned for more]

Otherwise...

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Horror Stories?

Want me to go into greater detail?


Let's hear it below.
 

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Last edited:

Fahiem

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Definately going to be keeping an eye on this thread.

I've done adwords for physical products but was now looking to get into some local business PPC, so this is perfect timing.

@andy_black threads have been brilliant.

@eliquid paid advertising crash course thread is probably the best PPC thread I've ever read, better than most courses I've purchased. Pure gold, I would have happily paid for the information he shared.

I can see this thread becoming a great resource.

Thanks for starting it off Corey, eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
 

jon.M

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- Obsessing over the Google Quality Score instead of actually running a profitable campaign.
- Not considering which awareness stage the prospect is in when searching for XXX.
- Thinking that a Google Ad Certification matters one bit. You don't learn truly useful stuff and it takes up too much time. Spend a fraction of that time on Andy Black's AdWords course and you'll be good to go.
 

eliquid

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Im going to throw in some of my suggestions.

I might duplicate what Corey has already said, but I'm going to go a few levels deeper if I can.
  • Using the wrong match type on negatives. I use just phrase match on 1 word in the phrase to future proof. I've seen many people just use exact on the whole phrase or do broad match. To me, that's just too much work for little return.

  • Never negative matching in display. I pretty much negative match any foreign or spammy extensions, as well as, any placements that have high a high CTR and/or Conv. Rate ( excluding ecom clients on the Conv. Rate bit ). For high, I'm talking about 3x+ the average.

  • Not digging in deep enough on GeoLocations for exclusions. I see a lot of country and state/region matching, but hardly anyone goes into the city level or zip codes ( for large accounts )

  • Analysing data on a "routine" instead of a trend. For example, say you weekly check negative keywords for a client or keyword performance ( cost/conv ). Every Friday you load up the report and check it as the "LAST 7 DAYS". Ok good. You did it wrong more than likely. You should also be looking at it as LAST 14 DAY, LAST 30 DAYS, LAST 90 DAYs, hell maybe even the last 365 days if you can. Why? Because you might have several keywords that are spending a low amount of money each week but not getting conversions and missing them in your report if you are not careful. In the last 7 days keyword ABC spend $3 dollars and no conversions... so you aren't worried about it. Next week it spends $3 and no conversions and you aren't worried about it. It never dawns on most people that over time and 52 weeks that same keyword has now spent $150+ and still no conversions. Too many times looking at the "weekly" performance of something can throw you off and miss the larger performance gap.

  • Letting Google optimize anything in the account like ad rotation. I like to "test" CPA bidding and only use it once I know for sure it works, but I never start with it.

  • Horrible ad copy.

  • No testing or too much testing ( 10 ads in 1 adgroup or let test run way too long )

  • Letting search keywords be average position 1 ( excluding brand ) or below 3.0

  • Not giving keywords, ads, or any variable enough spend to be statistically relevant before cutting it.

  • Trusting someone else on a blog, a Google rep, or some certified "guru's" advice instead of doing their own work

  • Not understanding the end customer that clicks the ad. Do you know why RN's who are looking to get their BSN convert better during 3rd shift hours compared to any other shift? I do and I optimize to that finding.

  • Not understanding that 1 change today can impact 4 other sections in Adwords the rest of the week or more. Now compound that tidbit with the fact you made over 30 changes today in multiple areas of Adwords along with 20 more yesterday. Your performance goes to shit and now you can't figure out why or which change actually did it. You just did what I call "too much too soon" brah.

I might list out more when I think of them.

.
 

Andy Black

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Thinking that a Google Ad Certification matters one bit. You don't learn truly useful stuff and it takes up too much time. Spend a fraction of that time on Andy Black's AdWords course and you'll be good to go.
Thanks.

I’d also say spending 18 hours on a super comprehensive $10 course is a mistake too. Spend one hour on a course and get your first ad running.
 
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CoreyinMN

CoreyinMN

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- Thinking that a Google Ad Certification matters one bit. You don't learn truly useful stuff and it takes up too much time. Spend a fraction of that time on Andy Black's AdWords course and you'll be good to go.
I'd also recommend reading through the search related sections of Perry Marshall book "Ultimate Guide To Google AdWords" (free plus shipping here Adwords Guide | Perry Marshall ). That alone help give people a solid foundation, avoid many mistakes and put you in the right mindset.
 
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CoreyinMN

CoreyinMN

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Not digging in deep enough on GeoLocations for exclusions. I see a lot of country and state/region matching, but hardly anyone goes into the city level or zip codes ( for large accounts )
Good point on the larger accounts. I am privy on the hyper local but never put a ton of thought into for national/larger. Thank you!

Using the wrong match type on negatives. I use just phrase match on 1 word in the phrase to future proof.
This conjures up some questions concerning match types. It has been getting fuzzier and fuzzier over the past few years. For example, exact is not necessarily exact anymore. Back in the day there was no such thing as a "close variant" on an exact term. It was either the term in the brackets or it wasn't.

This, along with your statement, makes me wonder about your experience on the negative side of things.

What do you mean by future proof? And do you have an example of what types of terms might show up, or not, when using a single term broad versus a single term phrase?

Not understanding the end customer that clicks the ad. Do you know why RN's who are looking to get their BSN convert better during 3rd shift hours compared to any other shift? I do and I optimize to that finding.
Reminds me of a popular ppc podcast I was listening to the other day. They were discussing demographic targeting on search. One of the hosts... errr guru's... made a comment essentially dismissing the importance of building out a customer avatar for search campaigns. Glad he is broadcasting info like that. Makes it easier for the rest of us. :)
 

eliquid

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What do you mean by future proof? And do you have an example of what types of terms might show up, or not, when using a single term broad versus a single term phrase?
So I am basing this off accounts that ran before I came onboard and what I found.

Just about 99% of them, the negatives looked like this below. Lets assume this is a college looking for student leads for mindset:

[criminal justice salary]
[open jobs for criminal justice degree holder]
[salary for criminal justice major]
[can I get a job as a criminal justice graduate]
[OK google find catholic schools that offer criminal justice degrees]

For this college, they aren't a catholic based school and terms like 'salary' and 'job' is NOT going to land this school a lead for a student. The intent is way off.

But the prior manager just goes in, finds the search phrase that matched, and then does the plain vanilla negative match option Google gives them ( exact ) and calls it a week. They rinse and repeat next week.

But noticed how doing that, more "salary" and "job" and "catholic" queries could come next week ( and they do! ).

So instead, I just look at those phrases and cherry pick the 1 or 2 words that would future proof my work.

Those ( in this case ) would be:

"job"
"jobs"
"salary"
"catholic"

Now none of those terms are coming in now, in the future.

So my method is to find the 1 or 2 terms that are the "80/20" in the phrase and PHRASE match it, instead of most that I have ran across that just negative on the exact ( the Google default ) and still have the same-ish term pop up next week.

Normally I go in and see hundreds, if not thousands, of exact match negative phrases that contain the word "job" in them from the prior manager. It just makes me shake my head. Instead of hundreds or thousands of entries ( and time wasted ), they could have just negative PHRASE matched "job" and called it done and future proofed. The college doesn't want job seekers.
.
 

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