The most important thing for any business owner is to get traffic to their website. But there are many things that can cause people to click on your ads instead of yours. This article will show you how to avoid these common Google Ads mistakes.


Mistake 1 – Search Network & Display Network Default Campaign Targeting Options

Search Network & Display Network Default Campaign Targeting Options

You can choose Search Network, Display Network, or both when creating search network campaigns. You can also include Google search partners for both networks. However, for search campaigns where lead generation is the goal (and not, say, brand awareness), you want to select only the Search Network because the conversion rate of clicks on the Display Network is notoriously low compared to search, which drives up your Cost Per Acquisitions without any significant benefit.

What happens with Search Network when you target a keyword is that it will appear on Google and search partners only. If you also select Display Network, Google will try to place your ad on relevant websites, but it will not appear to people actively searching for you. Hence, choosing a Display network is a good use of money since you won’t get relevant traffic that converts.

Your action item: Uncheck the default search partners and display network when setting up the campaign.

Mistake 2 – Not Using Negative Keywords

Not Using Negative Keywords

On Google Ads, at the very least, you must keep expanding your negative keywords list based on your search term reports every week.

It would help if you started with a standard list of negative keywords that you can find online using tools such as Semrush’s Keyword Planner, as well as other sources such as Ubersuggest, Google suggestions, and Semrush or Ahrefs (both are paid tools, though). On sites like Techwyse, you can also find a complete list of negative keywords you can start using ASAP. These keywords will save you tons of money on Google Ads, enabling you to attract more qualified leads and discredit searches that need to be poised to convert.

After this initial list has been uploaded, go to Search Terms in the Keywords tab and discover the exact search terms people use to find your ads. You will likely find irrelevant keywords to your campaign, and you want to add these to your negative keyword list immediately. Apart from driving up your costs, having a solid negative keyword list is important for several factors.

Your action item: Aim for a minimum of 50-100 negative keywords upon start and refine the list based on actual search term data.

Mistake 3 – Not Optimizing For Conversion Testing

Not Optimizing For Conversion Testing

It is shocking how many ad campaigns are still set up without conversion testing.

With this, you can say with certainty how much it costs you to obtain a lead or sale from your campaigns, which keywords are driving sales which keywords are not…the list goes on.

Optimizing your Ads campaign for conversions is a sure-fire way to boost your ROI and make the most out of your $$$. First, go to Settings -> Measurement -> Conversions. Then make sure to add every possible conversion action based on actions people take on your platform.

Examples of conversion action depending on your product or service:

  • Sale
  • A form submission
  • Email sent
  • A phone call
  • Newsletter signup

Google Ads exists to be a source for leads and sales, and you need to optimize your campaign for conversions to make this happen.

Your action item: set up as many conversion actions as possible.

Mistake 4 – Poor Keyword Research

One of the more common and deadliest Google Ads mistakes you can make is not performing keyword research thoroughly. You can’t select keywords based on what you believe people are searching for or what you would search. Therefore, using tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner is imperative to find the right and relevant keywords for your account.

In addition to keyword research, you should remember to select the right match type for your keywords, and in almost 90% of the cases, the broad match option is something you want to avoid. They are often just a waste of time because they will bring in irrelevant traffic driving up your costs and CPA while reducing your overall account rank.

Understanding keyword match types are crucial for your Google Ads campaign success. Therefore, what we strongly recommend is to find 10-15 primary keywords and use them in all three variants: broad match modifier ( + ), phrase match (“), and exact match ( [] ). This way, you will have them in 3 similar variations closely related to the meaning of the term.

Of course, you should also create specific ad groups targeting specific landing pages with their own keywords. Do not just use all keywords for one group; spread them across ad groups as you see fit.

For the pros out there, you are probably already using SKAGs, but if not (and why the hell not?!), here is a good guide to get you started.

Your action item: Select the right keywords and match types; the quality of clicks is far more important than quantity.

Mistake 5 – Not Testing Bidding Strategies

With so many bid strategies available in 2018, it might seem quite daunting to find the right one for you. However, you should be testing a few at least to find one most suitable for your needs. For example, while most advanced advertisers prefer to use manual CPC, some prefer maximizing conversions or enhanced CPC.

With manual CPC, you get more control over your bids in the long term. However, if you plan to test out a campaign over one or two weeks, you could go for enhanced CPC or maximize clicks. These bid strategies allow Google to get the most clicks at the best price possible.

The two bid strategies you want to focus on are targeting CPA and targeting ROAS. These two strategies allow you to bid following your ideal Cost per Action or Return on Ad Spend. In other words, it will enable you to spend just the right amount on ads to reach your ROI and maximize your investment.

Your action item: There is no one-size-fits-all bidding option, so test different bidding strategies to find your sweet spot.

Mistake 6 – Creating Only One Ad Variation

Another common Google Ads mistake is creating just one ad per ad group or only one ad with one variation. If you want to boost your conversion rate and minimize costs, creating several ad variations per ad group is important.

Even though you use the same headline or description, it is important to get several ad variations and test them to discover which one converts better. Once you find a winner ad, you can pause the rest and create a slightly different version of the winner. Then you can continue split testing.

There should be a LOT of testing and fine-tuning your campaign to find the ROI sweet spot. You will only see a campaign that hits the ground running, generating leads or sales left, right, and center from day one.

Your action item: Aim for a minimum of 2 (3 is better) ad copies per ad group.

Mistake 7 – Not Adding Extensions

Think of extensions like the bells and whistles to your ads. Google has made it easy for you to create properly-optimized ads and to drive more qualified traffic to your site by leveraging the power of extensions. You can now add extra information to your ad to make it stand out.

Using ad extensions can be an extremely effective way to increase your clicks. You can add site link extensions, which show different links to your website and send people to relevant pages. You can add callout extensions, which enable you to offer some of the unique selling points you have. Structured snippet extensions, message extensions, location extensions, and price extensions are useful extensions you can use.

When targeting mobile customers, it is imperative to use call extensions or message extensions. For example, you can enable mobile users to call or send you a message on their mobile phones.

What you need to remember about extensions is that you can’t control how extensions will appear. Google is the one that decides what wings appear and for which ads. Your ultimate goal is to look at the extension tab from time to time and see which extensions convert better. Then you can pause the incorrect ones or replace them with a better version.

Your action item: Set up as many ad extensions as possible; the more real-estate your ad takes up, the higher your CTRs.

Mistake 8 – Ignoring Regional Trends

This is a tricky one. There are generally two types of advertisers – some who turn up the knob on targeting and focusing on a very small area first, say one city. Others opt for going much more aggressively, bidding on a national level or even international level.

The first factor to consider is the area you cover. If you are a local business, say a restaurant, you will only want to run ads in your vicinity or maybe a new place where you are trying to capture market share.

It is a good idea to test a larger geographic area for businesses with a different consideration.

The benefit of this approach is that once you have some data, you can look at your ad performance on a city/town basis and make some calls. For example, you may find the cost/conversion from one city is lower than another, which could be why you turn down the budgeting for the more expensive city and turn it up for the other.

Or, you may find that sales or leads from a service you are currently pushing are coming from only a few key cities, which could be a cue to adjust your bids and campaigns accordingly.

You can apply the same principles above when looking at your KPIs on a device level. For example, are conversion costs from mobiles too high? Are tablets using up the budget but not converting? Turn them down!

Your action item: Different Test locations to find where you can get the most cost-effective leads and sales.

Mistake 9 – Not Using Experiments

The Experiments feature of Google Ads is a hidden gem, and a shame that more advertisers don’t use it.

It allows you to run split tests to find a better working variable. You can test different landing pages, ad copies, keyword match types, keywords, and just about anything else.

You can also decide on the specific amount of traffic you want to direct to each experiment, which means you can limit the risks, and the potential for rewards are much higher.

Your action item: Give experiments a try; your bottom line will thank you for it!


As stated numerous times above, running a successful Google Ads campaign takes time, patience, and a lot of testing.

Spending the extra time initially to set up your campaign properly and avoid common mistakes with Google Ads (think multiple ad variations, keywords, narrowly focused ad groups, keyword mix, and so on) can go a long way towards generating leads at a cost-effective and sustainable level.

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