The 8 Biggest Google Ads Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

by | Jul 31, 2019

Nothing is worse than spending your Google Ads budget on irrelevant traffic. In fact, it’s very easy to end up empty pocketed with poorly managed pay per click (PPC) campaigns.

On the other hand, Google Ads can work as a powerful marketing tool when done right. Clicks, leads,customers.  People clicking your ads, turning into leads and finally into paying customers. Sounds simple right?

Unfortunately driving qualified leads from Google Ads is often easier said than done. I have seen many businesses spending a vast amount of money on Google Ads with underwhelming results.

Every digital marketer makes mistakes and there is no perfect recipe for crafting the perfect Google Ads campaign.

We’ve listed the 8 most common mistakes that marketers make.

1. Ignoring important account settings

There are a few important things to keep in mind when first setting up your Google Ads account.

While Google Ads will let you track how your campaigns are performing in terms of clicks and conversions, integrating Google Analytics will let you track your marketing efforts at a deeper level. It simply allows you to track what people do once they land on your website. This can help you better understand whether your ads are showing up in front of the right audience and if your landing page is relevant to those who click on your ads.

One of the worst mistakes that many marketers make is not effectively measuring their marketing return on investment (ROI). Measuring ROI with Google Ads is relatively easy when you have set up conversion goals on Google Analytics.In short, conversion goal is a specific customer activity that brings value to your business. Depending on your business, it can be actions such as purchases,sign-ups, calls or alternative steps your customers take after clicking your ad.

When you set up conversions in the right way from the start, you can better track your campaigns’ performance.

Another important task to do while setting up Google Ads is to make sure to include tracking templates on your campaigns. Tracking templates can give you valuable information about your site visitors, where your clicks are coming from and whether your site traffic comes from Google Search Network or Display Network.

Just adding these two simple settings will allow you to better track your campaign performance.

Google Ads and Google Analytics Integration

2. Using too many keywords in one Ad group

Another mistake that many marketers make when creating new campaigns on Google Ads is using too many keywords in single Ad group.

I often see businesses placing multiple, unrelated keywords into one Ad group without realizing this method will flood them with irrelevant traffic.

To better explain this error, let’s take the term “lawyer” (one of the most competitive keywords on Google).Using the term “lawyer”, “immigration lawyer”,”divorce lawyer” or “real estate lawyer” in one single ad group will most probably result in irrelevant clicks and traffic since people searching for “real estate lawyer” might see your ads for “immigration lawyer”. To avoid this from happening, these keywords should be placed in individual Ad groups in order to maximize ad relevance.

In a perfect world, every Ad group would be a single keyword Ad group (SKAG). In short, SKAGS are Ad groups that target variations of one single keyword.  SKAGS are the best and fastest way to boost your click-through-rates(CTR),ad relevance and quality score. In other words, people that are looking for your services online have a higher chance of clicking your ad since their search term matches the keyword used in your ad.

To sum up: SKAGS are efficient in many ways: they improve click-through rate(CTR), quality score and statistically have a lower cost per click.

Single Keyword Ad Groups

So are there any drawbacks of using SKAGS?

There are a few. Creating SKAGS requires a longer set up time. However, Google Ads Editor allows you to implement SKAGS quickly and efficiently by simply adding,copying and pasting keywords and ads.

Besides spending a lot of time creating SKAGS, testing and result tracking can get harder when using multiple SKAGS. Since you are tracking multiple campaigns with single keywords, the amount of data will decrease and it can take longer to create visible results.

3. Not using the right keyword match types

Another factor used to define the success of your ads is using the right keyword match types.

While there are multiple different keyword strategies to use, it’s important to use the one that specifically works for your product. As a rule, you should always pick the match type that best describes what your potential customer is searching for.

To start with, you should be aware of the different keyword match types. Let’s imagine we want to advertise for “Men’s Shoes”.

This is how we would apply each different keyword match type:

  • Broad match: Men’s Shoes. This can also match for misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations.
  • Broad match modifier: +Men’s +shoes. Can also match with terms in any order and additional words can appear before, after, or between the terms.
  • Phrase match: “Men’s Shoes”. Can include matches of the phrase and close variations. It  may also include additional words before or after. For example Men’s black     shoes.
  • Exact match: [Men’s Shoes]. Matches for the exact term or close variations of the exact term with the same meaning.

One strategy that can be used when choosing the right keywords match types is called ” broad-to-narrow strategy”. Using this strategy you first start with broad match in order to gain a maximum amount of impressions on relevant searches. After you’ve monitored your campaigns and gathered some data, you might find that your ads are getting impressions on irrelevant variations of your keyword. This is when you should add negative keywords to prevent irrelevant clicks as well as add other keyword match types to increase the relevance of your keywords.

Keyword match types
Different Keyword Match Types

4. Irrelevant landing page

You have created ads that generate clicks. Great, that means you have successfully created relevant ads that drive traffic to your landing page.

Many marketers forget about the importance of post-click landing page experience.

In an ideal scenario, people land on your page and convert into paying customers. Conversely, people land on your page and leave as the page simply does not offer the solution the customers were seeking.

In either case, you should look at both, CTR and conversion rates and try to figure out whether it’s your ad or landing page that is not performing. If your ad has a good CTR it’most likely to indicate that your ad is relevant and appealing. However, if your conversion rates are still down, that might mean that your landing page is not performing as well as it could.

Creating a landing page that is relevant to your ad will most likely increase your conversion rate. Besides landing page relevance, your landing page should have a clear CTA (call to action) that helps drive conversions, mobile-optimized content and quick site speed.

Optimized landing pages
Optimized Landing Pages

5. Poor and irrelevant ad copies

Great ad copies can significantly increase your CTR.The most important thing to remember when writing ad copy is to make sure they are relevant to the keywords used in that ad group.

One of the best tips for writing a great ad copy is to make sure the keyword is always included in the ad.Preferably in the first headline to improve ad relevance, one of the factors determining your ad’s quality score.

My suggestion is to start creating different types of ad copies by changing and adding different variations of titles and descriptions.

Try to communicate your product’s value into the ad copy and how your offer is unique from competitors. Keep in mind that your competitors are out there competing with the same keywords – if you don’t make your ad stand out from others, you won’t get the desired results.

google ad copies
Examples of great ad copies

6. Ignoring ad extensions

Often advertisers spend a lot of time crafting a perfect ad without paying attention to extensions.  But sooner or later it becomes clear that ad extensions can be highly impactful when it comes to PPC campaign performance.

Ad extensions are a great way to enhance your ads and help boost your CTR.Extensions can be as important as ad copies and should always be customized for every ad group. In fact, according to Google,enabling new ad extension typically increases CTR by 10-15%.

“Every type of ad extension that we offer is intended to benefit our users, which translates to a higher CTR for you. On average we have found that there is a 10-15% CTR uplift*from implementing a new ad extension. ” (Google 2019)

While there are multiple different extensions available, I would recommend using all extensions that are relevant for your campaign.

So which ad extensions are there and when should they be used. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Sitelink extension – Sitelink extensions  are used to help people find the right page on your website directly from  your ad
  • Callout extension –  Used for promoting unique offers or features to your potential clients such as: “free delivery”, “free trial”, “14 years of experience”
  • Call extension – displays your business phone number allowing your customers to call you directly from the ad
  • Location extension –  location extensions encourage people to visit your business location  by displaying your address, map, and distance to your business.

Ad extensions
Ad extensions

7. Ignoring negative keywords

Despite their crucial role in google advertising,many marketers seem to ignore the importance of adding negative keywords.

Negative keywords can be used to exclude keywords that are not relevant to your business. Let’s say you own a shoe shop and you only want to advertise for tennis shoes. In this case, it would make sense to add ‘running shoes” as a negative keyword. Similarly, if you are selling an e-book, you want to make sure to include “free” on your negative keyword lists to prevent irrelevant traffic to your paid e-book download.

Besides guessing the relevant negative terms for your campaign, there are also a few other ways to find negative keywords. Google ads keyword planner and other similar keyword research tools can provide ideas for negative keywords. Typing your keywords into one of these tools produces a list of related keywords and searches that can be used in your negative keyword list.

As your ads start running, you will be able to track search queries that triggered your ad. Make a habit of checking the search term report regularly to find irrelevant keywords that you might want to add as negative keywords. Additionally, the search report can also give you ideas of relevant keywords that you might want to add to a new ad group.

negative keyword list
Adding negative keywords

8. Not optimizing for mobile

As we know the use of mobile devices for online shopping continues to dramatically increase so if you still haven’t optimized your google ads for mobile, now it’s time to do so.

As online shoppers expect a smooth mobile experience, you should make sure your ads are mobile-friendly. Using expanded text ads will ensure your ads will run smoothly on mobile device by providing more space and responsive design.

Using he right ad extensions for your mobile ads can significantly improve your ads’performance. Think about the extensions that would make the most sense for people searching for your services with mobile and use them to make your ads more appealing.

In addition to making your ads mobile-friendly, you should not forget about your landing page.  You want to make sure your landing page is also mobile-friendly in order to maximize conversions and make your customer’s mobile experience as smooth as possible.

google ads on mobile
Standard text ad vs expanded text ads (google)

Final Thoughts

One of the biggest misconceptions of PPC advertising is that you can just create campaigns and forget about them. It’s true that running Google Ads can be tricky and time-consuming.

Poorly managed Google Ads can drive up irrelevant traffic and leave you empty-pocketed fast. The goal with Google Ads is to have your ads targeted at the right audience. This is why it always comes down to choosing the right keywords and keyword match types.

By combining, testing and continuously optimizing your account along with avoiding the common mistakes listed in the article you will be well on your way to creating a successful Google Ads campaign.

Free Ebooks & Video Training

Download PPC, SEO, and lead generation resources from our library to take your performance to the next level.

Ryder Meehan

Ryder Meehan

Ryder has been on a 16-year journey to master digital marketing from every aspect. His resume includes Razorfish, Slighshot, Fossil, Samsung Mobile and Tatcha before launching Upgrow. Ryder is the acting CEO, heading business development and account services. He has been featured as a digital marketing leader on Forbes, PRNews,, Workamajig, Databox, Fit Small Biz and other outlets.

Read More from Our Blog