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14 Common PPC Mistakes Every Paid Search Marketer Should Avoid

Sam Carr

Sam Carr

July 30th, 2020

Sam obsesses over three things in life: Animals, Films and Marketing. We may have over exaggerated his love for marketing.

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Running a successful Google Ads campaign is a lot harder than it looks.

With so much to keep on top of, you’d be surprised at how many PPC mistakes marketers can make.

Having worked with thousands of different clients over the years, we’ve seen plenty of common mistakes that that often go unnoticed. From not using ad extensions to forgetting to geo-target ads, a simple mistake can result in your ads campaign significantly underperforming.

No matter if you’re managing your own campaigns or you’ve just taken over a client’s account, here are some of the most common PPC mistakes you should avoid.

Common PPC Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Not Using Negative Keywords
  2. Always Aiming For Position #1
  3. Not Knowing The Customer’s Lifetime Value
  4. Not Using Ad Extensions
  5. Not Taking Advantage Of Google Ads Scripts
  6. Not Using Ad Schedules
  7. Using Smart Search Campaigns
  8. Not Using Location Targeting
  9. Having A Slow Website
  10. Not Optimizing Your Landing Pages
  11. Setting & Forgetting Your Campaign
  12. Not Using Dedicated Landing Pages
  13. Not Protecting Your Brand Name
  14. Not Protecting Yourself From Click Fraud

1. Not Using Negative Keywords

By default, Google will display ads for phrases such as “free” and “cheap” unless you tell it not to.

If you’re going to be paying money for every click on your ad, then it makes sense to ensure you only receive the most high-quality clicks. Over the years, Google has tweaked its various match types, so they now trigger more keywords than ever before. Some of which aren’t even relevant and should be avoided.

By default, Google will display ads for phrases such as “free” and “cheap” unless you tell it not to. This means if you’re using the phrase match keyword type on your campaigns, keywords could be triggering your ads for phrases that include free and cheap.

The last thing you want is someone who has no intention of spending money clicking on your ads. By taking advantage of Google’s negative keywords list, you can exclude as many time wasters as possible and improve your return on investment.

2. Always Aiming For Position #1

On paper, being position number one and above everyone else looks great.

Whether you’re managing your own PPC campaigns or you’re managing a client’s, everyone wants to reach that number one spot. But as tempting as it may be, aiming for that elusive number one spot is a classic PPC mistake.

On paper, being position number one and above everyone else looks great. It’s a wonderful metric to show your client and to pat yourself on the back. However, actually reaching that top spot can require a lot of effort, time, and money which could be spent better elsewhere.

For some competitive keywords, the number one spot can cost upwards of $10, which for some businesses, is way too much. Not focusing on the number one spot and focusing on your ROI is usually a much better tactic. Being in the second or third position can still generate a lot of clicks, for a lot less money!

3. Not Knowing The Customer’s Lifetime Value

A successful PPC campaign is heavily reliant on figures and metrics.

Another huge mistake that many paid search marketers make is not fully understanding their customer’s lifetime value. In order to make a profitable and successful campaign, you need to be on top of your metrics and numbers.

Without knowing your average customer’s lifetime value, how can you work out how much you should be spending per acquisition? Without knowing your cost per acquisition, how can you work out how much you should be bidding per click?

A successful PPC campaign is heavily reliant on figures and metrics. If you get the numbers wrong and end up spending too much, then there’s a good chance you could lose money. On the other hand, if you spend too little, then you might not be getting the most out of paid ads. Knowing all your important metrics and figures beforehand is the foundation of every successful campaign.

4. Not Using Ad Extensions

Even some PPC veterans can accidentally forget to add ad extensions to their campaigns.

By default, Google’s ads are rather bland and boring. With only two headlines and two descriptions to fill out, many beginners often fall into the trap of thinking that’s all they need.

Even some PPC veterans can accidentally forget to add ad extensions to their campaigns as there are just so many of them nowadays. Depending on the business and the type of ad you’re running, there are a few main Google ad extensions that are worth adding. These are:

Not only do these ad extensions increase the size of your ad and make them take up more screen space. But they also significantly increase the engagement and click-through rate from users. Considering they are free to add to any advert, anyone who’s not using them is making a big PPC mistake.

Since your time is precious, ensuring as many of the easy tasks are automated can save you a huge amount of time.

Life is too short to be spending all your time doing the tedious small tasks of paid search management. With so many small daily recurring tasks for PPC managers, it can often be a struggle to get any real work done.

Thankfully, Google has an excellent scripts feature that allows many boring and tedious tasks to be automated with the use of custom Google Ads scripts.

Since your time is precious, ensuring as many of the easy tasks are automated can save you a tremendous amount of time and let you focus on the more important stuff.

These scripts can do anything from analyzing your Google display placements to alerting you to any budget over-delivery on your campaigns. Free and extremely customizable, these scripts can also be tweaked to integrate with API’s and run automatically throughout the day.

Some handy ad scripts to get you started with are:

6. Not Using Ad Schedules

By default, Google campaigns are set to show ads all day, which in most cases isn’t ideal.

For any type of campaign that you are managing or running, there will always be times where you get the best conversions.

This might be at 9 am in the morning or between 6 pm and 9 pm at night. If you do the analysis, you’ll most often find that every campaign has that golden time period when your potential customers are searching the most.

A common PPC mistake is to not take advantage of these busy time periods and to stretch your ad budget evenly throughout the day. By default, Google campaigns are set to show ads all day, which, in most cases, isn’t ideal. If you consistently get quality leads at a certain time period within the day, then you should be looking to increase your bids and spend.

To do this, you can take advantage of ad scheduling within Google Ads, which allows marketers to increase or decrease their bid modifiers during certain times. And for maximum optimization, you can also disable ads entirely during certain times.

This means instead of stretching the daily budget out evenly throughout the day, you can specifically focus on those high performing time periods. Think of it like the 80/20 rule, 20% of the day will get you 80% of your conversions.

7. Using Smart Search Campaigns

Smart search and display campaigns should be avoided at all costs.

Over the years, Google has introduced many new campaign types, with one of the most notable being the “smart campaign”. Currently, there are three types of smart campaigns available, including smart search campaigns, display campaigns and shopping campaigns.

Although smart shopping campaigns are relatively good, smart search and display campaigns should be avoided at all costs.

Smart search campaigns try to take the management out of running paid search campaigns and are often targeted at beginners. By using AI and machine learning, they can control various aspects of the campaign, including the bidding, keywords, and ad scheduling.

Unfortunately, as much as they try to sell you the idea of an all in one automated packaged, nine times out of ten, the results are disappointing. So disappointing in fact, that the average PPC user, even a beginner, will be able to outperform a smart search campaign.

If you are currently using smart search campaigns or are thinking about making one, then it’s time to stop and find someone who can manage your ads.

8. Not Using Location Targeting

If you’re a local business in Seattle, then you probably only want to target people in Seattle.

When it comes to setting up a successful PPC campaign, one of the first steps is defining the target audience.

If you’re a local business in Seattle, then you probably only want to target people in Seattle. Running ads in other states and cities might sound like a good idea to increase brand exposure, but in reality, you’re only going to lose money.

To target specific countries and areas in Google Ads, you’ll need to tweak the location targeting settings on your campaigns. However, you’d be surprised at how many paid search marketers actually forget to set this up correctly. This results in ads being shown in cities and states that the company doesn’t even serve!

Not only does location targeting ensure your ads are seen by the right people, but you can also include the user’s location in the ad to grab their attention. This level of location personalization is also much more likely to increase user engagement compared to without it.

9. Having A Slow Website

If you’re serious about getting the most out of your PPC spend, then having a fast website is crucial.

You’ve spent hours researching keywords and writing your ad copy, you’ve added all the ad extensions, only to find out users are bouncing from your website like crazy! The culprit? A slow website that is sending all your potential customers running!

If you’re going to invest potentially thousands of dollars a month into Google ads, then you should at least invest in some good web hosting.

According to Google statistics, if your landing page takes 5 seconds to load, it increases the bounce rate by 90% compared to a page loading in 1 second. If you’re serious about getting the most out of your PPC spend, then having a fast website is crucial.

Google might refund you for users who leave before the page loads, but what about the users who leave when submitting a form takes too long?

Ensuring your website loads fast on both mobile and desktop devices is a test every marketer should do. Not only can it boost your conversions from PPC ads, but it also ensures anyone who visits your site has a good user experience.

10. Not Optimizing Your Landing Pages

A classic PPC mistake is to spend all your time focusing on the campaign and ads, instead of the landing page.

The landing page is one of the primary components in any PPC campaign. Not only does it have a huge impact on relevancy and the quality score of a campaign, but it is ultimately responsible for your conversions.

You can drive traffic to pretty much any webpage on your site, but ensuring users convert is another matter entirely. A classic PPC mistake is to spend all your time focusing on the campaign and ads, instead of the landing page.

Ideally, every ad you run should point to a unique and relevant landing page that customers are going to engage with. If you mention a sale on the ad, then the landing page should also highlight the same sale. If it’s not on the page and the user expects it to be there, then the chance of a bounce is significantly increased.

To ensure you’re getting the most out of any landing page, a good idea is to continually optimize it with A/B testing. This means running two versions simultaneously to see which performs better. You’d be amazed at how just a different headline or colored button can have a big increase in your conversion rate.

11. Setting & Forgetting Your Campaign

Many successful campaigns only become successful due to the weeks or months of on-going optimizations.

A big PPC mistake that many beginner marketers make is setting up an ads campaign and forgetting about it. They think that once the ads and keywords have been set up, there’s nothing else left to do. How wrong they are!

In the world of PPC marketing, there is no such thing as setting and forgetting campaigns. In fact, many successful campaigns only become successful due to the weeks or months of on-going optimizations.

Keeping track of KPI’s on a daily basis is a regular chore of pay per click management. If the metrics aren’t up to scratch then its time to start optimizing and tweaking. This can be anything from adding and removing keywords, tweaking the negative keywords list, or bidding strategies. At the same time, if the campaign looks promising and is delivering great results, then it’s time to scale.

This means increasing the ad spend with a premise that conversions will also increase.

12. Not Using Dedicated Landing Pages

The landing page is one of the most important factors of any PPC campaign.

As we’ve already covered, the landing page is one of the most important factors of any PPC campaign. Not only does it have a significant impact on the relevancy and quality score of an ad, but it’s also the first page users will see.

A big mistake that many new (or lazy) pay per click marketers make is not creating enough landing pages and sending all ads to their homepage. Depending on what keywords are being targeted, this might work, but overall it’s a poor strategy.

Not only does a good quality score save you money in the long run, but having dedicated landing pages significantly increases your conversion rate. If you want to get the most out of your ad spend, then building a range of relevant landing pages is an absolute must.

The last thing you want is to be losing money and sales because your landing pages are too generic and trying to cover every keyword. Making specific landing pages isn’t as hard as it sounds, and with the numerous benefits, you’d be crazy not too!

13. Not Protecting Your Brand Name

Since many marketers are often focused on other keywords, they usually forget bout their own brand name.

When it comes to setting up a pay per click campaign, marketers love to do keyword research and find low competition opportunities. Yet what they don’t realize is some of the most important keywords are right under their nose!

A common tactic for many marketers is to bid on the brand name of their competitors. The logic is that if you offer the same products or services as your competitor, then it’s a great way to “steal” users.

Since many marketers are often focused on other keywords, they usually forget bout their own brand name. If competitors are starting to run ads on your brand name, then you’ll want to fight back.

Not only is running ads on your own brand name going to be cheaper for you, but it greatly reduces the chance that users go to a competitor.

Another trick is that if you own the trademark for your brand name, you can also report any ads to Google that are using it in their ad. It won’t stop them from running ads on your brand name, but it will stop them from mentioning your brand name in their headlines.

14. Not Protecting Yourself From Click Fraud

Current click fraud statistics show that one in every five PPC clicks are fraudulent

The final PPC mistake that a lot of users make has nothing to do with how they manage or set up their campaigns. Instead, it’s a plaque that’s been around since the early days of pay per click marketing and is still a big issue today.

Known as click fraud, this type of fraud affects ads and campaigns in every industry. Whether its unethical competitors or disgruntled customers clicking your ads, almost every advertiser is losing some amount of money to this fraud.

Current click fraud statistics show that one in every five PPC clicks are fraudulent and often go unnoticed by ad networks. This means that the average paid search campaign loses thousands of dollars a year from fake and fraudulent clicks.

There are many ways to take action and reduce the amount of ad spend lost on repeat and fraudulent clicks. But the most effective way is to use PPC Protect, as it automates the entire process while you can focus on optimizing and managing your ads.

Try our 14-day free trial of PPC Protect below and see how much ad spend you could be saving every month.

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