Mind Your Step: The Top 11 PPC Mistakes to Avoid

Any AdWords campaign relies on a staggering array of elements if you’re squeeze every last drop possible from your PPC budget – from compelling advert copy, to finely crafted A/B testing that leads to profitable tweaks and changes. But just as important as the ‘To-Dos’ are the ‘Do Nots’ – the things that should be side-stepped at all cost if you’re to avoid securing only an ever dwindling AdWords balance. So let’s drill down into what mistakes you should be aware of, and how you can avoid making them.

Are you already making these 11 PPC mistakes? Are you…

  1. Ignoring geographical targeting

If you have a bricks and mortar store or offer services within a pre-defined region, then you ignore geographical targeting at your peril – this should be one of the very first settings you tackle before launching your ads.

  1. Shoehorning way too many keywords into a single AdGroup

AdGroups can only handle 25 keywords, however there are some instances when more than this amount can be added. That said, entering hundreds of keywords into a single AdGroup is always going to be a bad idea, and you should actually split your keywords into related groups for the best results in any event. Adopting this approach ensures that you can thoroughly and effectively analyse what’s working, what’s not and where you should implement tweaks.

  1. Forgetting to switch off the display network targeting

You need to double check that your AdWords account is set up to focus on the search network, the display network or both. The search network is the traditional Google search results, while the display network is where your ads show up on relevant websites – in side bars and in the form of banners, for example. You can find up-to-date steps for checking these settings in Google’s guide: View or change campaign network settings.

  1. Designing non-specific (ineffective) landing pages

Still sending your visitors to your homepage? Stop, stop right now. Every ad you show should direct your visitor to a specific landing page that’s relevant to the advert that has just grabbed their attention.

Let’s put this into context – your visitor has arrived from an ad for “Green Jimmy Choo’s” taking your visitor to a homepage filled with not only other shoes brands, but also hats, scarves and bags, is going to immediately confuse. Visitors don’t want to search or click – they want to be served up with what they’re looking for immediately.

  1. Forging ahead with far too many (or far too few) ads

Run too few adverts, and you run the risk of investing in an ineffective ad that gets costly impressions, but not clicks.

Run too many ads, and the shining stars amongst them will only get a short time to display, as AdWords rotate them and splits their time equally.

The answer? To opt for between 2 to 3 ads running at any one moment in time – and to continually review their effectiveness, learning from those that are gaining click throughs and conversions, and eradicating the ones that are reaping only disappointing results.

  1. Not harnessing negative match keywords

Want to avoid wasting your budget on irrelevant searches? Then you need negative keywords.

Say that you want to target “Blue Men’s Shoes”, without negative keywords, your advert could still appear if someone searches for “Second Hand Blue Men’s Shoes”; this will simply waste your budget and frustrate those who are misdirected to your website. Moral of the story? Remember to add negative keywords.

  1. Focussing on the desktop and overlooking mobile

Today, more users search by mobile than they do desktop – and these searchers are more ready and willing to buy than those sat tapping away at their desk (with 50% leading to a store visit on the day, and 18% leading to an online sale within twenty four hours). This emphasises the importance of adopting a different strategy for mobile users, a fundamental building block to which is a website that is mobile friendly (you can check whether yours is with the Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool).

  1. Making a misstep with your audiences

The AdWords platform presents ‘Target and Bid’ or ‘Bid Only’ to help you make the most of your remarketing list or customer match list, here’s an overview of each…

‘Target and Bid’ – this will show adverts to only those who are in your remarketing list. This option is effective if you wish to bid on terms that may typically cost more, ultimately decreasing your exposure for a more select audience.

‘Bid Only’ – this is the default option, and is ideal if you simply wish to amend bids for past visitors, taking performance into account.

  1. Going to war over the number one position

Your brain has been trained to think that no other position will do – it’s numero Uno or die, as far as click throughs and attention goes, right? Whilst it would be great to be listed as number one position for all of your ads, the brutal truth is that you likely don’t have the marketing budget to compete against the larger brands – and doing so will see your marketing budget do a Houdini before your very eyes.

Instead, you should focus on affordable keywords over and above the most popular keywords. Of course, discovering these demands testing, testing and more testing.

  1. Overlooking keywords in your ad URL

Another benefit of dedicated landing pages for your adverts is that you can have a URL with relevant target keywords – the advantages of which are two-fold:

First, the search engines will see your destination page as relevant

Second, your marketing message will be reinforced, with your visitor knowing that they’re in the right place

  1. Focussing on your product at the expense of your customer

Don’t get carried along on a wave of excitement over your product or service – remember, your target market is diverse, and it’s likely that your audience are in different stages of their buying journey. Think about what they need – should you serve up information focused ads that lead to a download page where you can grab their email? Consider the various segments of your market – do they differ in location, age, interests and priorities? If so, this should influence the way your ads are written and what content, products, information or services are shown to each group.

So, that’s it – 11 mistakes that could have been hampering your PPC performance and putting a dampener on your metrics. With these overcome, your results should be set on a far firmer footing for an ROI that improves month on month.

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