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AdWords Success: 5 PPC Pitfalls to Avoid

Image courtesy of ( David Castillo Dominici) /

“When ads become part of the information-gathering process, they cease to be ads. At this point in time, they are pieces of information that consumers are seeking. Wouldn’t you like your ads to be sought after, not ignored?”

Brad Geddes, co-founder of AdAlysis

Getting started with AdWords is a piece of cake.

Choose some keywords to use, grab a relevant image, draft some copy, attach a landing page, and just like that your business will be swimming in leads. What could go wrong?

Everything. Everything can go wrong.

In fact, if you’ve ever attempted to craft a PPC strategy and run some AdWords ads, you’ve likely already learned this. If you regularly run ads through this channel, you’re probably still making a bunch of mistakes.

It’s OK. We all do it – AdWords is a challenging platform to master.

To be a success with this promotional modality, you need not only study best practices, but focus on where failures and shortcomings run rampant. This requires a substantial investment of your time and energy.

In order to help minimize your number of long nights of optimization research, I am bringing you the five most common AdWords oversights that result in underperformance.

If you’re ready to boost your AdWords acumen, check out these prevalent faux pas.

1. No Negatives

Anyone running Google ad spots is aware of the importance of keyword research. Selecting the perfect terms and phrases for your ads is crucial. What many tend to overlook, however, is the equally applicable negative keywords that should be targeted as well.

As explained by Google, negative keywords enable you to, “. . . exclude search terms from your campaigns and help you focus on only the keywords that matter to your customers.”

This essentially means that including negative keywords prevents your ad set from displaying via irrelevant search phrases.

For instance, if you are promoting a paid webinar about your products, you might want to set “free” as a negative keyword.

Doing this (and in healthy amounts) will drastically reduce irrelevant impressions while also elevating your CTR because a more refined and targeted audience will be reached.

This is a particularly important process if you are leveraging broad match keywords because these are prone to drawing in large volumes of unrelated traffic.

This is one of the best methods for ensuring your budget is used wisely.

To include these terms, simply head to your keywords tab and list the desired phrases in the negative column.

Additionally, you can save time on future campaigns by applying a list of the most common negatives to various ad sets through the Shared Library where you can create a single column to apply to multiple campaigns.

2. Slacking on Search Terms

The search terms report is a powerful feature of AdWords that allows users to uncover keywords people have searched that ended up surfacing your ad.

The report can help advertisers determine if people are actually searching for the phrases they are targeting and, if not, provide a roadmap for getting in front of the right audience.

Additionally, search terms are a goldmine for identifying negative keywords that are costing you cash. Any phrases that show up in this section can easily be added to your negative keyword list by clicking the box next to the item and marking it as “Excluded.”

3. Poorly Grouped Keywords

One of the biggest AdWords blunders is the incorrect usage (or complete neglect) of ad groups.

While segmenting your ads is a critical mission for success, people often place phrases into the wrong groups or just toss everything into a single ad set.

In order to obtain a lower cost-per-click (CPC) and gain a top position in the SERPs, you need to do everything you can to boost your quality score. This is partially determined by the relevance of the keywords in your ad group.

If you fail to breakup keywords into various ad groups or haphazardly place them willy-nilly, your ads are sure to underperform.

Spend time correctly placing your keywords based on what the ad is offering and the goal it is driving and you will likely see a meaningful boost in results.

4. Failing to Conduct Competitive Research

Your competitors are running ads. Do you know how yours stack up and whose are destined to drive the most clicks?

Competitive research is vital for uncovering the types of ads your rivals are running, how optimized and relevant their landing pages are, their keyword strategy, and what kind of budget they are working with.

If you’re in the soda game, do you think it’s wise to ignore the fact that Coca-Cola is likely crushing your adverts every single time? Of course not. And that’s why you need to know what you’re up against.

The key to outshining your opposition is thinking like a customer: What would drive me to click on an ad? Which ad copy is most compelling? Is the landing page optimized, relevant and providing clear next steps?

By knowing the weapons the competition has at its disposal you can either up the ante or deploy marketing Jujitsu as a means to overcome the competition’s strengths and transform them into advantages for your brand.

Tools like SpyFu can help you uncover most everything you need to know about your competition’s PPC strategy.

5. Only Using AdWords

One of the single biggest mistakes that advertisers make when using AdWords is only using AdWords.

Sure, Google is certainly top dog in the search realm, but that means you are competing with pretty much every other business that exists online.

Platforms like Bing have far less competition, yet still cater to millions of users daily.

Facebook and Instagram possess a wide range of arresting ad formats and immensely refined targeting options.

If you exist in the B2B space, LinkedIn is perfect for reaching your prospective clients.

Don’t limit your reach to a single platform – it could be the downfall of your brand.

Creating expertly crafted and perfectly targeted AdWords ads is hard; don’t beat up on yourself for not reaching the apex of advertising after a few campaigns.

The key to generating a smashing success with your ads is trial and error and keen observation – learn what works best for your brand, watch the competition and study where others have failed.

This is the recipe for progress and prosperity for every undertaking.

Which one of these AdWords sins have you been guilty of? Do you think Bing or social media ads would be more beneficial for your business?

About the author


Tina Courtney

Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Visit My Google+ Profile


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