5 Common Google Ads Mistakes

As Google Ads specialists, we’ve taken over many accounts over the years. As you might imagine most of our clients come to us because they realise that they don’t have the time to do their Google Ads themselves, aren’t getting the results they want, or are disappointed by the service provided by another marketing agency

As such we have noticed a few common mistakes in recent account takeovers and audits we have performed and would like to share with you what to watch out for when setting up your account and running your ads.

Though there are many pitfalls when working with Google Ads, here are the top five mistakes that we’ve encountered which will keep you from achieving your desired results. 

1. Using Search with Display Select

One common mistake in Google Ads is the indiscriminate use of the Search with Display Select campaign type. While it may seem like a convenient way to cover both search and display advertising in one fell swoop, it often leads to missed opportunities and inefficient spending.

To understand the benefits of each, here’s the difference between the two campaign types.

  • Search Campaigns: Google Search campaigns are like the precision scalpel of online advertising, allowing your business to appear when potential customers are actively searching for your products or services. This means you're reaching people who already know they need your product or service, and are in the buying mindset, ready to make a purchase.
  • Display Campaigns: Google Display campaigns act more like a broad paintbrush, spreading brand awareness far and wide across websites, apps, and YouTube videos. They're great for reaching audiences who might be interested in buying your products or services, and could be influenced by your brand messaging.

Combining these two into a Search with Display Select campaign sacrifices the strategic control and customisation that come with running separate campaigns. You lose the ability to finely tune your targeting  and tailor your messaging to the specific intent and behaviour of users on each channel.

In essence, it's like trying to hammer a nail and fixing a screw in a wall with the same tool—it might seem convenient, but you're not maximising the potential of either task.

 Instead, consider running separate Search and Display campaigns to fully leverage the unique strengths of each platform and optimise your advertising efforts for maximum impact and efficiency.

2. Not Adding Negative Keywords

A prevalent pitfall in Google Ads campaigns is the oversight of neglecting to add negative keywords. These little gems play a crucial role in refining your targeting and preventing your ads from showing up for irrelevant or non-converting searches. 

Negative keywords essentially tell Google which keywords it should steer clear of when displaying your ads. For instance, if you're offering a cleaning service, you wouldn't want your ad to appear for searches like "free cleaning services” or “cleaning jobs" as these users aren't likely to be interested in what you're offering.

To combat this, savvy advertisers (like us at ClickOn) utilise a master negative keyword list that they integrate into their campaigns from the get-go. This proactive approach ensures that common money-wasting search terms are nipped in the bud, saving precious ad budget and optimising campaign performance from day one.

Furthermore, the Search Terms report is an invaluable tool for identifying additional negative keywords. This report shows you the actual search terms users entered before clicking on your ads. By regularly reviewing this report, you can uncover new keywords that are triggering your ads but aren't relevant to your offerings. 

Armed with this insight, you can continually refine your negative keyword list to exclude irrelevant traffic and hone in on your target audience with laser precision.

Here’s where you can find the Search Terms report in Google Ads:

3. Not Understanding Search Intent

One of the common blunders advertisers make in Google Ads is overlooking the crucial factor of search intent. Understanding the intent behind users' search queries is paramount for crafting effective ad campaigns that drive conversions and maximise ROI.

Search intent refers to the underlying motivation or purpose behind a user's search query. There are generally four main types of search intent:

  • Informational intent: users are seeking information or answers to their questions. For example, "how to tie a tie" or "running injury treatment."
  • Navigational intent: users are looking for a specific website or resource. For instance, "Facebook login" or "Netflix homepage."
  • Commercial intent: users are indicating an interest in purchasing a product or service. They will complete a form on a website, to conclude the transaction offline. Examples include "plumbers near me" or "labour lawyers cape town."
  • Transactional intent: users are ready to make a purchase and complete the transaction online. For example, "buy iPhone X" or "book a flight to London."

Focusing on keywords with commercial or transactional intent is crucial in PPC advertising, as these are the users who are most likely to convert. 

It’s therefore essential to monitor and refine these keywords regularly to ensure they're driving the right kind of traffic and yielding positive results for your campaigns.

P.S. Single phrase keywords are a particularly good money waster because they capture a wide range of search intent. For example, targeting “mauritius” for “mauritius holidays” will show your ads to people looking to learn more about Mauritius. 

4. Setting Up Conversion Actions Incorrectly

The improper setup of conversion actions is another common Google Ads mistake. These actions are pivotal in Google's automated bidding strategies, aiding businesses in enhancing their return on investment (ROI). However, setting up conversion actions incorrectly can lead to misguided optimisation efforts and wasted ad spend.

For instance, some accounts mistakenly designate landing page views as conversion actions. This essentially tells Google that every click to the website is a valuable event for the business, regardless of whether it results in a meaningful conversion. This oversight can significantly skew campaign performance metrics and misguide bidding strategies.

When coupled with the absence of negative keywords and mismatched search intent in ad targeting, businesses can find themselves haemorrhaging funds on irrelevant traffic.

The result? 

A lot of money spent on low-quality clicks that fail to translate into tangible business outcomes.

To mitigate this risk and ensure optimal campaign performance, it's crucial to meticulously configure conversion actions to accurately reflect valuable user interactions that align with your business goals. This includes setting up conversion tracking for actions such as purchases, form submissions, or other meaningful engagements that directly contribute to your bottom line. 

By doing so, you can empower Google's automated bidding algorithms to make informed decisions that drive real, measurable results for your advertising efforts.

5. Lumping Different Services Into a Single Ad Group

Lumping different services or products into a single ad group might be tempting but will ultimately be a mistake. While it might seem like a time-saving measure, this approach can wreak havoc on campaign performance and cost-effectiveness.

Google's Ad Rank algorithm is like a discerning judge, evaluating the relevance and quality of your ads to determine their position in search results. It considers three key factors: 

  • the presence of keywords in your ads and landing page, 
  • the persuasiveness of your ad copy, and 
  • the relevance of your landing page to the user's search query.

When you cram all your keywords into one ad group, you're essentially throwing relevance out the window. Your ads become generic catch-alls, trying to cater to a wide range of search queries without truly addressing any of them in depth. This dilution of relevance not only tanks your Quality Score (a crucial component of Ad Rank) but also drives up your advertising costs.

Moreover, this shotgun approach delivers a dismal user experience. Imagine clicking on an ad promising "quality plumbing services" only to land on a page cluttered with unrelated offerings like "landscaping" and "HVAC repair." It's confusing, frustrating, and ultimately drives users away without converting.

By organising your keywords into tightly themed ad groups, each focusing on a specific service or product, you can craft ads and landing pages that speak directly to the user's intent. This boosts your Quality Score, lowers your costs, and delivers a superior user experience that encourages conversions. In essence, it's a win-win-win for your business, your customers, and your bottom line.

Remember Google Ads Is a Technical Product

While we've highlighted several common Google Ads mistakes in this article, it's important to recognise that the landscape of digital advertising is vast and complex. From mismatched search intent to improperly configured conversion actions, the potential pitfalls are numerous.

However, these examples only scratch the surface. Other blunders, such as using the incorrect match type on keywords, neglecting to set up an ad schedule, or blindly relying on "Auto Apply recommendations," can also sabotage your campaign's success.

Navigating the intricacies of Google Ads can be daunting, especially for those unfamiliar with its technical nuances. We recommend working with a Google Ads agency to set up your accounts with best practices in mind and ensure that you receive a positive return on investment on your ad spend. 

If you need help with Google Ads audits, account setups and monthly management, you can reach out to us at ClickOn Marketing here