PUBLISHED: Sep 22, 2017 5 min read

Maximize Paid Search Performance: 4 Common Google AdWords Mistakes to Avoid

Our digital media team looks at hundreds of AdWords accounts every day. As you can imagine, we’ve seen a lot of different ways of organizing campaigns and ad groups, and we’ve developed a pretty strong point of view on best practices for AdWords when it comes to campaign structure, bid management, budget management and overall reporting and optimization.

When we take over management of an AdWords account on behalf of a client, we often look for a few specific areas of opportunity. We know that, when addressed, these 4 things can drastically improve campaign performance and ROI.

Best Practice Bidding – Always Bid on Brand

This is one of the most common Google AdWords mistakes– especially for brands that maintain a top position in organic search engine results. Studies have shown that 50% of the time a user clicks on an ad, they would not have clicked on an organic listing instead. So, if you are not bidding on your own brand you’re risking that savvy competitors are, and they’re capitalizing on your lost traffic.

Bidding on your own brand is even more important now that Google has drastically changed the SERPs, which can result in organic listings being pushed down the page. Brand ads have even more prominence in SERPs, so make sure you’re there when people are searching for you.

Don’t Depend on Default AdWords Settings

Default location settings: PPC managers routinely utilize the default AdWords setting “people searching for, or who shows interest in my targeted location”. This setting makes sense for low volume keywords, but using “people in my targeted location” as a general rule, will help you avoid having to explain to a client why your USA targeted ads are showing in Thailand.

Search Partners settings: Some PPC managers are reluctant to utilize search partners because they assume it will yield lower quality leads, but the volume of leads can greatly offset lead quality and in our experience, using search partners has been beneficial in acquiring incremental conversions at lower costs.

Mobile settings: In the past, many account managers have typically shied away from mobile because of its inefficiency compared to desktop. However, in today’s landscape, mobile and cross conversion tracking has improved. Mobile can now be used to target leads while they are still in the discovery phase and assist desktop conversions down the road, resulting in mobile becoming an increasingly valuable tool for PPC managers.


Un-Segmented AdWords Account Structures

The amount of AdWords accounts we’ve seen with terrible structure is alarming, especially because a solid AdWords account structure is one of the most important contributing factors to the overall success of the campaign. So, where do account mangers go wrong?

Brand vs. generic: While separating brand vs. generic keywords should be PPC 101, we’ve come across many accounts that don’t effectively do this. If you group brand keywords with generic keywords, it’s likely that your generic keywords are cannibalizing your branded terms by negatively impacting the quality score of your branded terms and costing you valuable conversions and ultimately, revenue.

Negative keywords: Negative keyword structure can be just as important as your keyword targets. PPC managers are usually adept at excluding keywords that don’t make sense at the account level, meaning that they do a great job of excluding queries that don’t make sense for any of their keywords sets. However, the most effective account managers also apply campaign and ad group-level keywords within the account to ensure that the right traffic is being funneled to the right place.

Don’t let the lack of attention to detail get in the way of properly constructing a negative keyword strategy.

Landing Pages Lead to Campaign Success

So, once you’ve configured the proper AdWords settings, built your brand (and generic) campaigns, and created a solid positive and negative keyword structure, it’s time to focus on landing pages.

A sloppy account manager will spend most of their time building an account only to take the easy way out when it comes to finalizing a landing page strategy. It’s vital that you don’t simply send searchers to the homepage. Paid traffic should be driven to proper landing pages that highlight the benefits, features, and USP’s of a particular product or service and drives users to complete an action.

Whether your landing page is a lead capture, a specific product page, or a soft asset sign-up, it’s important that the user experience for your paid media traffic shouldn’t mirror the experience for organic or direct channels.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your AdWords campaign performance, check out our Top PPC Mistakes for Newbies. You should also see how using AdWords Call-Only campaigns can help you target new audiences and languages.

Looking for expert help? Ask us to take a look at your AdWords account and tell you what we think.