Many advertisers are enjoying the benefits of a well set up and managed Google AdWords campaign.    These businesses are enjoying increased sales at a good return on their advertising investment.   There are also other businesses that have tried Google AdWords and decided that they were not getting their money’s worth.   While paid search advertising may not work for every business, one wonders why we some businesses abandon the effort, while many of their competitors continue doing PPC for years.

Often we find that the reason paid search is giving less than stellar results is because the Google AdWords campaign was poorly set up.  There are many factors involved in setting up a successful campaign, doing just one thing wrong can often make the difference between a campaign that is getting  a good return on investment or one that is struggling to provide any significant leads.

While there a dozens of potential missteps that can negatively impact a paid search campaign, the following are 5 common mistakes we typically see on unsuccessful campaigns.


1.       Not Measuring Conversions.   In order to have an effective PPC program, one needs to measure results.    These critical results are referred to as “goals” in Google Analytics and “conversions” in Google AdWords.  The best way to assess success is by tracking conversions and using that data to continue to optimize the campaign.   A conversion could be a form submission, a download of a pdf or a video view, it could be a newsletter sign up and it most definitely is a phone call.  All of these and more can be measured, tracked and used to determine your next steps in optimizing your campaign.  You should also be using Google Analytics to track engagement metrics such as “pages per visit”, “time on page” and “bounce rate”.  Engagement metrics can provide you with valuable information to supplement your conversions tracking.

2.       Under Budgeting.   There are 2 elements that need to mesh for a successful PPC campaign.  The campaign scope and the budget.    The budget needs to be large enough so that your ads are up near 100% of the time with respect to the scope of the campaign.  The scope of the campaign includes the geographic regions, the times and days you choose to be showing, and the number of keywords you are bidding on.   If your budget is small with respect to your scope, then your ads won’t be showing very much.  Your campaign won’t get any traction and you will be experiencing poor results.   Reducing the scope of the campaign to fit the budget is one of the ways to optimize your results, but your budget needs to be large enough to get at least 100 clicks per month.

3.       Using All Broad Match for Keywords:  On one extreme is to bid 100% broad match and not use any negative search terms.  This will get you the maximum amount of traffic, but much of the traffic may not be searchers who are intending to purchase your services .  Broad match use to technically mean a search using any combination of the words in a search phrase would show the ad,   Google takes this a little further to include synonyms, industry equivalent terms and common variations of a word.   For example if one bids on “Painting Contractor” the actual search term “careers for professional Painters” could trigger the ad.  So if your intent is to offer your painting services, the resulting search term that triggered the ad is clearly not the type of traffic that will convert. Broad Match is a good tool, but I personally like to use the modified broad match and I also want to make sure I have adequate coverage with negative search terms.  If I am not sure, then phrase match and exact match would be better options.   The other extreme is using only exact match phrases.  This could significantly restrict traffic and your potential leads.  Finding a good balance between the search match options and negative search terms is a must to optimize a campaign.

4.       Not Using Extensions:   Over the years, extensions have gone from a “nice to have” option to “must have”. Extensions are ways to add information to your search ad.  This could include phone number, location, special services, reviews, pricing and other.   Extensions have shown to help show your ad more often at a better position and at a lower cost.  If you don’t do extensions you are a huge disadvantage with respect to competitors that do.  We find that novice advertisers that are setting up their first AdWords campaign rarely use extensions and the results suffer.  It is completely understandable since Google has an overwhelming offering of tools and features that would help the advertiser, but may be a bit too complex for the inexperienced user to get their arms around.

5.       Poor Landing Pages:   Getting a searcher to your webpage is only half the battle.  Once they get there, they need to be immediately convinced to take action.  Here are some of issues with some landing pages:

Too generic:  Does not specifically focus on the search term that the visitor clicked on.

No Call to Action: Does not drive the visitor to take the next step.

Takes Too Long to Load:  The visitor quickly loses patience if they can’t get on your site within seconds.

Visitors will immediately look at titles, bullet points and images, if your page does not explain the product quickly with impact, you will lose the visitor.

Having a successful paid search campaign requires some diligence and planning to make sure things are set up well to begin with.  Once it is set up, then the process of optimizing the campaign begins.  It is not uncommon for even a well thought out campaign to start with a conversion rate of less than 2 %.  With ongoing analysis and adjustments, many advertisers are getting conversions rates to  7% or better.