I began managing AdWords accounts back in 2005, and over the years I’ve seen many accounts make many mistakes. These have cost advertisers hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in wasted AdWords spend.
The people managing the accounts were far from clueless. But the fact is that AdWords isn’t easy, and this type of waste is bound to happen if you don’t know what you’re doing.
As cynical or paranoid as it may sound, Google benefit from AdWords being so complex.
Google would tell you that they go to great lengths to explain everything within their online help centre, but the fact is that almost every single aspect of AdWords is skewed heavily in Google’s favour. Aside from anything else, who reads the manual?
So here are three of the most common mistakes. Mistakes that will burn through your budgets without much to show for it.
Mistake #1 – one match to rule them all
Using only broad-match keywords or over using them is a really bad idea.
Google’s definition of broad match is as follows:
“A keyword setting that allows your ad to show when someone searches for that keyword or a variation of it. The broad match keyword “bicycle bell” can cause your ad to show if someone searches for variations like “bicycle bells,” “buy a bell for a bicycle,” and “bell reviews for bikes.”
That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to use broad match?
The problem with broad match is the variations. You might think you’re bidding on “bicycle bell” but Google sneak in searches that have nothing to do with your original keyword.
Google make money from each click, and you waste money when the person who clicked on your ad isn’t interested in what you’re offering.
Broad match can be useful, but you should use it with caution. Try a few broad match terms and then track their performance.
If your account contains broad keywords and you’re not monitoring their performance, you’re definitely wasting money.
Mistake #2 – not enough negativity
Using too few or no negative keywords can be lethal.
If you’ve never heard of negative keywords or you’re not regularly trying to find them, you need to pay close attention to this.
Google’s definition of a negative keyword is as follows:
A type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. It tells Google not to show your ad to anyone who is searching for that phrase.
Imagine you’re selling downloadable photo editing software that only runs on a Windows computer. When bidding on “photo editing software”, your ads could be displayed for the following searches as well: “free photo editing software”, “mac photo editing software” or “photo editing software for linux”.
Worst of all, you might receive clicks from people looking for something that you don’t offer. Why? Because people searching don’t pay close attention to their clicks. They’re not paying for them – you are.
You can stop this from happening by using negative keywords like –free, –mac and –linux.
By using negative keywords, you’ll reduce wasted ad spend but even more importantly, it will improve your ROI.
When you limit your ad’s display to only those who are truly interested in what you’re offering, you should see an improvement to your click through rate (CTR). Receiving a higher CTR can lead to a lower average cost per click (CPC) because CTR is an indicator for relevance. Google reward advertisers with lower CPCs when they’re more relevant.
Even if you only use exact match keywords, negative keywords are more important than ever. With exact and phrase match, Google is now allowing close variants the ability to trigger your ads.
Mistake #3 – trust
You may be giving away too much control to Google, or perhaps just trusting them too much.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Google. I really do. But their agenda is rarely the same as yours or mine.
AdWords advertisers want to pay the lowest price for targeted clicks. Google want people to click on your ads or your competitors ads because this is how Google make money.
Sure, Google want people to find what they’re looking for. But never forget that AdWords is Google’s main source of revenue. It’s safe to assume Google won’t always have your interests at heart.
So it’s strange that so many advertisers allow Google to control where their ads are displayed, what triggers their ads and even how much they’re prepared to pay.
Some advertisers even go as far as allowing Google to set up their AdWords accounts.
My recommendation is to always be sceptical of Google’s claims and suggestions. You need to question all of Google’s defaults within this massive, complex advertising system.
That’s the safest way to not waste your money on AdWords.