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Recent 11 Nov 2020

Avoid Google Ads Mistakes

6 Huge Google Ads Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them)

by Adam Fichman, President

So, you saw your competitor’s ad while browsing the internet and now want to make sure your business is there too? Even if you didn’t see this advertisement while making a Google search, it’s likely the ad you witnessed was served via Google Ads.

To the unaware, it may seem like advertising through Google Ads is simple enough. After all, you just type in the words you want to show up for and throw some money at it, right? The PPC specialists at Lifted Logic, however, would beg to differ.

You certainly can run Google ads this way, but should you? If you want to see a solid return on the money you’re spending to be at or near the top of Google Search results, you can trust us when we say that takes actual work and strategy

At Lifted Logic, we’ve seen (and probably made) all the mistakes there are to make in Google Ads, and now we can definitively share the 6 biggest Google Ads mistakes and how to avoid them.

What is Google Ads? (A quick rundown)

Google Ads (formerly Google Ads), is a massive advertising platform that allows advertisers to “pay for play” on the top spots in Google searches, deliver visual ads across the internet, advertise on popular YouTube channels, and much more.

To get a better understanding of just how wide the reach of Google Ads is, check out the below —

Google Ads Placements on the Web:

  • Google Search
  • YouTube
  • Gmail
  • Google Shopping
  • Google Display Partners’ sites (e.g. The New York Times’ & The Guardian’s websites & 2,000,000+ others)
  • Google Maps
  • Google Play Store apps
  • And (probably) more

Technically, anyone can access the Google advertising network and drive traffic to their website with it (especially through its layman-friendly platform, Google Ads Express).

However, it’s important to note that some people’s entire careers are based around Google Ads, plus the platform is ever-evolving, requiring ongoing education. Unless you can dedicate at least a full workday a week to both managing your account and learning what you need to know to continue to manage it well,  you won’t see a great return on your investment.

If you’re determined to put in the work it takes to be a PPC Jedi Master, read the below mistakes the Lifted Logic PPC experts have made or seen before beginning your first campaign.

The top 6 Google Ads mistakes our experts see

Mistake No. 1 – A shi*ty landing page

“If you build it, they will come,” right? Maybe, but what if they come and they hate what they find? Or they can’t understand how to use what they find?

Google Ads (especially Search Ads) are fantastic at driving traffic to your website, but before you run ads, ask yourself if your website, or more specifically the page(s) you’re directing ads to, is ready to convert that traffic into customers.

How does a bad landing page affect the success of my ads?

Glad you asked!

It’s not enough to target the perfect keywords and write captivating ad copy. The landing pages you direct Google Ads traffic to matter—a lot. According to Google, a poor landing page experience can cause your ads to “show less often (or not at all) if they point to websites that offer a poor user experience.”

A poor landing page experience affects your account’s quality score, resulting in higher costs per click and, if left unchecked, it can cause your ads to stop displaying altogether.

Think of it this way: Google provides a service. If people routinely click on ads that take them to bad, nonfunctioning, or irrelevant pages, they will stop turning to Google as their go-to search engine.

Google’s algorithm and review teams partner up to make sure that traffic is directed to high-quality, relevant sites.

Components of a great landing page

So, what does Google look for in a landing page? Let’s break it down:

      • It should offer “relevant, useful, and original content.” This means your landing page should offer unique content with at least 300 but not over 1000 words. It should also include high quality imagery and videos as well. Landing page and overall Ad Group relevance is also a huge factor in Quality Score. It means your ad copy, display URL, and your landing page should all mention the keywords you target for the Ad Group.
      • “Promote transparency and foster trustworthiness on your site.” Google looks for easy access to contact information, good explanations of your products and services before asking users to fill out a form, a privacy policy, and disclosure of sponsored links.
      • Your site needs to work on many types of devices, so you should “make mobile and computer navigation easy.” No matter how someone accesses your website, whether it’s on their 32-inch desktop monitor, a tablet, or their iPhone, they should have a pleasant, smooth experience.
      • In today’s world, users expect instant gratification. If your website loads slowly, you need to make sure you “decrease your landing page load time.” Test your landing pages with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and consider talking to the web developers at Lifted Logic if your website is slow.

You can drive traffic all day to your website using Google Ads, but if your landing pages aren’t up to par, you’re going to have a tough time converting those users into customers or clients.

Mistake No. 2 – Not tracking conversions or ROI

If we ask you, “How are your Google Ads going?” and you say, “They’re great! We’re getting a lot of clicks.” We’re going to follow up our question with, “Oh? And what about conversions? And did those web conversions turn into long-term customers? What’s their value to your bottom line?”

We promise this is not us being obnoxious, rather we are trying to make sure Google Ads is actually working for you! In fact, if our PPC experts can’t properly track conversions from ads, they refuse to run any ad campaigns until we (or the client) set up the proper conversion tracking.

Using Google Ads, or any PPC platform without tracking conversions is like throwing darts with a blindfold on. Ultimately, you’re just guessing instead of finding out what works and improving your campaigns to drive more conversions.

How do I set up conversion tracking?

Google offers several routes to track conversions, including:

  • Importing Events from Google Analytics
  • Integration with Salesforce
  • Adding an Event tracking code into your website that “triggers” when a user submits a contact form or clicks to call from the website on their mobile device
  • Google Tag Manager
  • And more.

If you’re not well versed in web code, Google Analytics’s platform, or custom Event tracking, it’s likely that you’re not going to be able to set up conversion tracking on your own. However, if you have a Lifted Logic website, don’t worry! We’ve either set up e-commerce analytics with events (as appropriate) and/or we’ve set up submission tracking on all your site’s forms already. From there, we can import your Google Ads conversions straight from Analytics.

For our PPC clients that do not have a Lifted Logic website, we first have to work to set up submission tracking in Analytics, or we can access the website’s code to add the appropriate event tracking.

Mistake No. 3 – Targeting the wrong keywords

The best way to drive conversions through Google Search Ads is to deliver ads to people past the research phase and ready to make a purchase or decision. In order to do this, you must target the keyphrases a new customer would most likely search to find what they want.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say Lifted Logic targets the broad keyphrase “web design” with no phrase or exact match restrictions. This means that our ad would show anytime someone searches, say, “web design templates,” and isn’t necessarily interested in finding a company to build their website for them. It could also show when an aspiring designer searches “web design careers” or “how to get into web design.”

Now, we could, and certainly would, use negative keywords to prevent our ad from triggering on these searches, but we could also do a much better job at using keywords that indicate the searcher is seeking our services.

Changing our target keyword to “web designer” or “web agency” with appropriate match types (and a smart negative keyword strategy) will drive traffic that is much more likely to fill out one of our forms to set up a meeting to overhaul their website.

Targeting the right keywords takes some common-sense brainstorming and testing on Google Ads. Bid on what you think are the best converting keywords and closely monitor your search terms (AKA the searches that trigger your ads) and adjust accordingly.

Mistake No. 4 – Not trusting the algorithm

Often, we see clients who used to run Google Ads and assume the platform is still the exact same it was just a few years ago. While the core of Google Ads remains the same, best practices do not.

Within the last few years, the Google Ads algorithm has gotten much more sophisticated. Gone are the days of manually setting bids (unless you really want to waste your money for little results). Now, there’s several campaign “goals” you can choose that suggest an automated bid strategy for you.

Three of the most common automated bid strategies are Maximize Conversions, Target CPA, and Target Impression Share. After selecting one, your campaign will go into “learning mode” while the algorithm optimizes your campaign’s bidding strategy for these goals.

Advantages of these automated bid strategies

With a strategy like maximize conversions, the system uses “historical information about your campaign and evaluat[es] the contextual signals present at auction-time” to set the appropriate bid and serve your ad to those who are most likely to convert.

This automated bid strategy truly hits its stride after you receive your first dozen conversions or so, when the algorithm gains a good understanding of your customers and what factors (time of day, demographics, past searches, and more) make them more or less likely to hire your company or purchase your products.

Target CPA takes maximizing conversions a step further. Once your campaign runs for several months and gains a significant impression share, consistently gets double-digit conversions in a month, and/or the cost per conversion is steadily declining, you may make the switch to this bid strategy. You set a desired cost per acquisition (CPA) and Google will adjust your bids accordingly to maximize conversions at your set CPA. This option can save a lot of money and helps ensure return on investment (ROI).

Finally, we recommend Target Impression Share for clients whose keyword strategy always involves someone who’s ready to convert (e.g. “garage door repair service” or “furnace repairman”). In other words, we know that when this phrase is searched, all we need to do is make sure someone finds our client’s website at or near the top of the search results to get a conversion.

With Target Impression Share, you tell Google your preferred ad placement (absolute top of page, near the top of the page, etc.) and how often (by percentage) you want this placement. The algorithm uses your daily budget accordingly to meet your goals.

We often meet clients who are still running accounts with broad match only keywords and manual cost-per-click (CPC) strategies. We’re well experienced with both methods and trust us, there comes a time to accept that Google’s algorithm might be a bit more sophisticated and efficient at managing your Google Ads spends than you

Mistake No. 5 – No negative keyword strategy

We talked about negative keywords earlier, but they deserve their own special spot on our list of Google Ads Mistakes.

When auditing a Google Ads account, one of the first places our PPC team looks is the negative keywords list. The keywords you negate are just as─if not more─important as the keywords you bid on.

Negative keywords help you further narrow and target your campaigns to reach the customers most likely to convert.

Since Google has no problem spending your money, it also ensures that you don’t waste your budget on clicks for irrelevant searches and instead diverts those valuable dollars to more successful interactions. Additionally, negative keywords can help make otherwise self-competing campaigns successful.

Google Ads is all about relevance, and smart use of negative keywords helps your Ad Groups, especially ones with broader keyword strategies, stay super relevant to searchers.

Google Ads Pro Tip! Our PPC specialists work in a negative keyword audit at least quarterly, if not monthly, to ensure our clients are getting the most out of their advertising spend. What’s a negative keyword audit, you ask? Set your date range to the last time you performed one and view your Ad Group’s Search Terms. Read through all of them and check the box next to the ones irrelevant to your ads. When you’re finished selecting, click “Add As Negative Keyword” in the top blue bar, and you’re done!

Mistake No. 6 – Not taking full advantage of the power of Google Ads

We could probably continue this list to include 40+ mistakes to avoid. However, we need our PPC people more focused on running ads than writing out all the mistakes they can think of, so we’ll wrap it up with this.

Sometimes, people think Google Ads starts and ends with Search Ads and don’t realize:

  1. There are usually multiple interactions with ads before a conversion (Remarketing, anyone?)
  2. The Google Display Network reaches 90% of the world’s internet users
  3. YouTube is the second most popular search engine to Google, with more monthly users than Bing, Yahoo, and AOL combined

This is not to say that you’re hurting your business if you run search ads only, but you’re certainly not making the most of what Google Ads offers. Think of Display and Video ads as complements to your Search ads—expanding your brand’s reach and awareness.

For example, Lifted Logic runs Google Search campaigns for people seeking “web design.” We use well-researched keywords, have a killer negative keywords list, and we can track not only conversions but the lifetime value of converters. Now, how can we use this successful campaign to make our Google Ads presence even stronger?

We can set up a Remarketing audience and serve Display and/or YouTube ads specifically to those who clicked on our Search ads and looked at our landing page but never converted.

We can also create a Custom Intent audience and serve Display and/or YouTube ads to those who have visited our competitors’ websites.

Similarly, if you’re wanting to maximize brand awareness, a good Google Ads strategy would involve a blend of search, video, and display ads to stay top-of-mind for future customers.

The best way to avoid making mistakes in Google Ads? Hire an expert!

However, being realists, we know that many business owners don’t have either the resources, manpower, or time (or some combination of the three) to manage a Google Ads account successfully. And that’s why Lifted Logic is here!Like we said before, the Google Ads platform is available to anyone with an email address and a budget to spend. If you have a lot of disposable cash and free time and want to use it to learn how to run your own Google Ads, we think that’s awesome!

Our PPC specialists are happy to consult on campaigns, teach clients how to manage campaigns, or create and manage the entire account based on our clients’ goals.

Send us a message or give us a call at 816.298.7018 to find out how we can help.

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About the Author

Adam Fichman, President

Founder & President of Lifted Logic, Adam serves as Marketing Strategist, consultant, and friend to clients across the country. Practically a founding father of web marketing, his focus on lead-driven website development and operational flow has led to an 800% increase in ROI for business owners in a range of industries.