Avoid These Expensive Google AdWords Mistakes

by Robert Moskowitz on August 2, 2013

Do you use Google AdWords to attract new business? If so, make sure you’re not falling into any of these common traps that may limit your online advertising’s effectiveness.

1. Spending your entire budget on a single campaign or keyword — It’s easy to set up an AdWords campaign and generate some clicks. But for those clicks to come from prospects who you can convert into customers, you need to make your campaign as specific as possible. This means running multiple campaigns [PDF] — one for each keyword or group of keywords you’ve identified as highly relevant to your offering.

For example, advertising your automobile towing service with a single AdWords campaign (such as “towing”) will attract attention. But you’ll get better results if you give prospects more confidence that you can provide the service they’re looking for, where they’re looking for it. Divide your advertising budget into separate, specialized campaigns such as: “towing motorcycles,” “long-distance towing,” “large vehicle towing,” “rapid response towing,” and (if applicable) also one that includes the name of the geographic region you cover, such as “Springfield towing.” Create unique landing pages for each campaign, with specific content based on each campaign’s keywords.

2. Capping your spending incorrectly — AdWords gives you the ability to limit your spending. But if you set the parameters wrong, you’ll get fewer exposures than you can really afford. The trick is to limit not only your total daily spend, but also your bids on keywords.

By bidding half of what you’d normally bid for a higher ranking in the search results, your budget may be able to keep your campaign working throughout the whole day, and thus your ads will be displayed a great number of times, delivering more exposures overall and more potential customers. Note however that if your ads don’t get enough clicks, you may have to increase your bids nonetheless in order to keep them alive.

3. Being satisfied with the standard “broad match” method — When you go with the default broad match option in AdWords, you give Google permission to serve your ads for searches that use your keywords in any sequence or mixed with other search terms. This means you’re spending money to show up in the results for searches that may be less relevant to your business, and thus less likely to produce a customer.

It’s generally better to go with modified broad matchphrase match, or exact match, depending on your specific needs and preferences. These options will serve your ads in searches that are more relevant to your business and thus they will be shown to people who are more likely to be looking for the specific products or services you offer.

4. Making campaign adjustments too soon — It’s easy for AdWords advertisers to get antsy and make changes to their campaigns before they have a chance to succeed. This hurts your return on investment, because most campaigns require a degree of longevity and consistency before you can optimize them to start delivering the largest number of qualified prospects.

It’s better to allow your campaign to accumulate enough data for the statistics to become meaningful, and then make changes to optimize your account based on what you see in people’s actual search behavior.

The ability to make rapid changes is a major advantage of online advertising, including AdWords campaigns. But there must be a balance between change and constancy. Rapid changes themselves are worthless until and unless they are based on good, solid data that can be accumulated only when the advertising remains unchanged long enough for a statistically significant number of prospects to respond to it.

5. Getting fooled by “conversion tracking” statistics — Another typical mistake is to put Google’s conversion tracking code on each page of your website. The code causes the customer’s computer to notify Google, which records the visit to that page and displays it when you go looking for conversion data. This can fool you into thinking you’re obtaining extremely high conversion rates.

The correct approach is to place the conversion tracking code only on pages your customers see after making a purchase.

6. Making simple but disastrous formatting errors — AdWords is a straightforward system, but it requires meticulous formatting of text ads. Otherwise, it can create some disastrous and disappointing errors. For example, putting too many words in the first sentence, or writing ad copy without including any periods, can wreak havoc when the first sentence of your ad copy shows up in the search results.

You must punctuate your copy like sentences, but it’s a mistake to include all of the words you’d normally put in a sentence. For example, “We can tow your car from wherever it breaks down to wherever you want to go” is a great sentence, but poor copy for AdWords. You’ll be better off with something like “Towing from A to Z” or “Guaranteed towing to your favorite mechanic.”

Robert Moskowitz is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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