11 Ways to waste Money with Adwords

11 of the most common ways that can waste lots of money with Adwords advertising and reduce the effectiveness of your ad budget. They are not in any rank or order but the more important tend to be closer to the top!

1. Accepting the defaults set by Google

The defaults are advantageous to Google but not necessarily your campaign. Some of the following refer to those defaults.

As Google themselves say it is easy to setup an Adwords campaign. Just pick your keywords (or accept those suggested), write your ad set your maximum bid/keyword and daily budget (again based on suggested) and click the activate button and off you go.

2. Not understanding and ignoring Google’s Quality Score (QS)

It may seem strange (on a bid/auction system) but higher placed ads may be paying less for each click than lower placed ads. When they are it is down to Google’s QS.

Google’s QS in not widely or well understood although has been a measure used for the last few years. It is a measure of relevancy. Google search algorithms uses latent semantic indexing (LSI) and theming of keywords, theme of individual web pages and overall theme of web site to determine the relevancy of each page indexed to a searched keyword or phrase.

The higher the relevancy, the higher the displayed page appears in results. It is applied in a similar way within the Adwords platform taking into consideration keyword(s) bid/searched, ad content and landing page relevancy. The better the QS, the higher the ad placement and the lower the cost per click (cpc).

3. Not using Conversion Tracking Code (Google Analytics/Google Website Optimizer)

Not installing either GA (Google Analytics) and/or GWO (Google Website Optimizer), pretty much guarantees that you will have no idea how successful or how much of your pay-per-click budget you are simply throwing away.

Google’s in-built conversion tracking statistics only show you how many impressions an ad has made, how many click-through’s and the costs. The more important measure is, once the ad is clicked and a visitor lands on your site, do they convert and buy, become a customer, add their name to your mailing list or whatever criterion you have for a successful conversion. It is amazing just how many companies are still not monitoring that very important second part of an Adwords campaign by not tracking conversion with a tracking code on their thank-you pages.

4. Accepting default Match Type

When you setup an Adwords campaign and add keywords and phrases to trigger an ad impression the system defaults to “broad match”. When any of the words in your keyword phrase are searched for your ad could show on search pages completely unrelated to your target audience.

There is a double negative consequence which will increases your costs. The result is either unqualified click-through’s or a reduction in your CTR (click-through-rate) resulting in an increase of CPC. Cost-per-click is based on CTR relative to number of impressions each ad receives.

5. Not creating specific Landing Pages

How often has it happened that when you click on an ad that appears to offer exactly what you are searching for you end up on the company’s home page and you have to start again to search for what you had expected to find in the first place! Many, if not all, will leave your site immediately, disappointed and unwilling to start searching again.

Sending all your PPC traffic to your home page is not only frustrating for visitors expecting something else it is lazy marketing and costly in terms of both lost customers and click-through-costs much more in the long run than creating custom and specific landing pages for each of your ad/keyword combinations. PPC advertising doesn’t end with the ‘click’, it’s just the first stage.

6. Setting your keyword bid at Too Low a level

Setting your keyword bid too low has the result that your ad may only appear ‘below the fold’ (the lower half of the page) or worse still on page two or higher where they will have a lower CTR with a resultant higher CPC.

Generally speaking the higher the bid the higher the ad position and the higher CTR you ad is likely to get. However, as we have seen from item (2) above relating to Quality Score this need not be the case. Managing your campaign effectively the opposite is almost, always true.

7. Setting & Forgetting

Setting up a campaign and not monitoring or managing it effectively is a sure fire way to waste money on non-performing keywords and ads. Not all keyword/ad combinations work and when they are underperforming they should be dropped at the earliest opportunity.

The successful management of pay-per-click campaigns is a continuous process not a one-off exercise. The maxim in any marketing campaign is setup, test, analyze, modify, test, analyze, modify, test … until a winning combination is found and achieving the conversion rates you want. Then test, analyze, modify, test, analyze, modify, test …

8. Not using negative keywords

Used in conjunction with search ‘Match’ type (see Broad Match above) you can control with ‘Negative Keywords’ when your ad appears when certain keyword combinations are searched for.

When used in with the different matching criteria, Broad, Exact, Phrase, Negative keyword matching can provide a very sophisticated method of controlling what keywords combinations each of your ads (and you should have more than one ad group) appear for and in turn can control the landing page each visitor reaches further increasing your conversion opportunity. As a consequence you will increase your CTR and reduce your CPC. A triple benefit!

9. Not scheduling ads

Unless you are tracking your Adwords visitor behaviour, see (3) above, then it is difficult to implement ad scheduling as you won’t know when you ads get the most click-through’s and the conversion ratio of those visitors. So, the answer is to first install Google Analytics!

With Google Analytics installed your Adwords campaign will be tracked automatically and a wealth of information provided about your campaign visitors. Although there is some work involved to analyze your campaign data, the information about which days, which times, results in higher conversions can help determine how you can modify your campaign so you spend more of your budget when the traffic you want is active online. Ad scheduling enables you to specify the exact times to display your ads.

10. Not specifying Search or Content Network

Another default when setting up a campaign is to display ads in both the Search and Content network. The main difference is that the Search network displays your ads in relation to a searchers keyword search whereas the Content network displays your ads alongside the content of web pages (Adsense ads). Visitors from each will very likely have different reasons and motivations for clicking on a displayed ad.

In general the Search network will be the more targeted having specifically searched for a related keyword having more commercial intent and more highly motivated to convert with the right offer.

Traffic from the content network may be as important but initially not as qualified in terms of conversion but may still generate good leads, handled in a different manner and taking longer to before conversion. When setting up an Adwords campaign it is advisable to create separate ad groups targeted at both networks but separately.

11. Not monitoring click-fraud

Not a major issue or problem but still worth taking some time to monitor. Very difficult to prove, get acknowledgement or agreement from the search networks themselves it is, like ad scheduling, only really possible to monitor with a proper analytics application (Google Analytics) tracking visitor traffic.

High CTR with no or very few conversions could indicate a badly designed landing page, or, where the landing page has tested successful, if over a specific time period, it could indicate a level of click-fraud needing investigation.

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