10 Google Ads Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Are you achieving the best possible results with your Google Ads campaigns—or are you missing out on key conversion opportunities? Whether you’re new to Google Ads or you’ve been setting up pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns for years, minor mistakes can add up over time. As a result, your campaigns can underperform, costing your team both results and ad spend.

If you know what to look for, you can take steps to identify and resolve some of these PPC issues. Take a look at 10 common Google Ads mistakes and find out how to fix them—or avoid making them in the first place.

1. Sticking With Default Network Options

When you set up a Google Ads campaign, you can choose whether you want to create a search or display campaign—at least in theory. In reality, when you set up a campaign on the Search Network, Google Ads also places your ads on the Display Network by default.

That may not sound so bad until you realize that the average conversion rate for ads on the Display Network is significantly lower than Search Network ads. If you go with the default search campaign settings, you could waste money on Display Network ads with nothing to show for it.

To avoid making this mistake, choose your Google Ads network carefully. it’s often best to match the campaign type and network, keeping search and display ad campaigns separate.

2. Using the Wrong Keyword Match Type

It’s easy to assume that as long as you target the right keywords with a high enough bid, your ads will appear in relevant searches. Yet that’s not always the case, especially if you use the wrong keyword match type.

If you match keywords to search terms too loosely, your ad may appear in unrelated searches. In contrast, if you pair them too precisely, your ad might not match with many searches.

To optimize your search ads, you need thorough keyword research and an in-depth understanding of your audience’s search intent. You’ll also need to know the difference between these keyword match types:

  • Broad match: Targets searches related to your keyword.
  • Phrase match: Shows ads on searches that express the meaning of your keyword.
  • Exact match: Displays ads on searches that mean the same thing as your keyword.

3. Forgetting About Negative Keywords

Even if you choose the most precise keyword match type, your Google ads can still appear on irrelevant searches. If these searches drive a lot of clicks, you could end up wasting ad spend.

Fortunately, you can exclude select search terms by adding negative keywords. Keep in mind that Google supports three kinds of negative keywords—broad, phrase, and exact match—so it’s important to understand what they mean and choose wisely. After all, adding the wrong negative keyword match type could prevent your ads from appearing in the searches you do want to target.

4. Neglecting Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are clickable elements that you can tack on to any Google ad. They can display information like your business’s phone number, an item’s price, or the services your company offers.

Screenshot of Google Ad extension

Technically, ad extensions are optional. Google states they contribute up to a 15% higher click-through rate (CTR), so it’s in your best interest to use ad extensions whenever possible. Google recommends adding at least four extension types:

  • Affiliate location
  • App
  • Call
  • Callout
  • Lead form
  • Location
  • Price
  • Sitelink
  • Structured snippet

5. Sending Traffic to the Wrong Landing Pages

The best place to drive traffic is your website’s homepage, right? Not exactly. 

Although many marketers make the mistake of using the homepage as the landing page for every ad, it can be one of the worst destinations for Google Ads traffic.

Your homepage serves as an introduction to your business and is one of the most general pages on your site. It’s designed to appeal to people with a variety of needs, interests, and questions. That means it’s a great landing page for a general search like your brand name.

But when you target a more specific keyword, it’s important to consider the search intent. For example, prospects may click on your ad to access content, buy something, or contact your business. That’s why you should always tailor the landing page to the ad, allowing prospects to complete the desired action instantly.

6. Overlooking Audience Targeting Options

Like any online ad platform, Google Ads lets you choose the audiences you want to reach. You can enter the demographic details that match your ideal customer, create affinity or in-market audiences, or set up remarketing audiences.

However, Google Ads defaults to observing rather than targeting the audiences you build. That means the platform reports on how your chosen audiences performed, but it doesn’t serve ads only to those groups. 

If you want to test how all audiences respond to your ads and then adjust your bids accordingly, audience observation is a good choice.

But if you want to serve ads only to people in the audiences you defined, then audience observation isn’t restrictive enough. To avoid spending money delivering ads to the wrong people, you’ll want to use Google’s audience targeting option.

7. Relying on the Wrong Bidding Strategy

Google Ads automatically recommends a smart bidding strategy based on the campaign goal you want to achieve. For example, the platform may suggest Maximize Clicks if you want to prioritize website traffic. It’s easy just to go with what the platform suggests—and if you don’t already have a lot of data to draw from, the default may be your best option.

But neglecting to test out different options, or worse—failing to leverage data and optimize your bidding strategy—can be an expensive mistake.

Once you have enough PPC data to know what you should be paying for clicks and acquisitions, you can start optimizing results with a manual cost per click (CPC) or target cost per action (CPA) bidding strategy. Alternatively, you can use a target return on ad spend (ROAS) bidding strategy to ensure your campaigns deliver the value your team expects.

8. Creating Too Few Ads Per Campaign

Every ad in your Google Ads account belongs to an ad set, which in turn is part of a campaign. Although you can certainly run a single campaign from your Google Ads account, each campaign needs multiple ads and ad sets. The platform can’t optimize performance effectively if an ad set only has one or two ads. That means performance could suffer, and you may end up paying more than necessary for results.

Although creating the ideal campaign structure is part art and part science, Google recommends creating at least three ads per ad set. You’ll also want to make sure each ad has unique copy and creatives so you can compare results and see which resonates best with your audience.

9. Omitting the Call to Action

Whether you’re writing a headline or a description, you’ll find that Google Ads puts a strict limit on how many characters you can include in any element of the copy. When you’re short on space, you might find that you have to leave out a key part of your message.

While you do have to be selective about what you include in the ad copy, omitting the call to action (CTA) is a big mistake. Without a CTA, prospects may simply scroll past and click on another ad or on an organic search result instead.

To improve clicks and conversions, always include a CTA in your ad headline. That way you can tell prospects what step to take next to get the conversion you want.

10. Considering Outdated or Incorrect Conversions

If you’re going to leverage search engine marketing effectively, you need to track conversions. Google Ads makes it easy to track conversions from your website, app, phone number, or Google Analytics property. But it’s important to remember that conversions aren’t static. After the initial setup, they require regular updates and reconsideration.

When reviewing a Google Ads conversion, first make sure that it’s active and recording correctly. Then confirm that the assigned value and conversion window are still accurate. It’s also helpful to review the attribution model so Google Ads credits each conversion action appropriately.

Over time, your business naturally evolves, and so do the conversions you care about. If a conversion isn’t relevant any more, you can simply remove it from your account. That way you can always track conversions effectively and assess the impact of your Google Ads campaigns accurately.

Need a hand?

Feeling like you’re in over your head when it comes to Google Ads? At Operam, we’re well-versed in optimizing Google Ads—and we’re here to help you achieve the best possible results from every campaign. Contact Operam to get started with Google Ads today.