Paid Search Marketing Playbook: Avoid these Google Ad Mistakes
Most paid search marketing professionals recognize Google Ads as a gold-standard digital advertising platform. Its intuitive interface, a wealth of features, and reporting capabilities are rivaled by few competitors.
Because advertisers are running countless campaigns in the Google Ads platform at any given moment, there are many stories of both successes and trainwrecks. Hopefully, like us, you are not a trainwreck enthusiast.
Because the Conduit Digital team works with agencies to scale their businesses, we have executed and managed more Google Ads campaigns than most. Over time, our team has developed strategies that deliver consistent results thanks to this cardinal rule:
Successful paid search marketing efforts are about equally knowing what you should and should not do during the campaign.
While you can search for an endless list of “Paid Search Best Practices” articles on Google, we want to take the discussion in a different direction. Let’s discuss the worst practices, or, what you should never do during a Google Ads campaign.
Mistake 1: Not Using Google Keyword Planner Properly
Google Keyword Planner allows you to create a holistic view of the keywords you will be targeting and bidding on during your campaign. It can also provide you with suggestions for new, relevant keywords that you could add to your strategy.
When setting up your keyword plan, you should start with broader keywords that relate to the services or products that you offer. From there, look at the other keyword suggestions that Google generates to drill down to even more relevant choices that will appeal to ideal target users and drive more successful conversions for your paid search campaign.
Here are some additional tips for using Keyword Planner to provide the most value:
Understanding Volume and Keyword Competition
When deciding on the best keywords to use for your paid search campaign, you want to target keywords that ideally have high volume and low competition. “Volume” refers to how many users search for that keyword within a span of time. The “Keyword Competition” indicates how difficult it may be for you to rank for that keyword.
Sometimes, targeting a high-volume, high-competition keyword will be unavoidable, depending on your business. Here, incorporating a diverse base of other relevant keywords with less competition will allow you to drive additional value where more difficult ones may fall short. This will aid in compensating for the limited results you may receive from that coveted, competitive keyword you just cannot say “no” to.
The Downsides of Improper Keyword Planning
Failing to use Google Keyword Planner properly will result in three primary unwanted outcomes.
- You will risk missing out on some high-opportunity keywords that could attract more qualified traffic.
- You may not be targeting the right users at all.
- Perhaps the most damaging, your competitors could capitalize on the keywords that you did not include in your strategy and take that traffic for themselves.
Understanding Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
CPC refers to the actual cost for each click on a certain keyword. In most cases, if the keyword is rather broad and highly competitive, it will cost more. Conversely, some low-volume, low-competition keywords may also cost more if you are paying to dominate that space.
Consider the CPC value for your target keywords when developing your strategy. This will ensure that you do not overspend your budget and also prevent your budget from topping out too soon. In an ideal situation, you want to target keywords with plenty of volume, at a low level of competition, and at a price you can afford for the duration of the campaign.
Mistake 2: Building an Ads Campaign without Negative Keywords
What is a “negative keyword”? Sounds intimidating, right? During a campaign, however, knowing your negative keywords can be your greatest strength.
According to Google, negative keywords are search terms you can incorporate into your overall keyword strategy that can steer unqualified traffic away from getting served one of your ads, clicking on it, and inevitably wasting your budget. These keywords tell Google the type of users not to target so that your budget is optimized to reach users most likely to complete your target conversions and help you reach your overall goals.
For example, if you sell ice hockey equipment, and you are marketing to people that play the sport, you may add the negative keyword “field hockey” to your list. This will help avoid a syntactical error where Google may list your business in field hockey equipment searches. By doing this, you will ensure that your ice hockey-loving customers will be served your advertisements instead of users with no interest in your products.
Before starting your campaign, anticipate any negative keywords that could affect your campaign. Write them down and plan to use them in your Google Ads campaign. You can also use the Search Terms Report as another resource for identifying negative keywords to add, but you may also have some in mind that are more closely related to your specific business.
Additionally, you can choose from prebuilt negative keyword lists that may include:
- Known Competitors
- Job-Related Searches
- Informational Searches
- Bargain/Price Searches
Combining your business experience with Google Ads’ powerful AI, you can develop a negative keyword list that is customized to your specific needs and will drive the most qualified customers to your site.
Mistake 3: Setting Up Paid Search Marketing Campaigns with the Wrong Automated Bid Strategies
Automated bid strategies can streamline your Google Ads campaigns by using machine learning to optimally bid for the goals you set. This way, you can work on other projects while Google does the heavy lifting in real-time.
However, just “setting it and forgetting it” will torpedo your strategy before it has the chance to deliver the results you want. Here are some automated bidding tips from Google for establishing a strategy that will meet your goals:
This strategy will automatically set your bids to help you earn as many clicks as possible within your budget. This method works well for the discovery phase of a campaign where you want to build awareness for your product or service among new users. Conversely, if you are promoting pieces of content and want to drive readership, this can also work as an effective tactic.
Target Impression Share
Automatically set your bids with the goal of showing your ad as the first result on a search engine results page (SERP), near the top of the SERP, or anywhere else on the page. Depending on your industry and how much your competitors invest in paid search, the results can vary.
Target CPA will automatically set Search or Display bids to drive as many conversions as possible at your set target cost-per-action (CPA). Depending on your goals and what you want to achieve with target CPA, you may notice that some conversions cost more or less than what you budget for.
This strategy automatically sets bids to assist in driving maximum conversion value relative to the targeted return on ad spend (ROAS) that you set. Like with Target CPA, conversion costs will vary and may be higher or lower return than what you set for your target.
Maximizing conversions will automatically set bids to aid you in generating the most conversions for your campaign while keeping your spend within your set budget. For brands that want to drive conversion quantity, this will be your best option.
Maximize Conversion Value
Unlike the Maximize Conversions strategy, Maximize Conversion Value drives the quality of conversions to help you generate the best value for your money. This may result in less overall conversions, but the likelihood of reaching more qualified users will increase.
Mistake 4: Not Adjusting Conversion Counts
In your Google Ads Settings, you can adjust the method for conversion counting. You can set it to “One” or “Every,” depending on your campaign goals.
Implementing the proper conversion count will make a noticeable difference in your campaign results toward the goals you want to achieve. If you are not using the right setting, this will result in far fewer conversions than you are reporting on, or vice-versa.
One common mistake is where paid search marketing analysts will leave the conversion count set to “Every” when it should be set to “One,” or vice-versa. For example, if you are tracking a button click as a lead, you do not want to track multiple button clicks from the same user. This could skew the data, give your marketing team false insights, and derail your strategy.
In this scenario, the analyst could avoid skewed data by setting the tracking to “One.” Here, Google’s AI will count by the IP address clicking the button rather than the number of button clicks from the user. With the “One” setting, a person can click the button a thousand times from the same IP and will only ever be tracked as a single button click within the data.
Mistake 5: Limiting Conversion Attribution to “Last Click”
When you set up a conversion tracking strategy with Google Ads, it will be automatically pre-set to “Last Click.” This means that a conversion is only attributed in-full to the keyword and ad that a user last clicked on.
Fortunately, there are other Attribution Models that you can choose from to further benefit your level of insight into your campaign performance. For example, you could implement the “Linear” model to attribute a conversion evenly across all clicks that result in the eventual conversion.
How to Avoid Making These Paid Search Marketing Mistakes for Good
Mistakes happen, and marketing campaigns are far from invulnerable to them. However, partnering with a team of experts that drives billions of impressions on a regular basis can increase your chances of optimizing your results.
For nearly a decade, Conduit Digital has helped our partners in delivering maximum paid search marketing results for their clients. If you want to start your next campaign off on the right foot, contact us anytime.