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Are You Wasting Your Google Ads Budget? 5 Mistakes Marketers Make and How to Avoid Them

Google Ads – you can’t avoid them if you want to run a successful business in today’s climate! In this blog, we’ll provide a quick overview on Google Ads and share five of the biggest budget drainers we regularly see when it comes running pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. 

What are Google Ads?

Google has developed an advertising platform where brands can pay to display their Ads to targeted audiences online. Ads are shown in the search engine results page (SERP) of every Google search (known as Google search Ads) but can also appear on other websites and mobile apps (known as Google display Ads). There are also Google Shopping Ads (appears in the Shopping menu of a Google search) and YouTube Ads (the Ads shown before, during or after you watch a video).

How do Google Ads work?

Brands place a bid on certain keywords related to their business or product. When someone enters a search query, Google checks to see who is bidding for those keywords and then show their Ads. 

Sounds simple right? Well, it would be, if there weren’t literally hundreds, possibly thousands of businesses all vying for the same or similar keywords… 

Introducing the Google Algorithm! 

To help determine which Ads get shown first Google has developed a ranking system using three criteria: 

  1. Relevance – how relevant is the ad to the search terms. 
  2. User Experience – how relevant and useful your landing page will be.
  3. Expected Click Through Rate – the likelihood of people clicking on your Ad, based on past Ad results.

Google then takes your Ad rank score, multiplies it by your max bid (this is set when you create your Ad) to get an overall Quality Score. Ads with the highest Quality Score get shown in the SERP. Advertisers generally only pay if someone clicks on their Ad.

Next comes the algorithm that determines the Cost Per Click the advertiser pays (it’s not always your max bid) but that one is more complicated and trickier to explain. Essentially, Google rewards higher quality and performing Ads with lower click costs.

If all of that isn’t confusing enough, Google keeps updating its algorithms and ranking systems in order to provide the best possible results to users. These changes often require advertisers to completely review and update not just their Ads but their landing pages and websites too, in order to continue to keep their Ad rankings high and cost down.  

Keeping up with changes and updates to Google Ads (like Keeping Up With The Kardashians!) can be confusing and challenging even for the most experienced marketer, but algorithms and rankings aside – there are 5 other mistakes we see happening far too often that lead to poor results and high costs… 

5 Google Ads Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Not Thinking Strategically:

At Sentius, ‘Strategy First’ thinking underpins all of our marketing recommendations and campaigns. It’s the first step we take with any new client before doing anything else!

A good strategic plan will set the overall direction for your business, establish a consistent brand and identify your ideal target audience; working out how, where and when to best connect with them. This plan should feed into all of you marketing activities from email marketing and organic content through to Paid Ads and your website development. 

Google Ads and campaigns that are solely based on creative ideas or use the latest trends may look cool, but if they lack strategy, they’re unlikely to deliver the best outcomes and conversions and will be a waste of money. 

2. Using Incorrect Conversion Tracking:

To measure and know how effective your Ad are, you’ll need to set up your conversion tracking properly. It sounds simple, but we often see Ads that are measuring things like page views and button clicks when they should be measuring real conversions like purchases or form submissions. 

The problem with setting up the wrong conversion tracking is that it will appear like your making lots of ‘conversions’ and so you’ll get more views or clicks, but you’re not actually be making sales or generating leads.  

You’re not only wasting budget while the Ads are running but will also make bad decisions based on incorrect data in future. 

3. Using the WRONG keywords:

  1. Using broad match keywords – many marketers use broad match keywords as a way to drive large numbers of traffic from their Ad campaigns, placing a clear focus on quantity over quality.

    Using general and broad match keywords or phrases results in less control of the actual terms that are triggering your ads. It’s a bit like casting a wide net and hoping for the best.

    Getting lots of visitors to your landing page is fine, but if they’re dropping off quickly and not converting the way you want them to, you’re probably targeting the wrong people and not using your Ad budget wisely. 
     
  2. Relying on EXACT match keywords only – once upon a time, you would set ‘exact match’ keywords on your Ad, and it would only be shown if someone typed in those exact keywords. These days, Google shows a range of variations, and similar or related keywords. 

    In some cases, this is no big deal for example – ‘women’s shoes’ and ‘shoes for women’. But in other cases, you’ll be losing money by attracting the wrong customers, for example ‘dog coats’ and ‘coats with dogs.’ This is where using negative keywords becomes important. 
     
  3. Not adding negative keywords – including negative keywords in your Ad targeting allows you to exclude certain words from your Ad campaigns. This allows you to place more attention and importance on certain key words that are highly relevant to your business. 

    For example, if you sell sunglasses you don’t want to accidentally attract people looking for other glasses or sun products such as drinking glasses or sunscreen.

4. Not Using Ad Extensions:

Google Ad Extensions are additional bits of information that can be shown to enhance or support your Ad, like pricing details or forms. Extensions provide more options and reasons for consumers to engage with your Ad which increases the likelihood of clicks and conversions.

There are no extra costs to using Ad extensions so it’s a bit of a ‘no-brainer’ – but it’s something many marketers forget to use. 

5. Only Using Smart or Automated Bidding: 

Smart and automated bidding is when you use Google’s AI-style machine learning to make your Ad targeting decisions for you. While smart bidding is continuously learning and updating your Ad targeting throughout the campaign, automated bidding is static and fixed from start to finish. 

While smart and automated bidding does enable you to set up paid Ads easily and quickly (a handy tool for less experienced marketers) you’ll have far less control over the targeting and budget and should not rely on them for ALL your Ads.  

The trick is to choose wisely and make informed decisions. Refer to your strategy and make sure smart or automated bidding will in fact be the best way to achieve your goals.

Ready to take your Google Ads to the next level? Contact us on 1300 818 188 and book in a tailored 60-minute session to explore how we can improve your Google Ad rankings and results.   

This blog was originally published on Sentius Digital (View here).

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Sentius Digital
Written by Sentius Digital

Sentius is a full-service consulting agency, providing in-house marketing strategy, design, complete agency services, and digital solutions.

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