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5 Common AdWords Mistakes

For a newbie, Google AdWords Campaigns are not the easiest thing to set up. There are so many different options, settings and choices to make that it can all seem too much. When I review an AdWords account, I see a number of basic mistakes in the setup of the client’s AdWords campaigns. Here I discuss 5 of the most common AdWords mistakes which I see when reviewing AdWords accounts.

1) Targeting too few keywords

This is without doubt the most common mistake I see when reviewing AdWords accounts. In order to maximise the performance of your campaigns, you need an extensive bank of keywords. It is not sufficient to think of just 10 keywords, and then stop. You have to come up with hundreds, if not thousands of relevant keywords.

But I’m a locksmith in Melbourne! There are only 3 keywords; Locksmith, Locksmiths & Locksmiths Melbourne!


There are thousands of possible keywords. Use the Google keyword tool, Google instant, and most importantly your own brain to come up with more variations. How many suburbs are there in Melbourne that you could add to your keyword “Locksmith”? What about “Locksmith South Melbourne”, “Locksmith Melbourne CBD”, “Locksmith Carlton”? What about “Locksmith In Melbourne”? What about using an adjective; “Cheap Locksmith”, “Fast Locksmith, “24 Hour Locksmith? What about people who write “Lock Smith”? Put all of these ideas together and we have many hundreds of relevant keywords, not just 3. Of course, some of these keywords will get only 1 impression per month, but so what? If someone is looking for our business, then let’s show them an ad.

2) Using only broad match keywords

So now we have our keyword list, let’s just set them all to broad match and upload them, right? Wrong. It is important to think about which keyword match types we should be using. More often than not, we are inclined to bid higher for exact matches than phrase and broad matches for the same keyword. In some cases, we may not wish to use broad match, as this can open up the opportunity of matching to some irrelevant search terms. Therefore, we need to find the optimal balance between attracting enough visitors, and not attracting unwanted visitors. The use of match types, and relative CPC bids, is the best method of achieving this.

3) Targeting 1st position

So you’ve seen your competitors on Google and you want your ads to show above theirs. “We’re better than them, so lets get our ads above theirs” I hear people say. Let’s hold back a minute. We don’t know how much our competitors are spending on AdWords, we don’t know what return they’re getting from their ads, we don’t know whether we can afford that 1st position in the search results. So let’s not worry about that right now. We want our ads to attract visitors, and we want to assess whether we are seeing a return on our investment. It really doesn’t matter what our competitors are doing. So forget that top position for now – we can always think about it later when we are seeing a good ROI.

4) Starting with a high budget

OK, so you have set aside a budget of $3,000 for your first month’s AdWords campaigns. So let’s set the budget at that level and see what happens, shall we? Well, if you have lots of money then that’s not a problem. But for those of us with limited funds, we need to look after our investments. So let’s keep the budget in mind, but let’s build up to it. We don’t want to be spending $100 per day before we know what we are getting in return. So let’s start low – say $20 per day in this case, and assess the return as we go. If we straight away see that we are achieving a good return then of course, increase the budget. But if it is not working immediately, then we are only spending $20 per day to find that out. Meanwhile we can optimise the account in order to improve our return.

5) Using the Google Display Network

This point is equally important despite appearing at the bottom of this list. First, a disclaimer; the Google Display Network can be a highly valuable tool for PPC advertisers, when leveraged effectively. However, when a newbie advertiser sets their ads to show on the GDN, they can see their money disappear fast, with little or no tangible return. I have heard a number of people tell me “I put $100 in last month, and I don’t know where it went”. Usually this is because they have had their ads set to show on the GDN, and have received 150 clicks there, compared to 4 clicks on their search ads. By no means am I saying to never use the GDN, but if you are not sure how to use it, please steer clear, or find an AdWords expert to help you.

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