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In my time working with Google AdWords, I’ve noticed that there are several common Google AdWords mistakes that new users make. It’s not that they set out to create bad campaigns, but for one reason or another they made a few mistakes that severely hurt the effectiveness of their campaigns. My goal in today’s blog post is to share the five common Google AdWords mistakes new users make and show you how you can avoid them.

Google AdWords is a powerful platform and it is a little easy to feel overwhelmed if you’re a new user. AdWords can do so many things ranging from showing ads on Google.com, to image-based ads in the Google Display Network to tracking how successful your campaigns are at driving purchases. I teach a Google Online Marketing Bootcamp class for ASPE-ROI. In this class, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with several frustrated business owners and marketing managers that can’t seem to get their AdWords campaigns off the launch pad. When we dig into their campaigns and I’m able to help them correct these common Google AdWords mistakes, their campaigns begin to find new life. The cost per click for ads goes down and traffic from the campaign goes up. But what are these five common Google AdWords mistakes? Let’s take a look.

Google AdWords Mistake #1: Using the Broad Match Type for All Keywords

Google AdWords allows you to match the keywords that users type into the search box in different ways (watch this short video to learn more about match types in Google AdWords). By default, keywords are set to the “broad” match type. This is helpful in some instances, like when you are just starting your campaign and need to find out the different possible keyword combinations come together that you may want to target in your campaign. But “broad” can be brutal on those campaigns with fairly tight budget restrictions. The reason: the keywords you target match many, many more combinations when compared to phrase match or exact match. And as a result, your ad is potentially shown for a lot of irrelevant terms. Those are wasted clicks, which means you’re wasting your dollars.

Solution: move your keywords towards phrase match or exact match as the campaigns mature. Bonus tip: incorporate negative keywords to avoid showing for irrelevant terms.

Google AdWords Mistake #2: Sending all Your Click Traffic to the Homepage of Your Web Site

If you’re running an AdWords campaign, there’s a high likelihood that you want someone to do something with your company (i.e. buy something, register, etc.). If your ads click through to the homepage of your Web site, you are likely wasting a lot of money. The reason: you’re making the clicker work very hard to find what it is they are interested in. In the Google Bootcamp class, I share a little story to illustrate the point: if your friend wanted your help in buying a pair of running shoes, which would be more helpful: driving them to the local mall and dropping them off at the front door or walking them inside and taking them to the exact store with the exact shoe that you would recommend? Clearly the later is the best option. Sending your click traffic to the homepage is like dropping them off at the mall entrance. They likely will get lost trying to find what they are looking for and will give up.

Solution: create specific landing pages for each AdGroup in your campaign. Bonus tip: unique and relative landing pages can be a great boost to the quality score of your keywords.

Bonus Video: Watch my recent Hangout on Air with Jeremy Smith discussing the 5 common Google AdWords Mistakes

Google AdWords Mistake #3: Only Creating One Campaign or AdGroup

The structure of AdWords is all about helping you be as relevant as possible. You create a campaign structure based on what you want to measure. For example, you should create different campaigns based on different geographic areas. Does your product sell better in Atlanta or Kansas City? Multiple campaigns allow you to target those areas separately and find out the answer. The AdGroups you create in your campaigns should be tightly focused around a specific product or topic. This provides focus for your keywords and can significantly reduce your costs. And as an added bonus, you’ll have a much better idea of which topics or products sell better within your Web site.

Solution: create multiple campaigns and multiple AdGroups within your campaigns.

Google AdWords Mistake #4: Putting All Your Keywords into a Single AdGroup and Only Running One Version of Your Ad

As I noted above, you need to have an AdGroup structure that is based on the products or services you offer. This allows you to place your keywords into tightly packed areas to help you zero in on your audience. Closely related to that is the need to create multiple versions of your ads. The reason: you need to test out different ad headlines and ad copy to find out what connects with your audience. If you only have one version of your ad, you’ll never find out if you have the right ad.

Solution: place keywords into different AdGroups based on product/service themes and create multiple versions of your ads to test out which version delivers the best results.

Google AdWords Mistake #5: Setting Up Your AdWords Campaigns and Walking Away

AdWords is not a “fix it and forget it” platform. You have to monitor your campaigns regularly to see what kinds of results you are getting. At a minimum, you need to monitor them on a weekly basis. Ideally, you’ll look at the campaign performance on a daily basis. This gives you the best chance to make adjustments in real-time so you can connect with the audience you want to reach.

Solution: check the performance of your AdWords campaigns at least weekly, if not daily and make adjustments as needed.


To be fair, there are many more mistakes new users (and even a few experienced ones, too!) can make. If you find that your campaign(s) have run afoul of these mistakes, the above solutions will help you get it back on the path to success. And if you’re really stuck, reach out to me on Twitter, Google Plus or by email. I’ll be glad to help you analyze your Google AdWords campaigns and identify what you need to do to get the results you’re seeking.

About Jon Parks

Jon Parks is the President and Lead Dijital Strategist of Dijital Farm, based in Raleigh, NC. In his role at Dijital Farm, Jon helps clients create digital marketing strategies focused on their business goals. His specialties include digital marketing strategy, social media strategy, Google AdWords campaigns and search engine optimization. Jon is also an instructor for ASPE-ROI where he teaches the Social Media Bootcamp, Google Online marketing Bootcamp, Mastering Google AdWords and the Social Media for Sales Teams classes. Connect with Jon on Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, by email or by phone at (919) 901-0485.