Google Ads are a powerful way to drive instant traffic to your website. But unlike SEO, you’re paying for every single click, which means if your Ads campaign isn’t optimal, it can become very costly very quick. Here are 10 common Google Ads mistakes, along with tips on how to avoid them and get the most bang for your buck.

google ads mistakes

Mistake 1. Forgetting to include negative keywords

Negative keywords are a way of telling Google NOT to show your ad when certain words are typed in. This is very useful to ensure you aren’t paying for clicks on keywords that don’t have the right intent.

For example, if you offer high end web design, you don’t want to appear when people search for ‘cheap web design’. Adding this as a negative keyword will mean you don’t ever appear when someone searches this phrase.

All too often we take over Google Ads accounts that have no negative keywords added. These businesses are likely blowing a proportion of their budget on keywords that are never going to convert.

google ads negative keyword list

Mistake 2. Blindly including close variants of exact match keywords

Using close variants of keywords can be helpful and allow you to cast a wider net in your campaign. But you need to be careful. If ‘women jeans’ is your exact match keyword, showing up for ‘jeans for women’ is a good thing. But if the close variants of exact match keywords have a different intent or meaning, it’ll lose you money by sending you irrelevant traffic which isn’t going to convert.

Close Variants Example
Misspellings jewellery → jewelry
Singular/Plurals glass → glasses
Stemmings shelves → shelving
Acronyms automatic teller machine → atm
Abbrevations department → dept
Accents cafe → café

Mistake 3. Not bidding on your brand phrase

A lot of businesses don’t feel the need to include brand keywords in their Google Ads campaign, because they’re already ranking #1 on Google for that phrase. While it’s true that you might already have the top organic spot, it doesn’t stop competitors from appearing in Ads ABOVE the top organic results. This means a competitor appearing higher than you has the potential to lure a customer away, even though that customer had your brand in mind initially.

Most people searching your business name will likely navigate through to your site, but is it worth losing some prospects who get enticed by a competitors ad? Brand keywords have a lot less competition than product or service-related phrases, so it doesn’t cost much per click to ensure YOU are the one who shows up at the top for YOUR search. Having an ad show up for your branded search proactively deters competitors from bidding on your brand name as they have to compete with you!


brand slam piggy back elliot dean

Finding this overwhelming already? For any assistance with your campaign, feel free to take a look at our Google Ads Management services.
(our director is the guy on the right!)

Mistake 4. Not trademarking branded keywords

Even if competitors have ads appearing when your brand phrases are searched, they cannot use your brand name in the ad – IF you have it trademarked. Ensuring your branded keywords are trademarked will not only prevent competitors using it in the ad, this will in turn reduce their Quality Score because the keyword isn’t relevant to their ad. This means they will have to pay a higher cost per click and appear in a lower position (if you in fact are paying to appear for your brand keywords too).

Trademarking your branded keywords and paying to appear in ads for your brand searches is a smart way to prevent competitors from piggybacking off your name

Mistake 5. Not targeting your Geo-targeting

Geo-targeting allows you to specify locations in which you’d like your search ads to appear. This is a highly recommend strategy as it allows you to hone in on the most optimal locations where your prospects reside. But done incorrectly, and you may wind up wasting a lot of money!

For example, if you own a restaurant in Mount Waverley, appearing in all “Melbourne” searches will see your business spending money on clicks for people nowhere near your location. If you’re a service-related business in your local area, specifying a location radius from your address will ensure you only reach people nearby.

Furthermore, Google Ads has a range of Default Location settings which may not be optimal for your campaign.
One default location example is:
“Presence or interest: People in, regularly in, or who’ve shown interest in your targeted locations.”
But people who show interest in Melbourne, for example, may actually be someone in Queensland who is looking to go on a holiday down south, or just likes the city of Melbourne. Thus such a user would not be an ideal target customer for the purpose of Google Ads.

Eliminating ‘shown interest in’ from the Presence or Interest setting saves you wasting money on clicks for people who are only “interested” in a location.

Mistake 6. Not testing ad copy

Ad copy if a crucial part of your Google Ads campaign success. A captivating ad will entice more users to click through to your landing page, taking you 1 step closer to generating a lead. But the ads are only a short blurb, with a headline and description of limited characters. So the question is, should you be talking about your quality offering, your expertise, your price point, or something else?

Having 2 to 4 ads per Ad Group allows you to try different variations, and analyse the data to see which are performing best. Pausing underperforming ads and replacing them with another variant will allow you to continually monitor success, and refine accordingly to ensure the most optimal ads for your campaign.

google ads headlines image

Mistake 7. Having ad copy which doesn’t match the content on the landing page

Your landing page is where you send visitors after they click on your ad. If this page isn’t relevant to the keywords you choose, or flow logically from the ad the users first saw, then your chances of conversion are minimal.

On top of this, Google has stated “Landing page relevance plays a major role in how Google Ads calculates your Quality Score. The more relevant your destination page is to your chosen keywords, the higher your Quality Score will be.”

Having a low Quality Score means that you’ll have to pay a higher cost-per-click (CPC). So, not only will you be sending low converting traffic to your landing page, you’ll be paying more to do so.

google ads landing page relevance

Mistake 8. Not having strong CTAs on the landing page

The primary purpose of a landing page is to get a user to take action. This might be via an enquiry form, mailing list, phone call or purchase of a product. Unfortunately, time and time again we see landing pages with no meaningful calls to action!

Ensuring your landing pages are setup with clear and captivating calls to action is an important step before sending paid traffic to them! Once they’re up and running, regular testing and refinement should also be a priority. Simply changing a button colour or text can result in a massive change in conversions.

Tweaking your landing pages will provide you with more data and get the best results. But be sure to only change on thing at a time, so you can accurately measure the impact.

Taking it a step further, you may decide to setup 2 pages for the same ads, and perform A/B testing. Use data to determine which is performing better, than make changes to the underperforming page to help increase engagement. Then rinse and repeat.

AB testing landing pages

Mistake 9. Inaccurate conversion tracking

Tracking non-conversion events (such as page views, time on page, standard button clicks, visiting the online shop) as conversions can really mess up your ad spend. You should only look to track meaningful conversions, where people are taking specific action on your site. Likewise, tracking duplicate conversions will paint an incorrect picture of the activity on your site. Paid advertising is all about data, and if you’re tracking the wrong things—or the same thing twice—your data will be skewed, and your decisions won’t be based on the actual state of play.

Mistake 10. Auto-applying recommendations

Over recent years, Google Ads has made recommendations directly in the platform to try and help advertisers optimise their campaigns better. While some suggestions are useful and can help you achieve your goals, it’s worth noting that most are based on general “best practices” without actually taking your specific campaign goals into consideration. So treat these with a grain of salt, and be aware that each recommendation may not actually making your Google Ads perform better.

Do you have any additional recommendations on avoiding Google Ads mistakes, or need help managing your campaigns? We’d love to hear from you.