Many people complain that Google Ads doesn’t work for them. They’re putting money into it but seeing little return on investment. Many are at the point of giving up.

The sad part is that in most cases Google ads could very well drive a lot of relevant traffic to their business.

The issue often has to do with how they set up their campaign. And how they managed it over time. Or didn’t manage it.

I review dozens of new accounts each month and I consistently see some of the same mistakes repeated over and over again. Mistakes that can often easily be corrected.

Here are the 10 worst AdWords campaign management mistakes made on Google and how to correct them.

With the list, I’ve tried to focus on mistakes that you as a marketer can often correct on your own.

There are many recommendations I could make that require more effort such as having dedicated landing pages for each campaign or installing call tracking on a website.

Instead, I wanted to focus on mistakes that are easy to correct, but which can have a tremendous impact.

Correcting these mistakes will help to turn a non-profitable campaign into a profitable one.

1 Inadvertently Targeting Prospects Outside Your Market

This is a mistake that is easy to make since Google doesn’t make it easy to realize your even doing this.

When you set up your account you set your target market, either choosing a location or doing a radius around your business.

What you might not realize is that Google is targeting not just people who are in your market but have shown an interest in it. And their interpretation of this is very broad.

I have reviewed campaigns that targeted a specific location. When I’d look at the actual location of the persons who were exposed to their ads I’d see other states and even other countries.

In the campaign below, the actual location we were targeting was a single city in a single state.

As you can see in the results, they were getting traffic from other countries. In fact, when I looked at the data for the U.S. one-third of the persons seeing their ad were outside their market.

In the ad below I was searching for businesses in Savananah, Georgia. Then I typed in Denver DUI Attorney. Two ads for firms in Savnanah showed up in the results. This is an expensive keyword and getting clicks for a location you don't serve is a waste of money.

Because of their settings, these firms showed up for searches outside their market.

The solution to this is relatively simple, although as mentioned, hidden away.

In setting clicks on locations. Then scroll down to location options. Click on this and you’ll see your running ads are targeting People in, regularly in, or who've shown interest in your targeted locations (recommended).

The better option isto click on People in or regularly in your targeted location.

2 Using Search and Display Together

Many of the default settings in Google often result in a lot of wasted spend. One of these is when you set up your account. Most often Google will have two additional categories under networks when you choose a search campaign. These are Google Partners and Display.

Google Ads search campaigns take a different approach then display campaigns
Avoid running display and search campaigns together.

Google Partners are other sites that use the Google search program.

Google doesn’t tell us who these sites are, but they rely on Google’s search engine for searches done on their site.

Example of a Google Ads Search Partner
This sites search tool is enhanced by Google

For some businesses, Google Partners works well. It provides additional searches and can see a lower cost per click.

For other businesses, the Partner program doesn’t work.

For most businesses it’s at least worth trying if you’re trying to get more traffic. Then you can decide on whether to continue with it.

The bigger issue here is display.

With display, you’re putting ads on pages people visit for other reasons.

You might show up on gaming sites, local news stations, weather-related sites, and Hollywood news sites. The options can be endless. It means you’re trying to get their attention when they’re on a page for another reason.

Review your placements in display to see what sites your ads showed on.
Review your placements to see where your ads have been running.

Display has its uses, but not when lumped into a search campaign. They require two very different strategies.

If you want to try it, then create a new campaign that is strictly display. Then create responsive ads that are more effective at attracting people’s attention.

3 Running Display Campaigns on Mobile Apps

If you separate out the display campaign and begin running it, you’ll likely see a lot of clicks and impressions right away.

The problem is that almost all of these clicks and impressions are from mobile apps. Which is usually a waste of money.

Avoid targeting mobile applications on Google is a bad idea.
Running Google Ads on mobile apps is often a bad idea.

People seem to endlessly click on ads as they are playing a game, most likely by accident. Chances are your prospect isn’t on many of these apps and if they are, won’t stop what they’re doing to check out your website.

It used to be pretty easy to block all ads from showing on apps. Then Google did away with that method and now it’s a lot bigger headache to avoid them.

There is a way to get rid of a lot of them. You’ll find this in placements.

Learn how to exclude specific sites in Google display.
Click Exclusions and then the large pencil icon on the resulting page.
You can exclude many apps in Google display.
Click Exclude Placements and here you’ll see categories for mobile apps.
There are a number of categories in mobile apps
Check off each box related to apps

Unfortunately, even after clicking all the boxes, you’ll like to see mobile apps in your placement. You can try excluding each and every one of these in the hopes that you’ll eventually stop seeing them.

Or you can take the easier option of just bidding significantly lower for mobile devices and tablets.

Go to devices and put in a negative bid adjustment.

The only way to exclude all apps is to bid low on mobile and tablet
You can add negative bid adjustments to exclude a device

This isn’t the best option, but with display, you’ll still get a lot of impressions from desktop. And I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this with a remarketing campaign.

4 Using Broad Match

The default setting for adding keywords into an account is broad match and many people simply use this.

With broad match Google’s algorithm tries to generate the most searches. This results in searches that aren’t relevant or that won’t likely convert.

I once took over a campaign that was using exclusively broad match.

They were a real estate agency and so among their keywords was their community name, plus real estate, all in broad match.

Unfortunately, their ad was showing for a number of phrase not related to real estate such as people wanting to know the local forecast or about popular tourist destinations. They were also showing up for a lot of competitors' names.

In the example below its obvious the second attorney was using broad match since he's appearing for a service he doesn't offer.

An investment lawyer showing for personal injury is likely due to broad match.

Any other keyword match type is better than broad match as they allow you to have more control over what search terms you appear for.

The only time to use broad match is if you’re struggling to get impressions for your market and looking for other ideas. Even then you want to closely monitor the search term reports.

If your time is limited, as well as your budget, then change your match type.

5 Not Using Negative Keywords or Misusing Them

One of the regular tasks for any campaign is to review the search terms. These are the actual terms that people typed in that triggered your ads.

For example, you’re bidding on the phrase personal injury attorney. Someone typed in personal injury attorney near me and your ad appeared. This seems like a great phrase to show up for.

Unfortunately, not all search terms will be as relevant. For example, you might be a lawyer in San Francisco, but someone types in personal injury lawyer Vermont. That isn’t relevant.

In the search terms you’ll often find phrases that don’t apply to your business, especially if your using broad match. In some cases, it could be someone looking for services in a location that you don’t serve. Or maybe something you don’t offer at all.

Once you identify a phrase that isn’t relevant to your business you want to block it. This is where negative keywords become crucial.

You can add negative keywords at the ad group level, the campaign level or onto a negative keyword list.

There are different ways to add negative keywords and often depends on your campaign.
You can add negatve keywords in three areas.

In the example above the client was a junk removal company that didn’t accept junk cars.

Add car to a campaign would prevent this ad from showing.

Blocking junk my car would make sense. Yet, if you click on the phrase and add it in the format shown, you’re only blocking that exact phrase.

If another person types in haul away my junk car, then the ad would show again.

The better option is simply to add car as a negative so that any phrase that contains that word will be blocked. This saves you time and a lot of money.

6 Having a Single Ad Group

When you set up your campaign you added a few keywords, then created an ad or two.

Over time you added more keywords to your ad group. Then added more. Over time this becomes a problem.

It’s always a good idea to target more keywords, but if your tossing them all in the same ad group, then you’ll start to see the warning Rarely Shown (low Quality Score).

The reason for the warning is that the ads in the ad group aren’t relevant to all the keywords being targeted.

Think about it. If you have a broken sewer line and you search for this service in your area, you'll want to see ads related to that. In the search below the first plumber has an ad totally unrelated to this. Yet, they actually offer sewer line repair.

It's best to use multiple ad groups in a campaign
Ads must be relevent to the keywords being searched.

You need to break your keywords up into ad groups so that the ad for each keyword in a group is relevant.

7 Relying on Google Ads Automation For Bidding

Don’t get me wrong. There are definite benefits to using automation for bidding and Google is certainly pushing it. Nearly all the types of bidding options involve some sort of automaton.

The problem is that businesses choose it when they first set up a campaign. Most often they go with targeted CPA or maximize conversions, both of which sound good.

The problem is that data is needed for these to work. Conversion data. And often there is little to no conversion data in the account.

Google has to learn what it is that makes your best prospects convert.

You need to let the accounts run for a while with conversion tracking properly installed or Google is simply guessing at what converts for you.

Ideally, you need at least 15 conversions over a 30-day period, and I’d suggest even this is not enough. The more dataGoogle’s algorithm has, the better off your campaign will be.

Choosing the wrong bidding strategy too early could negatively impact your campaign

If you’re not tracking conversions or it’s anew campaign with no data than these options simply won’t work as they should.

You’re better off using manual CPC despite Google’s warning that its not recommended. If your tracking conversions and start to see them in your data, then you can switch to an automated system.

8 Not Using Conversion Tracking

This echoes what I just discussed with automated bidding. No matter what bidding option you’re running you want to know if your Google Ads campaign is profitable.


Correctly set your conversions to track your campaign's success

This means you want to track as many conversions as you can.

The easiest conversions to track are the clicks to call extension on ads.

When you input your number, you can choose to turn on call reporting, which means your number is forwarded to a number dynamically generated.

Another conversion that is relatively easy to track is if your forms go to a thank you page. In Google Analytics you can make this a goal.

I mentioned in the beginning that I wanted to avoid any action that required making changes to a website. I partially lied.

Because you do want to take the steps to track conversions on your site if this is at all possible.

If you are able to make changes to the code of your site, then take the steps necessary to track conversions.

Google has a very good tech team that can assist you or your webmaster in setting up you’re coding properly, whether on the site or in Google Tag Manager.

They literally walk you through the steps needed to track conversions. If you can make changes to your site then schedule a time so that you can get this done.

9 Not Running Multiple Ads or Using All Available Ad Text

Creating an ad can be daunting when you start as there is a lot of copy to fill in.

Three headlines, two descriptions for an expanded text ad.

It’s even more of a challenge with responsive ads as you can create up to 15 headlines and 5 descriptions in a responsive ad.

What I find in many accounts is that their ads often feel incomplete. They have just a single description or the descriptions are extremely brief.

In the search results below the ad that shows is not just unrelated to the search term, but its not using more than one headline.

With expanded text ads you want to incorporate as much information as possible.
The first ad is only using one headline. And probably using broad match.

Yet, it’s best to take advantage of the space available.

The idea is you want to take up a lot of real estate on the search results page. And you want to give a lot of information on the benefits of your services or products. As well as information on your company.

The goal of your ad is to stand out from the competition so that it gets clicked on.

This is why you also want to have 3-4 ads running in each ad group.

You might think you’ve created the perfect ad and so only need to run one ad. The problem with this is if you’re wrong, Google might stop showing your ad.

If an ad isn’t getting clicks, Google will simply stop showing it and display competitors’ ads, even if they are bidding lower.

This is why you want to have multiple ads. So if one isn't working, but others are, your campaigns will be running.

When I review many accounts they have a single ad. There is no way to determine if the ad is good or bad unless your testing it against another ad.

I recommend having two expanded text ads and one responsive ad in each ad group.

10 Not Using All Relevant Google Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are another way to make your ads stand out and take up more space. The problem is that many marketers don’t take advantage of all the extensions that they are eligible for or don’t use them totheir full advantage.

For example, I often see accounts that only have 3 site links and often they are just headlines with no description.

You want to have at least 4 site links and while the descriptions aren’t always used, they are enough to warrant you filling them in.

Google provides a lot of extensions and not all will apply to your business. Go through them and see which do apply and utilize them.

In the search below it's not the first ad that attracts your attention but the other two because they take up more real estate.

Use any relevant Google Ads extensions.
Ad extenstions help to make an ad stand out.

11 Calling Google Ads Support

I know I said 10, but I would be doing a disservice if I didn't mention Google Ads support. Or lack of support.

It wasn’t that long ago that I called Google Ads support regularly when I had a question about a campaign. Often they had an answer, or they could get one pretty quickly.

Then they started to farm all the work out to another country and things went downhill.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 customer support deteriorated even further as staff time became more limited.

The problem customer support isn’t that they’re from another country, as India has many fine pay per click agencies.

The larger problem is that they don’t seem to get any training on Google ads. And they’ve never managed a campaign themselves.

After the change, I would call, and the person wouldn’t have an answer or even understand the actual questions. It wasn’t a language barrier, but an experience barrier. Invariably they would put me on hold, ask someone else the question, get back to me, and then put me on hold when I askeda follow-up question.

In the end I was even more confused and frustrated when I first called.

I hear from a number of businesspeople thatwhen they call, they’ll get one response from one support person and then atotally different response if they call back and speak to someone else.

I am lucky in that I know if I have questions there are Facebook groups or online forums, I can post the question on.

A good place to post questions on the Google Ads Community and the Google Support Community.

A successful Google Ads campaigns is often dependent on first having a strategy. Yet, no matter how good the strategy is in theory, it falls apart if there are problems with the implementation.

If you’re looking for professional help, then consider hiring a Google Ads Consultant such as myself to either help with your campaign or to manage it.