I was monitoring one of my clients AdWords campaign when I was surprised by who some of his competitors were. He is a plumber that offers drain cleaning so to see ads for maids running next to his was surprising. This was a phrase that cost nearly 50 dollars for every click. So all it would take is for a few people to click on the maid’s ad for them to be out a lot of money. And none of these people who had a clogged drain would likely call a maid over a plumber.

Misguiided ad campaigns

Whether you’re setting up a Google AdWords account or any type of pay per click campaign, choosing the words you target is one of the most important tasks. Yet, even if you’ve carefully chosen your words, there are times when your ads are triggered by phrases that don’t even remotely relate to what you sell. In some cases it could be due to a word having multiple meanings. For example, bleach is a cleaning agent, but it’s also a popular anime program.

When you’re running your campaign, it’s not just important to look to what phrases are being clicked on, but the actual phrase is they typed in. In Google AdWords this means going to the tab under keywords called keyword details. Dropping down to search terms click all and you’ll see what specific phrases resulted in a click for your ad.

Often the data from search terms reveals variations that don’t benefit your business. For example, it you sell services, then seeing the word free in your search terms, should be a red flag. Simply insert free into your negative keywords so that when someone does type in your phrases, but includes the word free, your ad won’t be triggered.

Even major companies make mistakes when setting up their pay per click campaigns and here are some examples you can learn from.

You service Greenville or some other common city name in the U.S.

Imagine you’re a Realtor who sells homes in Greenville and so you run an ad triggered by the phrase Greenville Real Estate. After you’ve run the ad for a few days you notice something unusual. Someone from nearly every state in the country has clicked on your ad. The reason is that nearly every state in the country has a town named Greenville. In all there are 50 towns named Greenville, with Hawaii being one of the few not to have such a location. In New York, there are three such towns. So nearly all of your clicks have been wasted.

Now most businesses don’t have to worry about their city being duplicated so many times, but nearly all communities have at least one doppelganger. So when setting up a campaign be sure to include the states these other communities are located in as part of your negative phrases, as well as their abbreviations. So if you’re location could be confused with one in Massachusetts, enter Massachusetts, MA, and Mass into your negative keywords.

When your ads show for the wrong thing

Use phrase match to be safe

If the maid agency had been using phrase match their ads wouldn’t have appeared for Boston drain cleaning, only for Boston cleaning services. The problem with broad match is that it can trigger a lot of different phrases. I often recommend businesses use it to start out, just to discover some variations that might benefit them. After a while, however, I switch them over to phrase match and in some cases to exact match. The number of impressions will go down, as will the number of clicks, but that is all right. It’s better to target your specific market, then to simply throw everything into the wind.

The meaning of words can change

Even if you’ve been running campaigns for a while and they seem to be doing fine, you still must monitor your search terms. A word can take on new meanings or a film or book might come out that might suddenly trigger your ad. Sears has been selling batteries for years, but with the release of every new Die Hard movie, they might need to revise their campaigns. No matter what people might think of the new Bruce Willis movie, it doesn’t mean they are looking to buy a battery. Every couple of months, take a look at your search terms and see if you need to add some new negative terms.

These simple mistakes cost you money

Remember every click on an ad costs you money every time so you need to eliminate every misguided click. Not only will it save you money from avoiding these clicks it will also help your Quality Score. Google rewards ads that have high click thru rates. If your ad is appearing for a lot of phrases that don’t apply to what you sell, your click thru rate will be lower.