Occasionally, I get a call or an email from a client who is in a panic.
Their ads aren't running on Google.
They’ve checked on their phone, or their laptop, for a key phrase and their ads were nowhere to be seen.
They naturally assume their ads run all the time. Surely there must be something wrong if they don’t see them.
I’ll investigate the issue because I know ads not running means losing out on potential business.
What I often find is that there is a reason their ads aren't running and it's not because of any error.
Often there are legitimate reasons their ads aren’t running and it’s not due to some mistake I made or that their competitors are involved in.
Here are some typical reasons why your ads aren't showing up when you search.
The Budget is Used Up
You’ve looked into your account and you see that you still haven’t reached your daily spend, so the budget can’t be the issue.
The problem is your data is not in real-time. The number of impressions being shown and more importantly, the number of clicks for the day are not up to the minute. Your budget was used up an hour ago, but the data hasn’t caught up to that.
One way to determine if this is the problem is to look if you’re getting often getting a warning that your campaign is Limited By Budget.
This means your budget is typically used up while your ads still have time to run.
Next to the warning is a graphic with a graph on it. Click that and you’ll see what your daily budget should be.
Obviously, the solution to this problem is to raise your budget, but this is easier said than done. You might not have the budget to reach this spending limit.
Another option would be to shorten the period in which your ads run. Review when you get the most conversions and eliminate the times of the day when you don’t convert, as well.
The Campaign is Set to Show Evenly Throughout the Day
This is basically the same problem. Budget.
Many people don't realize when they set their budget the default is set to show ads evenly throughout the day.
If you're typically reaching your daily budget, Google and Microsoft will pause your ads occasionally so that they will appear throughout the day.
Google is trying to ensure that your ads show up every hour they’re scheduled, even if it’s only a few minutes of that hour.
Your daily budget can also fluctuate even if you don’t change it.
Google will go over as much as 100% of your daily budget on a particularly busy day but tries to avoid anything more. And to compensate for those days your spending was significantly higher, they’ll lower the spend other days.
If you look early in the day and don’t see your ads, it’s because Google is holding back so that you still have room in the budget to run later.
Another solution in addition to shortening your hours is to lower your bids incrementally. This way you can get more clicks for your budget.
The Ads Are Accidently in Violation of Google Ads Policy
More serious reason ads aren't running is because they're in violation of some ad policy.
I’m not talking about what you're selling something that is prohibited such as guns or pharmaceutical products. If this were the case your ads wouldn’t even have appeared.
It could have to do with punctuation. For example, you can use an exclamation point in your description, but it’s now allowed in yourtitles.
It could also be that you're using trademarked terms in your ad, such as Dell or Apple.
If you're in fact legally eligible to include a brand name, then you'll need to provide proof. This isn't always easy.
One of my clients was in fact, an Apple affiliate, but Apple wouldn't provide proof of this until we had the correct logo in their specific dimensions prominently on the site.
There are a lot of brand names, however, and you might inadvertently have incorporated one into your ad without knowing it.
You would see a warning that your ad is limited. If you still see impressions for the ad you might be all right.
If there are no impressions, then either appeal or revise it.
Read my article on the most common reasons Google ads are disapproved.
There’s an Issue with Your Website
To Google, this is the same as a policy violation, but it’s really not. They’ll say your ad is disapproved because your destination is not working.
Destination not working means there is an issue with your site or the landing page you have in your ads.
It could be that your website is temporally down and you’re not aware of it. You need to contact your hosting company right away to resolve it.
Another mistake that happens is that a website is updated and suddenly the page you link to in your ad has changed its url.
It used to be widgets.html and now its widgets. Just edit the ad to the new url and you should be back in business.
Credit Card Issues
Google bills your credit card when it reaches certain thresholds. If your payment doesn’t clear, then they’ll stop showing your ads.
You might assume that your balance on your credit card has sufficient funds, but often there are other reasons for credit card issues then your maxed out.
Has your card been updated recently? Or maybe your bank just flagged your account because they thought the charge was fraudulent.
Update your credit card information or call your institution.
You're Bidding Too Low
The problem might not be with your ads or your budget.
You’re simply bidding too low for a keyword.
Often, you’ll see a warning in your keywords. You’ll see Below First Page Bid along with an amount that would presumably get you to that first page.
One proviso about the bid amount they suggest is that it’s not always accurate and it's fluid.
You could bid the amount they suggest and the next day find your still not there. When you increased your bid, the competitors might have done the same.
One thing I would suggest is to look at your impressions and, most importantly, your clicks.
While you might not be on the first page all the time you might appear there enough to get the clicks you need.
If you’re getting enough clicks at your current price, then don’t make an adjustment.
Ideally, you want to be in the top 3 positions, but don’t do it if the bid is so high it’s no longer profitable.
Bidding higher could mean fewer clicks.
Rarely Shown (low Quality Score)
Google Ads is not strictly about the highest bid.
Google doesn’t make money if someone bids high, but no one clicks on that ad.
Instead, they rely on Ad Rank to determine where ads appear. They want to show the ad that gets the most clicks. That’s where they make money.
Ad Rank is your bid times your Quality Score.
We’ve already reviewed bids, but now we must address Quality Score.
Quality Score is a subject onto itself and I’ve written an article on What is Quality Score and How to Improve It.
Here I’ll just give you a Cliff’s Notes version of what Quality Score is.
Quality Score is based on your expected click through rate based on your ad position, the relevance of your ad, and the landing page experience.
The part that gets the most emphasis here is your click-through rate.
If people aren’t clicking on your ads, Google will replace it with a competitor’s ad that does get clicks.
As I mentioned there is a lot involved in Quality Score, but the main thing I’d advise is to make sure your ad is relevant to the keyword you’re targeting.
It’s critical that the prospects who see your ad will be convinced you have the solution to what they’re searching for.
Low Search Volume
The keyword you're targeting might not be as popular as you thought.
Google will flag words that have Low Search Volume. Occasionally they'll run, but often they simply aren't shown.
Especially when I'm working on a campaign that targets a smaller market I'll test out ideas. And some of these are flagged for Low Search Volume. If they're getting impressions, then I leave them alone. Often if they result in just a few clicks, they can often be valuable clicks for that business.
If the keyword you favor is flagged and its not generating impressions, then go back to your keyword research. Your customers might be using different phrases than this one to look for your products or services.
Negative Keyword Conflict
You might have once not offered a product or service and blocked it with negative keywords. Or you see a word in a different context and block it.
Whatever the reason is that now that negative keyword is preventing your ads from showing for the phrase your searching for.
You’ll see a warning when you log into your account. You just need to remove the negative and your ads will run.
If there are instances where a word is beneficial in some phrases and a liability in others, then you can add the negative keywords in individual ad groups or add them as negative keyword phrases.
Ads Aren't Scheduled to Run Certain Times or In Certain Locations
One of the most common reasons that you don't find your ad is that it's simply not scheduled to run.
Many businesses only schedule their ads during certain times of the day or even days of the week.
Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the schedule. And might think the time they're searching is when their ads should be visible. Then its simply a matter of adjusting the schedule.
Another reason is that the person doing a search is not in a location where the ads are shown. This is where the Ad Preview Tool, which I'll discuss soon is helpful.
Competitors Clicked On Your Ad a Number of Times to Deplete Your Budget
The title of this blog is 10 reasons that your ads aren’t showing. This is number 11.
Why isn’t the title of the blog 11 reasons why your ads aren’t showing? It’s because this one is a myth. Yet, it’s one I often hear from my clients as to why their ads aren’t showing.
I’m not saying your competitors aren’t clicking on your ads.
But Google’s system is very sophisticated and catches most click fraud. And if they do miss it initially, they’ll often catch it later. Then provide you with a reimbursement.
You can see a refund in your billing marked as invalid activity.
What I am saying is that the reason your ads aren’t showing because of some nefarious that your competitor is doing is remote, to say the least.
If you’ve found evidence that something has been done to deplete your budget, then contact Google Ads.
The Your Impressions Count
When clients tell me, they've searched for their ads, I always remind them of one thing.
Each time they do, it counts as an impression.
Even if they've found their ad, they've increased the number of impressions and lowered their click-through rate.
And if they look at their smartphones, they affect it in another way.
For example, Google often shows only four ads at the top and if you don't click on your ad, the next time you search you'll likely see different ads.
Since you didn’t click on the ad, they assume that it didn’t appeal to you. And so it might now show a second time.
No matter what, searching for your ads manually is not a good idea.
Best Way to Determine Why Your Ads Aren’t Showing.
The best option when looking to see if your ads are appearing is to use the ads preview tool provided by Google.
You can safely check on your ad and in the process find out when your ads not appearing and why.
To get to this tool look for the wrench at the top of the screen. When you click on this look for Ad Preview in the left-hand column.
When using this tool make sure to set your target market. If you’re just advertising in Atlanta, then set this as your location.
When you use it, you’ll be told if your ad isn’t running and why.
Also keep in mind that you can set the device to mobile, tablet, or desktop. Where your ad shows on one device might be different on another.
There are several advantages to this tool outside of finding out if you’re ad is showing.
The preview tool is a good way to check on your ads if you’re in a different location than where they run.
You can also see which position its currently showing in and what your competitors are also doing.
Finally you can see how your ads and extensions look together.
If you're relying on pay per click to generate leads for your business, then you want your ads running when they're supposed to be.
Otherwise, potential leads are all going to your competition.
If you're looking for assistance with your campaign, then consider bringing in a Google Ads Consultant, such as myself.
Not only will I make sure your ads are running, but that they're targeting your specific market. That you're getting the highest return on your investment.