9 common PPC mistakes and how to avoid them 

PPC helps you to get in front of your ideal customers when they're searching for your product or service but we see many brands making common mistakes that are avoidable. Here are the top 9 common PPC mistakes we see and how to avoid them.

PPC (also known as pay per click or paid search) involves using paid search engine advertising or social media advertising to get your brand and ads in front of a highly targeted audience using specific keywords, demographic and location information. You pay per click or per impression to drive brand awareness for your business and drive traffic to your website. 

However, when you’re getting started, PPC advertising can seem complicated and the options available can be confusing which leaves room for error. If you don’t set up or optimise your campaigns properly, you’ll be driving traffic and clicks to your website that will not convert, wasting your budget. 

There are a number of mistakes many brands make when it comes to PPC advertising so here are our top 9 and how to avoid them to make sure you get the best return on investment. 

Mistake #1: Not using negative keywords 

When you’re spending your marketing budget on PPC advertising, you’re going to want to make sure the clicks you’re driving are high quality and from potential customers who are most likely to convert. Google has a range of match types for your ads which means they will trigger for a wide range of keywords - not all of which are relevant for your business so you’ll need to prevent your ads from showing for them. 

Google will display your ads for generic keywords such as ‘free’ and ‘cheap’ unless you tell it not to. So, if you’re using phrase match keywords in your campaigns, your ads could be triggered for phrases including free and cheap, as well as other terms that Google sees as relevant. As you pay for every click, you want to narrow down the chances of someone who is not going to buy from you as much as possible to prevent budget wastage. You can use the negative keywords feature to exclude as many of the keywords and phrases that are not relevant to your brand as possible. 

Negative keywords are the terms you don’t want to trigger your ads. You can check search query reports to find out which keywords your ads are triggering for and add the ones that are not relevant to your negative keywords list. 

Mistake #2: Not using ad extensions 

It can be easy to think that just writing your ads and leaving it at that will be enough to drive potential customers to click on your ads. However, ad extensions can not only help your ad to take up more space in the search results, they can also help to improve the engagement and click through rate of your ads. You can add them into your ads and campaigns as part of your budget so there's no reason not to! 

Key ad extensions that are worth adding, depending on your business and goals, include: 

  • Location extensions 
  • Sitelink extensions 
  • Callout extensions 
  • Price extensions  

Mistake #3: Not using location targeting 

Successful PPC campaigns should be based around your target audience. So, if you’re a local business, the likelihood is you’re going to want to target customers in your local area. Targeting other cities can be a waste of budget if those people are never going to visit your store or buy from you. Negative location targeting can be used to stop your ads from showing in areas you may not deliver to.

Google Ads allow you to use location targeting to make sure your ads are seen by the right people, in the right location. This can help to increase click through rate and conversions, making your ads much more effective. 

Mistake #4: Having a slow website 

You might have taken a huge amount of time researching keywords, writing ad copy and optimising your ads but if your website does not load properly when your customers get there, they’re unlikely to stick around. 

Ensuring that your website loads quickly is essential for all of your digital marketing activity. It will ensure that anyone who visits your website will have a good user experience and is more likely to convert. 

Mistake #5: Not optimising landing pages 

Landing pages are one of the primary components of PPC campaigns. They have a massive impact on the relevancy and quality score of your ads. They’re also responsible for conversions too. 

You can drive traffic to any page on your website but if it doesn’t match your ads or tell visitors exactly what you want them to do, they’re not going to convert. In an ideal world, all of your ads should lead to a relevant landing page related directly to the ad. Whether it’s a specific product or service or an offer, it’s important that your landing page is exactly what the customer was expecting when they clicked on your ad and they don’t have to do any more digging to find information. 

Mistake #6: Setting up your campaigns and forgetting about them 

One of the biggest mistakes we see brands making is setting up ads, optimising them and then just leaving them to run without doing anything else. Most successful campaigns only work well because weeks and months have been spent optimising them to get the most from them. 

Keeping track of how your ads are performing should be part of your day to day PPC management. If the performance is not what you’re expecting, you’ll need to optimise and tweak the campaigns to help get the results you want. This could be adding and removing keywords, adding to your negative keywords list or tweaking your bidding strategy. 

In addition, if you have a campaign that’s running well and driving results, it’s time to scale up your efforts. 

Mistake #7: Not testing campaigns 

It can be tempting to just write one ad and run your campaigns without testing anything. We always recommend trying out different ad copy, messages and offers to work out what resonates best with your target audience. You should run multiple copy versions for each of your campaigns and look at the results to see which works best. 

Mistake #8: Not making the most of keyword match types 

Google provides you with a number of different match types for your campaigns: 

  • Broad match: your ad is shown for a range of keywords loosely matching your intended keywords such as ‘women’s running shoes’
  • Phrase match: displays your ad for phrases such as ‘mens running shoes’ and the words around it such as ‘mens running shoes size 9’ 
  • Exact match: this displays your ad when people are searching exactly for ‘mens running shoes’ - although Google does allow for some variation

If you bid on board match terms without telling Google anything else, your ads will appear for a number of irrelevant terms. You can find your budget running out quickly as a high volume of searches trigger your ads and drive very few conversions. Phrase match and exact match keywords provide you with more control over the searches your ads appear for and help you to drive conversions. 

PPC allows you to target a specific audience, which is one of the biggest benefits. The ads that perform best use specific targeting which allows you to find the potential customers who are most likely to buy from you. 

Mistake #9: Not using keywords in ad copy 

Another big mistake we see is not using the right keywords in your ad copy. It easy to create one set of ads and use them across a number of ad groups. The ad groups might cover broadly the same theme but, if someone is searching for women’s running trainers and your ad shows women’s running shoes in the headline, the searcher might not register the ad as relevant to them and won’t click through. 

Keep your ads as close to the keyword that will trigger them as possible and create separate ads for each of the keyword variations you’re using. 

If you’d like to know more about optimising your PPC campaigns, why not sign up to our newsletter for monthly hints and tips? 

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Blog written by

Mark Skinner