PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising is hard to ignore, particularly when companies make (on average) $2 for every $1 they spend, according to Google figures. But often it doesn’t seem to work the way that it should, and it is easy for businesses to make costly PPC mistakes.
It’s well known that the Google Ads interface is not exactly user friendly, and it is common for this to lead to all sorts of problems. Many businesses give up before they have even posted their first advert, after playing with the confusing system.
Fortunately, it is possible to avoid these mistakes and make your PPC campaign work for you.
What Is PPC Advertising?
PPC advertising is a method of internet marketing where advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Search engine advertising is one of the most common forms of PPC advertising (though it is also available on social media, banners, some retail sites and email) and, of course, with Google being the most popular search engine, Google Ads are big business.
When it’s set up well, PPC advertising more than pays for itself. This is because the value of the click-through (whether that ends up in a sale, an enquiry or something else) should be higher than the cost of the advert itself.
What Is Google Ads?
Google Ads is the platform that allows businesses to create ads that can then appear on Google searches. It’s the most popular PPC advertising system in the world. Google Ads enables businesses to bid on keywords; when a search happens, Google then digs into that pool of bidders to select some winners – these are the set of ads which will be shown.
The ads that you see are likely to vary each time you search. If you try searching for ‘employment solicitor’ you’ll see a list of (probably) four ads at the top – you can recognise them by the bold Ad before the website address. Search for ‘employment solicitor’ again, seconds later, and you will likely have a different set of ads, or certainly a different order to the ads. This is because Google wants you to click on the ads – this is how it makes money. If the ads that are shown don’t get clicked on, it chooses different ones to increase the chances of a click.
This might all sound a little bit confusing, but that’s ok. Here are some of the biggest mistakes that businesses make with PPC, and how you can avoid them. I’ve focused on Google Ads – because it is the biggest PPC platform – but many of these will apply equally to other platforms too.
1. Misusing Keyword Match Types
One of the first steps when you are setting up your Google Ads campaign is choosing your keywords. Choosing keywords can be a minefield in itself (that’s a whole other blog), but you are likely to be pleased with the ones you have chosen, and their relevance to your business.
Perhaps they’re things like:
“Dresses for dates”
Wonderful. You can see exactly what your business is selling from those keywords. However, here’s where the mistake comes in. You can select a ‘match type’ for your keywords, from three main types:
The default is broad, and the mistake many businesses make is leaving it on broad. It seems like this would be a good idea – your ad will show up in more searches, hopefully leaving you with more clicks.
But the problem is, you are likely to end up showing up in lots of irrelevant searches, leaving you to pay for clicks when your product was really not what the searcher was looking for.
For example, with your first keyword “purple dress”, you’ll start showing up in searches which include the word dress – purple or not – and searches which include the word purple – dress or not. This will mean you end up spending a load of money, with very few conversions. Not ideal!
Instead, consider starting your campaign with exact matches. This means that only people searching for exactly “purple dress” will be shown your ad. If this doesn’t bring you enough traffic, perhaps broaden it to phrase matches. But be very, very careful with broad matches.
2. Ignoring Negative Keywords
Negative keywords sound a bit, well, negative, don’t they? Why would you want to put people off coming to your website?
When you consider it carefully, you’ll realise that negative keywords can actually be extremely helpful. There are many, many people searching all manner of things on Google every day (in fact, there are 5.6 billion searches on Google every single day). Like it or not, not all of those people are going to be interested in what you have to offer (although if you are showing up in all of those searches, something has gone really wrong with your ad campaign!).
When you are setting up your first ad campaign, it can be tricky to think of search terms that you don’t want to appear for. Here are some pointers:
- “Free” – unless your offering is free, of course. Otherwise, someone searching for free stuff is unlikely to change their mind and pay instead.
- “Jobs” – if you’re not an employment agency or using PPC to advertise a job (which would be a bit counterproductive), then this is a word to avoid. You’ll end up getting clicks from people looking for a job in your sector.
- “Study” – similarly to jobs, this could lead people who are looking to get education in your sector to your website.
When you have some initial negative keywords, check your search query reports (the searches that your ad has appeared in) often. You can then add those terms that don’t suit your business to your negative keyword list.
Won’t this lead to less traffic? Yes – but it will mean that the traffic you get is more likely to convert, so your cost per conversion will be lower. Win!
3. Using The Same Copy For Multiple Keywords
Let’s say you sell numerous glitzy dresses. They are beautiful, and you know that the most popular one is your purple sequined dress. So, you decide to use that for your ad landing page and copy – “Stunning purple sequined dress for date nights” – is your title. Perfect!
But, because this is your most popular dress, you use this landing page and copy for your other keywords, for example “work dress”.
If someone searches for “work dress” and sees your ad for purple sequined date night dresses, they won’t interact with your ad (and you could actually begin to lose consumer confidence if people often see irrelevant content from you).
The best thing to do is make tailored campaigns for your keywords, so that you can be sure that the ad that appears is immediately relevant, answers the searcher’s query and leaves you with that all important conversion.
4. Bidding Too High (Or Too Low)
When you have set up your ads, you will be able to choose how much you want to bid for them. Your bid is the amount you will pay if someone clicks through to your page. Google uses the bid amounts – amongst other factors such as ad quality – to decide whether your ad will be shown.
So, it is tempting to bid really high to knock out the competition. This is a mistake. If you have created a quality ad, then there is no need to bid much over the minimum. Remember that throwing money at Google Ads is not the right strategy – instead, concentrate on creating quality, relevant ads that people will want to see.
The reasoning is that if your ad is shown and lots of people click on it, Google will be happy – regardless of how much you bid. Google will show your ad more and more, because it has been proven to be relevant through the amount of clicks it has been receiving.
If you bid really high, your ad could get one click through before Google decides that it is irrelevant. You’ll have to pay through the nose for that click, and you won’t get shown again.
So remember, bid just over the minimum and spend your time honing the ads that you have to boost conversions.
5. Not Bidding On Own Brand Keywords
When was the last time you searched for your own company on Google? More often than not, your business will be at the top of the listings. But sometimes you will get a nasty surprise. Perhaps another company has driven their SEO to appear before you in the listings; perhaps a competitor has paid for an ad to get that all important top spot ahead of you.
It might seem poor form to create ads that appear when people search for a competitor’s business name, but it happens and you need to protect yourself from it. One way to do this is by creating paid ads that appear when people search for you.
Google will automatically favour your ad over your competition – your website has the name of your business all over it, after all. Plus, you’ll have a backup if your site happens to fall down the organic rankings.
Want proof that this is a good idea? Do a Google search for “Google Ads”. What comes up first? An ad for Google Ads.
6. Spelling And Grammar…
Have you ever clicked on an ad which is littered with spelling and grammar mistakes? Of course you haven’t. It looks unprofessional, untrustworthy and reminiscent of those phishing emails we all get.
It is easy to make mistakes, it happens to the best of us. The important thing – particularly if you are spending money – is to triple check for errors to ensure that your ad looks great.
If you don’t think this is important, head over to your Facebook or Twitter and make a spelling error in a post. You’ll see how much it winds people up!
7. Ignoring The Data
If your campaign is all set up, you’re seeing clicks and conversions and your business is making money, it’s tempting to just let those ads tick over.
However, keeping your ads on a close leash is a good idea. You don’t want to end up paying for irrelevant clicks, even if you’re still making a profit.
Reporting on Google Ads can show you a whole manner of vital information, provided you use it correctly. Are ALL of your conversions coming from one ad? Brilliant – don’t just cancel your other ads, use the data to find out what is going well and boost your bottom line.
Where are your conversions coming from? Is it worth trialling an additional location? Are there some other keywords that you can start utilising?
There is no such thing as a perfect ad campaign. Yours can always be improved, and it is well worth spending time to streamline and optimise your ads.
Why Do PPC Mistakes Matter?
With all of these costly potential errors, you might be wondering if it’s even worth bothering with a PPC campaign. However, the benefits of using PPC advertising are impossible to ignore.
- It’s cost effective, when you do it right. You get targeted, interested audiences for a reasonably low price.
- It’s fast – much faster than SEO optimisation, which takes a long time to build.
- It tells you important information about your products. You’ll easily be able to find out what people are (and aren’t) interested in, what sells and what doesn’t sell.
- It’s a good fit for almost any business type, so whatever it is that you do, PPC could bring your audience to you.
- You can control the costs. You set yourself a monthly limit, which you can easily decrease (or increase) at any point to help you manage the costs of running your business.
- It’s easy to edit. Perhaps your data tells you that conversions only happen when people click through on Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm. You can turn your ads off for the rest of the time, ensuring that you don’t waste any cash.
What About Social Media?
Social media PPC advertising is a little different. It is more like display advertising than search engine advertising, because the people who see your ad haven’t searched for your product. Instead, the ad is shown to an audience who may be interested in your ad. You can choose your audience using robust criteria such as specific age, location, gender, profession etc.
Remember that these ads won’t be text based – instead, high quality imagery and video work best.
You can read more about making social media work for your business here.
The top three search results get around 46% of the clicks, and 33% of the clicks go to the result in the number one position. If your website isn’t even visible until the second page of rankings – well, the number of clicks you will get drops off a cliff.
Working on your SEO is always a good idea – some people avoid clicking on ads ‘just because’. But in the meantime, a well-curated Google Ads campaign is the way forward.
If you’re worried about malicious clicks from competitors clicking on your site to push up your costs, Google has things in place to curtail this.
Managing your ads can take a lot of work, and to make them profitable takes even more work. If you want your ad campaigns to work for you, not against you, you can book in a FREE consultation with us using the calendar below.
We’re a multi-talented digital marketing agency based in Northwich, Cheshire and we have the Google Ads know how to make your marketing sing. With experience working with clients all over the globe, we would be happy to help you too.
Our Creative Content Specialist, Harriet Young, is a prolific blogger, Instagrammer and (almost) published author. A self-confessed book addict, Harriet loves to read, write and photograph books in her spare time - a hobby which transfers beautifully into her role of writing creative content for our wonderful clients.