12 PPC Mistakes to Avoid

Create more efficient campaigns, improve your targeting, and more by avoiding these common PPC mistakes.

In the digital world, PPC is an invaluable channel. It’s estimated that nearly 90% of internet users see Google ads—if you are looking for a high-intent channel to show up for your prospects, PPC is a critical place to be. But you could be making PPC mistakes that are costing you time and money and killing your campaigns before they even get off the ground.

Mistake #1: Low or No Use of Strategic Device and Day-Parting Targeting

How to avoid it: Pay attention to peak hours or days and the highest-converting devices so that you can exclude inefficient traffic. When and how are your audiences searching for your target keywords? Analyze past campaign performance, and even look at website data to see when users are visiting your site to get an understanding of when they might be doing their research.

You can also analyze what devices they research on and bid up or down depending on performance. If mobile users are more likely to research but desktop users are more likely to convert, make campaign adjustments to help your Google ads show up for the right audience at the right time.

Mistake #2: Lack of Appropriate Negative Keyword Additions

How to avoid it: Check out your Search Terms Report to see if there are any extraneous searches that your ads are showing up on, especially if you’re going after broad or broad match modified keywords. Though Google has recently started to phase out broad match modified keywords, the phrase match terms are serving similarly.

If not monitored closely, you may be wasting spend on terms Google deems similar enough to the keywords you are bidding on. By applying negative keywords and constantly reviewing your Search Terms Report, you can eliminate PPC mistakes that waste spend and learn how to make more efficient use of your campaign budget.

Mistake #3: Low or No Use of Sitelinks for Lower CPCs and Higher Quality Scores

How to avoid it: Sitelink extensions give users more opportunities to click on your ad and ultimately increase your likelihood of converting those users. This will help your ad performance and can help you pay less for more.

Mistake #4: Using Combined Search Network and Display Select Campaigns

How to avoid it: While Search Network with Display Select campaigns have their advantages, they can also contribute to PPC mistakes because optimization is more difficult with mixed ad types in your ad groups. If budget allows, split out your Search Network and Display Select campaigns to maximize performance and spend more efficiently.

Mistake #5: Not Testing New Keywords for Continued Improvement and Growth

How to avoid it: Your seed keyword list will help get you off the ground, but over time it’s important to pay attention to which keywords are or aren’t converting. Again, analyze your Search Terms Report to see if you’ve forgotten keywords that users are more likely to search for.

Mistake #6: Losing Brand Traffic to Competitors or Partners

How to avoid it: You may have authority over branded keywords in organic results, but are you bidding on branded keywords in paid? There you’ll have even more authority with generally lower CPCs than competitors.

Mistake #7: Misalignment Between Target Keywords and Corresponding Landing Pages

How to avoid it: While paid media bounce rates are generally higher than other channels, pay attention to how users are interacting with your ads. Make sure your landing page is effective and matches the message promised by your ads. Otherwise you’ll lose out on conversions from frustrated users who bounce.

Mistake #8: Keyword Overlap Between Campaigns and Ad Groups

How to avoid it: Many PPC mistakes have a common theme: wasting money. Don’t waste money by bidding against yourself. Keep keywords unique to single campaigns within your account.

Mistake #9: Bidding to Highest Position vs. Position Bid Testing

How to avoid it: Being #1 in rank doesn’t always mean winning the most conversions for the least spend. Test bids that provide different positions on the SERPs to see where you get the most for your money.

Mistake #10: Loosely Related Keywords Within Ad Groups

How to avoid it: Just like matching your keywords in your ad groups to relevant landing pages yields better results, partitioning your target keywords into related ad groups helps you tailor the best ads to the best user experience. Too varied of a keyword list in an ad group can lead to lower quality scores, mismatched user intent, higher bounce rates, and wasted spend.

Mistake #11: Over-Aggressive Bidding on Broad High-Volume, Low-ROI Search Terms

How to avoid it: Thinking that bigger is always better is one of the most common PPC mistakes. Be as specific as possible with your keywords, and when you have to go broad to gain impression share and traction with your audience, bid conservatively until you know what resonates and what doesn’t. Refine and repeat as necessary.

Mistake #12: Lack of Exclusion for Current Customers or Previous Converters

How to avoid it: Unless you’re aiming to re-engage with broad display campaigns, don’t waste budget on retargeting to current customers or previous converters. Create audiences for converted users and exclude them from your broader brand awareness campaigns. Be sure to follow data privacy best practices for collecting user information.

Implement Purpose-Driven PPC

Did any of these PPC mistakes resonate with you? Perhaps you’ve taken a set-it-and-forget-it approach to paid search, whether due to limited resources, inexperience, or not prioritizing this part of your marketing. Digital advertising, however, is constantly evolving, and so should your PPC strategy.

By checking in on campaigns regularly, diving deeper into the settings and targeting options, and constantly iterating new campaign ideas, you can avoid common PPC mistakes and create a smooth marketing engine that fuels the pipeline for business growth.