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The 7 Most Common AdWords Mistakes

By Nathan Pabich on 9-13-11 in PPC

I’ve been working in the search industry for the past 5 years and I’ve seen a ton of different PPC accounts – from the small local business that spends $30/month to 24-state footprint fortune 500 companies that spend $300K/month. I’ve seen the best of the best and I’ve seen some of the, well, let’s just say not best.  I’ve also seen a few key and very avoidable mistakes being made time and again.  This post is meant to help you create your own PPC account while avoiding some of the most common pitfalls made by new pay per click marketing users.

1. Using Content Network Unintentionally.  This has to be one of the most common mistakes a new PPC advertiser makes.  The setting for content network near the beginning of the first campaign set up, and it’s a default selection!  If you do want to ever opt into the content network, you really should create a separate campaign for this advertising method.


From Google’s perspective, an advertiser is looking for the most possible traffic, so of course an advertisers wants to be opted into every possible channel they offer, right?  Well no, actually. It is seldom to a new advertiser’s advantage to be part of the content network.


2. Using Only Broad Match.  Here again we have a dubious default setting. Broad match will often have better results for a new PPC advertiser than will the content network, however we’ve seen this choice wreak some havoc on many a modest advertising budget.


The reason? If you have a smaller budget, you can quickly blow through your daily allotment on


3. Targeting Nationwide for Local Business.Yet another default setting that can cause some problems. When setting up a new campaign, it’s important to know where the target market resides – whether that Chicago, Illinois, the entire USA, or all of North America. There is the options to change your targeting whenever you set up a new campaign, but it’s surprising how often targeting is applied appropriately.


4. Using Automatic Bidding. To quote Google, “With automatic bidding, you don’t need to specify individual bids for ad groups, keywords, or placements. The AdWords system automatically adjusts your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bids on your behalf.”


By using automatic bidding, there is no consideration of the value of each click to your website. Even if you don’t know much about how to bid your PPC ads, I suggest experimenting and learning how to bid your ad to value in your market.


5. Bidding on the Wrong Keywords.


Just because it was found in Google’s keyword tool doesn’t mean people search for that keyword have intent to do business with you. Remember, since you’re paying for each click, it’s important that the keywords you choose resonate well with someone’s search intentions and that your site actually delivers a solution to their problem. For example, if you’re bidding on shoes, make sure you sell shoes!


6. Not Using Negative Keywords. Negative keywords can help your account become more productive no matter what industry you are in. If your business sells shoes, but you don’t carry any red shoes, then “red” would be a wonderful addition to you negative keyword list. Check out the “Search Terms” Report in AdWords, and get some insight into which real user queries are worthwhile, and which ones are not.



7. Not Monitoring Results.  The number one worst thing an advertiser or an agency can do is not monitor the results. Autopilot is the bane of a quality PPC account, and there is not quicker way to tank your advertising budget than to let your account run unmonitored for any extended period of time.


This should not be a problem if you use agency management, but if you are planning to manage you PPC accounts in house, it’s highly recommended to spend some time learning how to analyze your advertising investment and ensure someone is checking in and improving the campaign regularly.


Google makes it very easy to get started with AdWords, but like many things in life, if it’s too easy, there is probably a catch. Take a little time and learn the implications of your actions in AdWords and your results will reward your efforts.


Nathan Pabich is the Director of Paid Search at Digital Third Coast, a PPC management company based in Chicago. You can find Nathan Google+.



Nathan Pabich is the Director of Paid Search at Digital Third Coast, a search engine marketing company based in Chicago. You can find Nathan on Google+. Connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.

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