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6 Google Ads Mistakes That Lose You Money

UX Mistakes

Do you use Google Ads? For many businesses, it can be one of the most cost-effective channels for driving leads and sales. If you do it right, that is.

Google estimates that for every $1 a business spends on Google Ads, they receive $8 in profit. And yet, even with those potentially impressive margins, there are six common mistakes that lead to lost revenue.

If you’re making one or two of these mistakes, you’re needlessly burning money.

1.You don’t “get” Quality Score.

In Google Ads, Quality Score is the alpha and omega. Run ads without knowing the factors that go into your Quality Score, and you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage from the start.

For every keyword you use in your campaigns, Google assigns a Quality Score ranging from 0 to 10 (best). You should always aim to get a 7 or better.

A high quality score reduces your cost per click, while raising your ad position at the same time. This results in more (and cheaper) clicks.

To get a high quality score, you need to:

  • Create a dedicated ad group for every keyword and make sure that keyword is in the headline of the ad text (ideally on the next lines, too).
  • Create high-converting and relevant ad copy that makes people want to click on them (the higher the CTR, the higher the Quality Score).
  • Add the keyword to the display URL.
  • Optimize the landing page (where the user is taken after clicking on your ad) for the search keyword (e.g., title tag, headlines, content).
  • Make your initial max CPC higher than suggested.

Over 100 factors affect your score, but if you do these things right, you’ll end up with a 7–10 every single time.

Google also remembers your general account history. If you’ve created ads with a low Quality Score for a long time, Google knows.

Unfortunately, if you start making high-quality ads out of the blue, Google is suspicious and gives you a lower score based on your history. Many times, it’s best to create a brand new account.

You can see the Quality Score for each keyword at the ad group level when you click on “Keywords.” If the Quality Score columns don’t appear, click on “Customize Columns” and check the “Show Quality Score” box.

2. The same ad for lots of different keywords.

Every keyword has to have its own ad group and ad copy!

If somebody is searching for a leather office chair, your ad should be about a leather office chair (not just any office chair). If somebody is searching for a Canon 5D camera, your ad should be about that particular product (not just Canon or cameras, etc.).

The more relevant the ad, the more clicks you get for a lower price.

3. You’re not split testing your ads.

When you’re writing copy for your ad, you’re not going to know what works best right off the bat. You can have a hunch or a hypothesis, but it’s just that—a guess.

Luckily, Google Ads allows you to split test more than one ad at the same time. So for every ad group, always have two competing ad texts running at the same time. I don’t recommend creating more than two—you can test much faster with just two versions.

How will you know which ad is better? Google recommends you wait until both ads have at least 100 clicks during a certain time period. My experience shows that 25 clicks is already good enough most of the time, and enables you to quickly test more variations.

Once you’ve established which ad performs better, create a new one to compete with the winner. The testing should never end.

4. You’re not tracking conversions.

Clicks are good, but we’re not advertising on Google Ads to get clicks. We want sales, signups, actions.

The only way to know if your ads are effective is by measuring conversions. Without measuring, you’re running blind for no reason.

Which keywords are making you money and which are just burning your money? Conversion tracking will tell you.

5. You use “broad” match keywords.

In your ad groups, you can choose whether you use broad, phrase or exact match for your keywords.

Never use broad match. It produces too many irrelevant people to click on yours ads, which loses you money. It also causes your ad to appear for too many irrelevant searches, which reduces your CTR which reduces your Quality Score. Which loses you money.

Whenever you can, use exact match. For 2-3 word keyword phrases you can sometimes use phrase match, too.

6. You send people to your homepage.

When people click on your ads, where are they redirected to? If the answer is your homepage, you’re losing money.

You want to always create a dedicated landing page for your ads. The best landing pages focus on a single call to action, have no distracting links or navigation and sell the one thing people clicked on your ad for. It should repeat the same message you had on your ad.

How long should the landing page be? According to this research, short copy performs better when there is low perceived risk, low cost, and low commitment. Also, when the customer has an emotional, impulsive, and “want-oriented” motivation.

Long copy is the better performer when there is a rational, analytical, need-oriented motivation. Think consumer insurance products or many complex B2B offerings.

Get to work

Fix the mistakes and see your results improve. Enjoy.

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Join the conversation Add your comment

  1. You provide highly meaningful content. I found you through Tim Ferriss, who I found through my new trainer. Damn ~ Should have gotten back to the gym sooner. I’ve been missing out on great free information! Thank you. rob

  2. Hey Peep just fyi the advice to “add the keyword to the display URL” got my ads rejected by google:

    here is their disapproval reason:

    ====================
    Disapproval Reason
    ====================
    [Display URL] Inaccurate Display URL: Your display URL must accurately
    reflect the URL of your website. Please follow the guidelines below.

    1. Use the same domain name in your display URL and destination URL.
    For example, if you’re advertising example.com, you can’t use
    google.com as your display URL.

    2. Use the same domain extension in your display URL and destination
    URL. For example, if you’re advertising example.com, you can’t use
    example.co.uk as your display URL.

    3. Don’t redirect users to a different destination URL. For example, if
    you’re advertising example.com, example.com can’t redirect users to
    google.com. Redirects used for tracking purposes are fine if the final
    destination URL uses the same domain as the display URL.

    4. If your site’s hosted on a domain that hosts other sites, include a
    domain and path. For example, if you’re advertising
    mycompany.blogspot.com, you can’t use blogspot.com as your display URL.
    Use mycompany.blogspot.com instead.

    5. If your destination URL is too long for your ad, use a shortened
    version — like your homepage — that meets the character limit for
    this field. Check your spelling and symbols for accuracy, and make sure
    your display URL doesn’t contain an extraneous “http://” or “https://.”

  3. Some good info in your article. I would recommend against your suggestion to “create a brand new account,” to combat poor account level metrics. This can and likely will cause you to get a lifetime ban from AdWords. I have read numberous forums with people complaining about such.

    Have a great day!

    Kory Prince

    1. Peep Laja

      The rule is one account for one business entity. So you can open a new Ads account if it’s for a different business.

  4. I guess my website URL is wrong in the above post. It’s good on this one.

  5. Great article! Thx so much for sharing, Peep!

  6. Great article, thank you for your sharing…

    So to be clear… you’re saying you would never recommend using broad keywords, in any circumstance? Would it ever make sense to simply set up different ad groups for broad match only? My only concern is my traffic quantity will go down significantly… Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again.

  7. So glad I found this article – great information, and it’s already made a huge difference on my quality scores. Many thanks!

  8. You are right Peep sir but google adwords require experts to configure it properly. Thanks for sharing this.

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6 Google Ads Mistakes That Lose You Money

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Hi, I'm Peep Laja—founder of CXL. I'm a former champion of optimization and experimentation turned business builder.

I do a lot of thinking, reading, and writing around business, strategy, and optimization. I send a weekly newsletter with what's on my mind on this stuff.

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