Optmyzr Blog

9 Costly Google AdWords Mistakes to Avoid

Phil Frost

Founder & COO


Main Street ROI

This is a guest post written by Phil Frost, Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil will be presenting a webinar, “How to Improve Adwords Profits With Proper Conversion Tracking” on October, 5th at 12:00PM EST. Click here to register.

Google AdWords is the sports car of online marketing. It’s fast, intuitive and draws a lot of attention. When firing on all cylinders, there’s really nothing like it.

Neglect or disrespect it, though, and your campaigns can quickly lose traction.

A number of issues can stall your AdWords efforts. Some issues are easily fixable, while others require a closer look under the hood. Here we’ll review nine common problems that keep advertisers’ campaigns out of the fast lane.

Mistake #1: Targeting both networks at once

AdWords is powered by Google’s massive search and display networks, connecting businesses with endless scores of potential customers. The Search Network includes and partners such as and The Display Network encompasses websites such as YouTube, Gmail and Blogger as well as millions of other websites, blogs, and apps.

Unfortunately, AdWords urges advertisers to run their campaigns on both networks. This is problematic because Web users on each network behave entirely different. People on the Search Network are usually shopping or doing research, while folks on the Display Network are often just surfing the Web. Different approaches are required to market toward each group.

Don’t follow Google’s advice here. Instead, create separate campaigns for each network. You’ll see the payoff when optimizing for better results.

Mistake #2: Using the wrong keyword settings

Are you getting tons of clicks but few conversions? Or is your campaign getting a high volume of impressions with very low CTRs? If so, check to make sure you’re not using broad-match keywords.

Broad-match keywords are undesirable because they’re far less likely to send relevant traffic to your website. Even if those uninterested users don’t click on your ad, you could still end up paying if low CTRs drag down your quality scores. You’ll get less traffic from phrase- and exact-match keywords, but you’ll also get better CTRs and landing page conversions, and your quality scores won’t suffer.

Mistake #3: Ignoring negative keywords

Negative keywords can stop your ads from being shown to completely irrelevant users, boosting your CTRs and conversions. However, many advertisers completely overlook them. Always, always, always set negative keywords when building your campaigns.

An example of a negative keyword: If you owned a barber shop, then you’d want to set variations of “dog,” “cat” and “pet” as negative keywords. Otherwise, you’ll be inundated with traffic from people seeking haircuts for their four-legged friends.

Mistake #4: Not using AdWords Conversion Tracking

AdWords Conversion Tracking helps you understand what happens after Web users click on your ads. Do they respond to your landing page by calling your business, downloading apps or making online purchases? Do they click around your site or bounce without taking any meaningful actions? This information is absolutely essential when optimizing for better performance.

Installing AdWords Conversion Tracking is fairly simple, though you might need help from a Web developer. You need to add a snippet of code to your website and/or mobile app. You can also use a Google forwarding number to track phone calls resulting from website visits.

Mistake #5: Not linking your AdWords account to Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides you with data you can’t get within AdWords alone. With Google Analytics, you can run various reports to get detailed information about your campaigns, ad groups, ads, keywords and traffic sources. It’s free and easy to set up, although you’ll need to install code throughout your website.

Mistake #6: No separation of mobile and desktop traffic

More people view the Internet now using smartphones and tablets than desktop PCs. And while online shoppers share similar motivations, key differences in the mobile and desktop experiences mean people behave differently when using their smartphones. For advertisers, that means remembering that campaigns optimized for desktop users probably won’t appeal as much to smartphone users, and vice versa.

The easy mistake here is setting up your campaigns to run across all devices. Instead, create separate campaigns for mobile and desktop users. Also, make sure your mobile campaigns are using responsive landing pages that display properly in smartphone Web browsers. Don’t even think about campaigns for mobile traffic if your website isn’t optimized for mobile viewing.

Mistake #7: Ads lack important keywords

Writing compelling ad copy is anything but an exact science. However, an easy way to attract eyeballs is to include your best keyword terms in your ads. People are more likely to click your ad if it literally contains what they’re looking for.

As your campaigns pick up steam, you’ll eventually learn which of your keywords drive the most high-quality traffic to your ads and landing pages. Use this information to build new ads and ad groups around your top-performing keywords.

Mistake #8: Incongruent landing pages

Does your landing page deliver on the promises you make in your ad copy? If not, there’s a good chance people are bouncing as soon as they hit your landing page.

Make sure that whatever you claim in your ad copy is clearly represented on your landing page. If your ad offers free shipping, then your landing page should have information about your free shipping policy.

When advertising a sale, your landing page should prominently feature the sale event or items. Nothing sinks conversions faster than incongruent landing pages. And you definitely don’t want to draw complaints about using bait-and-switch tactics.

Mistake #9: Refusal to seek help

Anyone is capable of cultivating AdWords campaigns that help their bottom lines. However, it’s common for marketers and business owners to plateau or experience diminishing returns. Sometimes, seeking help from a knowledgeable third party is the key to further progress.

That said, don’t be too quick to hand over the keys to your AdWords account. The more you learn about AdWords, the more you’ll know whether your account is in good hands with a third-party professional.


Google AdWords is as powerful a vehicle as you’ll find in online marketing, but you won’t get far without knowing which features can help your campaigns. It’s easy to get in the driver’s seat and launch a few campaigns, but there aren’t any shortcuts to long-term success.

Fortunately, using AdWords is much less risky than driving a high-powered sports car. You just need to know the rules of the road.

Want more tips to improve your AdWords performance? Click here to get your free copy of our Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.