Are You Making These 3 Pay-Per-Click Advertising Mistakes?

July 23, 2018

These common pay-per-click (PPC) advertising mistakes are easily avoided, but nonetheless, we see them over. and over. and over. again. These mistakes hurt your click-through rate (CTR), Quality Score, and return on investment (ROI). Are you making these mistakes in your own PPC campaigns?

Mistake #1: Not Monitoring Your Search Query Report

Broad match is the default keyword match type in AdWords, and it’s the default type for most PPC marketers, too. Unfortunately, many advertisers don’t realize just how “broad” broad match really is. Take these ads triggered by a search for “piano bench”:

Broad Match Ads

It looks like The Bench Factory and JCPenney are bidding on the keyword “bench” using broad match; Lighting Universe is probably bidding on “piano lamp.” In both cases, Google thinks these ads are a decent match for the keyword “piano bench” – only one word has to match the query, and in many cases all you need is a synonym for one of the terms.

But an ad for “Heavy-Duty Park Benches” definitely isn’t a good match for this query. It’s possible that JCPenney carries piano benches, but it’s not obvious from the ad. Piano lamps definitely aren’t a good match, and Lighting Universe doesn’t carry benches of any type. Poor relevance means these ads probably have low CTR and the clicks they are getting are a waste of money. (No wonder Lighting Universe spends so much money on PPC.)

If you’re going to use broad match, be sure you monitor your search query report for queries that aren’t relevant to your business. Then add those terms to your negative keyword list. For example, Lighting Universe could save some money by setting “piano” bench as a negative keyword. Then they can continue to bid on “piano lamp” without matching for bench queries. (They should probably do the same for a slew of piano-related keywords, such as sheet music, piano covers, etc. A negative keyword tool can help you find related negative keyword candidates.)

Mistake #2: Not Writing Unique Ads

Look at these ads I was served for the query “mail order ribs”:

Unique Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Three of the six ads don’t have any of the words from my search query in the headline or even in the main text of the ad. This is a big no-no! As you can see from the fourth ad, Google bolds the words in your ad that match the query, which highlights your relevance – unfortunately, the fourth ad is a spammy result from Ask.com (why would I leave Google to go to another search engine?).

I actually like the writing in the first ad, but my guess is this company is using the same ad across multiple ad groups. They’d get better results and probably pay less per click if they tailored their ads for smaller, more specific ad groups. Same goes for the two places that are advertising brisket – if these places even sell ribs, they should write ads that include the word “ribs” in the headline and copy. If not, they should set “ribs” as a negative keyword (see Mistake #1).

Mistake #3: Not Using Extensions

It’s easy enough to add an extension to your ad, and extensions make your ad larger and more clickable. They work especially well for products (as opposed to services), since people respond to a picture of what they’re looking for. The top three ads served in response to “monogram necklace” took advantage of this feature to add an image of a representative necklace:

Pay-Per-Click Extensions

If you were searching for a monogram necklace, wouldn’t you feel more compelled to click one of the ads with a picture? It tells you immediately that the ad is relevant to your search, and you don’t even have to read the text.

Here’s another example, from a search for “paper clips” – only one of the ads in the side strip uses a product extension.

AdWords Product Extensions

I must say, though, I’m most intrigued by the one advertising the "paper clips of the future" …

For help with using these and other kinds of ad extensions, check out our Complete Guide to Google AdWords Extensions.

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is WordStream's Director of Content and SEO. Likes include wine, karaoke, poker, ping-pong, perfume, and poetry.

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