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I hear the sentence “Google AdWords is not working for my businesses” very often. Usually, the cause is a self-created campaign with some common mistakes I have seen after analyzing hundreds of AdWords accounts in the last few years.

Of course there were and still are numerous businesses who have been successful with their own campaigns. But it requires a lot of time and commitment to become an AdWords professional in addition to your own job. But for small campaigns, agencies are understandably often not profitable. If an agency costs exceed campaign costs, the campaign will rarely be profitable.

I have created a list of common mistakes and enriched it with practical tips on how to avoid them.

1. Too many keywords in one ad group

The most common error that occurs in self-created campaigns. Dreadfully, even in campaigns created by Google employees: too many topics in each ad group. Ads are always placed per ad group, not per keyword. Therefore, each individual keyword in a group must match the ads exactly. If this is not the case, it does not belong in this group.

If the ad does not match the keyword, the user will rarely click. The low CTR of these keywords has a negative effect on the entire ad group and even the actually good and suitable keywords can get fewer impressions.

In such a case, the landing page will also not match all keywords. The conversion rate is too low and the ad group is quickly too expensive, although some keywords may even work very well. This often happens when many search terms in an ad group are combined with dynamic titles (keyword insertion). In this case, the ad seems to match the search request, but the landing page does not.

Tip: Build a granular campaign structure to increase your ad relevance on the long term.

2. Bidding













Since Google’s update of the ad items, the ad positions below 4 are hardly relevant. They can get regular clicks, but the cost/revenue ratio of positions lower than 4 is no longer the same. A few months ago I took over a campaign that was basically very nice but was still optimized for the conditions before the Google update. Until the beginning of the year, this campaign on an average position of 4.7 regularly delivered profitable conversions.

After the update, the CTR (click through rate) and Conversion Rate were too low to recover the relatively high costs of this campaign. With the increase of the average ad position to 2.8, the click-through rate jumped from around 1.9 percent to over 7 percent. It was an expensive choice, but also a worthwhile one because at the same time the conversion volume increased and the campaign is much more profitable.

Which campaigns and CPCs need to be increased in order to achieve such a result remains an educated guess. Experienced PPC managers are of course more likely to be right than beginners.

Tip for beginners: At the beginning concentrate on a few, very specific keywords with a manageable search volume. The closer to the customer’s decision phase, the better. Test briefly for top positions and optimize as quickly as possible. Find your most important keyword with the Google Keyword Planner.

3. Conversion Tracking

Generally, there is no conversion tracking for self-created campaigns. A lot of businesses are just focusing on getting traffic to their website. Use as much time as necessary to set up a clean tracking of user behaviour on your website. In particular, the Google Tag Manager can help you with the implementation of Google Analytics and conversion tracking.

If your website is based on a content management system like WordPress, the implementation is very simple. There are a number of plugins that allow implementation without coding knowledge. The following tools and codes should be included in the Tag Manager:

  • AdWords Conversion Tracking
  • Google Analytics
  • AdWords Remarketing Tag
  • Facebook Pixel

Tip: Create multiple conversion targets to measure success. In addition to so-called macro-conversions, such as sending an offer request or completing the order process, micro-conversions such as newsletter subscriptions can also be measured. This creates additional data points for the AI and machine learning, which are increasingly used in functions such as the bidding and ad rotation in AdWords.


4. Campaign settings: Separate search and display network

When creating a new campaign in the search network, the option Include Display Network” appears. This is not recommended for performance-oriented campaigns. Therefore, choose “No”. This means that your ads will only be displayed in Google Search. Since the display network is used for branding purposes, it can have a negative effect on the performance of your campaign.

Tip: You can enable the “Include Google Search Network Partners” option if you don’t have enough searches in Google Search and your daily budget is not fully exhausted.


5. Ad extensions: The more you tell, the more you sell

Most advertisers just create a text ad. You can provide the user with additional information and sales arguments through using ad extensions such as callout extensions, sitelinks, snippets, call and review extensions. These ad extensions appear underneath your text ad, making your ad even bigger and visually eye-catching. This can have a positive impact on performance indicators such as the click-through rate.

Learn how to create ad extensions with this video: