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Mission Control / Digital Marketing

The Most Common Issues in Google Ads Accounts

Every time we dive into a Google Ads account, we run an audit. These are the most common issues we see and how you can fix them.

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By Tina Kelly

We’ve audited hundreds of accounts over the years and have noticed that the most common Google Ads mistakes tend to fall into a few categories, ranging from keyword issues to ad network missteps. Here’s how to fix some of the biggest problems with Google Ads that we come across.

The Issue: Poor Keyword Research

While it can be tempting to use keywords that you think people are searching for, it’s far more effective to use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to find the most relevant search terms for your account. A working knowledge of keyword match types is vital, too. Start with 10-15 basic keywords and use them in all three variants — broad, phrase and exact match. This ensures that you will have your keywords in three similar variations, all of which are closely related to the meaning of the term.

The Fix: Select the right keywords and the right match types; the quality of clicks is far more important than the quantity.

The Issue: Not Using Negative Keywords

One key to a highly targeted Google Ads campaign is choosing what not to target. Negative keywords let you exclude search terms from your campaigns and help you focus on only the keywords that matter to your audience. This approach ensures your ads get in front of interested users and increases your return on investment (ROI).

The Fix: Aim for a minimum of 50-100 negative keywords upon campaign launch and keep refining the list based on actual search term data.

The Issue: Ignoring Regional Trends

Regional organizations aren’t the only ones that should take regional trends into consideration — national brands should too. Taking a closer look at regional conversions could uncover that the cost per conversion for one city is lower than another, which could be a reason to turn down the budgeting for the more expensive city and turn it up for the other. For DMOs and other travel companies, regional targeting is especially important because it allows you to target people in your top drive and flight markets. From there, you can glean additional data around where the ads are converting and where a new approach might be worthwhile.

The Fix: Test different locations to find out where you can get the most cost-effective leads and sales.

The Issue: A Lack of A/B Testing

The most successful Google Ads accounts are the ones that are constantly testing and fine-tuning their copy. Even if you use the same headline or the same description, it’s vital to create several ad variations and test them out to see which one converts better. Once you identify a winner, you can pause the rest and create a slightly different version of the winner. Then you can continue split testing.

The Fix: Aim for a minimum of two variations per ad set.

The Issue: Running Outdated Conversions

As brands continue to use conversion tags on any number of pages, import conversions from CRMs like Salesforce, use call tracking and import conversion events from Google Analytics, it can be increasingly difficult to know when conversions are double-counted or if old ones are still populating. If all those old conversions are part of cost-per-action calculations or bidding algorithms, it can alter the bidding decision-making.

The Fix: Check the Conversions area in your Google Ads account at least once every quarter. Look for anything outdated that should be removed.

The Issue: Neglecting Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are clickable elements that you can tack on to any Google ad. They can display information like your organization’s phone number, location or the services your company offers. Extensions are technically optional, but according to Google, they lead to a higher click-through rate (up to 15%), so we recommend using them whenever possible.

The Fix: Add at least four of the following extension types: affiliate location, app, call, callout, lead form, location, price, sitelink or structured snippet.

The Issue: Not Excluding the Display Network

When you set up a Google Ads campaign, Google automatically places your ads on the display network in addition to the search network. While this may sound like a good thing, the average conversion rate for ads on the display network is significantly lower, so this default setting could end up wasting your budget.

The Fix: Choose your Google Ads network carefully. It’s usually best to match the campaign type and network, keeping search and display ad campaigns separate.

Issues with Google Ads?

We can help clean up your account and ensure your campaigns are targeting the right people at the right time.


Tina Kelly
Tina Kelly Chief Marketing Officer

Tina brings more than 10 years of experience to C/A, where she partners with companies to develop digital marketing campaigns that leverage content, encouraging audiences to consume, engage, share and convert. Tina’s experience spans industries, having led digital marketing strategy development and execution for several global and national brands, including The Children’s Place, Nationwide Insurance, Delta Faucet and many more.

Tina has presented at a number of industry conferences and events, including SXSW Interactive and Content Marketing World. Outside of work, Tina and her husband can usually be found on a sports field somewhere, cheering on their two kids.

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