15 Ways Business Owners Throw Money Away On Google Ads

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15 Ways Business Owners Throw Money Away On Google Ads

With Google Ads, you can target keywords and ads to specific demographics and geographical locations. The system allows you to advertise your business effectively, and it also allows you to track the success of your ads. You can create pay-per-click campaigns quickly, which means you can drive traffic to your site almost immediately.

The best thing about Google Ads is you don’t have to wait for SEO to kick in to take advantage of Google’s estimated 5.6 billion daily searches. The bad thing is that there are thousands of businesses placing ads daily worldwide, which means it can be an extremely competitive field, depending on your targeted phrases. High competition pushes prices up, and if you are not careful, you can waste a lot of money on Google PPC.

Due to many factors, PPC advertising can get complicated, and not looking closely at spend and ROI is why business owners lose money. This post will look at how business owners commonly waste money on PPC to help you avoid becoming a Google advertiser money-losing statistic.

1. Ignoring Search Intent

Behind every search, there is some sort of intent. The intent is often apparent, but at other times, not so much. For example, if a user enters “florist central London” you are probably right if you guessed she wants to buy some flowers in central London.

If she types in “cheap accommodation in sheffield” the intent is unclear. Maybe she wants to stay in a cheap Sheffield hotel for a few nights, or perhaps she is looking for a student flat or wants to know the most affordable areas to stay in Sheffield.

When advertising a business, the goal is to gain leads and sales, so targeting keywords with commercial intent is important. You don’t want tire kickers or vague searchers to click on your ads; you need people looking to buy.

2. Bad Location Targeting

Suppose your business serves a specific location, such as a neighbourhood pub or a high street salon, or you offer construction services within a limited area. In that case, you are a “local business“. Many Google advertisers provide products or services on a local level.

With 46% of searches having local intent, targeting the geographical region in your Google Ads campaigns is essential.

If you specify your location as UK-wide, Google will show your ads to users from all over the UK. But if you offer a service only in Leeds, you want clients searching for your service based in Leeds, and enquiries from Brighton, Devon, or Edinburgh probably aren’t going to be helpful to you.

So always think about the area where you work, and make sure you target your area, leaving out places located outside of easy travelling distance.

3. Advertising to Searchers with an Interest in a Location

The recommended setting in Google Ads for location is:

‘People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targetted location’.

Unless you are a travel agent, you should never use the default setting, as it is a surefire way to lose your ad budget. The problem is the “show interest” part. A searcher in Wales might be interested in London because she is planning a trip there next year, but she will not become a client of your local business if she clicks on your ad while in Wales.

It also means Google will show your ad to people in far-off places who have mentioned London in previous searches. So Google could show your ad to a holidaymaker from New Zealand who was in London two weeks ago.

Local advertisers should change this setting so that Google only shows your ad to people searching from the correct region.

4. Advertising When Unavailable

The searcher’s location is essential but not the only factor to consider. You also need to make sure they see your ad when someone is available to answer a query.

As per the Google Adss default setting, your ad will show 24 hours a day.

However, most businesses should show ads only during office hours.

Studies have found that the sooner a lead is followed up, the more likely they will become a customer. Contacting them within 5 minutes compared to waiting an hour can significantly affect your closing rate. If someone is available to follow up immediately when potential customers call or fill in a contact form, you have a much higher probability of closing them as clients.

5. Neglecting to Track Conversions

Unlike old-fashioned ad strategies such as newspaper advertising or the Yellow Pages, you can track every lead’s source with digital marketing.

If you do not track conversions, you will likely waste a small fortune targetting keywords that do not convert.

Many advertisers have zero tracking set up on their ad campaigns, and of those that do, many do not make an effort to monitor the results.

You have all the tools to track conversions within your Google Ads dashboard to see what keywords are working for you and drop the ones that do not convert.

If you are also running offline marketing campaigns, there is software to help you track your results by creating a different number for each campaign. The software allows you to analyse your ROI on each ad strategy and make wise decisions on spending your advertising budget.

6. Using Poor Keyword Match Types

Keyword matching tells Google if your ad should be displayed depending on the search.

These are the match types you must understand:

Broad match

If you choose for Google to show your ad using broad matching, your ad will display when someone searches for the keyword or a variation of it.

For example, if your keyword is “car window repair” set to broad match, your ad will show if someone types in “auto glass replacement”, or “car windows”.

Broad-matching keywords can be helpful when starting a search campaign from scratch, and you may not know what specific searches people might use.

The downside of broad match keywords is that they can trigger your ad to show for searches only remotely related to it.

Exact Match

Exact matching keywords tells Google only to show your ad when someone types in the exact phrase with no extra words. So if you exact match the keyword “Samsung TV” it will only show for the same search.

Phrase Match

Phrase-matching keywords tells Google to show your ad when a search includes the exact keyphrase plus extra words added before or after. So if you are targetting “divan bed” the ad could show for “cheap divan bed”, “divan bed sale”, etc.

Modified Broad Match

Modified broad matching keywords tell Google to show your ad when a user enters a phrase that includes your modified keyword or a close variation in any order.

So for the keyphrase “laptop bag”, your ad could show for “laptop bag reviews”, “leather laptop bags”, “laptop bags for HP Pavilion”, etc.,

If you do not set your match types correctly, you will show up in searches for unrelated items or closely related terms that could be quite different from your service or product.

For example, use Google Ads to bring business to your Pizza restaurant. You could show up for “restaurant in Bristol”, “pizza Bristol”, “Pizza restaurant near me”, which is what you want. But at the same time, if you are using the wrong match types, you could also be paying for clicks from people searching for “Vegetarian restaurant reviews”, “Chinese restaurant Bristol”, or “Mexican restaurant near me”.

It’s crucial to set keyword matching up correctly and monitor the search queries leading to clicks to make sure you are only paying for traffic likely to convert.

7. Not Including Calls to Action

A call to action or CTA is a phrase inviting a visor to take an action.

Common examples include:

  • Call us now
  • Order today
  • Enter your email for a callback
  • Shop Here
  • Make an appointment

CTAs are used so a user has to think as little as possible, and they make a site user-friendly, as the reader does not have to search for information on what to do next. If you do not have a clear CTA, the user may leave the page simply because there is no button telling him the next step to take.

8. Not Standing Out

When people see your ad, it most likely will be shown along with other ads, so it has to compete for attention.

So, if a searcher enters “flats for rent” he will be most attracted to copy with that exact phrase.

In this case, an ad with the title:

“Flats for Rent – Short and Long Term Lets” has more chance of getting the click than an ad with a title like:

“Apartments To Let – Find Your Perfect Property”

You want to try and match the entered keyword in your ad copy. Try to include it in the title, a close variation in your description, and on your landing page.

9. Not Enticing the Click

We want our copy to entice or give a reason to a user to want to click. To do this, you should include a CTA in your ads, on your landing page, and every page of your site.

Examples include:

  • Call Today!
  • Call us for a free quote
  • Download our free buyer’s guide
  • Contact us for more information
  • Get in touch now!
  • Subscribe here!
  • Start Now
  • Book an appointment here
  • Request a callback today!

When creating ad copy, make it easy for people to know the next step.

10. Not Using Negative Keywords

One area to look at closely for the best ROI is the use of negative keywords.

In the same way you want your ad to come up when people search for related keywords, there are words and phrases you don’t want to show up for.

These are words that change the intent of a search.

Not using negative keywords will attract unrelated clicks extremely quickly – remember, Google wants to display your ad as often as possible to charge you.

Irrelevant clicks equal lost money. You will spend way more than necessary, reducing your ROI considerably.

Let’s assume you are an optician selling expensive glasses, as in eyewear. Negative keywords you could include are “wine”, “drinking”, “shot”, “cheap”, “how to avoid needing glasses,” etc.

These searches are looking for something completely different, a bargain, or information on how not to have to buy your product.

Many users will click on your ad, even if it is unrelated to their intent, simply because it shows at the top of the results.

If you are unsure which negative keywords to add, look at your Search Terms Report in your Google Ads dashboard. This data shows you which phrase was entered when someone clicked your ad. You can stop irrelevant clicks by adding negative keywords

11. Not Focusing on ROI

Some marketing companies claim they are doing an excellent job because their campaigns deliver a client 1000 clicks a day. But this is of little use if these clicks only generate a handful of sales. You need to focus on results and not numbers.

Too many people focus purely on numerals instead of what matters to a business: leads and sales.

There are much cheaper places to buy unconverting traffic than Google Ads.

Focusing on numbers is essential for a high ROI, but you need to look at the numbers that matter, not those of no benefit.

12. Not Using Specific Optimised Landing Pages

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is sending all their PPC traffic to the site’s home page. Landing on the homepage means many users will have to click around to find the page related to their Google search.

So if you are a beauty salon advertising French manicures, you need to send them to the page on your site that is specific to French Manicures, or at least to nail art.

Sending them to your homepage, which displays other services along with nail treatments, means the visitor needs to spend more time than necessary looking for a French manicure. A large percentage of visitors will not bother and will return to Google to find a more satisfying result.

Users decide if a page is what they need within seconds. Using different landing pages for specific keywords or ad groups in your campaigns is essential for the best ROI possible.

13. Not Having a Follow-up Strategy in Place

Gaining a lead is the beginning of the sales process. When using Google PPC ads, you pay for every lead that visits your website, so you must make sure you do everything possible to convert the lead into a sale.

If you have staff taking calls from leads, use call tracking to monitor how your team responds to callers. Call tracking allows you to see

where you can make improvements and can be used to teach new staff the best practices to gain new business over the phone.

You can have interested leads calling your business all day long, but if a phone operator is inexperienced, offhand, or does not have adequate knowledge of your product, you will close fewer leads.

14. Not Spending Enough

You need enough data to make strategic judgments to improve your Google Ads account’s performance.

If you don’t spend enough money or your account is relatively new, you won’t have sufficient data to see what’s going on.

When you are starting, you may be reluctant to spend on ads, but you need to spend to accumulate enough data to know what works for your business.

If you spend too little, you won’t be capturing enough of your potential market. For example, there might be 1000 searches related to your product every week, but if your budget is low, your ad is only shown for 100 of those searches. This means your ad is only reaching 10% of potential customers, and an even lower percentage will click, and an even lower percentage will make a call or purchase.

The more money you spend, the more potential buyers you reach.

If  Google Ads is working for you, but your impressions are low, you’re missing out on potential sales and should up your spending.

15. Not Remarketing

When you pay for targetted visitors to your website, you want to be sure you are doing everything possible to convert them into buyers.

Depending on your market and campaign, you can expect only about 1 in 10 even to call you. This is why we use remarketing.

Once someone has shown an interest in your offerings by clicking on your ad, you don’t want to lose them.

Searchers often know what they want but are researching different products or companies to make a purchase further down the line. Even if they like your product or service, marketing research shows it’s highly likely that they will forget about you as soon as they close the tab.

We are all bombarded daily with umpteen marketing messages. Research suggests we could be exposed to around 10,000 adverts in one form or another every single day.

To grab a client’s attention, it’s widely believed they need to be exposed to your product between 7 and 13 times.

Google actually tracks this and refers to it as the “Zero Moment of Truth“.

The ZMOT refers to the moment a shopper starts researching a product or service without purchasing anything. From 2010 to 2011 the average user went from looking at five sites before purchasing an item to ten sites in the space of only one year. Today this figure is often higher.

Anyone interested in your site will have some memory of your company, although it could be vague. Showing them further ads through remarketing allows you to remind them that you have the product or service they want.

Remarketing is a strategic tool to improve your PPC results and stay ahead of the competition.

In conclusion

At first glance, Google PPC with Google Ads seems simple. You pick relevant keywords, write a few lines for your ad, load some money into your account, and wait for calls and orders. However, it is much more complicated than that.

There are advanced tools available to manage an account properly. Some are included with Google Ads, and third parties sell others.

In a nutshell, you need to understand your market, how you can help users, and show you can help them. This means following up with them and providing excellent service.

You must track all this to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Don’t sacrifice ROI for the sake of ego-inflating metrics or lose sight of your goals.

Online marketing represents excellent possibilities for any business, so don’t lose out by avoiding these common pitfalls.

The Search Equation offers PPC specialists to provide affordable custom solutions that get outstanding results for our clients.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help grow your business with a successful Google Ads campaign.


  • Mac McCarthy

    Mac McCarthy has been involved in the digital marketing field for over 20 years, having worked with the Jeeves, Alta Vista and Yahoo search engines in the early 90s through to the modern current day Google and Bing platforms.

    A keen follower of search engine algorithm updates and trends, he works and advises on digital strategies for a variety on SME’s and more recently the World Wildlife Fund, the single largest animal welfare charity in the world.

    Qualifications include Google Advanced Analytics, Google Ads, Google Search and the Google Partnership Program.

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