Google Ads: Most common targeting issues

Google Ads can be set up quite easily: create an account, add your banking details, build your first campaign and then go. Straightforward isn’t it?

In today’s article, we’ll be focusing only on the most common targeting issues. We’ll address more issues in our next blog articles.


Campaign targeting: Location & Language



Google Ads gives you great tools to target specific locations: Bulk, postcodes, radius. Whether your business is local or international, you can target your customers wherever they live, work or travel.

Best practices

  • Group your campaigns per location.
  • Offer local calls to action.
  • Schedule your campaigns according to the account time zone.
  • Use the best targeting and exclusion methods. The recommended option is too broad. We would advise you to use “People targeted in your locations” and “People excluded in your locations” instead.

To be avoided

  • Select unrelated locations for one campaign.
  • Select broad locations for local business.
  • Keep the default settings.



Similarly to the location targeting option, you can easily select the language that suits the most to your objectives. Showing ads with an irrelevant language would diminish your chance to get the click.

Good practices

  • Group your campaigns per language.
  • Only use languages your website offers.
  • Trust professional translators if you don’t speak the specific language. Google Translate is not always a trustworthy friend.

To be avoided

  • Select all the languages.
  • Assume that everyone can speak/understand English.
  • Use different languages between your ads and your associated landing pages.


How to verify your targeting settings?

Google Ads preview and diagnosis should be your “go to” tool. Although checking your targeted locations should be an obvious step, we would encourage to test out random options, just to be sure that your campaign targetings are properly set up.


Campaign targeting: Keywords


Although using all the different keyword matches remains one of the most critical steps of your campaigns set-up, we would advise to challenge your optimizations for a few reasons. First of all, Google Ads is updated quite often. The rules you consider immutable today might be partially relevant tomorrow (e.g. Exact Match definitions and limits). Secondly,  paid strategies evolve frequently on Google Ads (We would encourage you to read about skags). Finally, managing your keywords should be included in your daily tasks. Indeed, minor issues often lead to critical issues.

The most common mistakes concern the use of too broad keywords and the lack of coherent negative keyword strategy.


When the keywords are too broad?

Google recommendations can be useful to get started on Google Ads. However, they might affect your chance to achieve your objectives if you blindly follow them…  Don’t set the fox among the chickens!

Good practices

  • Only use broad keywords as part of a “monitored” strategy to eventually kickstart your campaigns or mine new keywords ideas.
  • Monitor the search terms and add negative keywords at least twice a day over the first weeks.
  • Consider broad modifiers.
  • Use a specific group/campaign with limited bids/budget to prevent overspends.
  • Build a dedicated audience in order to apply Remarketing or RLSA.

To be avoided

  • Only use broad keywords.
  • Blindly follow Google recommendations.
  • Not using a set of basic negative keywords to get rid of irrelevant queries (Cheap, free, sex…).


Negative keywords lists?

Using/adding negative keywords should be part of your daily PPC work. To make things easier, we would advise you to use negative keyword lists. Doing so, you can add the same list to all the campaigns needing those negative keywords. Depending on your strategy, negative keyword lists can be added to refine your work, in particular, if you use DSA campaigns.

Best practices

  • Use coherent and tailored negative keywords lists.
  • Update frequently your negative keyword lists.
  • Audit frequently your list with scripts to get rid of blocking negative keywords.
  • Simplify the negative keywords you add to the list. Rather than excluding [Product X free] and [Product Y free], just exclude “free” as a phrase match.

To be avoided

  • Assume that your negative keyword lists will work by themselves once set up.
  • Add negative keywords without a good reason (conversion funnels can be complex).
  • Manage your lists only on Google Ads. Use Excel or Google Spreadsheet to facilitate your workflow.


Any questions? Do not hesitate to get in touch.

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