6 Common Adwords Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Getting started with Google Adwords can seem like a pretty daunting challenge. There are so many features and options it’s difficult to know where to start. On top of that, making mistakes could mean spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars with nothing in return. It’s more than a bit overwhelming. However, if you do your research, plan your campaigns correctly, and avoid making a few common rookie mistakes, you could see incredible returns on your investment. Here are just a few things you can do to avoid wasting your ad budget.

Do your keyword research.

The keywords you target are the heart and soul of your adwords campaign, they are your ‘ad words’ so to speak. They are what you’re paying for, and what will bring you visitors. However, not every keyword is the same. For instance, let’s say you have an online shop that sells vintage women’s hats. You might think that, since a lot of people search for the term ‘hats’ in Google, that it would be a good keyword. But you’d be wrong.

Most of the people searching for ‘hats’ are probably not looking for vintage women’s hats, it’s a very small segment of the hat market. Furthermore, people just searching for ‘hats’ probably aren’t qualified customers, they just want general information about hats. Even if they do click on your ad, they’re unlikely to buy anything. Even a more specific term like “women’s hats” are probably unlikely to give you a good conversion rates.

You would also be competing against much larger companies like Amazon who sell every type of hat imaginable, and have the deep pockets to buy high priced clicks for a competitive keyword like ‘hats.’ Basically, you just can’t compete here.

However, you can compete with what are called ‘long-tail keywords’. These are keywords which are obviously longer than a single word, and highly targeted to your niche. A long-tail keyword would be something like, “Where to buy women’s flapper hats?” There may not be so many people searching for this term, but you know those who do are looking for your exact product, and they’re ready to buy. The key is to identify as many of these lower-volume, high-converting keywords as possible, and get rid of any expensive, low-converting ones.

Use the right keyword matches.

Google allows you to choose how closely a term search has to match your keywords in order for your ads to show up. There are 3 different levels:

  • Broad Match
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match

Broad Matches

A broad keyword match will show your ad no matter which order the words appear in the search query. For instance, if your keywords are vintage women’s hats then your ads will show up for

best women’s vintage hats
vintage hats for women
vintage style hats for women
women’s hats for vintage costume party

This is useful if you want to appeal to a wider audience. Your ad will, by far, be shown to the greatest number of people by using this option, however these people might not be the people who are most likely to buy your products.

Phrase Match

A phrase match will show your ads when someone searches for your exact keyword phrase. The words have to appear in the correct order, however, your ads will still be shown if there are additional words in the search query, such as:

What are the best vintage women’s hats for parties?
Where can I buy vintage women’s hats?
Vintage women’s hats for sale.

It will however not show your ads if someone searches for vintage green women’s hats. This is great for narrowing down your search to people you think would be good customers of your site. However, it might not include some people as well, so it’s important to think carefully about which keywords you want to include.

Exact Match

Just like it sounds, the exact match option will only show your ads when someone searches for your exact keyword. The keyword women’s vintage hats will only show your ad when someone searches women’s vintage hats, but they won’t show up for women’s vintage hats for sale.

Exact and phrase match keywords oftentimes deliver better conversion rates than broad matches, however if the number of people searching for your keywords is too low, you might not see much traffic to your site. The best thing to do is start with exact matches, and work your way up until you’re seeing a decent flow of traffic, but not so much that you’re wasting money on irrelevant clicks from people who searched something completely unrelated.

Use negative keywords.

In addition to keywords you would like your ads to show up for, Google also gives you the ability to define keywords you specifically don’t want to show up for. This is useful for excluding searches where you’re sure the person won’t be interested in what you’re selling. If your site exclusively sells formal women’s hats, you wouldn’t want your ads to appear for people looking for sports apparel. You might want to add the words “golf” or “tennis” to your list of negative keywords so you don’t accidentally show up in searches for The best women’s hats for golf or Where to by women’s tennis hats?If you sell an upscale product, you might want to exclude words like “bargain” or “cheap” because you know these searchers aren’t going to buy what you’re selling, so don’t waste your money on their clicks.

Optimize your landing page.

Getting people to your site is only half the battle. Getting them to buy something once they’re there is a whole other story. The goal of your Adwords campaign is to make this conversion as easy as possible. One of the biggest mistakes first time Adwords users make is directing their ads to their homepage. This is because your homepage is often times a general page, not focused on conversion, and likely doesn’t match up with what’s being advertised on Google.

A well-planned Adwords campaign will send targeted traffic directly to the page that’s relevant to the ad they’ve been shown. If you own a hat shop offering all kinds of hats for men and women, you’d want to direct people to the specific kinds of hats they searched for. Taking them to the homepage puts more steps between their initial click and their purchase, which makes it all the more likely that they’ll leave. However, if someone searches for “Red men’s baseball caps” you’d want to take them directly to the page where they can buy red baseball caps for men. This is where the various ad groups and campaigns will come into play as you can set up various ads targeted to the various products or services you’re offering.

Bid on your own brand.

This might seem a little silly because someone searching your specific brand will probably find your site in the organic search results, however, if you’re not bidding on your own brand, someone else might. Even if someone types “Lola’s Hat Emporium” into Google, your competitor could buy ads for this keyword and have their link show up above your own organic link. Not good!

There are a few more reasons why you might want to bid on your own brand, such as:

  • Two links are better than one.
  • You can control where the paid link sends people. Send them to a dedicated sales landing page instead of your homepage.
  • Brand keywords are pretty affordable. There’s probably not much competition for the keywords, “Lola’s Hat Emporium.”
  • People searching for your brand are obviously interested and probably ready to buy. Make sure they find you!

Don’t be scared!

We understand, getting started with Google Adwords can be pretty intimidating, but like anything else, all you need is a little practice, and some time to get the hang of it. I would recommend starting out small with a daily ad budget of $5-10, in order to test out different options. Be sure you:

  • Do your keyword research
  • Define your match types
  • Use negative keywords
  • Optimize your landing pages
  • Bid on your own brand

If you’ve done your homework, you should soon start seeing some results. Take careful note of what’s working and what isn’t, then make adjustments. After awhile you’ll have a well optimized Adwords machine bringing highly targeted traffic right to your digital doorstep, and you can watch the profits start rolling in.

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