Below are some hints on a few of the more common errors that can potentially befall someone new to managing paid search.

Not Using the Right Match Types

One of the most common errors is to use broad match keywords. In almost all cases a more focused match type, like broad match modified, phrase or exact is more appropriate. With simple broad match, Google has a tendency to match your keywords to too many irrelevant search terms used by searchers. For example, Google will match a searcher’s search for “subprime loans” to your broad match keyword “mortgage.” Most advertisers for mortgage services would not want to pay for searches from those that are looking for a subprime loan and would be irrelevant to their business. You save yourself lots of money by avoiding these irrelevant clicks, you’ll also increase your clickthrough rate, which will increase your ad’s quality score, which will in turn save you more money on each click.

Not Using Negative Keywords

Even if you avoid using broad match keywords and use broad match modified or phrase match keywords, you will still get irrelevant searches and clicks. If you sell widgets in only three colors, red, green and blue, you’ll want to use the keywords (in phrase match or broad match modified) “red widget,” “green widget” and “blue widget.” If someone really wants a pink widget, that’s the way they’ll likely search. Since you don’t have anything to offer them, avoid the irrelevant and costly click by using pink (and yellow, and purple, etc.) as negative keywords. Google will then avoid showing your ads to searchers who use these words in their searches. This will keep your costs down, and it will focus your efforts on those who want the widgets that you offer.

Not Focusing Your Keyword Lists

Like in the above example of colors, make sure that you keep your lists focused on what really matters and on how the people who will buy your products or services. Many novices to the world of paid search ads believe that more keywords equals a more successful campaign, but that is rarely true. Most of your sales will come from a relatively few, but very focused, and perhaps even very common keywords. Don’t let your thesaurus get the best of you. If you want to try more keywords, try them a few at a time and quickly get rid of the ones that cost you money without driving sales.

Not Using Keywords in Your Ads

All this talk about keywords requires a mention of the ad that will appear when what a searcher types in to Google matches one of your keywords and your ad appears. If there is no mention of the specific search term they were looking for, like “red widget” in the actual ad, you have lost an opportunity to offer a product that is as relevant as possible to what the searcher is looking for. If your ad says “huge variety of widgets” instead of “huge variety of red widgets,” you have lost an opportunity to be precisely relevant to what they are looking for. If a competitor uses the words “red widgets” in their ad and you don’t, you have probably lost a sale.

Not Making Full Use of Ad Extensions

Not every type of ad extension is appropriate for every campaign, but your campaigns should use as many of these extensions as possible. When you do, your ad takes up more screen space, pushes competitors ranked below you down the search page, and allows you to showcase services, features, telephone number or location information that cannot fit or is not appropriate for use in the copy of the ad itself. Taking advantage of every extension you can increases your quality score on your ads too and helps with ad rank and cost per click.

Not Using Conversion Tracking

Unless you can measure the success of your campaigns, you will never know if the cost is worth it. Paid search ads offer a variety of ways to measure success. You can track phone call leads, in store visits, Google Analytics goals, actions on a mobile app or even actions on your website to know what is successful, and more importantly to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. That will ensure that your campaigns will work more efficiently and will cost the least amount possible while fulfilling your advertising goals.

Not Using Bid Modifiers

Google shows a lot of information about performance sliced up in a myriad of ways. You can see conversion performance by time of day, day of week, by device type used, whether it was a desktop computer, phone or tablet, locations, and even demographic and income groups. Each of these ways that data is segmented allows you to make bid adjustments according to how each segment is performing. If you notice that you are getting conversions at a lower cost on Tuesdays, you can bid more for ads to show more on that day. Likewise, you can bid more for age groups or income levels that convert more efficiently and bid less for those that do not convert well or even exclude certain groups that perform very poorly.

Not Using the Right Landing Page

The plain truth about paid search is that it is just a part of the path along the way to a lead or an online sale. The really hard work of converting is done by the page that the paid search ad sends the searcher to. The page, like the ad, must be very relevant to the search done by your prospective customer. If they are searching for red widgets, then you need to have a red widget pictured on the page that your search ad leads them to. If you are looking for leads, there must a quick and convenient and trackable way for the searcher to get in touch with you by phone, web form or chat box. Beyond that, there should always be a clear call to action to purchase or contact you and a very clear and obvious path for them to follow through.

Wrapping Up

There are a lot of “moving parts” to a paid search campaign, and sometimes it is easy to focus in on just one part and to ignore other equally important areas. This list of common paid search errors should give you an idea of areas within your paid search campaigns that could possibly use more attention to make your paid search more effective and less costly.