Incorrectly used pay-per-click advertising platforms may not be reaching the intended crowd.

By Mark Subel


Clients often think they can save money by having someone internally manage pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to drive traffic to their sites. We have found the opposite to be true in many cases. There are a number of default campaign settings within a platform, like Google Adwords, that when utilized incorrectly, could cost your company a substantial amount of money over the long-term-and right now. Here are some of the most common (and costly) PPC mistakes you need to stop making so you don't burn through your advertising budget.

No Conversion Tracking Implemented(or not implemented correctly)
If you are a service-based business or a retailer, you have definitive goals. You either want more leads or more sales-or maybe both. Setting up "conversions" to track those goals is essential to understanding which campaigns and keywords help drive those conversions. Luckily, you can track business goals through conversion tracking. Most platforms like Google Adwords, Microsoft Bing and Facebook Ads allow you to add code to your website to determine when someone filled out your contact form, called you or purchased product through your website.

Conversion tracking allows you to optimize PPC campaigns by understanding which campaigns and targeting methods drive the "best" leads and sales. We say "best" because a campaign that drives the most sales may not be the most profitable.

Bottom line: Set up conversion tracking. It is essential for optimizing your PPC campaign and allocating funds to the most profitable campaigns.

Not Geo-Targeting
It may seem obvious, but make sure you are targeting the geographic areas your business serves. We reviewed one account that had geo-targeting set to "all countries & territories." Ninety percent of their business was actually in the USA. However, almost 75 percent of their budget was allocated to other countries.

Take control and choose the locations you want to target:

Running All Broad Match Keywords
Both Adwords and Bing Ads have keyword match types from "broad" targeting, to "exact" targeting. A common mistake we see in reviewing client accounts are campaigns running all "broad" match keywords, mainly because that is the default setting when adding keywords.

This may mean your ads get shown in places that are irrelevant for the ad content. . From Google: "When you use broad match, your ads automatically run on relevant variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren't in your keyword lists."

While this sounds great, it often leads to paying for clicks from keywords you didn't want to show up for. For example, if you are a brick and mortar luxury watch retailer and are bidding on a broad match keyword such as 'buy watches,' then your ad might show for keywords like:

Buy cheap watches Used watches for sale Replica watches Buy watches online

Clearly those results are not good targets for you, but this is the risk you face if you are running all broad match keywords. You'll want to spend some time to think about utilizing more targeted modifiers, like broad match modifier, phrase match and exact match. Broad match can still be a good strategy in some cases, but use it with caution.

Not Checking Search Query Reports
Your campaign is running, you're seeing traffic come to your site, you may even see a few conversions, but some of those great keywords you're bidding on just aren't converting. If this sounds familiar, you may need to check your Search Query Reports (SQRs).

When you bid on keywords, Google matches those keywords to search queries that customers type into Google. In the example above, if you are bidding on broad match "buy watches," your ad may be showing for any number of variations. But those variations may not be a good target based on your business goals.

You can combat this PPC mistake by checking your SQRs at least weekly to get a feel for the actual search phrases that triggered your ad and led to a click. Make sure to "negative" out any keywords that are clearly not targeted or not converting well. You'll save money on wasted clicks in the long run.

Failing to Use Bid Modifiers
Google and Bing allow you to modify your bid based on things like the day of the week, time of day, location, and whether your visitor is using a mobile device, tablet or desktop computer.

For some clients, conversion rates on mobile are either much higher or much lower than desktop. For others, the Monday-Friday workweek contains top converting days with lower CPCs. For others, Sundays are the best day, period. The point is this: Each client is unique and performance varies by the time of day, day of week, device used and location. Be sure you are reviewing this data regularly, make the necessary bid adjustments to save money on lower performing days, and, subsequently, make adjustments to perform even better on your top performing days.

This list is just a start, but if you or someone on your team is running PPC campaigns in-house, and don't have a background in PPC, simply checking your campaign settings and regularly checking stats can help save your company money right now, and in the future.

Mark Subel is the Owner of Two Wheels Marketing, a Short North-based digital marketing firm specializing in search engine marketing (SEO, PPC, paid social) and social media marketing.