Apr 30, 2014

Stop Following These Most Common PPC Mistakes

Most Common PPC Mistakes
There is nothing wrong in making a mistake, but not admitting and rectifying that mistake is definitely a series of mistakes, to be named more than just wrong. In PPC marketing there are few mistakes that are easy to commit due to sheer ignorance, lack of enough time or other focus snatching issues.

Whatever your reason is, just take some time to go through this list and see if adding something in your activities sheet would improve your campaign performance:

(1) Don’t Log-in Regularly – When you delegate your PPC work to someone else, be extra cautious in tracking the trends rather than leaving it totally over your subordinate.

(2) Not Using Automation – It’s a boon if used properly. For instance bid optimization can be automated in Adwords, when your target is to generate more traffic with a limit to CPC. Look at the following example image to see how nicely you can control the automation. Apart from bid optimization you can pause or enable the elements that meets certain criteria.

PPC Bid Automation Example

(3) Relying Only on One Ad Network – If you have to play on less budget, then you have to choose between available channels and resources. But when that one resource is not showing results, then don’t be hesitant in switching to another. Even with larger budget you should add low profile networks in your channels list, as you never know where your target audience is looking for offered products and services.

(4) Not Checking Mobile Traffic – I have mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts “Does Your Mobile Visitors Raise Your Website Bounce Rate?”, that mobile traffic is an important part of marketing tactics. If your mobile traffic is increasing then you should think about mobile friendly website and specific ads.

(5) Not A/B Testing Ad Copies – It happens when there is less to tell about products and services. No offers, high prize of products, lengthy product names etc. are certain limitations where it becomes difficult with building ad copy variations. But all you have to test is little tweaks, such as, swap content between description line 1 and 2; change call to action; use synonyms etc.

(6) Not Using Bulk Editors – Almost all advertising platforms provide their bulk editing tools for free. These editors are capable of performing 100s of actions in few seconds. If you have to look for special permissions to download it, then go for that permission. This tool can save lots of time and manual work.

(7) Not Checking All Reports and Trends – We all tend to look at reports that provide insights, good enough to take spend and bidding decisions. But what about other reports provided by ad networks that can help in maintaining proper campaign settings, such as, day of the week, hour of the day, impression share, regional performance, url performance, match type performance reports etc. Keep one day of the month, only for reports and pull all of them one-by-one to make sure all your settings is optimized for best performance.

(8) Relying on Broad Keywords – Many of the marketers argue that Broad match serves exact and phrase variation of keywords itself, then why to add duplicate keywords in the account, but they forget CPC on broad match type can go wild because of ads showing on unexpected keywords. Best practice is to keep all match type variation of the keyword in account with lowest bid on broad, medium bid on phrase and highest bid on exact variation of the keywords. Lowest performing match types should be weeded-out in quarterly clean-up.

(9) Chasing Top Position – Top positions work wonders for many advertisers, but it’s a dearly trade. Even little lower positions performs well at low cost, so first of all analyze the performance of your ads at different positions and then target the most optimum position, which fills both your cost and conversion criteria.

(10) Not Adding Negative Keywords – If you are using keywords in broad or phrase match then you must make use of negative keywords. Initially add all possible negative keywords, few most common examples are – free, job, course, career etc. unless you are marketing these kinds of services. It is an ongoing process, so keep checking your search term report and exclude any keyword that doesn't cater to your marketing goals.

(11) Not Excluding Placements – Similar to negative keywords there are negative placements for display network. If you are running ads on automatic placements, then you have to be careful about where your ads are served and keep excluding irrelevant placements to save money and ad impressions.

(12) Mixing Search and Display Campaigns – I don’t see much of this nowadays because advertisers are more careful about their ad spend and budget misuse. But still, for beginners the best practice is to keep your search and display targeted campaigns separate, to effectively bifurcate your daily budget.

(13) Not Bidding on Brand Names – Many advertisers don’t bid on their or competitor’s brand terms, as they think organic listings serves their purpose well. But many of their competitors don't do this mistake and use their brand name to snatch prospects looking for similar services. Another advantage of using brand terms is the control over messaging, which is very uncertain in organic search engine listings.

(14) Ignoring (dot) – While bidding a fractional amount on keyword, sometimes we hit the (.) button very lightly, which may turn the amount of 2.35 into 235. Though it sounds silly, it’s very important to check the decimals placed correctly while bidding manually.

(15) Not Utilizing Concept of Landing Page – Some advertisers use website home page or products navigation page as landing page because it has all the links to important information. But linking a visitor to the page corresponding to the keyword he searched makes more sense and can improve conversion rates. A better step can be to test ads with different landing pages. You can also build standalone landing pages to test user behavior and optimize your conversions.

(16) Not Adding Fresh Keywords Regularly – Even if you think you have added all possible keywords in the account, it’s a good idea to check search terms report and webmasters keyword report for more keyword variations.

(17) Not Adding Extensions to the Ad Copy – Adding extra stuff to your ad copy will make it stand out, then why leave any chance and not do that. There are certain extensions that don’t require any extra sign-up, which are - site links extension; call extension and location extension.

(18) Poor Account Structure – If you are not able to understand which keyword will be found in which campaign and ad group, then that is called a poor structure. Every PPC expert has a different style of setting up campaigns, but you will find one thing common in all those,which is clarity. Flare for building good account structure comes from learning. So go ahead and ask questions in forums, blogs, social networks etc. to get your account setup skills sharp.

(19) Using Same Ads for All Ad Groups – Usually in huge account builds, marketers create 3-4 variations of the message and use them across the account. But the best practice is to include possible keywords in the ad copy. To tackle this, description line 1 & 2 can be kept same for all ad groups and just change the ad titles according to the ad group.

(20) Not Cleaning Keyword List – Somewhere earlier in this post I mentioned the importance of adding fresh keywords regularly, in similar manner cleaning the keywords regularly is also important to keep your account in manageable size. You can remove keywords that are not receiving impressions; has very high first page bid; no search volume or poor quality score within 3-6 months of interval.

(21) Not Taking Advantage of Re-marketing – It helps in retouching your past website visitors with existing/new advertisement options. For example a visitor who purchased a shirt from your website can be targeted again with advertisement of ties & trousers.

(22) Don’t Try Ad Delivery & Rotation Options – Sometimes changes in these small options can throw great impact on your ad impressions and CTR, so try changing them if your existing setting is not driving results.

(23) Using Dynamic Insertion Everywhere – Marketers, who understand the advantages of dynamic keyword insertion, sometimes go too far with it. This feature is dangerous to use with some kind of ad groups such as, competitor terms, misspellings and keywords with restricted terms.

It’s not necessary that you will be committing all these mistakes together, but having a list to check back is only an add-on convenience. After all a successful marketer is one who leverages all the available options and features to the maximum and learns from his past mistakes. Please feel free to share your experience, mistakes and opinions in comments section.

For Further Reading:

5 Strategic Places for PPC Marketing with Low Budget
Have You Optimized 7 Crucial Metrics in Your Paid Search Campaign?
How to "Cut & Patch" in Paid Search
Typical Paid Search Campaign's Optimization Schedule
Bid Optimization in PPC or Paid Search Marketing

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image by jumpe/freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Thank you to give me good advice about PPC. PPC is good for every person because its target landing page easily. Everyone should follow the this blog.

    1. actually right. remember ad words is not as easy as it seems for begginers. I need help all the time with tweaking etc. but the thing is there’s no one to ask if you are on the right track or not. You are pretty much on your own especially if you’re a small player like me. Everyday it gets increasingly more difficult to keep up with all the changes and competition. But I have faith, so fingers crossed! :)
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  2. good article as aways from Unbounce, good advice.
    One question, we are a real estate business that use pic to drive incoming sales leads. Where potential income from each lead is in the thousands I am always somewhat reluctant to ditch some lower qs or ctr keywords as “it only takes one” for a large slice of revenue. It’s my belief that qs is a secondary to the needs/benefits of the bio version/business, would you agree?

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  3. Thanks for this, very solid ideas. I have four unbounce pages running for one client, with conversion rates of between 8.5% and 13.5%. I have just culled all the non-performing keywords for each page. This has immediately made it easier to see clearly what’s remaining, and think afresh as to how i can segment those into more pages for a better message connect on each page.

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