Top Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Top Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

In the digital world, PPC is an invaluable channel. But there might be some rather costly mistakes that you are making when it comes to pay-per-click advertising. The most common mistakes we see with PPC are often within one of three core areas:

  • Not employing all available tactics and strategies (proactive)
  • Not continuing to evolve the program over time (interactive)
  • Not utilizing data to analyze performance and adjust (reactive)

Let’s look at some examples within each of these 3 categories below.

1. Not employing all available tactics and strategies:

Low to no use of strategic device and day-parting targeting

  • When and how are your audiences searching for your target keywords? Pay attention to peak hours or days and highest converting devices to exclude inefficient traffic.

Lack of appropriate negative keyword additions within campaigns and/or ad groups

  • Check out your Search Terms report to see if there are any extraneous searches that your ads are showing up on, especially if you’re going after broad or broad match modified keywords.

Low to no use of sitelinks within ads for lower CPCs and higher Quality Scores

  • Sitelink extensions give users more opportunities to click on your ad and ultimately increase your likelihood of converting them. In turn, this will help your ads performance and can help you pay less for more.

Combined Search and Display campaigns

  • While Search Network with Display Select campaigns have their advantages, they often make optimization more difficult with mixed ad-types in your ad groups. If budget allows, split out your Search and Display campaigns to maximize performance and spend more efficiently.

2. Not continuing to evolve the program over time:

Lack of testing new keywords for continued improvement and growth

  • Your seed keyword list will help get you off the ground, but over time it’s important to pay attention to which keywords are or aren’t converting. Again, analyze your Search Terms Report to see if you’ve forgotten keywords that users are more likely to search for.

Losing brand traffic to competitors or partners

  • You may have authority over branded keywords in organic results, but are you bidding on branded keywords in paid? There you’ll have even more authority with generally lower CPCs than competitors.

Misalignment between target keywords and corresponding landing pages

  • While paid media bounce rates are generally higher than other channels, pay attention to how users are interacting with your ads. If the landing page experience doesn’t match the message promised by your ads, you’ll lose out on conversions from frustrated users who bounce.

Keyword overlap between campaigns/ad groups

  • Don’t waste money by bidding against yourself. Keep keywords unique to single campaigns within your account.

3. Not utilizing data to analyze performance and adjust:

Bidding to highest position vs. position bid testing

  • Being #1 in rank doesn’t always mean winning the most conversions for the least spend. Test bids that give different positions on the SERPs to see where you get the most for your money.

Loosely related keywords within ad groups leading to lower Quality Scores and mismatched user intent

  • Just like matching your keywords in your ad groups to relevant landing pages yields better results, partitioning your target keywords into related ad groups helps you tailor the best ads to the best user experience. Too varied of a keyword list in an ad group will mean that your ads could mislead users and lead to higher bounce rates and wasted spend.

Over-aggressive bidding on broad high volume, low ROI search terms

  • Bigger isn’t always better in PPC. Be as specific as possible with your keywords, and when you have to go broad to gain impression share and traction with your audience, bid conservatively until you know what resonates and what doesn’t. Refine and repeat as necessary.

Lack of exclusion for display and retargeting for current customers or previous converters

  • Unless you’re aiming to reengage with broad display campaigns, you shouldn’t waste budget on retargeting to previous or current customers. Create audiences for converted users and exclude them from your broader, brand awareness campaigns.


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