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Starting a PPC advertising campaign is always exciting – you’ve done your keyword research and you’ve created your ads but before you hit the GO button just take a moment to check through this list of the most common and costly Adwords mistakes.

1 Keywords not on the Landing Page

All your keywords need to be on the landing page. Every single one of them needs to be there. Copy and paste them straight from your campaign onto the landing page and find a place for each of them. Be creative.

Having your keywords on the landing page will increase your quality score. Having a high quality score is imperative to success in this game.

2 Keywords not in the Ad Copy

Your keywords need to be in the ad copy. If you don’t include your keywords then you will be penalised with a low quality score – meaning you will have to pay more – often a lot more.

If you cannot get your keywords into the ad copy you probably need to split your adgroup up.

3 You Bid What Google Suggest

You do not have to bid what Google suggest. They have a vested interest in you spending lots of money. Adwords is where Google make their money. It’s their main source of revenue generating them literally billions every year. Remember that.

I suggest that you experiment with your bidding from the ground up. Put in a very low bid to start and use Google Ad Previewer to see where it gets you and raise the bids slowly to get desired position.

Remember: the top position is often not the most economical. A more economical position is often top right or bottom right.

4 You Forget to GeoTarget Ads

Do you really want to advertise to everyone in the world? Are you sure? How about within a country? Within a state? Within a city? Within 20 miles of where you live? Are there areas you do not wish to advertise to? Use geotargeting to advertise to the right people and don’t waste money advertising to the wrong people.

5 You use Broad Match on your Keywords

Keywords can either be marked as broad match, “phrase match” or [exact match]. If you do not know that then you should not be touching an Adwords campaign. You need to understand that Google automatically sets keywords to broad match – but this is totally the wrong choice for most people.

Broad match basically means your keywords will trigger ads if keywords are in a search query anywhere. So if you are advertising online Poker have the broad matched keyword poker in your keywords then your ad will be triggered if someone types in fire poker. People interested in buying things to poke their fires with are not, generally speaking, interested in playing online poker.

Yet, currently 3/4 ads are doing this right now for this particular search. It may seem minor to the inexperienced search marketer but consider that there are 2,400 unique monthly searches for fire poker. That means each of those advertisers are displaying 2,400 adverts to the wrong people. Very few if any people will click on them. Low click through rates will result in a low Account Level Quality Score. A low Quality Score has one consequence – when it comes to bidding on quality, relevant search keywords like play online poker it will be much, much more expensive.

Broad match is like saying to Google that you’ve got money to burn. Your quality score will be atrocious and your campaign expensive.

I always say that broad match is for amateurs with too much money, “phrase match” is for lazy people and [exact match] is for professionals. Sometimes I’m lazy but most of the time I am professional. I suggest you do the same – it will save you a considerable amount of money to use [exact match].

6 You have Targeted both Search & Display in the same Campaign

Don’t target both search and display in the same campaign – it will be costly. You need to target each campaign to one or the other network.

7 Advertising to Mobile with a Non-Responsive Website

Is your site mobile friendly? Many are these days but a considerable number aren’t. If your website isn’t mobile friendly then advertising to mobiles is pointless and a waste of money. You should reduce the bid to -100% for mobile.

What is responsive web design?

8 You do what Google Suggest

Google will call you at some point shortly after you start. your Adwords campaign You will get the feeling that they are helping you with your campaign and they might, a bit. If you’re making a mistake they’ll tell you what you’re doing wrong. At the same time they’ll also persuade you by some absurd logic that you should increase your bids at certain times of the day and perhaps your overall budget. And it works. People do as they are told by the experts.

Before you raise your bids between the hours of 7 and 9 pm just stop and think for yourself for a moment. Are these Google reps really just being nice and useful or are they working on commission and telling everyone in the country to do the same (nonsensical) things?

9 You have not Optimised your Landing Page for Conversion

I see so many campaigns fall flat on their faces because of poor landing pages. There’s no point in having a well formed campaign without the page to convert a clicker into a customer. Your landing page needs to be good, very good. There needs to be a strong call to action – usually it’s “buy this now because tomorrow it will be gone!” or “give us your details now, now!”.

10 You have not Researched the Competition

Take a look at the competition – how can you make your advert stand out from the crowd? How about using a #HASHTAG or some extensions. How about those nice shiny feedback stars? If your competitors have stars – you need them too!


Spend some time before your ads go live on making sure you’re not making common, costly mistakes. If you are not confident with the Adwords interface and are inexperienced in digital marketing you should probably consider hiring an adwords expert to set things up for you or guide you through the process. Digital marketing is complicated and setting up a successful Adwords campaign is a skill which takes a long time to learn. It is almost always cheaper to hire an expert than to waste your budget on half-baked Adwords campaigns full of mistakes.

Joe Dempsey

Joe Dempsey

Joe Dempsey is a Shopify Expert. With over 8 years of experience in eCommerce & Shopify he leads one of the most experienced Shopify Expert teams in the world. Founder of Liquify, he tends to work with large brands and Shopify Plus merchants who want to scale aggressively. He is a well known Shopify SEO expert & one of the most experienced Shopify developers in the world.