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Scariest Mistakes Small Businesses Make in their Paid Search Campaigns
We’ve seen a lot of spooky mistakes in paid search campaigns—and those mistakes really add up to misspent budget that can cause poor results, high cost-per-click, and an overall frustrated owner.
Read through our top seven scary mistakes we’ve seen with how PPC campaigns are set up and also how to best manage and monitor your paid search campaigns (so that you’re not frightened of the lack of results from your campaigns anymore).
Not Tracking Conversions
This is the first and biggest mistake in our opinion. Without tracking your campaign, how can you know if it’s performing well or where to improve? Just looking at how many clicks you get is not enough; tracking all the way to conversions (including both phone calls and web contact forms) is essential. This allows you to calculate the cost-per-lead (and even do full-lead attribution to track revenue from paid search campaigns). That way, you’re not comparing just clicks and budget spent, but rather the true impact on your business’s growth.
Not Using Keyword Match Types
The default broad match keywords are almost all too broad (beware of the haunting broad match disaster described here). Other types of keyword match types that you can (and should!) be using to optimize your paid search campaign include:
- Modified broad match
- Phrase match
- Exact match
Different types of keywords target different searches. These different types of keywords that allow you to target various things are called keyword match types—these allow YOU to pick where and how you spend your budget, rather than leaving it up to Google’s best guesses.
Not Applying Negative Keywords
Negative keywords can be just as important as the type of keyword match types you use. Without negative keywords applied, you’re likely spending WAY too much of your budget on searches that aren’t even related to your business or services—potentially wasting money on search users who aren’t even in your target market or region.
One example we’ve seen is a plumbing company, not a client of ours mind you, that was bidding (and showing up in Google) for “plumber Halloween costume.” If their paid search manager had been monitoring the search terms report, they could have seen the poorly matched term for their “plumbing repair” ad campaign and added “Halloween” and “costume” to their negative keyword list. Without doing that, they risk someone shopping around for a costume, clicking on their ad, and costing them money (when clearly they aren’t a good fit for the search term).
One benefit of working with a company who specializes in paid search marketing for small businesses is that we already have experts in what negative keywords should be applied in the initial set up (without having to make the mistake and then add the negative term). Of course, we still monitor the search term report to constantly fine-tune the keyword and negative keyword matching settings.
Not (Correctly) Targeting Your Service Area
When setting up a PPC campaign, it’s fairly easy to skip the section on location targeting and accidentally default settings to all locations. For more small businesses, they really want to focus on spending their budget to bring in qualified customers in their service area.
Say you’re an HVAC company in California. By mistakenly targeting all locations nationwide, you might spend the majority on people search on the East Coast…before your target market of homeowners even wakes up and realize they need to search for and schedule AC repair! Scary stuff…
Not Separating Search and Display Campaigns
Google AdWords offers both search and display paid campaigns—and that’s what it suggests for the most basic paid campaign you can set up. The problem with this is that it leads to quite a headache when analyze the performance of the campaign. Having both search and display set up in the same campaign causes issues because it uses the same set of keywords and targeting—which can skew data greatly. Display and search paid ads have different benchmarks and targeting options, so it’s best to separate to really find (and improve) the performance of your campaigns.
Not Sending Users to the Most Relevant Page on Your Website
Often, some paid campaigns will be set up to send ads for all keywords to one service page (or the contact us page, or the home page). The issue with this is that your landing page won’t speak to the user in exactly what you promised in the ad copy, and it can cause your quality score to go down (meaning, you might pay more than you need to for each click).
Instead, you should send each ad to a specific landing page that matches the topic of the ad and search query
Not Using All Relevant Ad Extensions
It’s a shame when businesses don’t use all relevant ad extensions, as they only help and let you increase your real estate on the search page. They also allow you more space to give more information to the user. Learn more about the benefits of using ad extensions»
How to Best Manage Your Paid Ads Campaigns
Above, we focused on the scary mistakes we see some small businesses make when managing their paid search campaigns. Now let’s focus on what you should be doing!
When setting up your paid search campaigns, you should:
- Track everything!! (we put this first so you know the performance of different campaigns and make changes based on the following recommendations based on data, not your gut instinct)
- Use keyword match types (and apply negative keywords)
- Separate search and display campaigns (so you can target and track their performance uniquely)
- Send users to the most relevant page on your website (to improve user experience and quality score)
- Use relevant ad extensions (to keep up with best practices and maximize your real estate on the search results page)
When monitoring the performance of your paid search campaigns, you should:
- Test new ad copy (let the data show you what copy and CTAs work, not your gut)
- Review your search terms report (to get insight in to what users are searching for and give you more ideas for new campaign targeting)
- Monitor and optimize frequently (the worst you can do is set and forget—so be diligent about constantly fine-tuning your campaign performance)
- Analyze your data by segments (break it down by location, device, hour of day, etc. to optimize your bid strategy moving forward)
Pay-Per-Click Management from Blue Corona, a Google Premier Partner
Blue Corona is recognized as a Premier Google Partner—an honor given to the top 3% of agencies in North America that use Google AdWords and other tools. That means our paid search team has passed Google AdWords product certification exams, stays up to date with the latest industry news, and manages a wide range of Google advertising campaigns that have had great results for our clients.
If you’re looking to have someone manage your paid search campaigns for your small business (and only be spooked by the great results you’ll see!), contact Blue Corona now or fill out the form below to get a FREE pay-per-click analysis:
About The Author: Hannah is the SEO Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she's not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
View more blogs by Hannah Nelson