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6 Costly Mistakes PPC Advertisers Make & Tips for Avoiding Them [Checklist]

January 28, 2021 by Andrew Clark

PPC, or pay-per-click, advertising offers a lot of potential benefits to businesses, especially increased exposure and sales among new and existing customers. In order to achieve these wins and avoid wasting money, advertisers need to take the proper steps ahead of launching ads to ensure their campaigns are properly set-up. Unfortunately, many fellow PPC specialists, faced with tight deadlines and other responsibilities, sometimes forget to implement these best practices, only to create more headaches in the future.

With this situation in mind, we’ve created a checklist for in-house and agency teams running PPC ads who may be making costly mistakes and offer ways to address them before launching a campaign.

Six Mistakes That Can Lead to Wasted Spend and Ways to Fix Them

Mistake #1: Lack of a Clear Goal

It might seem obvious, but a rookie mistake is to launch a PPC campaign without a clear goal, such as increased leads, sales of particular items, or website traffic. Specific goals will help dictate your PPC strategy. For instance, should it be focused on Search or Display? What audiences are you trying to attract? What might entice people to click on my ad? What keywords or placements might be most relevant to people you want to attract?

Tips for Avoiding This Mistake:

  • Define your PPC goal(s) before doing anything else, along with your budget.
  • Map-out who your target audience(s) is for this campaign: age ranges, interests, location, income level. This can be done through a mixed research approach involving analysis of existing customer profile via a web analytics tool, social media profiles, and if available, a specialized SEO or social media listening tool.
  • When setting up a campaign, use these insights to choose the appropriate campaign-level targeting variables in the Audiences and Campaign Settings tabs.

Mistake #2: Poor Keyword Research and Campaign Structuring

Identifying the most relevant and cost-effective keywords is an essential step early on for PPC advertising. Without it, you may be missing out on opportunities to attract customers and wasting money on highly competitive keywords. The ideal combination is low cost-per-click (CPC), good click-through rate (CTR), and words that are most relevant to your business.

Tips for Avoiding This Mistake:

  • Using a combination of SEO-specific tools, like Ahrefs or Moz, and your intuition, make a list of relevant keywords that are most aligned with your campaign’s goal and business’ audiences’ search intent.
  • Structure ad campaigns in a way that keywords are grouped correctly. For example, you could separate branded terms and generic, relevant keywords into two ad groups. Doing so helps keep your analytics cleaner in the long-run and allows you to further refine your campaign in the future.

Mistake #3: Incorrect Use of Keyword Match Types

For Search campaigns specifically, advertisers will need to pay attention to their keyword match types, which are summarized below.

keyword match type summary table
Source: Google

Match types help show ads in response to various search inquiry triggers, with many newer advertisers relying solely on broad match, which often leads to lots of reach but not necessarily the results you want, i.e. clicks or conversions.

Tips for Avoiding This Mistake:

  • Ensure each ad group uses a mixed match type approach and learn over time what keywords deliver the best quality results.

Mistake #4: Not Using Negative Keywords

Just as important as knowing what words are relevant to your audience, you’ll need to know what ones aren’t applicable. A common mistake is to not add these negative keywords ahead of launch, which can result in the budget being gobbled up by the wrong keywords.

Tips for Avoiding This Mistake:

  • Build out a negative keyword list for your campaign as part of your research and load it into your account before launching.

Mistake #5: Incorporating Boring Copy or Visuals into Ads

Ad copy that is dry and doesn’t match the way your audience actually speaks leads to lackluster results in the form of limited clicks and conversions. The same applies to visual ads used in Display campaigns.

Tips for Avoiding This Mistake:

  • Give people a reason to click by using easy-to-understand, informative, and creative language and visuals.
  • Do some competitive research to see what other businesses’ ads look like and identify ways to do it better.

Mistake #6: Linking Ads to a Poorly Optimized Landing Page

Engaging ads are half the equation for a successful PPC campaign. The other part is directing people to a landing page that’s optimized for your desired action, e.g. getting contact details, downloading something, buying a product. Ways that landing pages don’t work include being overly wordy, not having a clear CTA, slow loading times, not being mobile-friendly, and visually uninteresting.

Tips for Avoiding This Mistake:

  • Develop a landing page that’s informative, succinct, offers third-party validation (reviews, testimonials), and has a clear call-to-action.
  • Time and budget permitting, try A/B testing different landing page layouts to see which drives the best results.

Tired of Your PPC Ads Falling Flat?Get in Touch with Us


Tired of Your PPC Ads Falling Flat?Get in Touch with Us