Costly Google Ads Account Setup Mistakes to Avoid

I recently met with a new client to discuss issues with their Google Ads account. When they showed me their the account data, my jaw dropped to the floor. Every single Google Ads account setup mistake you could imagine was present and their Google Ads account was being managed by an established marketing company that was billing them on a monthly basis (and it wasn’t a tiny sum of money, either).

With a quick audit of their Google Ads account we were unable to uncover some very basic mistakes that were costing them a plenty of money with few results.

Here’s a short list of things to avoid when setting up an Google Ads account.

Only using broad keywords

Broad keywords can be useful but they shouldn’t be the primary match type of your keywords. When you only have broad keywords, you’re likely wasting a lot of money because they can show on a lot of unintended search queries. The best use of a broad keyword is to use a broad match modifier as “bait” and analyze the keyword search terms to generate more specific keywords to bid on.

I would look at the search terms, see which ones result in conversions on my site, then break those keywords out and bid on them separately. Now that I know which keywords are profitable, I can adjust my bidding to make sure I get as many clicks for those words as possible while making money on those clicks.

Not using negative keywords

A screenshot of Adwords negative keyword list setup screen
We setup accounts with a master negative keyword list to block common phrases we don’t want to waste money on.

Most inexperienced business owners who setup Google Ads accounts focus on keywords but they fail to use negative keywords. Aside from keyword match types, negative keywords are the strongest tool you have in your toolbox to prevent wasteful spending.

For example, if your business provides guitar lessons from a physical location, you’re not going to want to spend money for things like “guitar lessons online” or “guitar lessons app.” This would be extremely wasteful spending. Setting the words “online” and “app” as negative keywords will prevent your ads from showing for these queries.

Poor location targeting

A screenshot of Adwords location targeting map screen
This map shows the new targeting radius of a few miles around our client’s business. The previous radius was a massive area that included neighboring cities. The client’s business offers a local service offered in their building and they have a very small budget. It made no sense wasting money on clicks outside a few miles of their business.

Make sure your location targeting makes sense for your business. If you have a neighborhood business and most customers are within a few miles, then you shouldn’t waste money targeting the entire city. Chicago is a big city made up of dozens of neighborhoods. It’s unlikely that a small neighborhood store will draw business from 6 miles away unless it gets a lot of hype.

You can control your locations by either only showing ads to specific areas or using bid modifiers to increase / decrease bids for certain areas.

Using automated bid settings for new campaigns

Google’s automated settings can be useful but they can cause issues as well. This is especially true for bid settings that optimize based on conversions. If you don’t have any past conversion data for your campaigns, the system will often fail to show ads. If your campaigns are brand new it’s recommend to use manual CPC bidding strategies to generate some data before switching to automated bidding.

Not importing conversions

Conversion data lets you understand how your Google Ads spend is driving revenue for your business. The whole point of advertising on Google Ads is that you can create a scalable sales machine. If you can figure out that every dollar you put into Google Ads generates ten, then you can clearly understand your margins. Scaling your Google Ads spend and maintaining a profitable return-on-investment is the name of the game and it’s only possible if you tie Google Ads data to a conversion. By importing the data you can make use of the previously mentioned automated bidding strategies if you want a more hands-off approach.

Not using call tracking

CallRail call tracking image

Call tracking is so simple to implement and it helps eliminate a lot of guess work when it comes to online advertising. Google Ads lets you use call extensions to drive direct phone calls to your business and you can use Google’s built-in call tracking. But I highly recommend a third party call tracking service. We’ve been very happy with CallRail because it’s easy to setup and can dynamically change your phone number on your website.

The basic data you get from CallRail includes the following:

  • Tracking number called
  • Start time and date of call
  • Length of phone call
  • Caller’s number
  • Keyword phrase searched

You can also setup call recording to screen calls and fully understand how qualified the callers are. There are a lot more features and I highly recommend CallRail if you need a call tracking solution (they aren’t paying me to say this, it’s just an affordable, good product).



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