Practical Ecommerce

Biggest AdWord Mistakes

Practical eCommerce asked Senior Contributor and website conversion expert Mat Greenfield, founder of Conversion Results, for his take on the biggest AdWord mistakes a website could make. If your AdWords’ campaign is having troubles, it may be due to one of the following:

Having too many keywords in a single Ad Group.

Since an Ad Group is Google’s lowest level of segmentation, it should ideally be used to express a single idea or theme. Generally, I find that the more specific, the better. Typically, I find that any Ad Group with more than 50 keywords is probably too broad. The exception would be Ad Groups with a large number of misspellings.

More specific Ad Groups do mean more management — but it will also mean a much better ROI.

Using “Broad Match” without negative keywords.

The default setting for keywords in Google is Broad Match. That means that any search phrase that contains your keyword can trigger your ads, whether they are relevant or not. I recall working on a campaign for a printing company, and finding that its ads describing silk-screen t-shirt printing were showing up for the very popular search phrase — wet t-shirt. Setting “wet” as a negative phrase was a simple fix.

Not understanding the difference between “Search Match” and “Content Match” (and setting single campaigns for both).

Google does a nice job of allowing a site to determine where its ads will show. But many AdWords advertisers use these settings indiscriminately. I would suggest that campaigns be set to either “Search Match” or “Content Match” (but not both). The simple reason is the ads that will appeal to individuals actively searching on a phrase will be quite different from the types of ads that will appeal for browsers who see “Content Match” ads.

Bidding for Position No.1.

I often see new AdWords advertisers over paying for clicks because they are pursuing the No. 1 position. I think they assume that being in position No. 1 is always best‚, but I think when you consider the additional cost for position No.1, often times positions 2-5 are a much better value.

Not testing different ads.

I’m a huge fan of split testing — both on websites and for ads within Google AdWords. New advertisers should create two or three ads for each Ad Group, and after about a month, take a look which ad has the best cost-per-conversion. Ad split testing should be a continual process. One tip I like to use is to pause my old ads rather than delete them, that way I can see what ads I’ve already tested.

Not tracking conversions.

This might be the cardinal sin of Google AdWords. Conversion tracking might take a little bit of effort to set up, but it is a critical step in identifying which keywords create conversions, and which ones just create clicks.

Mat Greenfield

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  1. Legacy User November 21, 2007 Reply

    Yep, I echo the sentiment about including misspellings in your campaigns. This site is intended for domain typos, but can be used for common typos in general:

    — *Donald Garber*

  2. Legacy User November 21, 2007 Reply

    I found this article extremely helpful. Thank you.

    — *Barbara Langdon*

  3. Legacy User November 22, 2007 Reply

    I'm intrigued, how does one set up conversion tracking for key paying keywords? Thanks

    — *Sharron*

  4. Legacy User November 26, 2007 Reply

    Great job, Mat! I would also add:

    – Not excluding unrelated sites from "Content Match".

    – Every once in a while, Google might display your ads on sites loosely related to products/services you're offering. You can see the entire list by running "Placement Performance" in your reports tab.

    – Don't waste money on the sites that might be irrelevant.


    — *Greg Laptevsky*

  5. Legacy User November 25, 2007 Reply

    Do these concepts also apply to Yahoo!Marketing Campaigns as well?

    — *davesjoint*

  6. Legacy User January 25, 2008 Reply

    Great info! I have updated my campaign and can't wait to see ROI improve. I like the Typo site. Thanks


    — *John*

  7. Legacy User May 26, 2008 Reply

    I'm intrigued, how does one set up conversion tracking for key paying keywords?


  8. Legacy User May 27, 2008 Reply

    Simply good and fantastic approch, and very realistic.

    — *Arun*