Practical Ecommerce

Pay-per-click Advertising: Top 6 Rookie Mistakes

Here is a quick list of the top 6 pay-per-click advertising mistakes that I’ve seen. I suggest that you print this list and go through it before you start your next pay-per-click campaign.

  1. Check for Strange Keywords. You may have accidentally typed-in or pasted an incorrect keyword into your keyword list. Sort keywords alphabetically, skim through the list and make sure you didn’t accidentally miss a space in your keywords or add an incorrect term.
  2. Check Destination URLs. This is probably the most common mistake (and also the most costly one). Search engines will continue sending traffic to your site regardless of whether your destination URL works or not. If your campaigns are suddenly not performing like they should, I suggest checking your destination URLs.
  3. Copy Negative Keywords. Negative keyword optimization is your best friend in pay-per-click because it greatly reduces paying for clicks that don’t relate to your products. Make sure you copy your negative keywords from one campaign to another before launching the new campaign.
  4. Check Campaign/Ad Group Geo Settings. Different search engines have different default settings. For example, Yahoo! defaults to Canada/U.S. targeting. Microsoft targets the entire world by default. Make sure you check your geo-targeting settings to ensure that your ads show in places where people can actually buy what you sell.
  5. Turn Off Content Network Ads. You should never have search traffic and content traffic going through the same campaign. Content network distribution should be set up in a separate campaign, if you choose to employ this strategy at all.
  6. Check Landing Pages. Have you checked your landing pages lately? Roughly ten percent of the landing pages that I see have some sort of technical mistake. Make sure you don’t get any browser errors on your pages. Check whether the contact form works properly. Check how your pages render in different browsers (nifty tool: BrowserShots).

Remember to Triple Check

It’s easy to make these rookie mistakes. Triple check all the changes you make to your pay-per-click campaigns because these mistakes can be very costly.

Greg Laptevsky

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  1. Armando Roggio May 20, 2009 Reply

    This is great advice. And I can testify to No. 2, about eight years ago, I ran a campaign, but had a typo in the destination URL. It cost me $$$$ before I caught it. I felt like a total idiot.

    I was also intrigued by your No. 5. I have usually had very good success with content network ads, especially when I select (managed) the network sites. What is the advantage in having these in a separate campaign?

  2. Greg Laptevsky May 21, 2009 Reply

    Hi Armando –

    I’m oversimplifying this a bit but here’s where I see the difference:

    Search network audience usually consists of people SEARCHING for a specific product/service. Users are looking to find something very specific.

    Content network audience usually consists of folks browsing around. I may be reading an article on NYtimes about the economy and happen to see an ad about an investment strategy newsletter. I wasn’t looking for it – it just happened to be there.

    With that said, ad copy targeting users on the search network and content network should be very different. In "search" – you may emphasize pricing, in "content" – you may emphasize product features. Furthermore, optimization strategy for content/search campaigns would be very different on Google.

    Hope this helps