Top 10 Google AdWords Mistakes to Avoid

Google AdWords is a powerful tool for driving sales and reaching new customers — but when used incorrectly, it can quickly become a huge waste of money.

Google AdWords logoGoogle AdWords is a powerful tool for driving sales and reaching new customers — but when used incorrectly, AdWords mistakes can quickly become a huge waste of money.

An ad campaign not properly configured may be shown to the wrong shoppers. Or, a campaign that isn’t compelling enough may simply get lost among the competition. Regardless of the mistake, the end result can be spending a lot of money to get very little return on investment. Fortunately, most of the mistakes made by business owners and online marketers are easily preventable.

Read on to see the top 10 errors to avoid when setting up new campaigns in AdWords.

1. Targeting Search and Display
When setting up new campaigns, Google urges advertisers to run their ads on both the Search and Display networks. Google’s reasoning for this is to put your ad in front of as many eyes as possible.

Don’t do it.

People interact differently with each network. Ads on the Search Network are presented to relevant customers who are searching for your product, while display ads appear on relevant blogs and websites to people who are likely not even shopping.

Rather than run single campaigns on both networks, you’re far better off creating separate search and display campaigns. Then you can optimize each campaign for different target audiences.

2. Wrong Keyword Match Types
Always start your campaigns with exact- and phrase-match keywords. It’s tempting to start with broad-match keywords, which are more likely to drive higher volumes of traffic to your ads. However, the traffic from broad-match searches is less likely to be relevant to whatever it is you’re selling, meaning you’ll end up paying for visitors who don’t convert.

Also, your ads will get higher clickthrough rates by using exact- and phrase-match keywords, and higher CTRs means better quality scores. And that can result in cheaper costs per click!

3. Missing Negative Keywords
Negative keywords let you block your ads from being shown when searches include certain words.

Why is this useful?

Imagine that you’re using AdWords to attract new customers to your auto mechanic shop. Unless you set “school” as a negative keyword, then your ad may be shown to scores of people who are searching for “auto mechanic schools.” This can sink your CTR, lower your quality scores and ultimately bring lots of non-converting traffic to your site. Always set negative keywords to preemptively exclude non-converting visitors.

4. Not Segmenting by Devices
Newly created campaigns in AdWords default to showing ads on all devices. This might seem advantageous in terms of sheer traffic volume, but people tend to behave differently online depending on whether they’re using desktop PCs, tablets or smartphones. Also, some landing pages aren’t designed to display or function properly on mobile devices, which can cause obvious problems.

The safe bet here is creating separate ads and landing pages for desktop and mobile users. Then, you can optimize your campaigns to get the best conversions from each type of traffic. And if your website isn’t mobile friendly, then you’re better off blocking mobile traffic completely.

Author: Phil Frost

Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on,,, and many other major business media outlets.

Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.

Want more SEO tips? Get your free copy of Phil’s Ultimate SEO Checklist. Want more AdWords tips? Get your free copy of Phil’s Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.

One thought on “Top 10 Google AdWords Mistakes to Avoid”

  1. thanks for this compelling article! I struggle with the option exact match though.. I can’t select “exact match”. I have the options old and new keyword options, yet within those i cannot select exact match. When i save changes are not saved.. Also i read other articles that talk about exact match not being available anymore. Do you have a hint for me?

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