Google AdWords Mistakes You Need to Avoid

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If you’re just getting started or are thinking about running a campaign, AdWords can be a little overwhelming. Partially because AdWords itself is huge, and every misstep often means wasted ad dollars and a lower ROI.

That’s why we’ve tracked down the 10 biggest names in AdWords to shed some light on the biggest mistakes beginners make to help you get started.

The question that we asked our experts was “what is the most critical mistake you see beginners making with AdWords today?”


Here were their responses:

AdWords Mistake #1

“Focusing on the wrong Keywords”.

Neil Patel

Founder of KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, Quicksprout & Hellobar

“Everyone thinks that the keywords that have high search volume are the best ones. When building out a campaign, you should first start off with very targeted keywords. This really important if you have a limited budget as the broad keywords can eat up your budget fast and provide little to no conversions.”

– Neil Patel

AdWords Mistake #2

“Just sitting on accounts”.

Larry Kim

Founder of WordStream

“Usually the biggest mistake I find is people not doing work and just sitting on accounts. Less than 1% of accounts get worked on even once per week. It’s not just the confused small business owners that aren’t doing much. Even expert PPC account managers often struggle to make the time to do account work if they’re managing multiple clients, etc. So, I think the solution is to adopt a workflow wherein you can quickly figure out what needs to be tweaked every week in a way that doesn’t take too much time.”

-Larry Kim

Adwords Mistake #3

“Setting it and forgetting it”.

Eric Siu

CEO of Single Grain

“Running ads is a constant game of optimization. There’s always new opportunities to pursue for growth so don’t let it just sit there.”

-Eric Siu

Adwords Mistake #4

“Not having a dedicated landing page”.

Jordan Gutierrez

COO at Wishpond & Resident AdWords Expert

One of the biggest mistakes that AdWords beginners make is driving paid traffic to their homepage. Your homepage is great for explaining what your business is about, but it’s never going to be as effective as a dedicated landing page at getting conversions.

Each of your campaigns needs to have a specific campaign objective in mind before you set it up. Having a landing page dedicated to that objective is a huge part of maximizing the return you’ll see from your ad investment.

-Jordan Gutierrez

Adwords Mistake #5

“Loosely bunched keywords”.

Kristina Cutura

SEM Online Advertising Consultant

“Most businesses just starting out with AdWords create one campaign and one ad group with lots of loosely related keywords. This type of structure does not allow for ads that are specific enough to your keywords, resulting in low quality scores. When you have low quality keywords, AdWords penalizes you and you have to pay more for each click, wasting your marketing dollars. Creating separate campaigns is key to managing your budget; budgets are set at the campaign level and you should use different budgets for your most important keywords and lower priority, test campaigns.”

-Kristina Cutura

Key Takeaway: Create separate campaigns for your different keyword sets as well as to run test campaigns. It will keep your quality score up and reduce your total cost per click amount.

Adwords Mistake #6

“Not bidding on your brand”.

Tom Whiley

Digital Marketing Consultant at Hallam Internet Ltd

“To help drive conversions you should be bidding on your brand. When you’re bidding on your brand you are promoting your business and you are preventing competitors from bidding on it and poaching your customers. While there are valid reasons for not bidding on your brand, for example you may be ranking #1 organically, you’re limited by budget and or the search volume for your brand is low. However, suggested bids for brands are generally low and depending how many searches are made on your brand each month, you could be missing out on potential conversions and sales. In addition, bidding on your brand will help you to dominate page one of the Google SERPs which is great for building brand awareness and reputation.”

-Tom Whiley

Key Takeaway: Don’t make it easy for your competitors to poach your customers. Not bidding on your brand keywords is the easiest way to lose high value return customers to another business. Bidding on brand keywords is also one of the only times you’ll be able to achieve a quality score of 9 or 10 which can help raise the overall ad score of your AdWords account.

Adwords Mistake #7

“Not paying attention to your landing page experience”.

Ginny Marvin

Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land

“It’s taken as a given that paid search traffic will convert and the on-site experience is not given full consideration. Paid search won’t fix a bad landing page or a high-friction shopping cart experience.”

-Ginny Marvin

Adwords Mistake #8

“Lack of proper tracking and attribution”.

Joseph Kerschbaum

Senior Director, Client Services at 3QDigital

“I think a common mistake that beginners make with PPC is the lack of proper tracking and attribution. Newbies are so excited to drive additional traffic to their site that they don’t set a strong foundation for tracking conversions. This will completely hinder their ability to gauge the success of their campaigns. Folks need to get tracking set up properly everywhere including AdWords, Bing, Google Analytics and any other platform before paying for a single click.”

-Joseph Kerschbaum

Adwords Mistake #9

“Tackling too many keywords at once”.

Jacob Baadsgaard

CEO at Disruptive Advertising

“The most critical mistake I see people make is tackling too many keywords at once. When this happens, no keywords have good impression share and you’re most likely showing up for searches that would be better off excluded.

I find it to be a lot more successful when you target a few high-intent keywords and get those keywords to 100% impression share. Really nurture those keywords with negatives and then you’ll see what keywords and search terms are profitable. From there, follow the same pattern and test more keywords to get more results.”

-Jacob Baadsgaard

Adwords Mistake #10

“Not having clear goals set”.

Brad Geddes

Founder of &

“If you don’t know exactly what you want; then no decision in AdWords can be correct (or incorrect). You first need to determine exactly what you want your advertising to accomplish before doing anything else within a PPC account. Unfortunately, many companies skip this step and just start spending money and hoping for results. The problem is since they don’t have a goal, their results never live up to their expectations and they get paralyzed as to what should be their next move. Always set your goals first and make decisions towards those goals. It’s OK to change or refine your goals – but always know what you want to accomplish and then your AdWords decisions become quite easy as you just look to your goals to determine what to do.”

-Brad Geddes


There’s no secret to being successful with AdWords, but there are a number of tips and tricks that can help you optimize your campaigns to maximize your chances of success.

As Larry Kim said, “not doing the work and just sitting on accounts” could possibly be the biggest problem for new users using AdWords.

Start with clear set goals and make a point to regularly check your campaigns and constantly look for places to make improvements.

Be hyper specific with your keywords and pay attention to where your driving your traffic. Remember, where you lead your traffic is equally if not more important than the bait you use to bring them there.

If in doubt, A/B test your keywords and landing pages and you take a look at your drop off points in your funnel (since you’ll be tracking your conversions, right?).

Oh ya, and don’t forget to bid on your brand. Can’t let your competitors sneak one in on you, those cheeky buggers.

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