5 Horrible Mistakes You’re Making With Paid Search Advertising

Paid search has huge benefits for businesses of all sizes. As the only way to get right to the top of the SERPs in minutes, PPC is a great way to boost visibility, grow your list, and increase sales. But that’s only if you’re doing it right.

Unfortunately, many businesses fail miserably with paid search. They jump in head first, spend a small fortune, then give up claiming it’s all a waste of money. Even worse, some businesses think they’re doing well when actually they are spending far more than they should be, dramatically reducing their ROI.

So to save you some cash and make sure your ads are helping rather than hurting your business, here are five common but disastrous mistakes to avoid at all costs.

1. Failing to Define Your Goals

You cannot really expect to achieve anything from PPC when you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve in the first place. You need to work out what you want to get from your advertising. What does success look like for your business? And we don’t mean some vague goal like “make more money.” That is way too broad.

Be more specific. A far more useful goal would be: “Make 30 new leads every month.” If you don’t know what your realistic expectations should be for your industry and your budget, speak to a PPC expert. They should be able to fill you in.

Finally, even when you have set your goals, don’t expect to meet them in your first month. A lot of PPC involves experimentation and refining your efforts, so it takes time. Of course, you can only do this effectively if you have a goal to work towards.

2. Sending Prospects to Your Home Page

Try this out: Carry out a Google search for something you are interested in buying, spot an ad that looks tempting, and click on it.

Far too often, you will find yourself sent to a page that has nothing to do with the specific product, service, or offer you were tempted by. It’s a frustrating experience — and you want to avoid this at all costs.

This is called “message match” and it’s all about streamlining the experience for your prospects. You want to make sure that when prospects see an ad that looks appealing and click on it, they are sent to a specific landing page that relates directly to the ad.

Let’s say you run an ad promoting 20% off men’s sneakers. If someone clicks on that ad and arrives on your homepage to find no sign of that 20% discount, their first experience of your brand is going to be one of disappointment.

Instead, create a dedicated landing page that relates to the ad with a headline reading: “Order Today for 20% Discount on Sneakers”. If you already have long-form content relevant to that discount, you can use a lead magnet creator to condense it, then add a relevant intro. You’ll soon see results.

Yes, it may be easier to send prospects to your homepage, and you might think that they’ll be able to find everything they need from the central hub — but it doesn’t work out. Many marketers create a new landing page for every campaign, and you should do the same. Ensure you send prospects to pages that are directly related to your ads, and you’ll improve your message match and boost conversions.

3. Not Using Negative Keywords

Keywords play a big role in PPC. When you focus on the wrong keywords right from the start, you only end up hurting your efforts — and consider the power of negative keywords. What are these? Quite simply, the keywords you DON’T want your ads to display for.

For example, let’s say you sell antivirus software online. You don’t want your ads to show up when people search for “free antivirus software.” They might click on your ad, costing you money, but end up walking away because they are looking for something free.

Start by creating a list of keywords you don’t want to show up for (e.g. “free”). But don’t stop there. Add to your list over time. Find out which search terms have generated clicks on your ads and spot keywords that you do not want to waste clicks on. Doing this will lower your costs, boost your revenue, increase ROI, and improve your quality score.

4. Failing to Optimize Your Ad Copy

With all the focus on stats, conversions, tracking, etc, it’s easy to forget about one of the most important elements of your ads: the copy. Firstly, try to always include the exact search term in your copy. When your prospects type a search term into Google and see an ad that uses that exact same search term, they are more likely to click it.

This also helps improve your quality score through improving its relevance, which is considered an important factor. This can help to boost your click-through rate, which in turn improves your quality score further, sending your advertising costs down.

One option is to write a different ad for every search term. If you are targeting thousands of keywords, this might not be feasible, but if you have fewer keywords then give it a try.

As for the copy, try to make your ads persuasive. Every ad should include a benefit (if possible) and a bold call to action (CTA). Persuasive language that encourages prospects to click can have a big impact on your click-through rate.

Experiment with extensions like callout extensions. These give you extra room to add copy like “20% Off” or “24-Hour Delivery,” helping to generate even more clicks.

5. Not Tracking Conversions

Search advertising is all about one thing: Sales. You need to make it worth your while otherwise you are wasting money. If you are spending a small fortune on advertising costs and not making much in return (a very real possibility), or making some good sales but spending far more than you need to, then something has to change.

To improve your campaign, track everything. Follow your conversions to see whether your ads are performing. Work out which keywords are bringing in leads, which ads are generating clicks, and which landing pages are converting effectively.

Don’t just set it up and forget about it as the results trickle in. Check it weekly or daily — there is no such thing as running a campaign fully on autopilot.

Boost Your PPC Profits

These are some of the most common mistakes that businesses make with search advertising, and each one can have a devastating effect.

With PPC, it’s all about working smarter, not harder. Don’t be one of those businesses that try it out, get it wrong, and decide it’s an expensive waste of time. Set it up properly, track everything, and keep on improving.

Give it three to six months, avoid the mistakes that can sink your campaign, and you might find yourself with a nice little way to generate more sales for your business.

Try Paid Search Advertising

Kayleigh Alexandra is an editor for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups of all possible shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and uplifting entrepreneurial stories. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.