Top 10 Google Ads mistakes (Shopping & text) that drain your budget – without you even realising
It’s always funny when it happens to someone else.
Like when Google ads displayed an ad for a “free dinner for two at Olive Garden” next to a news article titled, “250 sick after eating at… Olive Garden”.
Or this eBay ad:
Looking for a new brain?
Find exactly what you want today.
Ah, the joys of automated ads.
But when you or your team have a mishap and it hurts your budget, nobody is laughing.
This top 10 list of Google Ads mistakes to avoid is for enterprise eCommerce marketers making big decisions on their ad strategy every day. Or those who head up a team and want to ensure the blind isn’t leading the blind.
But, even if you’re a total newbie, a small business owner or are thinking of testing the waters of a Google ads campaign, you’ll still want to escape these common mistakes.
And hey, it’s worth avoiding any advertising mistakes, right?
Mistake #1: Your Google Shopping, Dynamic and Text ads aren’t relevant
What’s on the prospect’s mind?
Ad relevance is how closely your ad matches the intent of a user’s search.
When a user clicks on your ad, does the landing page give them what they’re looking for?
Ad relevance is a big deal to Google
Google rewards relevant ads
If your ad helps a searcher get what they want as quickly as possible, your Google Ad score is higher, and your CPC is lower.
Relevant ads get more clicks
There are two ways your ad might be lacking in relevance:
Your ad doesn’t match the intent of the search
To some, it might not seem such a big deal. But did you know that searchers are 33% more likely to click on a Google Shopping or search ad when it matches their search intent?
That means, any ad that doesn’t address the pain points and desires of their target audience or more importantly, doesn’t include the keywords used in the search…
Those ads are giving away 33% of potential clicks to the next guy.
Your landing page doesn’t meet the expectations set up by the copy in your ad
There’ll be more on landing pages in a moment.
But basically, does your landing page answer the questions raised in your ad? Or does it leave the user wondering if they’ve landed on the wrong page?
Five ways to improve ad relevance
✓ Send traffic to a relevant landing page – if you’re promoting a product, don’t send them to your homepage. Send them to the product page. If you’re promoting a category or group of products, send them to an exact-match, multi-product landing page.
✓ Use duplicate/similar keywords on both the ad and the landing page – this is called the ad scent.
✓ Focus on simplicity and clarity – keep your ads and landing pages focused on one message and one goal only.
✓ Use your main keyword in the display URL, as well as all metadata (page titles, meta descriptions, headings, body copy etc. – this is great for SEO but also reaffirms what’s on offer to the searcher.
✓ Test more variations in the ad copy – an easy way to do this is by setting up your campaign with responsive search ads. It automatically chooses the appropriate text combination based on what Google interprets as the user’s intent. You can also test your Google Shopping ads by making changes to select items in your catalog––then monitor them before applying the change to the entire catalog.
✓ Display multiple matching products on your landing page – Hyper-relevant multi-product landing pages convert 30-80% more than single product landing pages. Provided all products you display are an exact match of the search term.
Mistake #2: You’re still holdin’ on to third-party cookies
With users becoming more aware of online privacy, Google has signed up to the “cancel culture” club and plans to shut down third-party cookies by 2023.
Ditch third-party cookies now
With this announcement, it begs the question of whether or not marketers should wait to transition. Or should they move away from third-party cookies now?
If you hadn’t heard, Safari, Firefox and Brave have already blocked third-party cookies.
So unless 100% of your users come from Chrome, now might be a good time to move on.
Four alternatives to third-party cookies
- Use your own data
- Highly targeted, relevant display ads
- Buy media where your audiences are
- Google Topics API (fka as Federated Learning of Cohorts, FLoC) and Privacy Sandbox
- Unified ID 2.0 – led by The Trade Desk
- LiveRamp’s RampID (fka Identity Link)
Capture category demand
- Listen to what your ideal customer truly wants
- Invest in your own infrastructure to capture existing ‘in market’ demand
For a deep dive into these four alternatives, download our free eBook:
Mistake #3: Your landing page experience (UX) sucks
Why your landing page UX is a big deal
80% of internet users browse with a smartphone
52% of users don’t return to a site because of the way it looks
75% of searches are done through Google search
53% of mobile users leave a site within three seconds.
Only 1% of users say they have a perfect eCommerce experience every time.
*Above stats courtesy of TechJury
A smooth landing page UX means your bounce rate goes down, your ads display higher, your ad score goes up, and conversions are higher.
Nine tips for landing page UX that converts
Have a quiet chat with your developer if there’s any way to improve your page loading speed
And while you have their attention…
Ask them if your site is optimised for mobile phones and smart devices – if not, you’ll lose the customer’s attention and they’ll be five times more likely to exit without converting
Make sure the ad and landing page where you’re sending traffic match (ad relevance) – do your ads feel like the start of a conversation that your landing page then continues? Does your landing page answer questions raised in the user’s search term? Are your landing pages delivering on the promise of search?
Using first-party data, personalise your page for target audience segments. This could be as simple as a header with a promotion exclusive to select geo-locations
Keep your pages easy to navigate – simple messaging, clean design, headers/subheaders, coloured buttons that stand out from the page colours and eye-catching images that compliment your messaging
increase your credibility with social proof, security/social symbols, grammar, correct sprlling spelling, and realistic headlines that avoid making an unsubstantiated claim
Build an offer that is strong and enticing – explain why the offer is valuable to the user. What’s in it for them?
Use clear CTAs – use at least one clear CTA per page. Multiple CTAs are just confusing.
Design your landing pages to include multiple products that are an exact match for the search term (ie. Multi-product landing pages). This will take some pretty simple long tail keyword research. Doing this will reduce bouncing and on-site search, and of course, will boost your conversions.
Both Google Shopping, Dynamic and text ads convert way better following the tips in this section alone.
Mistake #4: Careless keyword targeting
Keyword targeting is not the sole responsibility of the SEO team.
As Google Ads relies heavily on what keywords you enter – you’ll want to make sure you’re getting your nails dirty in all aspects of SEO.
Three keyword trip hazards
Don’t ignore long tail keywords
It’s easy to understand why most discard them…
They require more research effort and have a lower monthly search volume than short-tail keywords.
For example, the short-tail keyword surfboards have a monthly search of 12.1k; the long tail keyword 6’2 fish surfboard for sale only has 210.
With such a huge difference, it might not feel like it’s worth your while.
But that’s where you’d be wrong.
You see, long tail keywords make up 50%-70% of online searches.
Yes, there’s less traffic, but there’s also less competition.
And because these search terms are ultra-specific, your chances of converting are much, much higher (especially because no one else can target them at scale).
At the same time, you’ll want to avoid the temptation to favour the high search volume for short-tail keywords.
Prioritising high search volume and focusing purely on short-tail keywords means you’re targeting users who aren’t yet ready to buy, so your CTR is likely to fall below 2%.
Look, you shouldn’t completely ignore short-tail keywords. But if you want a higher CTR, best to keep most of your keywords as longtail.
Don’t settle for lazy research
If your team aren’t deep diving to find the most valuable keywords, you won’t be driving the right leads to your site.
Remember everything about ad relevance.
And most importantly: the keywords you think a user should be typing are poor substitutes for keywords your target audience is actually typing into Google.
Don’t forget negative keywords
Yes, negative keywords lower your overall reach.
But like in previous points, adding negative keywords increases your ad relevance, and those clicking are more likely to convert.
Pro keyword research is about two things
✓ The relevance/intent behind the search
✓ How much competition there is for each keyword
Mistake #5: Single product landing page causes pogo sticking
Pogo sticking occurs when users need to bounce between multiple sites to find the exact information or product they’re looking for.
Pogo sticking is not as fun as it sounds.
While pogo sticking is mainly talked about as an SEO issue, did you know that it can hurt your ad spend?
It’s common knowledge, Google charges you every time someone clicks on your ad.
For Google Ads, pogo sticking means low-quality clicks and wasted advertising budget. You’re simply not capitalising on the clicks you get.
What causes pogo sticking?
Sure, landing page and ad relevance are a factor.
But pogo sticking happens when users can’t find what they’re looking for on your ad landing page or the UX isn’t great.
So, they head back to Google, looking for a solution on another site.
There’s something else, though.
And chances are, you’ve never thought about it.
Little known cause of pogo sticking
So you’ve won them over with a snappy headline, an eye-catching image and benefit-rich description.
They’re hot to buy!
But… on the ad landing page, you’re only showing them one product.
Why not multiple products that all fit the searcher’s intent?
Multi-product landing pages convert 30%-80% more than single product landing pages.
If your single product landing page doesn’t match the user’s search intent, they will head back to Google in search of more options, having wasted the money and creative energy you spent getting the click.
To learn more about how multi-product landing pages can increase your customer acquisition by 30-80% click here.
Mistake #6: You’re targeting a broad match type instead of an exact match
Broad match ads reach the widest audience because they’re shown whenever a search query includes any of your keywords, in any order.
And when you set up your Google ad, broad match is the default match type.
So if you’re going for a high CTR, this could work for you.
But clicks aren’t always what they seem to be. Broad match type could mean you’re spending your money on clicks from the wrong people.
Disadvantages of board match:
- High CTR does not mean high-quality leads or even conversions
- Sometimes, Google interprets search intentions different than you. So your ad might show up in less relevant searches
- If a user clicks on your ad and your landing page relevance is low, you’ve wasted budget on a click that leads to no conversion.
Because you’ve done extensive keyword research and know the search phrases your market is using right now, the exact match could be your cash cow.
This is when your ad shows only when a user types that exact phrase or keyword – the order of the words can change, so your ad will still show if the query is almost identical to the one you entered.
Why are exact match types a good thing?
It comes down to the promise. Then, the delivery on the promise.
When your ad effectively delivers on the promises made by your keywords, then the UX is better, your conversions are higher, and your customer loyalty increases.
Here’s the difference:
Mistake #7: You’re burning ad spend on “top of funnel” keywords
Coming in at #7 on our list of top 10 Google ads mistakes to avoid for enterprise eCommerce: focusing on top-of-funnel keywords.
Top of funnel keywords are used by customers who are either at the beginning of the buying journey, or they are in the early stages.
For example, a top of funnel keyword might be HDTV. Whereas a bottom of funnel keyword could be monster hdtv wireless headphones kit.
So any budget you allocate here is spent on customers who probably don’t know what they want yet.
But here’s the great thing about paid advertising: users are 50% more likely to become customers than if they found you through organic search.
But, your keywords must be relevant and specific if you really want to grab the customer’s attention (when they’re ready to buy) and get the click.
Yup. Ad relevance has been talked about a lot today.
A better way to allocate your keyword budget
If you want to get more out of your Google ad campaigns, focus your initial budget on the keywords most likely to convert.
Ultimately, men’s suede slip-on business shoes won’t get as many searches/clicks as men’s shoes. But because the long tail keyword is so specific, users are more primed to buy.
Your conversions will be higher, and your CPA will be lower.
And don’t be put off by the high CPC. In the end, a higher CPC typically means you have more of a chance of converting, so your budget will be much better off.
Mistake #8: You’re too hands-off with your ads
Everyone likes to think they can trust their team, but that’s not the point here.
And when you have a successful Shopping, Dynamic or Text ad, it might seem way too scary to tweak anything. I mean, what if your changes backfire and the campaign goes to poop?
But digital advertising is not a set and forget practice.
You might have a strong team, and you might have successful ads today…
But this is no time to relax.
Common signs you’re too hands-off:
- You don’t understand all factors of a high converting Google Shopping or Text ad
- You stop testing and tweaking when an ad is successful
- You don’t adjust your budget when you’ve exceeded your ROI
Ways to get your hands dirty
- Educate yourself on how Google ads works by reading more articles like this or doing some courses (try Udemy)
- Spend time with your team (or agency) asking in-depth questions about how your campaigns are set up.
- Put aside time daily/weekly to go through ad results/budgets with your team – and if an ad is successful, maybe you can beat it!
- Implement programs and tools that allow each member of your team – including yourself – to access live data from your campaigns. Aside from your Google Ads dashboard, try Opteo.
Mistake #9: Prioritising brand campaigns over non-branded campaigns
When setting up a campaign, there are a lot of perks to running a branded campaign:
✓ You can control your brand message
✓ Search results will favour your ads
✓ Brand campaigns offer protection against competitors trying to poach from your brand
✓ Branded campaigns are cheaper than non-branded
✓ Brand keywords are MUCH easier to target.
But non-branded searches not only bring in more traffic, they convert more.
And the reason for this?
Non-brand Organic Search, non-brand paid search and Shopping are the ONLY new customer acquisition channels guaranteed to be in the market to buy.
These potential customers have done all the research they need. They know what they want and are looking to purchase now.
So, are branded campaigns a waste of time?
Of course not.
As you can see from the image above, brand campaigns offer cool benefits. Whether you’re an established brand or a small business owner.
To run a truly successful advertising campaign, branded and non-branded campaigns should be set up to complement each other.
Mistake #10:For a truly successful ad campaign – don’t create ads. Orchestrate campaigns
Common mantra for digital marketers is to test as many creatives as possible – minimum of three per campaign.
And it’s absolutely correct… in theory.
One of the most common mistakes marketers make is when they start creating ads based on quota targets rather than creating high-quality, emotional and memorable ads with great production.
A better way to do ads
✓ Focus on writing great campaigns
✓ Prioritise the entire story you’re telling – and the journey each ad takes the user on
✓ Create ads that offer a fresh point of view – not as a chance to tell a different story.
Anything else will feel like guesswork.
Safeguard your Google Ads
Reality is that digital advertising is a minefield – it’s way too easy to lose money.
But savvying up on these top 10 advertising mistakes will save you from some pretty hard lessons and plug the leaks in your ad spend.
But there’s something else…
And it’s easily the most valuable nugget of information on this page.
Valuable… because it could have your conversion rates hitting anywhere between 30% and 80%.
Most advertisers choose to spend 5% of their budget on organic…
Yet, 40% of online revenue comes from organic.
No. You’re eyes haven’t failed you – 40% of revenue comes from organic!
Reach the peak of the mountain:
So why would any business pour 95% of their ad spend on paid ads when organic can in theory achieve just as much?
And, why would they favour one channel over the other, when PPC and SEO work so incredibly well together?
Well, long tail keywords need to be targeted at scale if you want the most benefit.
And it takes time, effort, resources and money.
Unless… you tap into the genius of the Longtail UX Customer Acquisition Platform.
Behind this innovative platform is LUX Smart Pages.
Here's what LUX Smart Pages look like
Looks like a high converter, right? It is.
- increase conversions by (at least) 30%, improve customer loyalty and rank 3x to 10x faster than a typical page in Google
- are an exact match multi-product landing page – for any keyword available in Google Ads
- turn organic marketing from a cost centre into a performance channel
- give your customers exactly what they want in a single click – which means… no more pogo sticking!
Turn up the dial on your knowledge journey and see for yourself how LUX Smart Pages have worked out for these major online brands.