Stop Wasting Money by Avoiding These Five Common AdWords Mistakes

Google AdWords, the online advertising platform owned and operated by Google, is the largest and most widely used online advertising network in the world. It’s also one of the most effective methods to connect with new customers and grow your business

A lot of businesses we work with have used AdWords at some point or another. Some have managed to master the intricacies of the platform and, as a result, have driven impressive return-on-advertising-spend (ROAS). Others have struggled with the interface, which in their defense is not very friendly to the novice user.

When you’ve been evaluating as many AdWords accounts as we have, you start to notice the same patterns or missteps. Some of these mistakes indicate that the interface is confusing for users, others are due to misconceptions about how AdWords works, and some are plain ol’ errors due to AdWords having a few sneaky, difficult to find settings.

Fortunately, these AdWords mistakes can easily be avoided once you have the know-how, which is why we have put together the following list to help you get a better understanding of which common missteps to steer clear of. So, without further ado, we bring you five of the most common, and harmful, AdWords mistakes that we see.

Conversion Tracking

Conversions should be the first element of your AdWords account that is reviewed. While metrics like the number of clicks, click-through-rates (CTRs), and quality scores are important, the most important metric to keep an eye on is the number of website visitors acquired from AdWords that are converting. Otherwise, it can be difficult to understand how successful your campaign really is.

To address your AdWords goals, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are you tracking?
  • What counts as an actual conversion?
  • How is the tracking implemented?
  • Is there anything left that is no longer relevant and can be removed?

Duplicate Keywords

Duplicate keywords are often an accounts kryptonite.

It is also a very easy mistake to make. It can often be assumed that duplicate keywords are used

because advertisers think it will be beneficial to bid on the same keyword more than once. It isn’t. In actual fact, duplicating keywords can be pretty harmful to your campaign.

The reason for bidding on a keyword in the first place is to show up over a competitor’s ad. If you are bidding more than once, or even multiple times, on the same keyword, you are effectively competing against yourself.

Google actively discourages this kind of activity and this mistake can lead to:

  • Lower quality scores
  • An increase in your cost-per-click (CPC)

To ensure you aren’t duplicating any keywords in your campaign, use AdWords Editor,  which is a free tool that can help you identify any repeated keywords, as well a whole host of other features. There is a simple step-by-step guide on how to use Editor to find duplicates here.

No Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are a key component of any AdWords campaign, helping to get the right type of traffic based on the goals of a campaign.

This is especially true if you use broad matching options to capture more traffic - a broad keyword triggers your ad to show whenever someone searches for that phrase, similar phrases, singular or plural forms, misspellings, synonyms, stemmings, related searches, and other relevant variations. This can, in turn, lead to more irrelevant clicks and impressions (and uncontrolled ad spend). Google effectively picks the keyword a search term is matched to and won’t always do this consistently. In fact, you can get some wacky keywords leading to your ad being delivered and a user clicking through.

So how do you prevent this from happening? Incorporate negative keywords. These keywords tell Google what search queries are not relevant to your business, so you don’t rack up impressions and clicks for searches that won’t lead to sales. You can find negative keywords by examining actual user query data on how people search. This can be done through the AdWords Keyword Planner and Search Terms Report.

While Keyword Planner is intended to solely help you find keywords to bid on, you can take a look at searches that are related to a keyword you’ve inputted, along with data on their search volume and competition. If you see terms in the list that you know don’t apply to your business, consider adding them to your negative keyword list.

Not Bidding on Branded Terms

Marketers who do not bid on their own brands keywords (brand name, brand abbreviations, etc.) usually offer the two following reasons:

  • People aren’t searching for my brand/the search volume for my brand keyword is low
  • We currently rank #1 right now organically, so there’s no need to advertise it 

While these reasons may seem valid, the reasons for bidding on your branded terms are far more important:

  • When you bid on your own brand, you’re preventing competitors from poaching your business. You may continue to rank #1 in Google for your main branded keyword, but if your competitors poach your brand keyword, they can get ahead of you in search engine page results (SERPs).
  • Users searching for branded keywords are usually displaying intent-to-purchase (they usually have done some initial research and are now looking at brands to purchase from). Having your branded term in the top two positions is never a bad thing.
  • Brand keywords are affordable and effective, with a low CPC. Often campaigns that get 80% of sales through brand keywords at just 10% of campaign spend so you can be confident your brand terms will drive a low CPA for your account
  • Branded term bidding allows you to direct consumers to specific pages or product offerings within your website.

Not Revisiting Ad Schedule Bid Modifiers or Not Using Them at All

Bid modifiers allow advertisers to keep account structures relatively simple by applying modifiers to increase or decrease bids for location, device and time.

Why is this important? Not all searches are created equal. For example, a search from a desktop for a B2B company might be more valuable than a search from a mobile device.  With this in mind, AdWords graciously provide us, as marketers, the tools that equip us to adjust our strategy accordingly. Bid modifiers are an awesome way to optimize your account and eliminate wasteful spend.

In instances where bid modifiers have been set up, it can often be easy to then forget about them. This can be potentially harmful. For example, performance during the time of day can change seasonally. Revisiting a time bid modifier at designated intervals when there are good data samples is crucial to making sure you stay relevant during prime times of the day.


The beauty of online advertising is that you can react in real time and adjust the performance of your campaigns depending on what you see. Continuously optimizing your account will allow you to increase your website’s traffic, generate great quality leads, and increase sales.

The biggest mistake that someone can make with an AdWords account is to simply leave it alone. Unsurprisingly, these mistakes tend to crop up in neglected accounts.

By making sure that you are always engaging with your strategy, checking your account and optimizing where necessary, you can keep an eye on your website’s performance, reduce the cost per custom acquisition, and ultimately help to increase sales.


Why not book a marketing consultation and chat with one of our Google AdWords certified marketers?

They can review the performance of your account and ensure that it is optimized and not making any of the common mistakes discussed above. Start saving money today!