Google AdWords is a powerful platform for getting your business quickly onto the first page of Google. Paid advertising is serious business and is the single biggest source of income for Google. Google earned USD42.5 Billion from advertising in 2012 alone.

Setting up a Google AdWords account and starting to advertise is quick to do but is more difficult to master. To see a return on your advertising spend, care is required both during your AdWords account setup process and on-going PPC account management.

Here are 6 common Google AdWords mistakes that you should avoid in order to make the most out of your advertising spend.

1. Don’t mix your campaign settings

  • Many people choose to advertise on the search network (Google search and search partners) and display network (Google’s network of third party partner sites) within the same campaign.
  • Interestingly Google’s recommended setting is ‘Search and Display Network’ as according to them this provides the ‘best opportunity to reach the most customers’. I disagree with this recommendation as it will simply cost you more money in the long term.


  • Don’t mix search and display network settings as this will impact on the performance of your account.
  • Display network adverts have a much lower click through rate (the number of clicks on your advert divided by the amount of times your adverts is displayed (impressions)).
  • Mixing display and search network advertising in a single campaign will negatively impact on the performance of your search network advertising and AdWords account
Practical Google Adwords tips - Google Adwords Interface campaign settings
Configuring your Google Adwords campaign settings options to Search Network Only

2. Don’t just use broad match keywords

By default adding keywords into your account using the Google AdWords online interface will result in them being added as ‘broad match’ keywords. A ‘broad match keyword’ will trigger your adverts for more general terms that may or may not be relevant to your business or marketing objectives. This will quickly cost you money if not carefully managed.


  • To see what match types your keywords are, select columns when you are in the keyword tab and then click on the customise heading and choose attributes and add next to ‘match type’
Google AdWords display keyword match type
Enable the match type column from the customise columns drop down.

3. Don’t forget to monitor the phrases that actually result in clicks on your adverts

Within Google AdWords it is possible to identify the phrases that trigger clicks on your adverts. As explained above, using broad match keywords will result in your adverts display for a wider range of phrases than you perhaps envisaged.


  • Use the ‘Search Terms Report’ to identify negative keywords that you can add to your account to stop your adverts appearing for phrases that are not relevant.
  • The ‘search term report can also help you identify new keywords to add to your account that may have resulted in enquiries or sales.
  • To view the search terms report select the keywords tab within your campaign and then select details and search terms all or selected.
How to access the Google AdWords Search Terms report
How to access the Google AdWords Search Terms report

4. Don’t sit back and leave your account to run without intervention

So once you have set up your AdWords account you can just sit back and relax and watch those enquiries and orders come rolling in – right? Wrong, your account needs to be managed hourly following each campaign launch for the first 72 hours and then daily afterwards.


  • Make the effort and invest your time to manage your AdWords account to identify what keywords are driving traffic and sales. You should also adjust your bid prices, add negative keywords, create new ad copy, add new keywords and campaigns, pause non performing keywords, address low click through rates and quality scores.
  • Gosh that sounds like a lot of work. Why do I need to do this? Well if you leave your account unmanaged the price you pay per click will quickly increase. Your click through rates will suffer as will you quality scores and the return you get from your advertising.
  • If you don’t have time to manage your account then get a Google AdWords accredited agency to manage it for you.

5. Don’t bid for position 1 just because you want to be number 1

Just like the old business maxim, turnover is vanity and profit is sanity – bidding just for position in AdWords is vanity if little or no consideration is made on return on investment.

Bidding lower may well enable you to maximise the number of clicks for your budget and the number of conversions and cost per conversion. If you set a high price per click compared to your competitors you will also drive the cost of advertising up as you will enter into a bidding war with your competitors as they increase their bids to match you.


  • Understand what the cost is of advertising in the top positions.
  • Try bidding lower to appear in positions 3-8 and assess whether you get more clicks and orders in these positions compared to when bidding for the top positions.

6. Don’t forget to setup conversions and understand your profit margins

A common mistake in Google AdWords is to not setup any conversions for sales or enquiries so that return on investment can be measured. You also need to understand the profit margins for each of the products or services that you sell so that you can set a price per click that does not lose you money.


  • To setup a conversion for sales or enquiries in Google Adwords simply select conversions from the ‘Tools and Analysis’ menu option and add a new conversion.
  • Assign each conversion a name and a category to indicate whether it is purchase/sale, signup or lead and then add the code onto the thank you page or purchase confirmation page of your site.
  • Remember to test your conversions to see if they work
  • Use the following formula to understand the cost per sale for each product. If your Google Advertising cost per click is £0.57 and your site conversion rate is 2% then the cost of a sale will be:
    £0.57 x 100 divided by 2 which equals = £28.50. For every 100 clicks you will get 2 orders at a cost of £28.50 per order.
How to add a conversion in Google AdWords
How to add a conversion in Google AdWords
Google AdWords Conversion setup process September 2013
How to configure a conversion in Google AdWords


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