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5 Common Mistakes Seen in Self-Managed AdWords Campaigns

Having worked within Search Agencies for a long time, the amount of self-managed client AdWords accounts that I’ve ran my eyes across would be uncountable.  Although there are a small percentage of business owners that do a great job of running their own campaigns, the huge majority of these accounts that I see will generally share some very major set-up flaws. This can be due to a lack of research, a lack of understanding on how AdWords works or even just a lack of time to commit to the campaign. Regardless of the reason, the outcome for the campaign is almost always the same – negative return on investment!

To help you avoid wasting your marketing dollars, I’ve listed 5 common mistakes I see being made in self-managed AdWords campaign.

1) No conversion tracking installed.

This is by far the most common mistake I see within a self-managed AdWords account, and funnily enough the mistake that can cost people the most money. Conversion tracking is so important because it allows you to see exactly which keywords & ads are converting within your campaigns. Without this data, you’re essentially shooting in the dark and this makes any effective optimisation almost impossible.

adwords common mistake conversion tracking picture

2) No ad testing.

Another common problem is that people new to AdWords tend to create only 1 advert variation per adgroup (and often only 1 adgroup for their entire account too). Creating 3-4 ad variations for each adgroup is always recommended, as this allows you to test different ad messages against each other to see which ad your audience responds to best. In a channel where CTR (Click-Through-Rate) is so important this kind of testing is vital.

adwords ad testing mistake

3) Neglecting search query reports.

The “Search Query” report within AdWords is a report that allows you to monitor exactly what Google users are typing into the search engine to trigger your adverts. This report should be monitored very regularly as there will often be searches shown that are obviously not going to convert into a sale for your business. The search query report allows you to quickly identify these searches and then add them as negative keywords so that the searches will not trigger your ads in the future.

4) Over-use of broad match type.

Due to the fact that broad match is the default match type for AdWords keywords, people with little experience will usually only use this match type within their campaign. This can cause major issues, as broad match is basically telling Google that users don’t need to type in your exact keyword to trigger your ads – in fact they don’t need to type any part of your keyword into the search engine. All they need to do is search using a phrase that Google considers to be related to your keywords. The problem with this is that Google often get it wrong, meaning you can see significantly reduced conversion rates when using broad match instead over the other match types such as broad match modifier, phrase match & exact match.

5) Display network enabled.

By default, AdWords campaigns are automatically enabled to display your ads on both the search network & the display network. The Search network displays your ads on search engines such as Google.com, while the display network shows your ads on thousands of AdSense enabled websites across the internet that Google considers to be relevant to your keywords. Due to the fact that users sent to you via the search network are actively looking for your product/service using a search engine, this network is generally far more likely to convert for you vs. the display network. Because of this, it’s recommended that you disable the display network initially and then perhaps create a new campaign for display network traffic at a later stage. Initially you want to focus your budget on the high converting search network.

adwords search network settings mistake image


I hope that this article has given you some valuable information to improve your AdWords campaign. Feel free to leave a comment with any other commonly seen AdWords mistakes that you’ve noticed!

Posted on September 20, 2012 by


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