The Best 5 Ways to Waste Money on PPC

Paid Search, PPC, Search Marketing

If you are new to PPC because say it’s your first job, or you are an entrepreneur that wants to do it in-house, be aware there are some pitfalls that could cost you dearly. There are many ways you could be hemorrhaging money on PPC but here I will highlight five of the most common.

What makes some of these mistakes so common is that they come as default settings in the search engines. If you are a rookie you will be telling yourself that Google or Bing should know better than to recommend these settings. This is the time to recognize that your interests and those of the search engines are not always in alignment.

With that said, let’s look at the five mistakes you could be making.

  1. Not separating search and display networks

It’s never a good idea to lump search and display together in the same campaign. With the search network, you are targeting people actively searching for the products or services that you offer. With the display network you are targeting particular audience (e.g. specific demographics) in specific locations interested in certain content say sports or lifestyle.

If these two networks are combined, you won’t be able to decide whether your money goes to the highly relevant search network, or gets dumped into low-cost display placements. Google now defaults to “Search with Display Select,” which was an (sad) attempt to increase the performance of default display campaigns.  Be absolutely sure that when you create a new campaign you select either “Search Network Only” or “Display Network Only.”

  1. Not setting location targets and negatives

Think of a restaurant chain with a few branches in a one city that forgets to set location targets. The search engines will faithfully serve impressions anywhere in the world their ads are eligible to show. And you can be sure someone in some corner of the world will click on those ads and the budget could be depleted very fast. Besides losing a ton of money, this setting is likely to cost you in terms of quality score. High ad impressions are likely to be served to people who are neither interested in this restaurant’s services nor are able to go there for a meal because they live in a different location. As such they won’t click on the ads. High impressions coupled with low CTR equals low quality score which ultimately means poor performance of your campaigns.

  1. No negative keywords

You may have been careful to set negative locations but how about negative keywords? The difference here is that negative keyword expansion is an ongoing process unlike negative location setting that may be done just once for most accounts. Without negatives, your ads could be served to search terms that the search engines think are relevant yet are way off. The best way to start remedying this is to make the search term report your friend on a regular basis and start with a basic list of negatives like: free, jobs, cheap and other terms that indicate low quality intent.

As an example, this week if you sell Poké food I will advise you to quickly check if for any weird reason you have broad term keywords that are making your ads show to searches for Pokémon Go. With the current craze with this new Augmented Virtual Reality game, your budget could be depleted sooner than you thought. Pokémon should be way up there on your list of negatives.

  1. Not disabling enhanced CPC setting

According to Google, Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC) is a bidding feature that raises your bid for clicks that seem more likely to lead to a sale or conversion on your website. The search engine automatically raises your max CPC bid up to 30%(!) in the ad auction if it feels that is likely to lead to a conversion. If your campaigns are new and don’t have enough data yet, the engine won’t be able to make accurate decisions for you and you may end up with high CPCs and little to show for it.  We highly recommend disabling this feature until you have at least a month of manual bidding under your belt.

  1. No exact keywords

Lastly we will look at keyword match types. Google and Bing have broad match as a default keyword setting and this is one of those things you may feel the engines know what’s best for you yet it’s not. Broad match terms open the door for your ads to be shown to a wide variety of searches. According to Google this includes similar phrases, singular or plural forms, misspellings, synonyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), related searches, and other relevant variations.

You can see how quickly things can spin out of control here. Your ads could be shown people searching for totally different information but which the search engines think are related to your keywords. Someone searching for “office space” is not necessarily looking for “Office software”. A good practice is to have carefully selected exact and phrase match types and be extremely cautious with broad term keywords.

Edward Akenga About the author

Ed is an Associate Account Manager at Point It Digital Marketing

  • Very useful tips for someone who plans to dive into the world of PPC for the first time. Pokemon example was really on point. I feel sorry for everyone that tries to advertise anything remotely similar to it at the moment 🙂

    I’d also recommend to anyone that is just starting to use PPC to stick with using exact keywords until they have more experience. Broad match searches are the double edged sword which can often leave you on the losing end.

    July 28, 2016 at 3:40 am

Leave a Comment: