How To Fail At Google Ads

As someone who has spent over 20,000 hours building and ranking websites and running SEO and SEM campaigns, I’ve repeatedly seen the same Google Ads mistakes. Today, I want to share some insights on common pitfalls and how to avoid them to make your campaigns more effective and your budget well-spent.

Overloading with Keywords

One of the biggest mistakes is the tendency to overload Google Ads campaigns with as many keywords as possible. At first glance, this is a good idea. The more keywords, the more chances to capture leads, right? Not exactly. Every business has a budget of $1,000 or $15,000 a month. The key is ensuring this budget goes towards the precise keywords that bring in the best leads.

In one campaign audit, I found a client spending about $8,000 in 30 days on 580 broad-match key terms. Many of these keywords, like job or career-related terms, were completely irrelevant and had nothing to do with the services offered. It’s no surprise they were getting a lot of clicks but not many quality leads. This is a classic case of spreading the budget too thin over too many keywords.

Instead, it’s crucial to focus on a select few highly relevant keywords that have proven to bring in quality leads. For example, in another campaign within the same industry, we spent almost $100,000, effectively using only 21 targeted keywords. This approach ensures that the budget is spent efficiently on high-converting keywords.

Misguided Advice from Google

Another common mistake is taking advice from Google representatives at face value. While it might seem beneficial to have Google’s guidance, these representatives often follow a script designed to increase your ad spend rather than improve your campaign’s effectiveness.

These call centres are typically staffed by people who have never run an ad campaign. They have a script and a checklist, and their primary goal is to get you to spend more. They might suggest adding more keywords or creating numerous ad groups, leading to budget overspending on ineffective ads.

If you’re new to Google Ads, listening to these calls to learn the basics can be useful. However, once you’ve gained some experience, it’s better to rely on your knowledge and expertise or consult with an experienced ad manager who understands the nuances of your specific business needs.

Efficient Ad Group and Keyword Management

Effective Google Ads management is about precision and ongoing optimization. In the successful campaign I mentioned earlier, we focused on 21 keywords. Each keyword had dedicated ad groups and variations relevant to the search terms. For instance, if someone searched for “duplex builder,” our ads specifically addressed duplex building services, significantly increasing our click-through rate (CTR) and lead quality.

Moreover, we created dedicated landing pages tailored to match the ad keywords. For instance, a “duplex builder” landing page showcased relevant projects and customer reviews specific to that service. This relevance between search terms, ads, and landing pages greatly improved our campaign performance.

It is crucial to update and optimize these ad groups and keywords regularly. We review their performance every few months and adjust our strategies accordingly. This approach ensures we’re always targeting the most effective keywords and providing the most relevant ads to potential customers.

Compliance and Ad Quality

Ensuring compliance with Google’s advertising policies is another critical aspect of a successful campaign. High-quality, relevant ads that meet these policies perform better and are less likely to be disapproved. This includes having clear, truthful ad copy and high-quality landing pages.

Regularly monitoring and updating ads and keywords help maintain compliance and optimize performance. It’s not just about avoiding disapproval; it’s about ensuring that every aspect of your campaign contributes to achieving your business goals.


To sum up, the key to a successful Google Ads campaign is precision and continuous optimization. Avoid the common mistakes of overloading with keywords and relying too much on Google’s generic advice. Focus on high-quality, relevant keywords, manage ad groups efficiently, and comply with Google’s policies. Doing so allows you to maximize your budget and achieve meaningful results with your Google Ads campaigns.

If you’ve made any of these mistakes, it’s time to reassess your strategy. A focused, well-managed campaign can transform your ad performance and bring in the quality leads your business needs to thrive.

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