Pay per click (PPC) advertising can be a useful tool to build traffic and visibility for your website. However, setting up and managing your own PPC is not as simple as putting a list of keywords into Google Ads and letting it run. Knowing what the potential pitfalls are and how to avoid them is vital to advertising successfully. Keep reading to learn how to steer clear of common mistakes in setting up your own PPC campaign.

Jeroen Minks

Jeroen Minks

Jeroen Minks is the founder of Vazooky Digital, a boutique digital marketing agency in Sydney. With years of experience, Jeroen helps businesses to succeed online and get more results out of their website.

Only using broad match keywords.

When adding keywords to Google Ads, they are [automatically] added in broad match. Broad match types often give the worst results, as Google will trigger your ads for everything that is closely related to the keyword. This will lead to irrelevant clicks and wasted ad spend.

There are not enough keywords.

Often, self-managed Google Ads accounts only have a few keywords in them. The key to Google Ads is to focus on the long-tail keywords rather than relying on broad/phrase match types. Splitting out your campaigns and including more keywords will give you more control over your messaging and bidding.

There is no ad copy testing.

In a lot of self-managed accounts, I am unable to detect a clear ad testing structure. The advantage of Google Ads is that you can optimize based on the data in the account, and ad copy testing is an important part of that. By running multiple ads, you can set up easy A/B testing, which can help you to optimize your campaigns going forward.

Choosing a smart campaign

The most common mistake that people make when setting up their own PPC campaigns is choosing a smart campaign. In all fairness, you would think that you were doing everything right by choosing a smart campaign if you didn’t know any different. Google is very persuasive in making you choose it.

Smart campaigns are designed to help busy business owners to set up a simple campaign within minutes and let Google do the rest. The problem is that Google is not quite good enough to “do the rest.” While a smart campaign might deliver some leads, it gives you very little control or data. So, when you are ready to start scaling your business, or if traffic drops off a cliff, it’s very difficult to see what’s working and what isn’t.

Ryan Scollon

Ryan Scollon

Ryan Scollon is a freelance PPC consultant, helping small and scaling businesses succeed online through Google Ads. Find him at
Paul Franklin

Paul Franklin

Paul Franklin is a freelance digital marketer with +15 years of experience in many different B2B and B2C niches. He regularly posts advice about blogging and online marketing at

Keyword match types in the same ad group

The most common problem I see when looking at DIY PPC accounts is keyword match types placed within the same ad group. Broad, phrase and exact keyword match types perform differently, and this is important to bear in mind. Broad keyword matches result in high impressions, low click-through rates, and a high cost per click. As a consequence, broad match keywords tend to have a lower quality score. Phrase and exact match keywords are more targeted and so tend to draw more clicks, have a higher conversion rate, and a lower cost per click. They tend to have a higher quality score.

Since the performance of all keywords within an ad group contributes to the quality score of the ad group itself, putting all match types together can affect the overall performance of more targeted keyword match types residing in the same group. Keywords should be separated into ad groups based upon match type. This protects the quality score of more targeted keyword match types and results in improved ad positions, click-through rates, and costs per click.

Paying for search terms

The most common failure is paying for search terms that are internal jargon or only used in the industry. As the people closest to our product, we have found that we have to fight these tendencies. We must challenge ourselves to be unencumbered by our own product knowledge. We ask ourselves on a daily basis, “How would someone who knows little-to-nothing about this product search for it?”

The second most common DIY PPC failure is not collecting enough data prior to making changes. As a small organization, every dollar counts. So, there is a tendency to want to tweak bids every few days! This is very counterproductive. We must wait two to four weeks before adjusting bids, adding more terms, deleting terms, etc., so we have data that is reliable on which to make change decisions.

Jeremy Lippenholz

Jeremy Lippenholz

Jeremy Lippenholz is Director of Commercial Operations at Armacost Lighting
Norm McLaughlin

Norm McLaughlin

Norm McLaughlin, Founder and Owner of Norm’s Computer Services.

Avoid targeting top position on SERP

1. Avoid targeting the number one position on the search engine results page (SERP) and thus overpaying for clicks. You will achieve satisfactory visibility for your ads by targeting positions two and three, and these clicks will be much less expensive than those for the top position.

2. Avoid targeting only short-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords will generally be subject to much greater competition and thus have higher costs per click (CPC’s). It’s worthwhile carrying out extensive keyword research so that you can establish a comprehensive list of appropriate long-tail keywords.

Using home page as landing page

One of the mistakes I found out from DIY PPC, is that their ads link back to their “Home” page only. Each service or product keyword category should link back to that service or the product page. You want to make it easy for the searcher to go directly to the right landing page. It will help to improve your conversions and “Quality Score” as well.

Cyrus Yung

Cyrus Yung

Cyrus Yung, Director of Ascelade Pte Ltd.

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