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8 Google Ads Mistakes to Avoid: How to Drive Results, Not Costs

Desislava Arnaudova

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In the SaaS industry, efficiently managing ad spend is a pressing concern. Based on insights from our experiences with both prospects and existing clients and Hop Online’s Google Ads mistakes webinar with our CMO, Terez Tocheva, and PPC Team Lead, Viara Vasileva, we’ll show you what are the common pitfalls with Google Ads campaigns that may hinder you from driving results. 

Mistake #1️: No Properly Set Up Google Ads Conversion Tracking

We often encounter inadequate conversion tracking in client accounts, particularly since the phase-out of Universal Analytics. Is your account also still configured to bid on Universal Analytics events as your primary conversion action? This approach is equal to having no conversion tracking at all, hindering the effectiveness of your Google Ads strategy. The use of Universal Analytics audiences in campaigns, which no longer accumulate data, is another common mistake. 

Instead, transition fully to GA4 (Google Analytics 4) and GTM events for both primary and secondary conversion actions, ensuring accurate and efficient tracking.

Mistake #2: Lack of First-Party Data Import 

After establishing GA4 and GTM events, the next step involves integrating first-party data from your CRM into Google Ads. This integration facilitates a more holistic approach to campaign management. Make sure that your first-party data is also seamlessly synced with your campaign goals for precise targeting and campaign relevance. The sooner you start importing data from your CRM back into Google Ads, the better. 

Mistake #3: Missing Micro-Conversions

Some businesses are making the mistake of neglecting micro conversions, particularly SaaS companies, where actions like demo requests are primary goals. However, recognizing and tracking smaller on-site actions that indicate user engagement not only adds value but also provides Google with valuable user behavior data. 

Micro-conversions are especially important for websites with less traffic or limited budgets. In this case, micro-conversions provide a foundational layer for account optimization. 

Mistake #4: Not Enabled Enhanced Conversions

Another important aspect to consider is the implementation of enhanced conversions. This feature has been a prominent topic in various Google conferences, highlighting its importance. Enabling enhanced conversions can prevent conversion data loss in your Google Ads account. This way, you maintain the accuracy and insightfulness of your conversion tracking data, which is essential for accurate performance analysis and campaign optimization. Google explains more on how to set up enhanced conversions.

Mistake #5: Account Structure: Duplicated Keywords & Google Ads Location Targeting

When it comes to account structure, primarily in the search network where most of the spending occurs, a key issue is duplicated keywords.

Why Should You Avoid Adding Duplicate Keywords across Ad Groups?

This mistake often comes from a misunderstanding of campaign goals. For instance, you might have one campaign targeting demos and another promoting a lead magnet, like a resource download. Using the same keywords for these different goals can lead to keyword cannibalization harming your account’s performance. 

Avoid keyword overlap, especially when targeting the same locations. Campaigns should have distinct keywords reflecting their funnel stage. Use BoFu (bottom-of-the-funnel) keywords for primary conversion actions like demos and ToFu (top-) or MoFu (middle-of-the-funnel) keywords for different conversion action campaigns. Avoiding keyword overlap across campaigns is essential for a healthy account performance. 

Read more on how to do research on relevant SaaS keywords through the keyword expansion framework.

Mistake #6: Account Structure: Low-Volume Ad Groups

Another common mistake in Google Ads accounts is maintaining low-volume ad groups. You should reduce or combine these ad groups based on their landing pages and themes. 

If an ad group hasn’t delivered meaningful results in the last 90 days, such as having a low number of impressions and clicks, it’s better to merge it with others based on the final URL. This consolidation can immediately improve smart bidding performance. 

Don’t hold onto ad groups with only a handful of keywords, especially if most of them are low-volume. The higher the volume within your ad groups, the happier the algorithm. Simplifying ad groups in search campaigns by reducing low-volume ones helps the algorithm and smart bidding work more effectively, leading to enhanced campaign performance.

Mistake #7: Account Structure: No Broad Match Keywords

Some accounts are either shying away from broad match keywords or adopting them at a snail’s pace. Why? Well, it often boils down to budget constraints or company mindset. 

While relying solely on phrase and exact match keywords may seem like it offers more control over search terms, recent algorithm changes favor broad match keywords and show Google directing more traffic towards them. 

We recommend gradually adding broad match keywords week by week or running experiments to embrace broad match keywords fully. Initially, some search terms may be irrelevant. But as Google accumulates more data, with regular adjustments and adding negative keywords, broad match keywords eventually yield significant results. You can also apply the Pareto principle, starting with 20% testing with a broad match keyword strategy and gradually scaling up as you observe positive outcomes. This gradual adoption is key to scaling account performance, not just maintaining CPA, but boosting your conversion volume.

Mistake #8: Average Ad Strength

Even if you have the right bidding strategy (like maximizing conversion volume), maintaining poor or average ad strength can hinder your ads from securing the top position.

Investing time in improving ad strength to at least a “good” level is a must. Utilize all available resources, like the full quota of available headlines, add more relevant keywords, and use dynamic keyword insertions for larger ad groups. Going from average to good ad strength will significantly impact your impression share and top impression share, especially in competitive markets with high-budget competitors. 

The difference between good and excellent ad strength may not be drastic for the top position, but improving from average to good can make a noticeable difference in your ad’s performance.

Bonus Tip #1: Setting the Right Google Ads Budget

Now that you know which mistakes to steer away from, it’s time to talk about your PPC budget. Setting the right budget for your Google Ads strategy is not a one-size-fits-all approach! Choosing a budget depends on your industry, niche, and keyword volume. 

If you have an innovative (niche) SaaS product with currently low search volumes, you may want to start with a smaller budget, anticipating growth in search volume over time. 

On the other hand, for clients in well-established industries with high search volumes, significant competition, and high average CPCs, we usually create forecasts based on these factors to determine the budget. It may not be effective or advisable to start with a small budget in competitive sectors, requiring a larger initial investment.

Bonus Tip #2: Utilizing PMax for Funnel Strategies

If you have an additional budget left over, you may want to use it for Performance Max (PMax) campaigns. PMax campaigns enhance search campaign performance and reach audiences beyond the search network (and across other networks).

However, PMax campaigns require proper setup, including effective conversion tracking, creative content, and audience targeting. Inadequately set up PMax campaigns can be counterproductive, consuming budgets that could otherwise yield results in search campaigns. 

For scaling, if you have an additional budget on top of your search campaigns, use data from search campaigns to identify top-performing audiences for PMax. PMax may not succeed initially for you, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t test it again. It’s worth reevaluating and optimizing elements like audience segments, creatives, and ad copy before retesting. PMax can significantly boost search campaign performance when managed correctly.

How We Do a Google Ads Audit

Now is the perfect time to summarize what we’ve learned in this article. Let’s take a peek into our approach and what we look for when doing a Google Ads audit for our clients.

We dive deep into:

• Conversion tracking

• Account structure

• Ad strength

• Keyword duplication

• Broad match adoption

• Bidding strategies

• Middle-of-the-funnel campaigns (like Pmax and YouTube)

Armed with this knowledge, we compile our findings and recommendations to supercharge our client’s account and continue with keyword research and budget planning.

Ready to elevate your Google Ads campaigns by avoiding these common mistakes? Contact us for a comprehensive Google Ads audit and a tailored strategy to maximize your results and minimize costs.

Viara Vasileva
Viara Vasileva

PPC Team Lead

I help the companies to spend their Google Ads budget in a way that brings results. To achieve this I mix analytical thinking with a pinch of creativity.

Ready to scale your marketing-sourced revenue?