The most successful businesses today all have something in common — a strong online presence. No matter what kind of services or products you offer, you won’t get very far if prospective customers are unable to find you online. It all starts with getting attention in high traffic areas. An average of 2.3 million searches are run on Google every second, with more than 100 billion searches running per month. This is where Google Ads can be a great idea and in many cases downright crucial to your present and future success.
But it’s not as simple as just signing up for Google Ads and letting the rest just fall in place. There is a wide variety of options and tools to shape your ads to better represent your message, and most importantly, reach your targeted audience. At Search Control, we’ve been helping people like you build their online business presence for over 10 years. We have worked on hundreds of search engine ad campaigns (Google and Bing), and we start by offering a free review of any current ads or campaigns you may have activated. By laying this groundwork, we are able to get a better picture of what you are looking for as well as determine what changes can be made to meet your audience potential.
We believe that all ad campaigns should follow the unique needs of the businesses they represent. That said, there are certain tactics that are tried and true when it comes to grabbing the attention of prospective customers. With this in mind, here are the top 5 mistakes we find when we are doing our free Google Ads review:
1. Not Setting an Ad Schedule
Even though the internet never sleeps, there’s no reason for your ads to be running 24/7. We find that many clients are actually unaware that they could even make scheduled times for their ads to run, and many more are unaware that their ads are showing up at all hours.
While getting ’round the clock exposure may not seem like a bad thing, there are multiple things to consider here. For example, what if a prospective customer sees an ad for your business and wants to reach out right then and there? If it is after business hours or when you (or any staff) are unable to answer the phone or respond quickly to email, you could lose that customer. Likewise, you should also think about where your target audience lives. If you would like to cater to specific regions, then the hours your ads run should reflect the times they are likely to be active online.
It’s also worth considering that many other businesses will be competing for top placement during peak hours. While paying to get this kind of exposure can definitely expand your audience, it may not be prudent to do so every day. In rarer situations, we sometimes find during our free ad review that ads have already been scheduled for designated times, but are set up for hours that are not ideal. Whether it’s after business hours or in the middle of the night when you’re likely to get the least exposure, not thinking carefully about when to run your ads can cost you.
Going along with this, many people make the mistake of front-loading their daily schedule with ads. This risks exhausting their budget for the rest of the day, causing peak exposure hours to be missed.
Before you do anything to determine your ideal ad schedule, you’ll need to decide how much you’re willing to budget for Google ads. Then, you’ll need to determine how your budget should be appropriately distributed. If your business is new and/or you are looking to grow your base audience quickly, it’s often a good idea to focus more of your budget on the first few weeks rather than trying to spread it all out over a month or longer. Once you decide your budget, you will be better able to figure out how long you would like your ad campaign to run and how frequently.
In order to decide what hours are best, it’s a good idea to start with when you are able to actively respond to prospective customers who see them. For most, this will be during business hours. However, you may also want to consider when most people are likely to be browsing online, which could also be in the evening or first thing in the morning. Likewise, you may also want to only run your ads on days that are likely to be more active and have better conversion (success rate) opportunities. For instance, people going on vacation over a holiday weekend are likely to be online on Thursday night between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., browsing things to do while away. On regular weekends, more people may be out on Friday nights, so Saturday morning could be a peak time for being online, finding things to do with their day.
2. Not Setting Geotargeting
Another common issue we see during our Google ad reviews is that the advertisements are being seen in regions where the business is not applicable. Think of it like this: a local TV ad for a local hardware store in Missouri shows up during a show being watched by a family in New Jersey. The family has no use for it (and realistically, they will most likely never be near it), so they are going to ignore the ad and move on with their day. Just like that, a perfectly good ad goes to waste, and the hardware store owner wonders why their efforts aren’t bringing in more customers. The same concept can be applied to online ad space.
The truth is that few businesses need their ads to show up on screens across the globe, much less the entire country. In fact, if your services and/or products are geared towards very specific regions or in your hometown, you probably don’t even need your ads to be displayed across the whole state. This is where geotargeting comes in. Not setting your Google ads’ geotargeting (region-specific audience targeting) can cause you to waste unnecessary time and money on audiences who either have no use for your business or cannot feasibly be served. Sadly, many people don’t even know they can set up geotargeting with their online ads in the first place!
Taking the type of business you have into consideration and being realistic about who your prospective customers are is imperative when it comes to setting geotargeting. If you are in any form of medical care (family doctor, OBGYN, therapist, dentist, chiropractor, etc.), you probably cater to local patients and therefore need ads only in your region. Likewise, customers prefer to call local plumbers, contractors, electricians, etc. instead of calling for a far-away service. The same goes for lawyers, massage therapists, yoga instructors, home painters, mechanics, and more.
If you stick with local ads (within a 5 to 25 mile radius around your location), you are likely to have greater success. Many of our clients even find success targeting specific zip codes or neighborhoods within their target region. By conducting research on specific regions and areas that have high internet traffic, we are able to generate better quality leads and help you get the most out of your ad investment.
3. Not Utilizing Negative Keyword Management
The entire point of online ads is to help funnel relevant traffic to your business that will result in sales and expanding your visibility among your key audience. Using keywords and proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are how web traffic is channeled in your favor. Now, you may already be familiar with the keyword concept. When someone enters a phrase or word into a search engine like Google, the results that show up include those words on their pages. Relevant ads also show up this way. However, the problem here is when your ad is showing up for searches that don’t actually have any relevance.
This is especially problematic with PPC (Pay Per Click) ad campaigns. Just as the name suggests, you pay for every click you receive.
Let’s say you run a pet store, and so you want your ad to show up in the results for search engine queries like “Pet store”, “Pet toys”, “Dog food”, etc. However, if you have no limitations on the types of keywords and phrases your ad can be linked to, then your ad could show up in the results for a search query that doesn’t necessarily generate you traffic, like “National dog show”. Searches for really vague pet-related terms, like “cut dogs” or “funny cats” can also be viewed as negative keywords that aren’t likely to bring you the traffic you want.
The key to saving time and money in this area is to prevent irrelevant views and clicks in the first place. You can do this by employing good negative keyword management practices that will allow you to exclude irrelevant phrases and words from being connected with your ad. Just as you can create a list of keywords you want your ad to be linked to, you can also create a list of ones to exclude. In addition to specific negative keywords that could result in traffic from unrelated or unmotivated sources, it’s a good idea to look at the big picture for any phrases that could bear similarity to your desired keywords but carry a different meaning. Likewise, exclude terms that you consider too general and non-specific to guarantee relevant views. Your target audience’s area is again worth considering here too. Excluding irrelevant regions will also help prevent useless views.
Having difficulty thinking of negative keywords you want to screen for? Our Search Control team can help assess your business needs and identify negative keywords that could result in irrelevant ad views.
4. Not using Good Copywriting Practices
In the early days of the internet, just having a website with a few flashy images here and there was alone enough to generate traffic and keep visitors coming back. But in today’s vast ocean of web pages and ads, the language you use is everything. Many business owners make the mistake of designing and writing all the copy themselves on their ads and website. This is where you can lose prospective customers right from the start.
Just like the print advertising heyday of the 20th Century, there’s a real art to crafting web copy these days. The tone must be professional yet conversational, and it goes without saying that the spelling and grammar should be nothing short of perfect. Proper keywords must also be woven naturally throughout.
Poor ad copy is abundant across Google Ads with poor click-rates, and they often lack strong calls to action or language that stands out. Likewise, you also risk losing the customer if they click on your ad, only to find that the landing page of your website contains poorly written copy of its own. And it’s not just the words on the page. The layout of your your ads and your website should also be both eye-pleasing and user-friendly in order to keep customers on task.
For most people, getting great online copy starts with turning to a professional. Because of all the nuances (like keyword inclusion and gripping calls to action) involved with modern copywriting, it’s unreasonable to expect that your ad will perform just as well without the professional treatment. The same goes for your website landing page copy and its overall design. Better copy and design translates over to greater conversion rates.
Our team at Search Control has been crafting high-quality website and online ad copy for years. Along with our free Google Ads consultation, we offer customized SEO and digital marketing writing to make sure your online presence can both reach your audience and keep their attention.
5. No Results Tracking / Gauging Return On Investment
It’s very common for business owners to assume that their Google Ads will automatically just start doing their job once set up. On the flip side, no noticeable increase in customers may also seem to be proof enough that the ads aren’t working as they should. But how do you really know how well your Google Ads are doing if you have no way of accurately measuring the results?
It all comes down to conversions. From an advertising viewpoint, conversions are actions that are counted when someone clicks on or otherwise interacts with your ad in a way that is beneficial to your business (a sale, a phone call, an appointment — whatever you deem important. A conversion is a direct indicator that your ad is working as it should, and therefore a system to should set up to record it. Otherwise, your return on your ad investment is all left up to guesswork. For example, a customer could place an order and give you more business, but how can you tell if it was a Google ad that led them to you in the first place?
A conversion tracking system should be in place that not only keeps score of your conversions, but identifies the details. At Search Control, we’ve actually developed a highly detailed tracking system that records and counts everything from call recording to where the actual lead was sourced from. You’ll be able to not only tell that your Google Ads are working in general, but you’ll also have information on where the conversion was generated and when. Having this information will also help you make wiser, more precise Google ad investments in the future.