The 3 BIGGEST Mistake Adwords Newbies Make

A Whirlwind Guide

  • Without doubt the biggest mistake a newbie to Adwords makes is compiling a long list of less

than targeted keywords and whacking (technical term) them into a single ad-group.

  • Using broad match only
  • The unholiest of the trinity – not tracking results.

#1 The Single Adgroup

Although at first it may seem tempting – collecting all your keywords and lumping them into a single ad-group for ‘ease of administration’ is not a good idea for a multitude of reasons.

First off, let’s say you have managed to find 1000 keywords for your campaign and you pop them all into a single ad-group. Yes, you get a single point of administration (or more accurately a single point of failure) but look at what you miss:

The ability to group tightly cohesive keywords (which are the mindset of your prospects) and construct targeted adverts which are more likely to gain a click through to your site.

The ability to have specific landing pages on your site for specific customer psychographics. This alone will greatly increase your chances of getting a prospect respond to your call to action – be it an email address capture or a sale.

The ability to keep tight control over the budget of your ‘best’ keywords (where best are high traffic/high conversion). 

Sure you can adjust individual CPC’s within an ad-group, but the granularity and control is not there and the problems inherent with grouping too many loosely assembled keywords will ensure your efforts are thwarted and money wasted.

Have you ever had your account slowed? It’s a pain for sure but the more keywords you have administered in a less than disciplined way, the more of your keywords will be put on hold/in-trial and/or disabled. 

Remember Google rewards good advertising performance and looks at all advertiser histories & your advertising history when determining how well you are doing. 

Adwords is not a fire and forget medium (unless you have a very niche market with very little competition – but the days of such markets are numbered). 

Active campaign management is required to ensure you have not just a return of your investment but a positive return on your investment.

#2 Using Broad Match

Consider the keyword ‘widget’.

How many ways can you search for this keyword? In theory there are an infinite number of searches that can be conducted but in practice there are considerably fewer thankfully.

However, how should you specify your matching options within Adwords?

Option 1: Broad Match

This specifies the keyword in an unadorned fashion within your list like so:

Blue widget

What this means is that should somebody search for the keywords:

Blue widget

Red blue widget

Widget blue

Widget who searches for these things blue?

Don’t need blue widget

Then, your advert would show all of these. This is all very well when a broad match (I’ll not talk about expanded match searching for fear of confusion!) shows your advert for terms relevant to you. 


For every term relevant to your market there could be 10, 100 or 1000 others which are not (which is why when you utilise broad matching you should use negative keywords exhaustively).

The upshot of this is two-fold:

Your advert will have more non targeted impressions which will result in a lower Click Through Rate

You will receive more ‘tyre kicking’ clicks from visitors who are not in the least bit interested in your product/service thus increasing your costs.

Option 2: Phrase match

This specifies the keyword by surrounding it in quotes like so:

“blue widget”

What this means is that should somebody search for the keywords:

Need blue widget

Blue widget

Blue widget where are you

Don’t need blue widget

Then your advert will show because the phrase is found within the keywords. This is the next most highly targeted form of search matching and is an ‘improvement’ on broad match – in terms of specialisation.

Option 3: Exact match

This specifies the keyword by surrounding it in square brackets like so:

[blue widget]

Now, your advert will only show if and only if the keyword 

Blue widget is searched for. 

In an ideal world, you will know exactly what every keyword is that your prospects are searching for and you could therefore have an exact match for a keyword search. This would serve to both minimise your advertising expenditure and increase your return on investment simultaneously.

But, to get to a point where you know the keywords (or at least know as many as possible) which are profitable to you, you need to conduct some research within your adwords campaigns.

So which is the best matching option to use?

Starting off, it is best to utilise all 3 matching options within your ad-group because:

You get to know if there are keywords out there you have missed in your research and can dig further to find out if they should be specified with more targeted matching or added to your negative keyword list.

The assignment of your keyword status (on hold, in trial, disabled) is delayed because the impressions are spread between the variants of the keywords.

More targeted terms (using exact match) generally have higher conversion rates so you can assign different more cost effective costs per clicks accordingly.

Eventually, as your campaigns mature in time, you will have more and more exact matches and less phrase & broad match. As a result your advertising costs will decrease whilst your return on investment will naturally increase.

#3 The Unholiest Error

Ok, this isn’t an adwords tip per se as it should be adopted and applied to each and every part of your online and offline advertising. 

It’s time to be honest – for each and every piece of advertising/PR you have on the go, how well are you tracking results?

I mean can you categorically put your hand on your heart and say, “Yes, by handing out business cards, I generated £x of business last month” (doh! – I’ve just got a new batch printed up and even I’ve missed out on this, slap my wrist, practice what you preach Tom!).

In the world of Adwords, you need to know what keywords are giving you results and focus your budget and efforts accordingly.

If you have an advert that shunts prospects to a generic landing page, which is not tracked and you have no idea as a result whether they signed up or bought a product/service. 

Then, you are wasting tens, hundreds, thousands (bigger companies are some of the worst offenders wasting millions) of pounds every year.

Now you can no longer claim ignorance on the biggest mistakes made with Google Adwords. And I shall make sure my next batch of business cards are trackable!

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