The Top 4 PPC Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Martin Calvert

The Top 4 PPC Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Intelligently targeted pay per click (PPC) advertising is one of the quickest ways to win traffic from potential customers – but PPC mistakes that result in the nightmare scenario of paying for visitors you don’t want must be carefully guarded against at all times.

Google AdWords is a hugely successful platform that continually adds new ways to reach customers but its power means there are a number of ways for even sharp marketers to make mistakes.

In this post we discuss what we consider to be the top 4 PPC mistakes – and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Desktop bias, mobile neglect

One of the biggest blind spots marketers comes from setting up, writing, targeting and testing an ad using a desktop – and not giving enough consideration to mobile channels. In 2015, mobile searches overtook desktop and that trend is only going to increase.

This has implications for how you segment by device, the way you write your ads and what the most effective calls to action will be.

If the landing page on the other side of your ad isn’t mobile-responsive or your contact form is a nightmare to complete on mobile or your landing page features a great big data-devouring video – you’ve just spent money on a click that has resulted in an annoyed potential customer.

Understanding what the different types of visitors may want from your site based upon the device they use is essential – and so too is making use of the full suite platforms like Google make available to optimise for mobile.

Take a look at the stats for how your ads, click-throughs, bounces and conversions are for different devices – you may be surprised. While you’re there, take a look at the Quality Score of your landing page content – if your on-page content isn’t optimised for the topics you want to be seen as an authority for, you’ll be paying more for those clicks.

Mistake #2: Too much product-focus, not enough customer focus

If you love what you do, it’s easy to get a little carried away in promoting your latest products or services. However – different potential customers will likely want to different things from you so it’s important to have different ads not just for your products, but for potential customers.

Consider your potential customers – where do they live? What are their age ranges? How do they differ by interest, outlook and priorities? Making sure you target keywords that reflect these differences, and write ad copy to reflect the priorities and search habits of these demographics will mean you stand a better chance of differentiating from your competitors – and getting higher quality traffic.

You first need to know who your audience is. What is their age group? What is their demographic profile? What are their interests? What browsers are they using?

By targeting accurately, you’ll be able to push your ad to the audience that is more likely to click and convert.

Mistake #3: Basic bid strategy, lack of long tail targeting

Related to PPC Mistake #2, the more targeted you can be in the keywords you pursue, the more cost effective your bid strategy will be. Consider what your company is best at, what are most renowned for and where you excel rather than targeting the ‘big money’ keywords that are both expensive, and likely to be dominated by market leaders that are hard to shift.

As in SEO, using “long tail keywords” (and keeping an updated list of negative keywords you DON’T wish to be found for) will result in traffic from visitors who have more of a specific idea about what they are looking for (which is itself a good buying signal) while making sure you’re competitive in AdWords, and business.

Beyond keywords, it’s worth putting ego to one side and asking – do you really need to be position 1 in ad results? Take a cost-focused analysis and if there is extra traffic that justifies the investment, go for those clicks but in some sectors, position 2 or 3 can have the same result. Experiment and you could find yourself saving money that could be better spent on attracting more visitors.

Mistake #4: Wasting ad space, neglecting the written word

There is a limited window to impress when using AdWords and other platforms, so every word must count. Unfortunately many paid search campaigns are run by people who are excellent at targeting and the technical elements of PPC, but less talented when it comes to writing superior ad text.

It’s fine to look at competitor ads for inspiration but really unless you’re able to make a compelling offer about why you’re different and what you can offer your (extremely targeted) audience of potential customers, you’ll be limited.

That is quite a tough task, particularly where your products and services are much the same as your competitors, but that’s why it is even more important to make use of all the space available (including any ad extensions) to you to make your case. Including empty platitudes, filler data that doesn’t help a customer or a telephone number that won’t get phoned direct from the search engine results page is a waste of time.

Instead include details that help people make a decision to explore what you have to offer – reassure that your products are available to them in their location, if you offer free delivery and returns, how you’re rated by clients – anything that differentiates you, establishes confidence and brings customers closer.

How to Avoid PPC mistakes

AdWords in particular is by no means the most user-friendly platform. The many and varied options available to users to target and refine ads means that there will always be an element of complexity, but we feel that the above 4 PPC mistakes are the ones that are the biggest limits on campaigns that might otherwise be more cost-effective and more successful in winning customers.

At Blueclaw we of course offer a fully managed PPC service for our diverse customer base but if you’re just looking to get a sense of what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, a one-off PPC performance audit may be for you. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss how we work with clients in your industry to maximise the ROI they get from PPC.


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